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Old 02-12-2012, 01:01 AM   #1
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Homeowner In Need of Exterior Pro Painting Job Failure Advise


This is our first post, thanks in advance for reading and replying! We are looking for suggestion or guidance on how to proceed and remedy the underlying cause of paint failure, prior to asking painters to come back for repaint after the rainy season.

We have a ranch-style house with lap siding in SF East Bay, where the outside paint progressively deteriorated after moving in for 3 years. Note the deterioration was very slow and localized on one particular side of house, which would contrast dramatically with the aftermath of new paint job and how accelerated and rampant the failure was. In other words, it looks worse now and wide-spread as compared to before the new paint.

We did our homework (multiple bids and reading contractor forums) and found qualified professional painters through Consumer Checkbook. The job went to a local company with 30+ years of experience and properly licensed. Painters used KM (Kelly-Moore) 1240 line for body (sprayed twice), and Peel Stop (& like) for areas that had to scraped/sanded.

Job was completed in late Sept'11, though started showing signs of paint peeling & flaking soon afterwards (less than two weeks). Weather was mild the whole time, no major storm prior/during/after the job. See attached photos taken in Oct'11:





and Feb'12 for comparsion:













Painters came back for inspection along with KM rep and concluded that the failure was due to high moisture content in siding and crawlspace drainage. We did have multiple drainage specialists to assess and ascertain that drainage is indeed an issue, though likely not THE issue (based on peeling pattern).

Here are our questions:
1. Based on photos presented, where minor paint cracking/flaking/peeling are also seen in areas that have no crawlspace (2nd to last photo), is there a possibility that drying time/application/preparation might also be an issue?

2. Is it best to remove sidings and examine the house/kraft paper and framing behind to assess conditions/wetness, prior to repainting for sure?

3. Ensuing rain storm did point out that we have standing water within crawlspace due to expansive soil and clogged sub-surface drain line from downspout, thus french drain is definitely in the picture of comprehensive remedy. In reality, is that the major contributing factor?

Thanks again for patiently reading through our costly professional painting woe, and likely an even bigger woe regarding french drain fix.


Last edited by RX8tasy; 02-12-2012 at 01:33 AM.
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Old 02-12-2012, 09:39 AM   #2
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Homeowner In Need of Exterior Pro Painting Job Failure Advise


RX, welcome, and sorry about your predicament. In all honesty, if pros on the scene haven't come to a full conclusion, pros here aren't going to through pictures. It's obvious that moisture is the primary cause, but where it's coming from and why's it's occurring are on site determinations. You saying it looks worse now than before tells me you might have two issues. Obviously, you have structural issues with drainage and ventilation of the crawlspace that need attention. But, did they powerwash the house, and how much time elapsed between that and applying primer/paint? One observation I have have is that the siding looks extremely sealed and is not sufficiently gapped enough to breath, a situation for which there are remedies like vents and siding shims. Liability is ensuing here and I'm pretty certain that someone on the hook will figure out how to solve it.

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Old 02-12-2012, 10:01 AM   #3
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Homeowner In Need of Exterior Pro Painting Job Failure Advise


