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Why Is Paint Not Sticking To Wall?

painting wall with paint not stuck

Painting a wall sounds easy, until you make one of the following mistakes. If you’re new to painting interior walls, you should know there’s more to painting than just slapping any old paint on the wall with a brush or roller.

One of the most common complaints is from people who either find the paint is leaving streaks or not sticking to the wall properly. So, let’s talk about some of the things that are stopping your paint from sticking.

7 Reasons why your paint won’t stick:

There are several reasons why your paint is not sticking to the wall but do not worry; every problem has a solution. Keep reading to learn more about these six reasons for paint not sticking to the wall and the solutions for each to make sure your paint stays where it belongs, on the wall.

6 Reasons Paint Is Not Sticking To The Wall: With Solutions
There are many reasons why your paint is not sticking to the wall. Below are six reasons with solutions to each discussed in detail to help you understand why the paint is not sticking to the wall and how to solve this problem.

You’re Painting A Dirty Wall

paint won't stick to dirty wall

Painting a dirty wall will, without a doubt, prevent paint from sticking to the wall.
Cleaning a wall before painting is an important step in the painting process, as new paint requires a clean and smooth surface to adhere to. The slightest bit of grime, dust, or stain creates an uneven and oily surface, preventing the paint from adhering to the wall, resulting in the paint flaking or peeling off.


Firstly, you have to remove the paint from the wall using fine-grit sandpaper. You can then clean the wall with either dish soap in warm water or any non-oily cleaners and a sponge. Make sure you wipe away all grime, dust, and stains to have a clean surface for the paint to stick.

The Wall Was Damp When Painted

Painting a damp wall is another reason for your paint not sticking to the wall. This is a common mistake made by many new painters, but the good news is that this mistake can be fixed. It is important to know that paint and moisture do not go together. Painting over damp walls causes paint to bubble and crack, and eventually, it will start to peel and flake off.
Before painting any wall in your home, look for dampness first. There are three types of damp to look for:

  • Condensation: Tiny drops of water will be on the wall’s surface.
  • Rising damp: Visible stains will be on the wall, indicating that there is mould growing.
  • Penetrating damp: There will be patches of dampness on the walls caused by moisture from outside seeping through the brickwork.


You will have to remove the paint from the infected areas where it is peeling. Once you have done this, you can wash the infected areas with a damp remover spray and sponge to get rid of the damp patches. You can then apply a coat of damp seal paint to prevent dampness from infecting your walls again. After the damp sealer has dried, you can finally repaint your wall.

Painting With Poor Quality Paint

cheap paint brand

If you have painted your walls with low-quality paint, you will definitely have issues with your paint sticking to the wall.

Low-quality cheap paints are thinner than high-quality paints and have trouble bonding to surfaces due to the poor resins used to make the paint. Resin is the primary ingredient in paint responsible for adhesion to the surface that is painted.


Firstly, you will have to remove the low-quality paint off the wall. After removing the old paint, apply primer and let it dry. Once the primer is dry, you can paint the wall in the colour of your choice with high-quality paint.

Painting Over Flaky or Cracked Paint

If the old paint on your wall was cracked, peeling, or flaky, and you painted over it, the new coat of paint will not bond to the wall.

As mentioned before, for the paint to stick to the wall, it requires a smooth and flat surface. A wall with cracked paint is an uneven surface, and this underlying paint will only cause your new paint to crack as well, which will lead to peeling and flaking.


Remove all the cracked paint off the wall using a paint sander or scraper. Once you have done this, prepare the wall for its new coat of paint by applying a primer of your choice. You can now give your wall its fresh new coat of paint without worrying about cracking or peeling.

Not Allowing Adequate Dry Time Between Paint Coats

Painting is a job that cannot be rushed, and patience is key. Each coat of paint requires a certain amount of time to dry properly before applying the next coat. If the first coat has not dried and bonded to the surface of the wall, and you run a paint roller or brush across it with a second wet coat, then you’ll pull the first coat off and nothing will stick. You must allow the base coat to dry fully, before painting a second layer on top.


There are two important times frames to consider when painting to ensure your paint has enough time to dry:

  • Paint dry time: This is the period of time it takes for your first coat of paint to dry. It usually takes 30-90 minutes for the first coat of paint to dry. The paint tin will specify the minimum drying time for the brand of paint you’re using.
  • Paint recoat time: This is the period of time it takes for your first coat of paint to be ready to receive its next coat of paint. You can apply the second coat of paint 4-6 hours after the dry time. Again, check the directions on the label.

Sticking to these time frames will ensure your paint sticks to the wall and prevent the paint from bubbling, flaking, or peeling.

Paint Roller Problems

If your paint roller is very cheap and made of poor materials there could be a problem transferring the paint from the roller to the wall. You want to use the best roller you can afford, preferably wool.

Another issue with roller sleeves is too much paint along one side, and next to nothing on another section, so when you apply the paint, you get a kind of stripe effect. You may think that the roller has even paint absorbed and that it’s just not sticking, but the problem is uneven paint soaked into the roller. You must make sure every part of the paint roller sleeve has paint on it.

No Primer Applied Before Painting

Before painting a wall, some paints may require a primer first. Not applying a primer will result in the paint not sticking to the wall.

A primer, also known as an undercoat, is a preparatory coating that must be put on the wall before painting. Primer is a sticky, flat paint with binding properties that provides a surface for your paint to stick to. After applying a primer to the wall, you will have to paint the wall within a certain amount of time after the primer has dried (24 hours – 2 weeks) to ensure optimal adhesion.


If you have already painted the wall before applying a primer and the paint is not sticking, wait for it to dry and sand it lightly with sandpaper to rough the surface and remove the paint, then apply the primer.

Alternatively, buy a premium all in one paint that contains a built-in primer. This type of paint will provide the best application. I recommend B&Q Valspar Premium, as this has the best one-coat coverage and adhesion to walls

Better Paint Adhering

Painting can be incredibly frustrating, especially when the paint does not adhere to the wall, and you do not know why.

However, exploring the various reasons why your paint is not sticking to the wall and the solutions to each can help you avoid this problem in the future and make painting easier and more enjoyable.