Why Is My Ceiling Paint Cracking? (Explained)

Have you observed cracked ceiling paint and are unaware what to do next to repair it? Cracked ceiling paint is an ugly mess that if not repaired, will only get worse over time.

The main cause of peeling or flaking of ceiling paint is moisture and the loss of adhesion between the paint and ceiling surface. When the paint on the ceiling gets humid, the layers separate and detach from the surface. As a result, the skin bulges, cracks, and eventually peels.

There are numerous methods for repairing cracked ceiling paints. You can learn how to do it by reading further about it. There’s also details on what causes it and what you can do to avoid it.

Let’s get started!

Why Is My Ceiling Paint Cracking?

Ceiling Paint Is Cracking
Ceiling Paint Is Cracking

According to experts ceiling paint cracking appears to occur when there is a loss of adhesion agents between the paint and the surface it is applied to.

A range of factors can contribute to this loss of adhesion. Some of the most frequent cause of peeling, cracking, or fizzing paint are as follows:

1- Incorrect Implementation

In the early 1980s, when gyprock homes were being built on a budget and with little understanding of paints, the wrong application was used. 

Painters were using the flat paints directly to bare gyprock, which prevented the paint from soaking in like a primer would. 

This process of applying becomes unstable over time as more coats are applied, putting more pressure and allowing gravity to do its job, resulting in a cracking and flaking ceiling.

2- Moisture

Moisture is a common issue with troubling ceilings. Moisture occurs for a variety of reasons. Storm damage can cause moisture to start releasing the coating from any ceiling surface, resulting in cracking or blistering paint.  

Wet areas of the house, like the cooking area, laundry, and washrooms, can also produce moisture. For example, in a bathroom with poor ventilation, steam damage to the coating can occur, causing it to crack and peel. 

3- Plaster And Antique Houses

In older homes, plaster walls and floors are common. When trying to deal with cracked paint in an old home, determining the source of the problem can be difficult. The most obvious suspect is a lack of adhesive.  

According to Plaster Lord, if the painter implemented oil-based paint to plaster before it had healed, blistering or discoloration could occur. 

In the 1800s and early 1900s, inexpensive calcimine paint effortlessly adhered to fresh plaster, but at a cost: other paints didn’t bond well to it due to its powdery impurities. 

Paint and primer, like most finishing products, degrade over time. Alternatively, the weight of multiple layers of paint applied over the years could end up causing the buildup to tear away from the plaster or any base material.

4- Poor Drywall Preparation

For several decades, drywall has been the most go to material for walls and ceilings. However, the external paper surface requires drywall primer before painting; without it you can expect many problems. 

Primer is lighter and thinner than paint and serves as a sealer and adhesive agent. If a finisher skips the primer, plastic-like paint will not adhere properly to the bare paper of the drywall. 

It will eventually Crack or peel off, particularly in a wet or moist environment like the shower room or laundry room.

5- The Painted Surface Is Frequently Exposed To Water

Water is the most common reason for cracked paint on bathroom walls, ceilings, and exterior walls. 

When water seeps through the paint coats, the layers separate and break away from the surface. This causes cracking, and peeling.

Water can enter through a leaky roof, gutter, and flashing. It could also be caused by a high permeability wall that allows water to enter to the inner surface, or by splashes of water in the bathroom.

6- Painting Surface is not Properly Prepared

The surface must be properly prepared before applying a coat of paint. Other factors, such as insufficient joint compound and improperly applied seam tapes, can also prevent the ceiling paint from adhering properly.

7- Dirty Surface Before Painting

Paint does not adhere to dirty surfaces. Paints do not adhere perfectly to wooden and metallic, or even concrete surfaces due to dirt, grease, and oil. 

If the paint is applied to a very dirty surface, it will instantly bubble and crack, causing the paint coats to fall off.

Before painting, make sure to clean the surface. Even if you can’t see anything dirty, something as inconspicuous as dust can prevent paint from adhering properly.

8- If The Surface Is Subjected To High Temperatures And Direct Sunlight

Paint does not bond well to surfaces when temperatures rise above the normal atmospheric range. Heat causes the paint to dry faster, preventing strong bonds from forming between the layers.

On the other side, Oil paints become fragile and crack when exposed to direct sunlight. When exposed to sunlight, both latex and stretchy paints expand and contract, weakening their bonding agents.

9- The Paint Used Is Incompatible With The Surface Material

Some roof surfaces contain chemicals that react with paints and make them incompatible. Like, Natural oils are produced by new or poorly cured woods, preventing effective paint adhesion. 

Some paints are also incompatible with smooth or glossy surfaces. Because these surfaces cannot form a mechanical bond with the paint, any layers applied to the surface flake off from the ceilings immediately.

Furthermore, some synthesized polymer materials can prevent the paint coat from adhering completely. If the polymers are chemically cured, the incompatibility problem worsens. Epoxy and polyurethane are two examples of these materials.

You must ensure that the paint and the surface are compatible. Concrete and galvanized steel have an effect on oil-based paints. These materials contain chemicals that react with the paints, causing the bonding agents to break down and the layers of paint on the ceilings to crack and weaken.

