How to Remove Cracked Paint

Written by lee weal
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How to Remove Cracked Paint
Save money by repairing areas of cracked paint yourself. (corner of painted wall peeling and cracked image by Stephen Orsillo from

Cracking paint is sometimes referred to as "alligatoring." It can occur due to age, moisture or improper painting techniques, such as applying an additional coat of paint before the first coat dries. It can also occur if the wall surface is porous and has not been primed prior to painting. If the area is relatively small, you can remove the cracked paint without the aid of a professional.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tarp or old sheet
  • Putty knife or painter's five-in-one tool
  • Spackle
  • Sandpaper
  • Small paintbrush

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  1. 1

    Place the tarp or sheet on the floor against the wall where you will be working. This will make cleanup easier when you're done.

  2. 2

    Lightly scrape the cracked paint on the wall surface, using a putty knife or five-in-one painter's tool. There's no need to work vigorously; scrape off only the paint that falls off easily.

  3. 3

    Lightly sand around the edges of the area where you scraped off the paint.

  4. 4

    Brush the area smooth with a dry paintbrush.

  5. 5

    Apply a small amount of spackle, again using the putty knife or painter's tool. This step may not be necessary if the area has been left smooth enough by the sanding. If you must use the spackle, lightly sand the area after the spackle dries.

Tips and warnings

  • If you live in an older home, your paint may be lead-based. If so, be sure to wear protective gear, such as a respirator and gloves. Wet the wall to prevent paint particles from floating through the air. For large areas, hire a professional.

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