Surface coatings are mainly applied to protect concrete structures against various environmental conditions. However, the interface between the concrete and coating is a weak link, and interfacial delamination is the primary mode of failure. Fracture resistance is the main design criteria for these materials, and therefore, it is necessary to investigate possible causes of interfacial failure for preventive measures. To this end, we have investigated the potential failure mechanisms and measured interfacial strength by performing a pull‐off adhesion test on epoxy coated cement paste. From the pull‐off adhesion test, adhesive (interface) failure between cement paste and epoxy is predominantly observed. It is observed that the adhesive (interfacial) strength for the sample tested on 50th day is more than the 28 days hydrated sample. This is due to additional curing of cement paste samples after coating epoxy which leads to higher interfacial strength. We also present the phase‐field model (PFM) to predict the adhesive failure for this system. The results obtained from the PFM, i.e., load at failure and crack path are validated against experimental results. Finally, the influence of various material parameters such as elastic modulus and fracture energy of the interface on interfacial fracture behaviour is studied. © The Author(s) 2021.