Close up image of a surface that has some cracking and flaking paint.

Cracking/Flaking - EXTERIOR

The splitting of a dry paint film through at least one coat, which will lead to complete failure of the paint. Early on, the problem appears as hairline cracks; later, flaking of paint chips occurs. This often leads to complete paint failure if not addressed in its earlier stages.


  • Use of a lower quality paint that has inadequate adhesion and flexibility.
  • Over thinning the paint or spreading it too thin.
  • Poor surface preparation, especially when the paint is applied to bare wood without priming.
  • Painting under too cool conditions or in warm, windy conditions that make latex paint dry too fast.
  • Use of oil-based paint over surfaces that undergo constant contraction and expansion.


  • It may be possible to correct cracking that does not go down to the substrate by removing the loose or flaking paint with a scraper or wire brush, sanding to feather the edges, priming any bare spots and repainting.
  • If the cracking goes down to the substrate, remove all of the paint by scraping, sanding and/or use of a heat gun; then prime and repaint with a quality exterior latex paint. Old, flaking paint may contain lead, so precautions for lead paint should be followed.
  • Use high-quality paints that are formulated to provide a flexible film.

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