Reddish-brown stains on the paint surface are caused by nail head rusting.

nail head rusting

Possible Cause

Nail head rusting can be caused by any of the following:

  • Non-galvanised iron nails that have begun to rust, causing bleed-through to the top coat
  • Non-galvanised iron nails that have not been countersunk and filled over
  • Galvanised nail heads that were damaged during installation or have rusted after sanding or excessive weathering



If you’re painting a new exterior construction where non-galvanised nails have been used, countersink the nail heads, and then caulk them with a top quality, water-based all-acrylic caulk. Each nail head area should be spot primed with zinc rich primer such as Dulux All Metal Primer, then paint with a quality latex coating.

When repainting exteriors where nail head rusting has occurred, wash off all the rust stains then sand the nail heads and follow the same surface prep procedures as you would for new constructions.

More problem solving advice


If you’ve noticed black, grey or brown areas on your painted surface, chances are you’re dealing with a mould problem.  For each problem you’ll find a guide to identifying it, its causes and solutions.

Cracking / flaking

Cracking or flaking is the splitting of a dry paint film. This is a problem that needs fixing as it can lead to complete failure of the paint. For each problem you’ll find a guide to identifying it, its causes and solutions.