As residential painters, the most common building failure we see is moisture damage to paint coatings caused by bad building design and poor installation. This pesky problem is known as “rising damp” and accounts for 70% of building defects nationally.

Why is my paint bubbling?

Fortunately, rising damp is easy enough to identify – it’s often the cause of bubbling paint or render discolouration. There are a number of causes of bubbling paint due to rising damp, some of the common concerns we see as painters are:

  • Bubbling paint around the edges of balconies, due to failure of the waterproof membrane on the balcony floor.
  • Waterproofing membrane failing to keep water seeping through planter boxes o In older houses, render which has been placed over an untreated damp area causing render discolouration and failure.
  • Pathways installed over an untreated damp issue causing the dampness to rise through structures
  • Bottom floors and unit carparks, where no waterproofing has been installed.

How can you fix bubbling paint?

Whilst any painting works affected by any water ingress from behind the coating cannot be guaranteed, there are effective solutions available to fix bubbling paint and rising damp.
The remedy for rising damp is a silicone injection – this is where holes are drilled every 100mm and silicone is placed in the hole which contaminates the surrounding brick and makes a barrier to further water rising in the brickwork. There are then additional paint solutions which can further strengthen the silicone injections.

Water coming through brickwork, mainly from tile and garden beds can be treated with a water based 2-pack paint. The previous paint needs to be removed, washed and two coats applied, after which can then be painted over. This material is so powerful it can hold 25mtr “head of water” or 250 kpa of pressure. The only issue is it won’t seal over movement cracks where water will again track. This is most common on areas such as between control joints, balcony slabs and tile beds. This needs to have a stainless angle installed so it lets the efflorescence flow over the top of the angle, not fixing the problem, but minimising the staining to lower areas.

An example of how to fix bubbling paint and rising damp

The following images show a recent job carried out by Summit, where the main issue was the path and gardens had been installed over a damp course. This caused major damage to the lower render. Moisture readings were above 40% (where below 10% is acceptable). Walls were stripped of all loose render, then water blasted. Silicone was installed at 100mm centres then water based epoxy was applied.


Areas were re-rendered and another coat of water based epoxy applied over as a sealer then painted. Whilst silicone injection alone might have done the job, the water based epoxy locked in the remaining moisture, so it wouldn’t affect the new paintwork as the remaining moisture will evaporate in the cavity.

How much does it cost to fix bubbling paint?

At Summit Coatings, we have perfected the art of fixing rising damp using silicone injections and speciality paint materials, and don’t believe it should cost the earth for a relatively easy fix.
The below table details the costs paid by one of our clients, where we were asked to come in after the remedial builder had completed the silicone injections. Unfortunately the client, at the time, was unaware of our remedial services (and paid the price!)

Remedial Builder Summit Coatings
Cost per lineal meter for single brick $500 $80
Total cost for job $4000 $460
Total amount saved $3,360

So why the cost difference? As residential painters, we’ve seen clients pay a range of different prices to remedial builders to fix rising damp. Sometimes the remedial builders have made client so paranoid of their building defects, owners will pay anything to fix the problem!

If you are concerned about bubbling paint or rising damp, contact Summit Coatings today to discuss how we can easily (and affordably) rectify your building issues, by calling 02 9973 3131 or contact us via the website.