How to Re-Do Peeling Paint
LESLIE: Bruce in Florida’s having a problem. The paint isn’t sticking to your walls. Tell us what’s going on.
BRUCE: (laughing) I bought this condominium down in Florida – oh, about two or three years ago. And I didn’t really pay much attention to the trim on the house. And so I went and bought some new latex paint – semi-gloss paint – and put on all the doors and all the trim. And now it’s all peeling off.
TOM: Oh, no. Did you put a primer on first?
BRUCE: Washed the woodwork pretty good and put this latex …
LESLIE: Did you let it dry really well?
BRUCE: I think. (laughing) I think. But now I …
TOM: But perhaps, on second thought, I didn’t. (laughing)
BRUCE: I put the … if you hit your thumb nail against it or anything sharp, it just …
TOM: Well, listen, Bruce. If it’s not sticking, it’s not sticking. And nothing we’re going to be able to tell you is going to make it stick and go back to where it was. You really have to strip this off. And …
BRUCE: And how do you do that? (laughing)
TOM: How do you do that? Well, there’s a number of ways to do it. I mean if you can get as much off, obviously, with hand pressure as you can, with a paint scraper. You could use a chemical stripper. There are a lot of nontoxic strippers out there, as well, today …
TOM: … that are available. But once you get the paint off, the next step, I think, Leslie, is going to be to prime.
LESLIE: Yeah. And if you do prime, you’ll be really happy. Because what happens with priming is it sets up for that paint to stick really well …
LESLIE: … and make sure that you get the best adhesion. Plus, if you have any knots that stick out in the wood or something like a discoloration on the wood, it will cover that up and make your paint better to hide it.
BRUCE: Alright. Okay.
LESLIE: So there’s many benefits.
TOM: What we know of the chemistry of paint, you can either get a paint that has a lot of color in it, that it’s the finish coat that makes it look really good. Or you can design a paint that sticks really well. But you can’t design a paint that looks really good and sticks really well at the same time.
BRUCE: Oh, wow.
TOM: That’s why you need primer to sort of neutralize whatever surface is there and set up the proper adhesion for the next coat, which is the color coat, that makes everything look really good. But most people want to just put the one coat on and forget the primer. And that’s the big mistake because then you end up in situations where – especially in Florida where there’s a lot of humidity and a lot of moisture – it takes less effort on the part of that paint to peel right off the door. And it’s certainly going to do that, as it has in your case.
So, you’re going to have to start again from scratch here and don’t skip the primer step. Okay?
BRUCE: I can hardly wait.
TOM: (laughing) Bruce, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. As Bruce runs off with paint brush in hand. (laughing)