How to Fix Alligatoring with Paint

Q: How do I fix alligatoring?

A: Alligatoring paint is paint that cracked in a pattern resembling alligator scales. This type of cracked paint makes a building look poorly maintained. Alligatoring can be repaired by removing all the old paint and repainting the wall.



A smooth paint job with no damage makes a building look beautiful. Well maintained buildings can preserve and increase property values, and improve a community’s quality. For commercial property, good maintenance is essential to attracting renters or customers. While alligatoring on a painted wall makes a building look run-down and poorly maintained, here are some tips to prevent and repair alligatoring on your building.


Why It Happens

Alligatoring paint can occur for a variety of reasons. It often happens when a top coat of paint is applied over an undercoat that is not completely dry. It also can happen when a rigid substance, like an alkyd enamel, has been applied over something more flexible, such as a latex primer. Alligatoring is a result of the paint naturally aging and weather changes on oil-based paint.


A Simple Fix

Alligatoring can be repaired by removing all the old paint and repainting the wall. It is best to remove all the paint from the paint job with alligatoring, even if the paint has not cracked everywhere, and repaint the whole building or section of the building. That way, the colors will match and alligatoring will not occur in more places. If the paint has cracked, it’s very likely that other parts of the building will crack in the future. If you paint over such areas, the underlying layers will crack and ruin the new paint.



It is easy to prevent paint from cracking once you know the cause and find a solution. Apply a high-quality primer before repainting, and make sure each layer of primer or paint dries completely before applying another. Be sure not to apply a rigid substance over a more flexible one. Make sure the surface is clean before painting. If cracking occurred in old oil-based paint, you might want to consider using a different type of paint that is not as prone to cracking as it ages, especially if the climate is prone to repeated freezes and thaws.

These simple steps will save you the time and expense removing cracked paint and repainting the building. As with many maintenance issues, good products make it easy to make any building look attractive.

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