A Look At Why Your Emulsion Paint Is Cracking!

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Emulsion paint is making a come back for home decor with more and more people starting to use it in a wide range of styles to get their home exactly how they want it. With the surge in popularity for emulsion paint, we have noticed more and more people reaching out and asking questions about emulsion paint to try and get the best results possible.

We have seen a number of people specifically reaching out and asking questions like “why is my emulsion paint cracking?” so we have decided to publish this article with a goal of helping any of our readers who uses emulsion paint. Thankfully, the problems that commonly cause emulsion paint to crack are easy to avoid once you understand what you should be trying to avoid making it easy to prevent it.

On top of this, the majority of people that we see asking about emulsion paint cracking seem to be beginners to home decor and painting so it is totally understandable that they would make these mistakes. It is usually due to a knowledge gap rather than your actual technique when painting so once you understand what causes emulsion paint to crack, you are usually able to paint your home with your emulsion and not have issues with it cracking.

Why Is My Emulsion Paint Cracking?

It is very common for emulsion paint to crack when painting over older paint or when you are accidentally adding water to the paint formula. Both of these mistakes are common for beginners yet easy to avoid allowing you to quickly prevent your emulsion paint from cracking.

That said though, there are some very rare cases such as mold in your walls that can also cause your emulsion paint to crack. Due to these being rare as well as usually requiring a specialist to fix the issue for you, we will not be looking at these problems in this article.

Instead, we will be focusing on the four main mistakes that we see people make time and time again that can increase the chances of your emulsion paint cracking. The majority of the time, most people are only making one of these mistakes but check our full list and how to prevent it just on the off chance you are making more than one of them when applying your emulsion paint to your surface.

Are You Painting Over Paint?

One of the most common reasons that emulsion paint will crack is due to it being applied on top of other paint on the surface. This is more common with shiny paint finishes but can also occur when applied over matte paint too resulting in your emulsion paint cracking.

There are a number of potential causes for this and the easiest way to prevent your emulsion from cracking is to remove the old paint from the surface prior to applying your emulsion. Although this can take a surpassingly long amount of time to remove all of the old paint, it is well worth it as it can prevent your emulsion from cracking as well as improve the end result of your emulsion.

The easiest way to remove your old paint is usually a wall steamer and a scraper but there are a number of other methods that you are able to try if needed. We would always recommend that you also try to avoid using chemicals such as paint stripper if possible though as they need to be removed from the surface prior to applying your emulsion or it may cause other issues with the paint.

Is Your Brush Wet?

So many beginners make the mistake of trying to paint with a brush that is wet and accidentally add water to their paint that can then result in it cracking. There are a number of reasons that a brush may be wet but the most common one is trying to clean it after each painting session to help keep the brush in working order.

Try not to leave your paint brush in water over night steeping as it makes it harder to dry for your next painting session. The water content then transfers to your paint during the painting process and can make it harder to dry as well as cause the paint to end up cracking.

Ideally, in this day and age we would highly recommend that you try using a paint roller instead of a paint brush anyway as they are much quicker. Paint rollers also make it very easy to apply your emulsion evenly on the surface too leaving you with a much better end result.

Are You Use A Cheap Emulsion Paint?

We know that a large number of people have to re-decorate their home on a budget but using the cheapest possible emulsion paint is almost always a bad idea and will quickly result in problems. The cheapest emulsion formulas on the market usually have poor ingredients that are used in ratios that almost guarantee issues with cracking, peeling, and color fade.

Thankfully, the decent emulsion paint formulas are usually only $5-$10 more than the cheaper, low quality ones. Although upgrading to these better paint formulas does pump your budget up, it is not as bad as most people initially suspect and you can usually do it without breaking your budget.

In addition to helping to prevent your emulsion paint from cracking quickly, these better emulsion paint formulas usually offer better color retention too and will also hold up better to UV light from the sun through your window that can cause cheaper formulas to fade. There is usually no need to go with the absolute best paint options on the market but do your best to avoid the cheapest ones and go with an intermediate price point product if possible.

Is The Surface Wet?

Simile to using a wet brush, we do see some people try to apply their emulsion paint to a surface that is wet. Thankfully, this is rare these days but it does still happen and as the surface you are painting dries out, the excess gas can cause the emulsion paint to bubble and crack.

This will totally ruin an otherwise fine paint job with something that can easily be avoided in the majority of cases by simply waiting. We know that your home decoration may be on a specific time scale but there’s no point in rushing it if the surfaces you need to paint are wet as it will cause more work for you later down the line.

If your home decor job is time sensitive then there are a number of ways that you can help your walls and other surfaces dry out quicker but these will increase your budget. For most of our readers, simply waiting for your surfaces to dry naturally will be the cheapest and easiest option.


That brings our article going over why your emulsion paint maybe cracking and how to prevent it to a close. Unlike some other common paint problems that we see, stoping your emulsion paint from cracking tends to be a relatively quick, easy, and cheap fix. The simple steps above can easily help to prevent your emulsion paint from cracking with minimal cost being added to the job so should be able to help as many of our readers as possible.