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Correcting Common Paint Problems: Peeling and Alligatoring

Here are tips and suggestions on how to correct common paint problems. Homeowners all over the country experience these types of problems. Take the time to read the instructions carefully and follow them and you can correct many of the paint problems around your home.

Peeling Downspouts and Gutters

  • Gutters and downspouts normally peel because they were not properly treated and primed when originally painted. Galvanized metal usually has a thin, invisible film that causes many paint problems.
  • Remove the loose paint from the downspouts and gutters with a wire brush, scraper or some other stiff tool. Use a power brush or power sander for big projects.
  • Be sure that all loose paint is removed. Otherwise, the problem will occur again after another painting. Don’t take shortcuts-correct the problem now by doing the job right.
  • If you are using latex-based paint, clean the sanded area with a good grade of solvent. Apply a heavy coat of the solvent and allow it to evaporate. Special solvents are available for treating galvanized metal.
  • After the solvent has evaporated, apply the latex paint directly to the bare galvanized area. For large areas, finish the job with two top coats.
  • If you are using an oil-based paint, prime the sanded areas with a good grade of metal primer. After the primer has dried, apply one coat of a good grade of metal paint.
  • Finish the job with at least one coat of a good-quality house paint. Use two coats in extreme cases.

Cracking or Alligatoring

  • Extreme cracking, sometimes known as alligatoring, is caused when a second or third coat of paint is applied before the previous coat dries completely (see image).
  • In some cases, cracking or alligatoring is caused when the undercoat is incompatible with the type of finish coat applied to the surface.
  • The only solution is to completely sand away the cracked or alligatored surface. Use power sanding or brushing equipment for large areas.
  • After the cracked or alligatored paint is completely removed from the surface, brush the area thoroughly to remove dust and loose paint particles. Apply one coat of a good quality undercoat paint.
  • Allow the undercoat paint to dry thoroughly, then apply a second coat of a top-quality house paint of the desired color. This completely corrects the problem.

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the National Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

For home improvement advice, visit JS West Lumber & Ace Hardware Sonora, Ca. or visit and click on the Answers@Ace icon. Answers@Ace is an online resource with information for do-it-yourselfers about hardware and home improvement projects. The Everyday Projects section has pictures and detailed, step-by-step instructions for this and many more home improvement projects.

To speak to an Ace Hardware advisor in Sonora call: 209 532 7446.