Common Interior Paint Problems

Now is the perfect time to look around your home and take stock of areas in need of repair or an inexpensive spruce up with the holiday season behind us and warmer weather still months away.

“A simple change of paint color can rejuvenate a tired kitchen, warm a family or living room or help to create a restful bedroom. But, before opening that first can of paint, correct surface issues and make sure your walls are clean and sound. Good surface preparation coupled with top quality paint, brushes and rollers will help to insure a long-lasting and beautiful finish,” Debbie Zimmer, color and decorating expert with the Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute explains.
1. Foaming or Cratering—This occurs during the formation of bubbles and results in small, round concave depressions when those bubbles break during paint application and drying.

Possible causes include shaking a partially filled can of paint, use of low quality paint or very old latex paint, applying paint too quickly or excessive rolling and brushing, using a low quality roller cover or wrong nap length or applying a gloss or semigloss paint over a porous surface.


All paints will foam to some extent during application: however, higher quality paints are formulated so bubbles break while the paint is still wet, allowing for good flow and appearance. Apply gloss and semigloss paints with a short nap roller, and apply a sealer or primer to porous surfaces before painting.

2. Mildew—The black, gray or brown areas of fungus growth can occur on paint or caulk surfaces. Mildew forms most often on areas that tend to be damp with little or no sunlight. Ideal areas include bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms.

Possible causes include use of a low quality paint, with minimal or no additives to prevent growth, painting over a surface where the mildew has not been removed or applying paint in “too thin” of a coat.

First test for mildew by applying a few drops of household bleach to the discolored area, then rinse; if it disappears it is probably mildew.


Remove all mildew from the surface by scrubbing with a diluted bleach solution (one part bleach, three parts water), wearing proper safety protection, including rubber gloves and eye protection. Rinse thoroughly, prime bare surfaces and paint. To protect against mildew, use a top quality latex paint and clean when necessary with bleach/detergent solution. Consider installing an exhaust fan in high moisture areas.

3. Brush and Roller Marks from Poor Paint Flow and Leveling—Failure of the paint to dry to a smooth film results in unsightly marks or patterns after the paint dries.

Possible causes include use of low quality paint or wrong type of roller cover or low quality brush, adding additional paint to “touch up” partially dried painted areas, re-brushing or re-rolling partially dried painted areas.


Use high quality paints to prevent this problem from occurring. Quality paints contain ingredients that enhance paint flow and form a smooth film. When using a roller, be sure to use a cover with the recommended nap length for the type of paint being used. Use a high quality brush, a poor brush can result in poor flow and leveling.

Visit to view the new 2009 PQI color trend information.