Crazing/Cracking and Alligatoring

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Last Updated: May 4, 2021

A pattern of cracking that looks like the cracking of an alligators’ dry skin or a large number of small cracks in a number of directions is often referred to as crazing or alligatoring.

When repeated coats of paint are applied over other coats, often over a period of years the chances of crazing or alligatoring increases.

Common cause

The layer(s) under the top coat get brittle over time and expand and contract due to thermal and moisture changes differently than the more flexible top coat.

The lower coats tend to crack first and then the cracks work their way up to the top coat; then patterns of thin cracks develop in the top coat paint film.

Other causes

  • The top coat is painted on before the primer or base coat is fully dry.
  • A top coat of rigid oil enamel paint, when applied over a soft flexible coating tends to craze.

Maintenance and repainting

These type of cracks may allow moisture to work its way down to the wood. Once the wood becomes moist, it expands and then more cracking occurs. The process repeats its self. Proper repainting of these areas will help extend the life of wood or siding.

Who to consult? Painters and qualified handymen.

Home owners will often handle many painting jobs around the house, both inside and outside. Handymen and painters will also handle painting tasks. Normally painters are the most proficient, knowledgeable and quickest at doing painting task.

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