Why Is the Paint Fading Off My Interior Walls?


Few things can be more frustrating from a painting perspective than noticing that an old coat of paint is beginning to fade. Maybe you’ve put in the hard work to paint the space yourself, maybe you paid someone else to do it, and maybe you just bought the home, but whatever the case, you expected a different, more vibrant paint color than you now have. What’s more, repainting the walls is only part of the solution, since you first need to get to the root of what caused the problem in the first place.

So, what are some reasons why your interior paint may be fading already, and what can you do about it?

How Interior Paint Can Fade

There are many reasons that may cause interior paint to fade, and nearly all of them have one thing in common – exposure. When a space is tightly sealed and climate-controlled, there isn’t much that the outside world can do to ruin the consistency or color of the paint job inside. On the other hand, when exterior elements come flooding in, they can cause the paint to spoil in myriad ways.

An excessive amount of heat or water can cause the paint to start to chip, peel, and eventually fade. The same is true if a space is continuously exposed to bright sunlight day after day for months to years. 

Temperature can also be a culprit, causing the chemicals to react in such a way that the paint begins to break down and fade. This is one reason why museums work so hard to keep paintings tightly enclosed and, when restoration work is needed, often work to restore the chemical consistency of the original as best as possible.

What You Can Do About It

All paint fades with time, so after a few years, it might be time for a touchup. However, that does not mean that all paint fades equally. Notably, darker shades fade slower than lighter ones on average. This is partly because they are darker to begin with and partly because being darker means they can absorb more light and heat without spoiling or starting to break down than can lighter pigments.

The marriage of paint and surface can also play a big factor. Leonardo’s “Last Supper” has faded over the centuries due to his decision to paint it on a plaster surface that wasn’t hospitable to the oil paints he used. The same basic idea holds with home painting, with some surfaces not going well with certain paints. Alkali-sensitive paints, for example, do not go well with surfaces with a high alkaline content, such as masonry. That said, some paints are more durable than others, with acrylic and latex paints among the sturdiest in this regard. 

Finally, Leonardo’s masterpiece was also troubled by moisture buildup from the kitchen behind it where church staff once cooked in its home of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. If it can do that to one of the greatest works of world art, it can do it to your humble paint job, so make sure to keep your interior surfaces as moisture-free as possible.

These basic steps can help combat fading colors and keep your paint looking more vibrant for a longer period of time. If you’re in need of a touch-up, our painters at JNG Painting & Decorating can help.

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