Patterned wide cracks over an entire surface.


(Condition of paint film where surface is cracked and develops an appearance similar to alligator skin). Patterned wide cracks over an entire surface of the paint film resembling the regular scales of an alligator.

Possible causes

  • Application of an extremely hard, rigid coating, like an alkyd enamel, over a more flexible coating, like a latex primer.
  • Application of a top coat before the undercoat is dry.
  • The constant expansion and contraction results in a loss of paint film elasticity.
  • Inability of the top coat to bond smoothly to a glossy coat beneath it.
  • Application of a stiff/hard coating over a soft primer.
  • Application of a short oil-type finish over a longer oil-type undercoat or primer.


  • Old paint should be completely removed by scraping and sanding the surface; a heat gun or power washing can be used to speed work on large surfaces, but take care to avoid igniting paint or substrate. The surface should be primed with high quality latex or oil-based primer, and then painted with a top quality paint.