Why is the paint bubbling on your walls?

Paint bubbling on a wall is often a sign of failed water proofing or other water leaking into the wall cavity creating moisture build up

Summary

What can you do if you see paint bubbles on your walls?

“Thanks for your time on the phone recently about the issues I have with my bathroom with potential leaks and water damage.  As mentioned on the phone I like your web site and found the information on it very useful. Attached are some pictures of the bathroom, as well as the WC next door.

There is bubbling paint and mould on the outside walls next to the bathroom, and the bathroom door frame is also rusted – which I suspect is water damage.”

The request above came from one of our clients who had paint bubbling on the wall from water damage which is caused by failed water proofing.


We attending the site to do an inspection to try and work out if the paint bubbles were to do with a water leak, sadly she was correct that the signs of paint bubbling are an indication of failed water proofing or a leaking pipe that is letting water out into the wall cavity of the property. 


Over time moisture builds up that leads to the paint bubbling. Paint blisters or bubbles occur when the paint film lifts from the underlying wall surface. It is a loss of adhesion or ‘stickyness’ between the paint film and the wall surface that is usually caused by excessive heat, (in this case) moisture or a combination of both. What eventually happens is what you can see in the images above, is that the paint begins to bubble and peel.


What you can’t see is the extent of the damage being caused and this requires a professional plumber like Nu-Trend to assess the room and provide some potential repair solutions. For major damage it would mean demolishing the bathroom and starting again as the wall or floor damage could be so severe that it is unsafe to use. In some situations it might be isolated to an area and maybe that part of the wall can be repaired.


We would perform a site inspection and potentially leak detection if it was required using our professional plumbing equipment and tools. We are qualified and licensed, with Home Owners Warranty Insurance, to be able to then conduct remedial work from basic repairs to a complete bathroom renovation. 


Beware of anyone that suggests sanding back the wall and re-painting it, this could be a disaster waiting to happen and lead to even more costly repairs down the track.


Paint bubbling on the wall behind a shower?

 

In other situations we have been asked to look at the paint that is bubbling on the wall behind a shower area. This type of situation is very common where you have bubbles on the wall which causes the paint to peel due to the moisture build up. If it appears on the same walls as your shower then you know pretty well that it has to do with the shower waterproofing or even the pipes leaking (or both)

 


Can a plumber inspect paint bubbling from a water leak?

If you see paint bubbling on a wall in other areas of your house it may be due to a water leak. There could be paint bubbling in a bathroom or even a bedroom depending where the leak is. Inside the wall cavities there may be piping that has cracked, a seal that has failed or even a connection that has come loose. Depending on how the pipes have been installed, water could be trickling along the pipe and falling at another location that isn’t close to the actual failure.

 

This is why you would get a licensed plumber in Sydney to assess the site, the existing conditions & carry out water leak detection to find the source of the problem. Keep in mind you have to do two things in this scenario;

– find the cause of the water leaking

– work out how much damage it has caused

 

Don’t be fooled into thinking that fixing the leak is good enough – what you might not be able to see is damage to wall frames, floorboards, foundations or even under a property. It depends how much water has been leaking & over what period of time. It could even be causing mould build up in a property which could require extensive repairs.

 

You can decide to leave any damage as it is & hope that it dries over time, but if timber is rotting it can weaken the structural integrity of your house. In the case of water leaking under a concrete slab in worse case scenarios it might lead to the land subsiding slightly & putting the house out of square.

 

 

Nu-Trend is licensed as plumbers and renovators, so we can then repair the leak to stop the paint from bubbling again by either replacing taps, burst pipes or doing things like new tiling or waterproofing for a shower, bath or sink area.

 


Why does paint on a wall bubble or peel?

Paint bubbles can form long after the paint on your walls and ceiling has dried, in fact you might not notice anything for many, many years then one day you see little bubbles appear. When this occurs it is normally paint blisters or bubbles which is when the paint film lifts from the underlying surface which is normally a fibro or brick wall.

 

The loss of adhesion between the paint film and surface is usually caused by;

  • Heat
  • Moisture
  • A combination heat and moisture
 
 
Some people think it is from a poor paint job and might ignore it, although if water is leaking from failed waterproofing you can cause major damage to the structure of your property. 


Should you sand back and paint over paint bubbling on a wall?

NO. No, no, no, no – do not just sand back the paint that is bubbling and paint over it again. All you are doing is putting fresh paint on the surface that will start to bubble again in the near future. You are avoiding repairing the cause of the paint bubbling and this doesn’t make any sense because even more damage could be getting created that you can’t see.

 

If you are in a second storey there could even be water leaking into the roof or walls downstairs.

 

If you live in a house with timber floorboards and beams these could be starting to rot or mould could be building up in the home which is not ideal if you have children.


Paint in bathroom is bubbling

In a bathroom sometimes the paint will begin to bubble if the wrong type of paint has been used. Sometimes we see DIY renovators paint their bathrooms but they don’t use a moisture resistant paint. So very quickly this paint will start to bubble as it can’t repel the water that is caused from steam or heat from a shower or bath.

 

The other reason paint could be bubbling in a bathroom is because the waterproofing of the room has failed, this allows moisture to get into the room and through the wall surfaces which effects the paint.


How to fix paint bubbling in Sydney?

 

Fixing paint bubbling is not a simple, black and white answer as it depends on what the root cause of the issue is and how much underlying damage has been caused. Nu-Trend is a Sydney bathroom renovation contractor that can fix paint bubbling problems to repair water damage or fix water leaks that is causing bubbling or peeling of wall paint.

 

Here are our tips for fixing paint bubbling;

  • Book a site free site assessment to inspect your paint bubbling.
 
  • Get a repair quotation to fix the pain bubbling on your wall.
 
  • Understand if it is possible to isolated the bubbling to an area and maybe that part of the wall can be repaired.
 
  • Ask for an option that includes a repair or if major damage would benefit from demolishing the bathroom to repair wall or floor damage as well as the waterproofing.
 
  • Check whether potential leak detection is required using our professional plumbing equipment and tools. 
 
  • Make sure you are dealing with someone that is qualified but also licensed, with Home Owners Warranty Insurance, to be able to then conduct remedial work from basic repairs to a complete bathroom renovation. 
 
  • BEWARE of anyone that suggests sanding back the wall and re-painting it, this could be a disaster waiting to happen and lead to even more costly repairs down the track as water continues to cause damage that you can’t see.

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Rick Karagiannis - Licensed Plumber & Bathroom Renovator
Rick Karagiannis - Licensed Plumber & Bathroom Renovator

Rick Karagiannis is a licensed Plumber, Building Renovator and Director of Nu-Trend, a Sydney Plumber and Bathroom Renovations contractor. Nu-Trend has been operating since 2009 as an independent sole trader in Sydney. Rick provides all types of services for small bathroom renovations, leaking tap repairs, hot water high-pressure jet blasting and more.

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