A white wall that has damaged paint to show the importance of dealing with chalking paint

What Is Paint Chalking?

Dealing with chalking paint is a common problem that many homeowners encounter. Chalking occurs when paint starts to deteriorate, causing a fine, powdery substance to form on the surface of the paint. This substance is the result of paint pigment breaking down and breaking away from the paint binder, causing the paint to lose its color and adhesion. While chalking may not seem like a big issue, it can actually lead to more serious problems such as paint failure and increased surface damage. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at why paint chalks, how to identify it, and what you can do to fix it.

Sun Exposure

One of the major factors that contributes to paint chalking is weather exposure, particularly prolonged exposure to the sun. The sun emits harmful UV rays that penetrate the paint and break down the pigments and binders that hold the paint together. Over time, this constant exposure leads to paint deterioration, causing the paint to become brittle and form a powdery substance on the surface known as chalking. Additionally, sun exposure also causes the paint to expand and contract with temperature changes, leading to cracks in the paint film and further exacerbating the problem. The heat generated by the sun can also cause paint to dry too quickly, preventing it from properly adhering to the surface and lead to chalking.

Paint Quality

One of the leading causes of paint chalking is the use of low-quality paint. When you use paint that contains subpar pigments and binders, it becomes much more likely that the paint will start to chalk over time. Poor quality paint is often formulated with lower-grade pigments that are more susceptible to fading, breaking down, and eventually chalking. Similarly, the binders in low-quality paint are often weaker, meaning that the paint film is more prone to cracking, peeling, and chalking. When you choose to use low-quality paint, you’re also more likely to experience issues with adhesion and durability. This type of paint may not adhere properly to the surface, leading to chalking, and it may also start to peel or flake off in large sections over time. Here is an article explaining how to choose the right exterior paint.

Inspect the surface

A white wall that has bubbles and cracks to show the importance of running your hand along wall and check for paint dust when dealing with chalking paint

Recognizing chalking paint is a straightforward process. To start, inspect the surface of the paint for any signs of a powdery substance. This substance is typically most noticeable on lighter colored paints, making it easier to identify. Run your finger across the wall and check for the paint dust. The larger the amount of residue on your fingers, the more intense the prep work. If you’re not sure whether the paint is chalking, try running your hand over the surface of the paint. If you feel a rough texture, this is a strong indicator that the paint is chalking. It’s essential to address the issue of chalking paint quickly to prevent further damage to the paint and surface underneath. 

Prepare the surface

A man with a yellow helmet sanding a wall to demonstrate the importance of sanding the surface to remove remaining chalk.

The first step in fixing chalking paint is to clean the surface. This can be done using a soft brush and a solution of water and mild detergent. Use a pressure washer or sandblaster if the chalking is particularly excessive. If the chalking is severe, you may need to sand the surface to remove the remaining chalk. Use a fine-grit sandpaper and sand the surface until it is smooth and even. Remove all of the sanding dust with a damp rag before moving on. Applying a primer is an important step in dealing with chalking paint. 


Using primer is a crucial step when dealing with chalking paint. Primer serves as a base layer that helps create a stronger bond between the surface and the new paint, improving adhesion and ensuring that the new paint will stay in place. A second coat of primer may be necessary if the chalking is particularly bad. The goal is to create a layer separate from the chalky wall to protect the new coat of paint. A good primer specifically for chalky surfaces is EFF-Stop Premium from Dunn-Edwards because it protects against UV color fading. It is important to cover the entire surface and not just the chalking patches when priming. 


Once the primer has dried, you’re ready to paint the surface. Choose a high-quality paint that is designed for the type of surface you’re working on and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application. Acrylic-based paints are the best options when dealing with chalking paint because of how well they hold up against the harsh UV rays over time. Evershield Ultra Premium Ultra Low Voc Exterior Paint is good option for painting chalky exteriors.  Once the surface is ready, apply the acrylic paint in multiple thin coats, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next. This will help to ensure that the paint forms a strong, durable film that will resist chalking, fading, and peeling for years to come.

Wrapping Up

Paint chalking is a frequent issue that occurs when paint deteriorates and forms a powdery substance on its surface. Here is an article that extensively explains the entire process of exterior painting. Chalking is caused by factors such as weather exposure, poor quality paint, age, and improper preparation. To identify chalking paint, look for a powdery substance on the surface, a rough texture, and lighter colored paint. Fixing chalking paint requires cleaning the surface, sanding if necessary, applying primer, and painting with high-quality paint. To prevent chalking, use high-quality paint, properly prepare surfaces, and maintain the paint. By following these steps, you can ensure that your paint remains in good condition for a longer time. 

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