Mud cracking paint is not just an eyesore for the viewer but also a hazard for the household. These deep, irregular cracks on the walls resemble dried mud. Left unchecked, they soon turn into flaking paint chips that will affect the entire wall.
This is a very common problem that can be annoying for any painter and homeowner.
Don’t let these deep or even hairline cracks in your paintwork give you any more trouble. This comprehensive guide will help you fix them and prevent the recurrence of mud cracking.
What Causes Mud Cracking Paint?
While it is not always easy to pinpoint the exact cause of mud cracking paint in any home, there are some common reasons why it happens:
- Poor surface preparation
- Paint build-up in corners during application
- Thickly applied paint over a porous surface
- Thickly applied paint over low-quality paint
- Heavy buildup or accumulation of paint
- Paint application over dirty, dusty, or greasy surfaces
- Application of paint in extreme weather conditions
- Poor quality paint used
- Uncured paint
- Spreading paint too thinly
- Adding too many coats of paint too quickly
- Incompatible layers of paint
- Excessive hardening or moisture ingress
- Inadequate adhesion or loss of adhesion over time
Cracks in paint may develop for all of these reasons and more. The root cause can be easy to figure out by looking at the crack pattern, crack spacing, crack propagation, and crack formation.
But playing detective can wait for later; for now, take pictures of the crack and get to fixing it!
Read on for a guide on how to fix mud cracks.
How to Fix Mud Cracking Paint for Interior and Exterior Walls
There are many ways to fix mud cracking paint—the exact method depends on the cause, stage, and level of cracking. Minor or early-stage cracking is easy to fix and requires fewer steps, while large-scale, later-stage cracking needs a bit more work.
The methods are also very different for interior and exterior walls.
Let’s look at the solutions to fix mud cracking paint or paint peeling on interior and exterior walls.
If the cracked portion is small and the rest of the paint area is stable, you only need to work on that specific part:
- Remove the cracked paint using paint sanders, scrapers, or heat guns
- Use a primer to pre-coat and seal the prepped surface for painting
- Repaint the surface using a premium water-based paint and a quality roller
Water-based paints (also known as latex paints) are versatile and usable in various areas, including interior and exterior surfaces. They hold their color longer than oil-based paint and are best applied using a foam roller. Brush application will make the marks on premium water-based paint more visible.
Since quality latex paint is more flexible than solvent-based paint, it will not crack as easily. A high-quality paint will also have more solids content, making them less likely to crack than low-quality water-based paints.
They are also very easy to spread thin, dry fast, and are cheaper than acrylic water-based paints.
If you’re facing the problem of mud cracking paint on your exterior walls, here’s how you can fix it:
If the cracking is in spots and doesn’t go down to the substrate level
- Start by clearing away the damaged areas using a paint scraper, sander, or wire brush
- Spot prime the area that you’ve cleaned and repaint it
If the paint is cracking or peeling over a larger area and goes down to the substrate level
- Clear most of the paint until you’ve got a level and smooth surface
- Repair or replace damaged or missing caulk
- Use the appropriate caulking product to caulk the area
- Repaint the surface with a high-quality acrylic latex house paint
Note: Paint will take more or less curing time based on your environment’s humidity levels. Take note of this and other exterior house painting tips before you begin your paint job.
And before you get started, make sure you have enough proper drying time. Calculate the time taken to paint a room and clear your schedule!
How to Prevent Mud Cracking Paint in the Future
Here are some things you must do to prevent mud cracking paint in the future.
- Take time to properly prep and prime the imperfections in surfaces before painting (check out our guide on how to clean walls for prep)
- Never paint over cracked paint
- Buy the right type of paint in good quality
- Proper reapplication of paint
- Allow the paint enough dry time to cure properly before applying the second coat of paint
- Reduce excess moisture by using dehumidifiers, exhaust fans, or siding vents
- Ensure your gutters and downspouts drain properly and away from the house
Did your mud cracking paint problem crop up during the colder months? Here’s a guide to exterior painting in the cold weather.
Professional Recommended Products for Fixing and Preventing Mud Cracking Paint
Ready to tackle the mud cracking paint on your walls over the weekend?
Check out these great products that are sure to help repair and reduce the chances of mud cracks:
- Best Value and Zero-VOC Paint: Benjamin Moore Regal Select Interior Paint
- Best Eco-Friendly Paint: Boomerang Interior Paint
- Best Chalk Paint: Rust-Oleum Interior Chalked Matte Paint
- Best One Coat Coverage Paint: Behr Marquee Ultra Interior Paint & Primer
- Best Durable Paint: PPG Diamond Interior Paint & Primer
Learn where, when, and how to use Paint and Primer in One if you haven’t used it before.
- High-Quality Primer: Zinsser Peel Stop Triple Thick Exterior High Build Binding Primer
- Widest Range of Surfaces: XIM Peel Bond
- Best Bonding Sealer: Rust-Oleum Zinsser Peel Stop Bonding Primer
- Best All-Around Exterior Paint: Sherwin-Williams SuperPaint Exterior Acrylic Latex
- Best Budget Exterior Paint: Behr Premium Plus Paint and Primer
Wrapping up How to Fix Mud Cracking Paint
Fixing mud cracking paint on exterior or interior walls is fairly easy, as long as you use the right materials and tools and you’ve scheduled more than enough drying time for your painting project.
Do you need professional advice for addressing other paint-related issues at your home?
My Common Paint Problems and Solutions page is where you will find all your answers!
I’ve been a professional painter since 2001 and spent the last 12 years specializing in kitchen cabinet refinishing. I started the DIY Painting Tips blog in 2015 to start sharing everything I’ve learned over the years and help all the people who’d rather tackle their painting projects themselves. In 2019 I started the DIY Painting Tips Youtube channel where I publish in depth videos all about kitchen cabinet painting, painting gear reviews, and interior/exterior tutorials.