What is Alligatoring?

Alligatoring is patterned cracking in the surface of the paint film resembling the regular scales of an alligator.


Possible Cause:

  • 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.
  • Natural aging of oil-based paints as temperatures fluctuate. The constant expansion and contraction results in a loss of paint elasticity.


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

Source: Paint Quality Institute

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