Painting a Room? How To Avoid Paint Bubbles

updated Mar 12, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

If you have a hard time living in a space sans color and tend to paint every place you live, you’ve likely encountered the damaging effects of bubbling paint. I have and as they appeared on Monday, I thought to myself, I should have known better! Luckily I was only painting test swatches on the wall, but there they were: those irritating little air bubbles behind the paint. What they are and how to avoid them? Read on.

What are paint bubbles?
Bubbles can form on a freshly painted surface shortly after you’ve painted, while the wall is still tacky, or days later. Bubbles (or blisters) indicate a problem with the bond between the paint and the painted surface, most commonly caused by dirt or dust that’s behind the new or older layers of paint, as was the situation in our living room. If a wall is not properly prepped before it’s painted and dust and grime are left on the surface, the problem can appear years later when older paint is “reactivated” by the fresh coat you’ve just applied. Two additional culprits may be high levels of moisture in the wall and failure to sand shiny, slick surfaces.

The best way to avoid paint bubbles?
Properly prepping a wall before painting will go a long way, including helping you to avoid paint bubbles now and in the future. To avoid bubbles caused by dirt, joint compound dust, and grime, make sure to wipe down the wall with a damp cloth (and let it dry) before you paint. For more reading about prepping for paint, check out Martha Stewart’s to-do list here or the DIY network’s video tutorial.

What to do if paint bubbles pop-up?
If paint blisters do appear, don’t touch them. Give the wall time to completely dry and cure before addressing the problem by scraping, patching, sanding, cleaning and repainting. Here is a great article about repairing paint blisters from

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