How To Fix Latex Paint Problems? (Easy Solutions)

Latex is a water-based paint that is easy to apply and dries fast. But, sometimes, you will face different problems before, during, and after applying it. So, we will list the fixes for different latex paint problems. 

Peeling Latex Paint

Latex paint will peel off if the surface is poorly prepped before applying it. If you don’t prep the surface properly, the paint won’t adhere to the surface and will peel off.

Here are other reasons:

  1. The Surface is Wet

The surface must be fully dry before applying latex. If you apply it on a wet surface, the paint won’t stick properly and will peel off. So, always fully dry the surface before applying paint. 

  1. The Surface is Filthy

Dust, filth, and dirt will prevent the paint from penetrating the surface and sticking over it. So, you must always wipe and clean the surface before applying paint. 

  1. Painting Over Oil-based Paint

You shouldn’t apply latex paint over oil-based paint because it won’t stick. That’s because oil-based paint has a glossy finish that repels liquid, including paint. Also, latex paint is water-based and isn’t compatible with oil-based paint. 

The best way to fix latex peeling paint is to remove it and re-apply it.

Here is a guide on how to do this:

  1. Scrape off the finish from the surface.
  2. Find out what caused the finish to peel; either moisture, dirt or an existing finish. 
  3. Sand the surface with medium and fine-grit sandpaper to remove dirt and gloss.
  4. Apply two coats of stain-blocking water-based primer and leave to dry.
  5. Wipe the primer coating when it gets dry to remove dust nibs.
  6. Re-apply the latex paint.

Latex Paint Bubbles

To thin latex paint, you must add paint thinner (water) to the paint and stir it. But, the finish will develop bubbles if you don’t stir it properly. Also, stirring too hard or fast will cause air pockets to trap in the coating. So, when you apply it, the finish will have bubbles.

Here are other reasons why bubbles appear in a latex paint finish:

  1. Porous Surface

The finish may develop bubbles if you apply latex paint over a fresh porous surface. Fresh porous surfaces (such as wood) are riddled with large pores. Tiny air pockets will get trapped inside these pores, and once you apply the paint, the trapped air will cause bubbles on the finish.

So, before applying latex paint over a porous surface, you must seal the surface with sanding sealer or stain-blocking primer. You can use wood filler for porous surfaces. 

2. Moisture

Latex paint must be applied over dry surfaces. If the surface is wet, the moisture will cause the finish to soak and tear in some areas. Gradually, air will rush into these areas, causing the finish to bubble.

To prevent bubbles in latex paint, apply a sealer, primer, or wood filler over the porous surface to cover holes and pores. After sealing the surface, apply the paint. 

To fix dry latex paint bubbles, sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper to remove the bubbles. Then, touch up the surface by applying another coating of paint. You can also fix it by removing the entire finish, sanding the surface, applying sanding sealer, and re-apply the finish. 

Sticky Latex Paint

If the latex is sticky or tacky after applying it, this isn’t a problem, as the coating is still wet and will turn smooth when it dries. But if the coating remains sticky for hours or days after applying it, that is an issue.

The paint will stay sticky if the solvent (water) doesn’t evaporate. You must increase the evaporation rate to speed up the drying time of the paint. To increase the evaporation rate, increase the temperature around the coating.

Here are other reasons for sticky latex paint:

  1. Cold Temperature

You must apply latex paint when the room temperature exceeds 50 degrees (F). But, if the temperature is below 50 degrees (F), the paint won’t dry properly because the temperature is too low. Also, when the temperature is too low, the humidity levels are high, so the coating will take longer to dry than usual.

  1. Damp Surface

Applying latex paint on a wet surface gives the same results as painting in cold temperatures. The moisture on the surface will prevent it from drying properly, causing it to turn sticky.

  1. You Applied Another Coat Too Soon

You must wait until one coat dries before applying the next one. If you re-coat too soon (before the coat dries), the finish will turn sticky. 

  1. Thick Coat

Latex paint is naturally thick, so if you apply thick coats, it will take hours to dry and the coating will remain sticky until it does. In this case, the paint will eventually dry, it will just take longer than usual.

To fix sticky latex paint, you must know why it has turned sticky. For example, if the coating is sticky because it was applied at a cold room temperature, you can fix it by increasing the heat around the coating and reducing the moisture leaves.

Here is a guide on how to do this:

  1. Turn on the heater around the coating. 
  2. Increase the room temperature.
  3. Use a hairdryer over the latex paint coating every 15 minutes.
  4. Turn on the dehumidifier to reduce the moisture in the air.
  5. If you can, move the painted surface outside when the sun is out.

This only works if the finish has turned sticky because of a low-temperature room. You can also try to remove the excess paint from the surface and allow the remaining to dry. 

Latex Paint is Cracking

If latex paint dries too fast, the finish can develop cracks. That’s because if the paint dries too fast, the paint particles don’t have enough time to bond naturally. So, the bonding between particles will be weak, and the finish will develop cracks.

The cracks in the finish allow air and water to get underneath the coating, causing it to crack. Latex paint will also crack if you over-thin it.

Unfortunately, the best way to fix cracking latex paint is to remove it, apply a sealer coating or water-based primer and re-apply it. 

Final Words

Latex paint problems are caused by poor prep work and inadequate preparation. However, most problems can be fixed without removing the paint. But, for some paint problems, such as paint cracking, you must remove the finish, fix the issue, and re-apply the paint. 

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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