peeling primer disaster


Old 07-27-06, 09:14 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2006
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peeling primer disaster


Please help with my problem. I had some small blisters on the paint above my shower stall. I scraped off all the loose paint, sanded and wiped the surface clean.

A paint specialist at Lowes recommended that I use Zinsser 1-2-3 Primer to prevent mildew and further blistering. I started to do this. However, I noticed that the primer looked fine initially, but after a few minutes it started to blister. Naturally, I poked the blisters and found that the semi-dry primer and old paint were together pulling off the wall.

It seems that the 1-2-3 primer softens the previously hard and attached paint (a semi-gloss latex for walls & trim). The areas that have been primed now peel off like dead skin after a bad sunburn. It is a mess! The surface underneath appears to be some joint compound over waterproof drywall.

What am I supposed to do? Is Peel Stop the answer? I do not know how the original paint was prepped but it has been on there for years without any problems aside from the 2 quarter-sized blisters that developed recently. The 1-2-3 primer is loosening paint that was not loose or peeling until softened by the primer. I expect another product would similarly cause loosening and peeling. I REALLY do not want to prime & peel the whole bathroom.

Please advise -- I need a shower!!
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Old 07-28-06, 04:53 AM
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Welcome to the forums

Have you had water leak? Sounds like moisture under the paint. The primer is only pulling off what paint is already loose. All the loose paint needs to be removed prior to any patching or painting.
Old 07-28-06, 07:30 AM
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no water leak but ...

No, water has not leaked in from behind/above, if that is what you mean. However, the bathroom does not have a vent/exhaust. We always leave the door ajar or keep the window open a few inches when we shower, but not surprisingly, the area above the shower gets moist.

I realize that the long term solution is a vent. But what is the immediate solution for the paint? Should I use citrius peel to remove all paint above the stall and on the ceiling? Could this damage the underlying wall?

If I strip the paint around the shower stall, where and how do I stop? I don't want to strip the whole bathroom but I also don't want a major line across the ceiling and wall.

Would a different primer not pull off the original paint? I have indoor water-base Bullseye and indoor/exterior oil primer on hand and could also get BIN or whatever else is recommended. And while the original paint must be loose on the molecular level, I have to stress that it is not visibly loose until painted with the 1-2-3 primer. I have already gone over the area with a carbide scraper and 80 grit on an electric sander and removed the few small areas that were originally blistered.

Thanks for advising. Still hoping (and NEEDING) to shower today!

Last edited by Camilli_Vanilli; 07-28-06 at 08:30 AM.
Old 07-28-06, 08:03 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Cape Cod
Posts: 4,320
By "waterproof drywall" do you mean the stuff with the wax-like coating?
It was probably never primed, and the original paint is peeling like a banana when "activated" by your primer

Short of replacing the drywall, I'd strip the ceiling, scuff sand, prime, then paint with Zinssser's Perma-White

You could prime with BIN
It shouldn't be needed, but it would help ensure against future failures
(In other words, it's a little overkill, but yes it would work, and work well)
Old 08-02-06, 12:42 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 341
waterproof drywall=greenboard (not wax finished), made for kitchens and bathrooms. The bubbles are water vapor most likely as Marksr suggests. 123 wont stop mildew, if mildew exists, treat it with clorox 1part to 3 parts water, then add mildewcide to the paint (M1 is the best, but any will do). The 123 shouldnt be pulling off the paint unless the paint wasn't adhering in the first place (probably cause no primer was used on the sheetrock or the dust wasn't wiped off causing poor adhesion). As the 123 dries it "pulls" on the under coat, which is no problem if its adhering well.
Old 08-03-06, 10:21 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2006
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Zinsser's advice

Hmmm... I did not realize primer could "activate" paint but I guess that is what is happening.... As stated in the first post, the surface underneath is actually joint compound (probably over greenboard as I have not encountered any waxy surfaces).

I spoke with a very helpful person at Zinsser. He recommended Gardz so I will give that a try.
Old 08-04-06, 08:10 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: illinois
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I'm wondering if the the drywall has moisture in it. It could look and feel dry but still have moisture after years of not having an exaust fan. Looks like you have a lot of good advice from the members and from the coating company. If it were me, I would put a fan or even a space heater on those problem area on a dry low humidity day and make sure it's dry..... Also, regular joint compound is not moisture resistant and thats what might have been used when the drywall was put up.
Old 08-08-06, 08:11 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: St. Louis MO
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Originally Posted by Camilli_Vanilli
A paint specialist at Lowes
Now THAT is funny!

My take on it is that the underlying paint never really adhered to the joint compound. 95% of failures I've ever seen are due to bad adhesion caused by a dusty surfaces. If the problem areas are all over the joint compound, that is where I'd bet my dollar on the problem. The Gardz should do the trick.

Originally Posted by Camilli_Vanilli
A paint specialist at Lowes
I just had to see that again. I needed the chuckle.

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