Why Does Paint Crack on Walls? Here's What You Need to Know

calander Feb 17 , 2023 user-icon Nash Painting

Have you ever noticed cracks on your walls and wondered, "Why does paint crack on walls like that???" It doesn't look great, plus it can be a headache to fix. The good news is that understanding the "why" can help keep the issue from occurring in the future. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right?

This article looks into the frequent causes of paint cracking on walls, inside and outside your home, as well as strategies to avoid it.

Table of Contents:

  • Causes of Paint Cracking on Interior Walls
    • Poor Surface Preparation:

    • Low Quality Paint:

  • Causes of Paint Cracking on Exterior Walls

  • Preventing Paint Cracking on Walls

  • Conclusion

Why Does Paint Crack on Walls?

Poor Surface Preparation:

If a wall isn't prepped suitably prior to being painted, it can lead to the paint cracking and flaking off with time. This includes cleaning the wall with soap and water, sanding down any rough spots, filling in cracks or holes with spackle or joint compound, and priming the wall for better adhesion.

Low Quality Paint:

Another common cause of paint cracking on interior walls is using low quality paints that don't adhere well to surfaces. Low quality paints are often thin and contain fewer binders than higher quality paints which makes them more prone to cracking over time. It is essential to utilize superior-grade paints when painting walls, as they guarantee improved protection and better long-term performance.

Temperature Fluctuations:

Temperature fluctuations can also lead to paint cracking on interior walls, as extreme temperatures can cause the paint film to expand or contract, resulting in cracks forming in the finish. To avoid cracking of paint on interior walls due to temperature changes, it is suggested to maintain a stable indoor environment through all seasons by utilizing an air conditioning system in summer and a heating appliance during winter.

Don't let your paint job crack. Make sure to properly prepare walls, use high-quality paints and keep temperatures consistent to prevent cracking on interior walls. #PaintingTips #HomeImprovement

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Causes of Paint Cracking on Exterior Walls

Just like interior paint, poor surface preparation is one of the leading causes of paint cracking on exterior siding. If the surface isn't properly prepared before painting, it can cause the paint to crack and peel over time. Cleaning the wall, filling in any breaks or indentations with spackle, abrading uneven areas and eliminating mildew or mold (if present) are all steps that should be taken to ensure proper preparation prior to painting.

Low quality paint is another common cause of cracking on exterior siding. Cheap paints are often made with inferior ingredients that don't stand up well to extreme weather conditions such as heat and humidity (that’s a big deal here in Nashville!). To prevent cracking due to low quality paint, make sure you use a high-quality brand specifically designed for outdoor use.

Temperature fluctuations can also lead to cracked paint on exterior walls. When temperatures abruptly rise in the sultry summer months, this can cause an uneven expansion of the paint's top layers when compared to those underneath it, resulting in cracking and flaking over time. To reduce this risk, try to keep temperature changes gradual by using light colors for your home's exterior.

Exterior walls are prone to paint cracking, but with proper preparation and the right materials, this can be avoided. Now, let's delve into the particulars of how to get your walls prepped and primed for a lasting finish with top-notch paints.

Key Takeaway: The key takeaway is that improper surface preparation, low quality paint, and temperature fluctuations can all lead to cracking of exterior wall paint. It's important to take the necessary steps to ensure a successful painting job.

Preventing Paint Cracking on Walls

If you skimmed through the points above, here's a super succinct summary:

  • Make SURE you properly prepare your surface for paint: remove old wallpaper, patch existing cracks, sand rough surfaces, remove dirt and dust, etc.

  • Use a high-quality primer AND paint. The ingredients make all the difference, and you really do get what you pay for.

  • Check your exterior paint routinely for mold/mildew growth, especially on the shadier sides of your home. Both weaken paint over time.

  • Invest in routine maintenance and touch-ups. You may also want to power wash your home periodically (at least 1x/year) to keep your paint clean and healthy.

Key Takeaway: The key takeaway is that proper preparation, high quality products, and monitoring both temperature and humidity levels are essential for preventing paint from cracking on walls.


Paint cracking on walls can be a nuisance, but it doesn't have to be. By understanding the causes of paint cracking and taking preventive measures, you can ensure that your walls stay looking beautiful for years to come. So yes, paint does often crack on walls, but with proper care and maintenance you can prevent it from happening in the first place.

At Nash Painting, we specialize in high-end residential and cabinet painting services that are designed to last, using the best quality paints and techniques to ensure that our customers get a durable finish. Let us help you make sure your walls stay beautiful for years to come!Contact us today for a free consultation so we can discuss how we can help keep your home looking its best.