How to Fix Peeling Wall Paint
LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Anna in New Jersey who’s got a plaster paint situation.
Anna, what’s happening?
ANNA: Well, I had the paint on it, a flat base. My son went in and he put a semi-gloss and after that we put the other and it’s been peeling.
LESLIE: Well, how many layers of paint are on these walls?
ANNA: Gee, I don’t know.
LESLIE: Like years and years and years?
ANNA: Well, it’s been a while because, well, I’ve been living in here like 50 years.
LESLIE: Alright. Because sometimes what happens is, with paint – especially with plaster walls – the paint actually starts to delaminate itself from the plaster walls; meaning that there are so many layers and the newest layer that you’re putting on is just not sticking to the previous layer. And this is something that especially happens with plaster walls because they can only take so many layers before it becomes unable to stick.
ANNA: Well, the thing with this is that this happens to be a bedroom and that wouldn’t have as many as my kitchen would.
TOM: Well, there’s really two causes of delamination. One is, as Leslie says, the multiple layers of paint. And when you – the way to solve that, by the way, is that you have to strip all that paint off. So by the home improvement center telling you to sand it away, you know, they mean all of it. I mean it’s got to be down to the plaster. It really has to be stripped when it starts to delaminate.
The other source of and cause for peeling paint is a moisture issue. So the other question that we would have, Anna, is is there any way that you’re getting moisture into that wall space? Does it happen to be opposite a damp area, a vent, a duct, a bathroom? Is there any moisture source or condensation source in that particular area? Because that would also cause the paint to peel.
ANNA: I don’t – I can’t see where from because above me I had – well, we finished (inaudible) the attic but then I finished it off into rooms but nobody’s up there, so I have – in fact, I have insulation above the ceiling and that, so I don’t know where they would be coming from.
TOM: Is it only peeling in the ceiling of this room or is it peeling on the wall?
ANNA: The whole wall.
TOM: Yeah. You know, I’m starting to think that it’s probably the delamination that Leslie is talking about and the solution there is to strip the paint off with a good-quality paint stripper.
Leslie, what’s that product you used on your kitchen cabinets?
LESLIE: The one that I really like is Rock Miracle and the thing that works so well about that is that it eats through the layers of paint really well and it does every kind of paint, lacquer, enamel, epoxy. It’ll really get through everything. And I like it most because it’s quite thick in consistency, so you don’t have to worry about it being really, really messy. And it really does a good and effective job quite quickly. It might take a couple of coats just because you have so many years of paint there but it does a great job.
TOM: And Anna, the most important thing is once you get that old paint off, you have to prime it. I would use an oil-based primer like KILZ, for example – K-I-L-Z. That’s going to give you good adhesion to the old plaster surface and then you really shouldn’t have a problem anymore. As long as you don’t have any leaks there, the only other source of this is just poor paint adhesion.
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