Peeling paint on plaster walls after 20+ years


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Old 11-07-10, 06:01 AM
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Peeling paint on plaster walls after 20+ years

Went to visit my mom this past weekend and she has paint peeling off a few walls down to bare plaster. She has owned the house for the last 20+ years and there have been a few coats of paint on the walls. One place is the bathroom where it looks like there has been water underneath the paint. They other areas are on inside walls on other parts of the house. Any ideas why this is happening? She is ready to repaint an would like to know how to prepare the surface. She smokes and believes the previous owners did before her too.







Thanks for the help,
Adam
 
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Old 11-07-10, 07:11 AM
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Those look like some form of water leak to me that's caused a stain. Has your Mom ever had plumbing issues in any areas on the floor above the leak?

My personal thoughts on fixing this are:

1. Scrape/sand any loose paint away.

2. Use a good quality oil primer on the whole affected area to seal things.

3. Use drywall compound to skim coat affected areas in effort of blending damaged to non damaged areas.

4. Sand/prime/repaint.

Just my thoughts.

Obviously you should first find out if what caused the water damage has been fixed prior to any of this or it will just reoccur. Smoking didn't cause this in my opinion.
 
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Old 11-07-10, 10:10 AM
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No, smoking wouldn't cause that damage.

That bottom picture definitely looks like water damage to a ceiling. If that's the picture of the bathroom ceiling, look for either:

a) roof leak where the bathroom fan duct goes through the roof, or
b) insulation and/or duct tape missing on any bathroom fan exhaust ducts

What can happen is that in the winter, the warm moist air from the bathroom can form condensation inside the duct and leak out onto the top of the ceiling plaster. That causes the plaster to get wet and the paint to peel off.

She should locate and correct the causes of the water leakage before she does any repainting.
 
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Old 11-07-10, 10:47 AM
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I would add that because there are both water stains and nicotine stains - an oil base primer would be in order. That will seal the stains so they won't bleed thru the latex top coat. There are a few latex primers that claim they will do the same thing but I don't have a lot of confidence in them.

Are there any windows, chimney, plumbing near the 1st 2 pics? How old is the house?
 
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Old 11-07-10, 01:57 PM
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Thanks for the help so far guys. The first two pictures are of an inside wall of a two story building which is what threw me for a loop. The house is roughly 65 years old and no chimney/windows/plumbing near that spot.
 
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Old 11-07-10, 07:10 PM
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Adam:

Go to Lee Valley or any store that sells hobby supplies and buy a cheap "hygrometer" (which is used to measure relative humidity). Use painter's masking tape to tape some clear plastic vapour barrier over those wall spots in the first two pictures. Tape the bottom, and both sides down to the wall. Now, drop in the hygrometer (face side out) and tape the top of the vapour barrier to the wall. Then watch the hygrometer needle. If it registers a gradually increasing relative humidity of the air behind the vapour barrier, then there's water evaporating from that damaged area, and that means something's leaking water behind that wall. There's no two ways about it. If so, then I'd get up into the attic and look for roof leaks, pipes, rodent nests, anything that could explain moisture behind the wall.

So far as painting over nicotine stained paint goes, you CAN just use an INTERIOR oil based primer (which will dry to an impermeable film). However, smoke stain dissolves in water. Washing the walls will remove about 75 percent of the staining from cigarette smoke. Washing the walls with a 10% solution of bleach in the water will remove the remaining 25 percent of the smoke stain.

Personally, I know it's more work, but my feeling is that any primer is going to adhere better to clean paint than nicotine.
 
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Old 11-08-10, 04:15 AM
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"Personally, I know it's more work, but my feeling is that any primer is going to adhere better to clean paint than nicotine"

I agree!! but it's hard to find someone willing to do or pay for that much work
 
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Old 11-08-10, 08:17 AM
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I agree!! but it's hard to find someone willing to do or pay for that much work.
Well, that's where the homeowner comes in.

I no longer accept tenants who smoke precisely because of this reason. They get their smoke staining all over the walls, ceilings, floors, drapes and woodwork, and then they leave it for the landlord to clean up. If I try to hire someone to clean properly, they just want to be paid handsomely for a half a$$ed job, and they don't do a good job because they don't have tools designed specifically for doing this kind of work. I have special equipment (like my Taski Vertica wall and ceiling cleaning tools) to clean up this kind of a mess.

Here's some pictures I took after the two worst chain smokers in Manitoba moved out of my building. And, these pictures were taken AFTER they tried cleaning the walls and ceilings with a sponge mop I borrowed them:







They tried cleaning the walls and ceilings in the living room and then gave up. The bedroom, kitchen dining room and hallways were considerably worse, but actually look better in the pictures because it appears that the walls are painted brown. So, you can't see the nicotine staining on the walls in the other rooms because they're stained a uniform colour of brown. It's like not being able to see the forest because of the trees.

