Photograph of  peeling paint on a building exterior - can you diagnose this failure by eye? Invasive Methods to Find Causes of Paint Failures - Paint Failure Indicators

  • PAINT FAILURE INDICATORS - CONTENTS: Invasive methods to diagnose the cause of paint failures on buildings: where to inspect building cavities, what o look for. How to diagnose the cause of failing paint on a building exterior or interior. Paint failure diagnosis checklists for the building exterior & interior
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about special methods to diagnose the causes of paint failures such as peeling, cracking, bubbling on buildings or other surfaces

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This article describes how to use more thorough, invasive measures (removing paint, making test openings, scratch test, peel test, solvent tests) to diagnose the cause of exterior & interior painting mistakes.

This article series describes how to diagnose paint failures on buildings, and outlines a procedure for diagnostic field inspection & lab testing of failed painted surfaces. We include photographs of paint failures on buildings and more photos of forensic paint laboratory examination of samples of failed paint useful to assist in diagnosing the probable cause of each type of paint failure.

The examples use building exterior paint failures (and remedies), but many interior paint failures are similar their origin and cure, including general information provided by some paint manufacturers, home improvement suppliers, and by National Forest Products Laboratory experts.

The diagnosis and cure of paint failure on buildings, particularly on wood siding and trim, is quite possible if there is a careful and thorough inspection of the building, its history, its surfaces, and the actual points of paint failure. It is diagnostic to compare the same coating on the same type of surface at different locations on a building and in areas of failed and not-failed paint.

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FAILURE INDICATORS - List of Paint Failure Indicators That Can be Observed Where Demolition is Allowed

If you are able to use invasive methods such as removing siding or cutting openings into wall cavities from a building interior, the diagnosis of cause of failing paint on building surfaces can be supported by very strong evidence. Here is a list of what to look for when using modest demolition or invasive building diagnostic methods:

  • Water sources and water traps in wall construction
  • Damage from moisture/water/leaks/insects
  • Type and installation details of insulation
  • Type and installation details of vapor retarders, air barriers, water barriers.

    See BLOWER DOORS & AIR INFILTRATION (tests for air leaks) and

    see THERMAL TRACKING (signs of air movement)

    and HOUSEWRAP AIR & VAPOR BARRIERS (vapor or moisture and air barriers).
  • Sources of air movement within walls and floors
  • Evidence of (failure to apply) back priming of siding and end priming of siding
  • Flashing and caulking errors
  • Evidence of condensation in building cavities or on surfaces
  • Evidence indicating whether moisture is moving from inside of structure out or outside of structure in - for example look for white efflorescence blooms (PAINT on STUCCO, FAILURES) or frost and water damaged paint coatings (PAINT FAILURE - EXTERIOR CLUES).
  • Evidence indicating if wood clapboards were back primed, and leak stains on cavity side of building materials
  • Mapping of failed and not-failed paint on various building areas, overlaid on the above list of possible causes.

Our most exhaustive list of paint failure types is at PAINT FAILURE DICTIONARY.


Continue reading at PAINT FAILURE - EXTERIOR CLUES or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.


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PAINT FAILURE INDICATORS at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

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