Water Bubbles in the Wall? Here’s How to Fix the Damage

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 18, 2024

Bubbles can ruin the looks of a wall that was freshly painted a few days earlier. They can suddenly appear on a wall that hasn’t been painted in years.

What’s going on? How does such an odd collection of beads and blobs grow on a wall surface? It’s a problem that shows up more often than you might think.

ServiceMaster by Zaba helps Chicago homeowners with water-damaged interiors every day, so we’re well acquainted with bubbling paint on walls.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s happening behind those blisters in the drywall.

What Causes Bubbling in Drywall?

There are two reasons why bubbles form on drywall: problems with the painting process; or water damage inside the wall.

The effects show up on any type of substrate material, including wood and plaster. The bubbles are filled with air or water and may become larger over time.

Some wall blisters become hard, while others pop and deflate or drip.

Let’s break down some examples of both situations.

Painting Problems

  • Heat from sources such as direct sunlight or space heaters can cause blisters on freshly painted walls.
  • Drywall can bubble after applying an oil-based paint over an existing coat of water-based latex.
  • Without a primer, paint doesn’t bind well to unfinished surfaces, resulting in blisters on the drywall.
  • Using the wrong type of roller cover creates uneven coverage that can allow bubbles to develop.
  • When older paint loses its adhesion to the wall surface, it can pull away and develop small blisters.

Moisture Problems

  • Clogged gutters allow water to seep into interior drywall, resulting in bubbled paint.
  • HVAC problems in attics, such as faulty condensate lines, can spread moisture downward and blister drywall paint.
  • Heavily water-damaged interiors create a damp environment that affects paint adherence and causes bubbling.
  • High humidity in kitchens, baths and laundry rooms can penetrate walls and cause paint to blister.
  • Slow hidden leaks spread damp through porous materials and set the stage for drywall bubbles.

What Are Additional Signs of Water Damage in Walls?

Bubbling paint often indicates water damage in a wall, but it’s not the only sign of moisture problems.

If you notice any of these signs, you may be dealing with water-damaged walls.

  • Discolored streaks running downward from ceilings
  • Soft areas that buckle or depress when pushed
  • Warps or swelling that may appear gradually
  • Rotten wood or musty odors behind walls, especially after heavy rains
  • Mold growth on door and window frames, baseboards and trim
  • Flaking paint, similar to bubbles, that lifts away from drywall

How to Repair Water Bubbles in Drywall

Not every homeowner knows how to fix bubbling paint from water damage. The job might seem easy enough, but there can be complications.

For example, blistered walls that sag or crumble often indicate deeper structural problems. If the water-damaged drywall needs more than simple repairs, think twice about doing it yourself.

Consider calling a professional restoration company. If you’re in the Chicago area, Service Master by Zaba can handle the job. These are just a few of the advantages of letting our certified technicians do the work.

  • We identify the full extent of water damage that caused the wall to bubble.
  • Our teams identify and address the source of the problem.
  • Our technicians efficiently remove and dispose of all water-damaged materials.
  • We clean and disinfect affected surfaces and prep the area for reconstruction.
  • We take care of mold with certified removal and remediation techniques.
  • We replace walls and also help with filing water damage insurance claims.

If you’re comfortable with the size of the job and sure about your personal safety, then follow these four steps for repairing bubbles in drywall.

1. Prep the Area and Yourself

Things will get messy, so cover the floor and furniture with drop cloths. Prep yourself with personal protection, including non-slip shoes, work gloves, a dust mask and goggles.

2. Grab a Putty Knife

Carefully remove bumps and blisters with a putty knife. As you file them away, use a gentle scraping motion, alternating between horizontal and vertical strokes. When you’re done, rinse and dry the putty knife.

3. Fill In the Damage

Using the clean putty knife, fill in the tiny holes and scratches resulting from Step 2. Apply a thin layer of quick-setting joint compound, and let it dry overnight.

4. Finish and Repaint

Create a ready-to-paint surface by smoothing the blistered area with a fine-grit sandpaper. Be sure to apply a primer coat, use the correct type of paint, and follow all product instructions.

Dealing With Water-Damaged Drywall in Chicago? We Can Help!

If you notice any signs of water damage in your drywall, contact us here at ServiceMaster by Zaba right away. We provide prompt and effective drywall water damage restoration services.

Moisture moves quickly through the porous material. As water damage spreads, it can create serious structural issues and breed unhealthy mold.

Let us take care of everything. We bring years of experience to the job, our technicians are industry-certified, and we’re just around the corner.

Our ServiceMaster by Zaba pros are standing by 24/7, ready for your call: (773) 647-1985

Is it OK to pop water bubbles on the ceiling?

Be very careful. Place a bucket under the area to catch the water, and wear goggles as you work. If the ceiling shows any signs of buckling, don’t risk a collapse. Call our water damage professionals right away.

Can you repair drywall after water damage?

Yes, but only if the damage is limited to a small area. Drywall retains moisture, leading to mold and structural issues. It’s best to let restoration professionals tear out the water-damaged drywall and replace it with new materials.

How fast does mold grow in water-damaged drywall?

Mold begins growing in water-damaged drywall within 24 to 48 hours. The fungus feeds off drywall material and spreads through airborne spores. Always address signs of mold in your home or business immediately.