10- If There Are Too Many Paint Layers On The Wall Or Ceiling  

When more layers of paint are applied to a surface than required, particularly of ceiling, the coating becomes heavy and can fall off. The paint coat will fall off immediately if there are no strong bonding agents to bear the load of the layers.

11- If The surface Is Painted With Low-Quality Paints

Some paint brands are extremely flexible and adherent. Low-quality paints do not dry or adhere properly, and they begin to crack and peel after a short period of time.

Most calcimine-containing paints are subpar. If You want to make your paint stick properly you will need a paint with a lot of pigment, resin and some few solvents like water.

12- Incorrect Paint or Primer Was Used

As previously stated, different paints are intended for different surfaces. Some are intended for use on wooden or plastic surfaces, whereas others are intended for use on metallic or concrete surfaces. This indicates that using the incorrect paint can result in peeling. 

Similarly, primers for wooden, metallic, concrete, and plastic surfaces are available. These substances are also intended to be used with various types of paints, so using the incorrect primer can result in peeling.

How To Detect A Crack Ceiling?

Early detection of cracked ceiling paint is simple if you know what you are looking for.

When inspecting your walls for anomalies first look for the small cracks in the ceiling. These are early-stage hairline cracks, which indicate future problems.

However, the paint begins to peel and crack apart in the later stages making the problem more serious and difficult to fix.

Paint will ultimately crack and flake onto the floor, so if you see pieces of your wall or ceiling creating a mess on the ground, it’s a sign that your building is experiencing paint failure.

This implies that there is a problem with how your paint is applied to your walls, which could be difficult and expensive if the problem has spread through your substrate. 

The sooner you notice signs of paint cracking or peeling and contact a professional, It will be easier to repair it.

Cracked Ceiling Types

1- Hairline Spiderweb Cracks Caused By Paint Issues

When many layers of paint are applied over previous coats, the chances of discolouration or cracking increase over time.

The layers beneath the topcoat become thin and fragile over time and expand and contract differently than the more flexible topcoat due to thermal and moisture changes. 

These lower coats of paint tend to crack first, and then the cracks work their way up to the topcoat, resulting in patterns of thin cracks in the paint’s topcoat.

2- Spiderweb Or Hairline Cracks Caused By Drywall Mud Problems

Drywall tape and drywall joint compound, also known as drywall “mud,” are both used. If the drywall joint chemical is applied in one or more overly thick coats, the mud shrinks when it dries, resulting in hairline spider or crazing cracks. 

Small hairline cracks may form if too much water is added to thin the mud before use. These cracks are simply the result of poor workmanship. 

3- Taping Joints With Straight Cracks

Cracks on the side of drywall joint tape are generally caused by insufficient mud application during installation. The drywaller did not use enough mud when taping the joint, which can result in drying shrinkage cracks along the tape lines.

As it’s following the straight edge of the tape at a drywall joint, the crack is usually very straight. This is insignificant in terms of structural concerns and instead demonstrates poor workmanship.

How Do I Repair A Cracked Ceiling?

Repairing cracked paint on your walls and ceilings is a time-consuming but simple process. However, if you don’t want your paint to crack again, you must work carefully.

1- Attic Moisture Reduction

Moisture is considered as the most common reason for cracked ceiling paint.

This moisture enters your ceiling from the attic and then slowly evaporates. Moisture can get into the paint even faster if you have a drywall ceiling.

Moisture will also start causing other issues in your home, such as mold growth, which is a serious problem.

However, before you could do anything to stop the moisture, you must inspect your attic and determine the source. Bring a flashlight with you to the inspection so you can see in the attic’s dimly lit areas.

How Can Moisture Be Reduced?

Insulating the attic properly is the best solution to decrease moisture. There are numerous types of insulation available, so do your research before making a purchase.

You can hire someone to set up the insulation or do it yourself. Insulation has a moisture barrier that keeps your attic and home high and dry regardless of the weather outside.

2- Remove Flaking/Chipped Paint

The removal of chipped spots is the first step in repairing your ceiling. If you carefully move a craft knife or paint scraper along the loose edges, you can remove the paint. 

Remove any peeling or cracking paint until the wall and ceiling are only covered with firmly adhered paint.

3- Sand

Make sure you sand the area to remove any creases or uneven edges. Wipe away dust particles with a damp cloth or Selleys Sugar Soap cotton swabs.

4- Prime

Your walls and ceiling most likely began cracking because they were not properly primed. To avoid repeating the problem, use an oil-based primer with stain-blocking properties, such as Zinsser. Before painting, cover the stain. The primer prevents water marks on the ceiling as well as fungal growth.

5- Repaint

When your primer has dried, you can repaint your ceiling in any color you want. However, choosing the right type of paint is critical if you want to avoid future peeling and cracking. Look for a ceiling-specific formula, such as Dulux NeverMiss One Coat Ceiling White. 