In the first two pictures you can easily tell where pictures were hung on the walls
by the outline in the nicotine stain. In the third picture, you can see an outline on the nicotine stain on the carpet where they had a potted plant. Also in that third picture you can see where I cleaned around an electrical outlet to eliminate the nicotine stain and odor and bring the wall there back to it's proper colour. You can see where the cleaning solution dripped down the wall and removed the nicotine stain in it's path.

I have two Taski Vertica wall/ceiling cleaning systems. Basically, it's a 16 inch wide squeegee that you can connect to a wet/dry vaccuum cleaner. I just spray water onto the wall or ceiling with a garden sprayer, scrub with a nylon bristle scrub brush on a pole, and then vaccuum up the soiled water with the Vertica. Then I don an encore performance using 10 percent bleach. That gets the walls and ceilings back to the way they were before they were smoke stained, and it eliminates the cigarette smoke odour completely.

Yes, it's a lot of work, but with the right tools, the job goes quickly.
 
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Old 11-08-10, 08:48 AM
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Yeah, we outlawed smoking in our units several years ago

We tell tenants we can't stop you but we'll be able to tell if you smoked in the unit and you'll get charged to repaint the whole place
 
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Old 11-08-10, 04:26 PM
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Yeah, but in Manitoba we have the Residential Tenancies Branch who arbitrate disputes between landlords and tenants.

Residential Tenancies Branch | Province of Manitoba

And, regardless of the fact that they say it's the tenant's responsibility to clean up any smoke staining on the walls, I've never been able to collect for cleaning smoke staining after a tenant vacated. The reasoning of the Branch is that if a landlord either doesn't bother to ask if a tenant smokes on the application form, or otherwise accepts a smoker as a tenant, then it's reasonable to expect that the tenant will smoke in their apartment, and it's reasonable to expect smoke staining on the walls and ceilings as a result. That is, it's their policy that if the landlord doesn't want to deal with smoke staining in his apartments, it's up to him to screen tenants accordingly and refuse to rent to smokers. If he rents to a smoker, he can expect the apartment to be smoked up when the tenant vacates.

Also, once a tenant stays more than 5 years, it doesn't matter what condition the walls are in because the Branch is going to decide it's time the walls needed repainting anyhow. They consider that the landlord is just going to paint right over that dirt, and I'm one that doesn't.
 
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Old 11-09-10, 05:11 AM
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Never been sorry I was in the USA instead of Canada and this doesn't change my mind
 
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Old 11-10-10, 03:54 PM
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...and vice versa for me mitch17, and comments like yours do nothing to change my mind.
 
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Old 11-10-10, 05:45 PM
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Hironomous:

Mitch17 wasn't putting down Canada in his comment. He was agreeing with me that it's annoying to have bureaucrats in government that know nothing about my business making important decisions that affect me.

I can see the Branch's position on smoking. If I don't want smoke filled apartments, there's just as much onus on me to avoid renting to smokers as there is on smokers to clean up after themselves.

But, this business that apartments need to be repainted every 5 years is just plain stupid. I have house rules against smoking and burning candles and incense. I have a house rule against driving nails and screws into my walls and ask tenants to use appropriate 3M Command adhesive products instead. So, if my walls are clean and undamaged after 5 years, and a tenant goes and spray paints on them, the government decides there's no damage done because the walls needed to be repainted after 5 years anyway. (?!?) That's not stupidity, that's stupidity on stilts.

And I fully expect that on a per capita basis the US has just as many dumb bureaucrats making important decisions on stuff they know nothing about as Canada. Recall after Hurricane Katrina, someone purchased 10,000 trailers for people to live in, but they couldn't be used by the people in New Orleans because in the event of another hurricane, those trailers would become schrapnel in 175 mph winds, and create a mass action law suit for the government by the relatives of the deceased who were encouraged to live in them. It's people "in charge" that are blissfully ignorant of the subject matter they're in charge of that can drive a guy to drink. And Mitch expressed empathy. Kudos for that.
 

Last edited by Nestor; 11-10-10 at 06:35 PM.
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Old 11-11-10, 10:49 AM
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The biggest problem I have with Canada:

It's darn cold here a lot of the year and the vast majority of Canada is further north. How do you put up with that?

 
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Old 11-11-10, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by mitch17 View Post
How do you put up with that?
Alcohol and prescription pain killers, mostly.
 
 

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