Photograph of  peeling paint on a building exterior - can you diagnose this failure by eye? Incompatible Paints or Wrong Type of Paint as a Cause of Paint Failure

  • INCOMPATIBLE PAINTS - CONTENTS: Using incompatible paints or the wrong paint type will lead to early paint failures on buildings.What are the most common painting mistakes that we should avoid when painting a building?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 which paints can be applied on top of which other paint types

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Using the wrong paint - the role of incompatible paints in building paint job failure.

Here we explain how and why using incompatible types of paint in successive coatings can lead to paint failure on a building interior or exterior surface.

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INCOMPATIBLE PAINTS - Improper, Incompatible Paint Selection - Bad Chemistry

Our photo shows an exterior paint failure that occurred when a mix up led to both interior paints and defective paint product used on a building exterior. The white primer was intact. The color coat began peeling even during the paint job.

Incompatible improper paints (C) Daniel FriedmanPaint failures can occur, such as failure of a paint to bond with a surface, failure of inter-coat bonding, or even dissolving of one paint coat by another, if incompatible paints are applied to a surface.

For example, surfactant leaching can occur if there is an incompatibility between the primer coat and the finish coat. Paint chemists formulate primers and topcoats to work together as a tested and proven paint coating system.

[Click to enlarge any image]

  • Painting a new coating on incompatible already-coated surfaces, including the paints or paint solvents: - applying a coating which is chemically incompatible with the existing layers. (Usually see wrinkling, staining, blistering, loss of adhesion, usually occurring while the new coating is still wet.)
  • Applying paint where a stain or pigmented stain is more suitable, or without first applying the proper primer over a stained surface
  • Using an indoor paint outside
  • Omitting the first-coat primer or conditioner recommended by the top coat paint manufacturer
  • Using a primer as a top-coat
  • Contaminating varnish, shellac, or lacquer with moisture/water

WRONG PAINTS - Improper Paint Type Selection

There are lots of examples of using the wrong paint (besides the incompatible paints discussed above.

  • Using an interior paint outdoors
  • Using a paint which lacks the necessary attributes for a specific application - painting a wood siding paint on a metal water storage tank
  • Painting an oil top coat over previous acrylic/latex top coats
  • Using a defective paint which has been improperly formulated at the factory
  • Using a defective paint product that has been modified in the field, such as by over-thinning
  • Failure to use the manufacturer's recommended primer, particularly on challenging surfaces such as new stucco, can lead to early paint failures. See PAINT on STUCCO, FAILURES for details.

Be sure to follow the recommendations of your paint supplier and paint manufacturer in choosing the right paint for the proper application.

This article series reviews common building exterior & interior painting mistakes, 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.

Readers should also see PAINT FAILURE CASE PHOTOS, SITE and then PAINT FAILURE CASE PHOTOS, LAB, and see PAINT & STAIN GUIDE, EXTERIOR for a guide to the selection and proper application of paints and stains on exterior wood surfaces.


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INCOMPATIBLE PAINTS at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

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