Dulux Nevermiss removes the guesswork from painting ceilings by applying pink and drying to a lovely flat white, allowing you to see how you’ve painted. It’s specially formulated for ceilings and delivers superior opacity coverage, so most surfaces only require one coat.

When embarking on any large project, consult with the experts at your local Inspirations Paint store.

6- Paint That Is Incompatible

Cracked ceiling paint is caused by moisture, but there are many other reasons as well. Incompatible paint is an issue that occurs far too frequently.

If oil-based coating is applied right on top of latex paint, cracking will occur. Cracking occurs because latex paint is absorbent and allows moisture to penetrate.

How Do I Find Paint That Is Compatible?

There are many differences between oil-based and latex paints. Those who are unsure about their painting abilities should hire a professional.

Hiring a professional painter ensures that the job is done correctly and that you avoid problems with cracked ceiling paint. It will significantly reduce stress to have someone else do the work for you, and you won’t have to worry about climbing ladders.

7- Paint Repair For Cracked Ceilings

If your ceiling paint is only cracked in one spot, you may be able to have it patched. This will save you a lot of money and eliminate the need for you to worry about the task taking a long time.

How Do You Patch Your Ceiling Paint?

A professional painter can easily patch your ceiling. However, keep in mind that it is your responsibility to ensure that no moisture is coming from the attic. To address any future moisture issues you will need to hire a new contractor.

8- Painting The Whole Ceiling

Hiring a Paint Professional to come in and repaint the entire ceiling is a surefire way to get rid of cracked ceiling paint. A professional painter will be able to precisely identify any cracking issues you may have. They will begin by sanding your ceiling to prepare it for priming.

They will be able to apply the final coats of paint after the primer has dried. This procedure will take more than one days.

How Do You Choose The Best Painting Contractor?

Choose The Painting Contractor
Choose The Painting Contractor

Before hiring someone to paint the interior of your home, do some initial research. Several factors must be taken into account during the hiring process.

Make sure that the new company you are interviewing has been in operation for at least a few years. You should inquire whether they are insured and have all of the necessary licenses to conduct business in your country. This will give you peace of mind knowing that you and your property are safe if something goes wrong on the job.

Finally, before any work begins, you must obtain a written statement for the job. You will be able to determine the job cost during this process. The statement will include material costs as well as the price the painting contractor will charge you for the labor that will be performed.

Following that, you will be given a contract to sign that will protect not only the contractor but also you, the homeowner. 

By entering into a contract, the price will be set in stone, allowing you to avoid any surprises. If changes to the contract are required, both parties must agree on the terms.

When the following conditions occur, there is a higher probability of ceiling cracks:

1- A Crack Runs The Length Of The Wall And Ceiling

Cracks that run all across the ceiling to the wall and then bottom on the wall, mainly a continuous crack running through the ceiling and the wall, could be a source of concern. This type of crack indicates a long term problem, such as framing issue.

2- Cracks In The Ceiling That Run Diagonally Across It

A crack (that is almost 16th of an inch or bigger) that runs diagonally through a sheet of drywall necessarily requires a great deal of force to create. The drywall appears to be ripped apart. Depending on the width, length, and location, this type of crack would be considered a “red flag.”

3- Large Cracks And Areas With Multiple Cracks

Ceilings with multiple cracks that are larger than a small hairline crack are a cause for concern. Cracks that are about 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide or wider easily fall under this category. A crack that is 1/8 inch in diameter and only two feet long in a corner will not be given the same weight as a ceiling with 1/4 inch wide cracks that are three or five feet long and appear in multiple locations.

Ceiling cracks can also become a big issue if there are other indications that the house may be moving or has structural problems

When ceiling cracks become a concern, look for other indicators of possible structural issues to assess the severity and significance of the ceiling cracks.

Possible Structural Problems Include:

  1. foundation or slab cracks 
  2. Sagging or sloping floors
  3. Doors and windows that are stuck or refuse to open
  4. Roof sagging

Cracks Can Also Be Caused by The Following Factors:

  1. Tremors caused by minor earthquakes
  2. Home establishment
  3. Soil movement as a result of slope creep or landslides
  4. Sinkhole problems

The Advantages Of Fixing Paint Failure Early

By detecting hairline cracking in your walls slightly earlier, you can save yourself time and money in the future.

Smaller hairline cracks can be repaired more easily as a do-it-yourself project with the right tools. However, if your paint is peeling or cracking, you are at risk of water damage or damage to the material beneath, both of which require professional attention. Depending on how deep the damage is within your walls, replacing it will cost more and more, so it’s critical to call in a professional right away.

By routinely inspecting your walls for small cracks, you can avoid more expensive renovations and paint replacements in the future.

Final Verdict

Ceiling cracks are common, but they can turn to be a major issue if not resolved. Cracks are more likely to appear in older homes. 

Cracks are typically regarded as a maintenance issue by most contractors and homeowners. 

Ceiling cracks can occasionally be a “yellow” or “red” flag that there is a serious or systemic issue, so it is important to be able to recognize warning signs that trouble may exist so that you can fix all the problems on time.

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