peeling paint


Old 01-07-00, 07:48 PM
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We moved into a house that had been freshly painted inside. Within a few months, the paint began to peel every where. We tried sanding, cleaning, priming, and repainting, and the walls continue to peel. Why is this happening, and what can we do to fix this?
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Old 01-10-00, 04:12 AM
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Sounds like a moisture problem but need more info to be sure. The cause could be many different things.

Be more specific on which walls have the peeling paint - bathroom, kitchen, den, bedrooms, ???? Is this over drywall, paneling, tile, laminate, what?

What brand primer and paint are you using? Acrylic (latex) or oil based?
Old 01-11-00, 11:28 PM
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It sounds to me like you are having a vapor problem in
the walls. I would venture to say that if you were to
remove some wall board, you would find no vapor barrier
there at all. If it is an older home, sometimes they
did not put vapor barrier on the walls. The vapor
barrier should be a minimum of 4 mill but 6 mill is
better. It should be on the "warm side of the wall"
only and not on the outside edge of the wall.

What it sounds like is that the moisture in the house
is going into the walls and then it is coming back out.
Of course, if there is no vapor barrier it could be
moisture coming from the outside also.

Another thing to check is the humidity level in the
home. If the home is too humid inside, you should
obtain and use a good dehumidifier to help keep it
drier inside. In warm climates when the humidity tends
to be higher, the air conditioner generally acts as a
dehumidifier. In cold climates, do not add moisture
to the air unless it is too dry and you afe getting a
lot of static electricity (from rubbing your feet
on the carpet etc.).

But I really think it ia a vapor barrier problem.

Also, I would check with your attorney because if you
just purchased the house, the previous owner problably
knew about the problem and some states require that a
problem such as this should have been revealed at the
time of sale so that you would know what you are
purchasing. If this is the case, your attorney may be
able to obtain some releif for you financially to help
you solve the problem. This is a legal issue and I
am not an attorney, so consult with your attorney about

Clifford A. Olson, Home Inspector
AC Home Inspector - *Free* ezine
[email protected] Subject=DIY
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Old 01-24-00, 07:57 PM
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Thank you for your advice. Every wall that was painted is peeling in spots. Inside walls as well as outside walls in the living room and dining room. It is a late 40's house with plaster walls. Even the baseboard wood trim was painted and is peeling.The bathroom is also peeling, and we suspected moisture because we have no exhaust fan in there. We sanded the peeling areas in the bathroom, and repainted using a primer and bathroom paint (moisture and mildew resistant) that were recommended by a local paint shop. Within a couple of months, that began to peel also. I should also add that the kitchen is not peeling, although it was repainted before selling, and the rooms that were not painted at all before selling; the bedrooms and den, are not peeling, although all are on the same level. How much humidity is too much?
Old 01-25-00, 05:01 AM
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These rooms were painted before you bought the house or did you paint before moving in? If the former, then a cheap paint was probably used over dirty walls and/or an enamel or somewhat glossy surface.

Does the peeling go all the way to the plaster/bare wood or just to the previous layer of paint?

Sanding, a good primer, and a good paint should not have peeled in the bathroom unless there had been (or still is) water damage.

Paint peels when the bond fails. Failure is usually caused by moisture. Special primers are needed to create a good bond on slick surfaces. Dirty, dusty, greasy walls prevent a bond. Painting outside of the temperature range also prevents a bond.

As for the humidity - are your windows frosted over, the window sills wet from condensation?
Old 01-25-00, 01:07 PM
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Dear Airhead,
If you feel that the previous owners should have known and informed you about the peeling problem, as the Inspector said, you may want to find out your rightsd at There are forums there where you can ask legal questions, and you can also ask an actual attorney at FreeAdvice Live (the hours that someone is there varies from day to day, but generally there is someone there to answer questions 9am-6pm PST every day).
Good Luck!
Old 01-25-00, 07:58 PM
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I think I have two diferent problems with the same symptoms. I'm sure the bathroom problem is just high humidity because it can get very steamy in there without a fan. The other rooms were painted by the sellers and they probably did slap on a quick coat of cheap paint. The peeling is only the newest layer and it appears to be over semi-gloss. We have good double pane windows and no sign of any condensation or frosting on or around them in the other rooms. If I sand, do I have to make sure I remove all that layer of paint, or just the peeling areas? I'm concerned about painting over it where it looks okay, but having it peel later because of the previous layer. How much humidity warrants getting a dehumidifier for these rooms? Any brand recommendations? Thank you!
Old 01-25-00, 09:42 PM
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Thumbs up

In the other rooms, I'm going to venture a guess that a cheap lates paint was applied as a coverup over a glossy finish that had been coated with a paste or cream wax or a silicone polish. That type of intercoat peeling is much more prevalent then. Had they used a liquid wax removing deglosser, there would have been no problem. The binders in the paint cant hold on, thus flaking.
Light sanding should remove the finish, I hope. We do have a section on about dehumidifiers, I remember writing it a few years ago. For brand recommendations I'd go to the forum linked from that page, and ask fellow doityourselfers. By the way the painting forum should have held this response, but we're all a community, so we join in.

How come you don't register, we don't bite, or sell names, or anything. And if you want our free tips newsletters, sign up on any page of the main site.

[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited January 26, 2000).]
Old 01-26-00, 05:10 AM
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Scrape off as much peeling paint as you can. A light sanding won't hurt. Get a pole sander - your arms and back will appreciate it.

Prime with a primer from zinsser - all their primers are very good. Cover with a quality paint. Get your paint from a paint store, not a paint department.

Use quality tools. You will pay more, but they do a much better job. Quality tools save time - they hold more paint and the paint flows to the wall better. This means less brushing and rolling.
Old 01-26-00, 03:15 PM
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Thank you, every one, for your great advice! David, I will register, cuz this site is definitely valuable. I promise to be more careful about where I post. Thanks!

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