Standing water in a basement can and does cause a ton of problums.
Is the grade under the house lower then the outside grade?
Has there been any trenching and a sump pump added under the house.
With those open soffits I'm guessing you also have no soffit vents.
Is there at least a ridge vent on the roof?
Soffit venting can still be added to your house by using snap in 4" round vents in the blocking at the top of your wall.
I've seen lots of these house with that ship lap type siding that just will not hold paint, could be the moisture, it also could be what's called mill hardened finish on the siding it's self.
The fibers were compressed so hard during the planning process that paint can not grab onto the wood.
One way would be to do a simple miosture test on the peeled areas. A probe is pressed againt the wood and a reading should tell if the moisture level is to high.
We tryed sanding with 80 grit sand paper, sand blasting using the best primer Sherwin Williams sells but if the moisture is still to high it pushes the paint right off the wall.
After doing all this and the paint still peeled, the home owner finily installed vinyl siding.
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Old 02-12-2012, 11:06 AM   #4
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There is one question I have: Is the siding peeling in any other area of the house that is NOT under the windows? From the two pictures above I notice two things right off the bat. First picture, water stained wood with mildew. The second picture, water stain along the cracking of the paint. So you definitely have a water issue behind your siding somewhere. Now back to my original question...is this happening only under the windows? From the pics you posted, the majority of the peeling is under those windows. It is possible you are getting water behind your siding from those windows. Check the windows/trim to see if the caulking is tight.
On another note, I don't really forsee how standing water in a crawl space can do that kind of damage to your siding...especially 3'-4' up your siding. If any, you'd have mold & mildew under your crawl space from stagnant water, hot weather, etc, etc.
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Old 02-12-2012, 02:07 PM   #5
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Homeowner In Need of Exterior Pro Painting Job Failure Advise


Hiya RX

Sorry about your experience - seems you've got a mess on your hands. From what I can gather from your pics, it looks like you've got redwood siding that has had multiple coats of paint applied over the years. In an earlier post, I mentioned how paint, even latex paints, lose their ability to "breathe" after multiple coats have been applied - and I believe that's a part of your problem. The thickness of the paint chips indicate that the new paint isn't what's peeling...it's what is underneath the new paint that has given up adhesion - but, by itself, that's not really the cause of the problem.

It's also not surprising that the paint didn't start peeling wholesale until the new paint was applied. Newly applied latex paint creates an enormous amount of stress on an existing coating as it dries - if that existing coat of paint didn't have a great adhesion, the new paint adheres to the old, but the old no longer is able to adhere to the substrate.

So, to begin with, anytime paint peels to the substrate as yours has is pretty indicative of a moisture problem that needs to be repaired. You've obviously got a moisture problem within your home - probably from, but not necessarily limited to, the crawl space. While it looks like it's properly and adequately ventilated, apparently not so. Moisture will ALWAYS find the path of least resistance to escape, and evidently that path is right through your siding. You might want to check your crawl space to see if it's not, in fact, over-insulated (which may keep the moisture from escaping through the vents).

It's also apparent from your pics, that this isn't the first time the paint has peeled. If all your painters did was to repair the areas that had peeled, then painted over the entire surface - all they've accomplished is to make the moisture, that must escape, find a new path of least resistance...in other words, peel somewhere else next time it's painted. I didn't say their prep was wrong, but I'm not really sure it was complete.

I'm also a little concerned with the thickness of the new paint - 2 spray applications? Not that that, in itself, would necessarily create a problem, but often times (too often) spray apps go on a tad thick. It'd be interesting to get a mil reading on the newly applied coat(s).

I'm gonna recommend a couple of things - (1) have someone other than your painter or a Kelly Moore rep look at it for their recommendation. It's always good to have an un-biased observation...(2) consider removal of existing coating - from the pics, specifically #5, it looks like their is a breakdown in the original coatings that may have turned to loosely bound chalk - products like Peel-Stop work great on "re-binding" that chalk, but it won't penetrate through an existing coat of paint. I think you're gonna need to remove what's there...(3) Once removed, install siding wedges and/or 1" ventilating louvers around the areas where peeling has been the biggest problem (typically the south and western exposure)...then, (4) prime and finish. I personally prefer an oil primer in this type of application, but my guess is you don't have much access to oil in your area - so stay with a high quality latex primer with tannin stain blocking properties and finish with a high quality acrylic finish.

The problem here is not the paint - it is a moisture problem + inadequate surface prep by your paint contractors. Kelly Moore makes a pretty decent product and I wouldn't hesitate to use it again, although I wasn't real impressed with their response to your predicament. Good Luck.

Last edited by ric knows paint; 02-12-2012 at 03:14 PM.
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Old 02-12-2012, 02:35 PM   #6
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Homeowner In Need of Exterior Pro Painting Job Failure Advise


The reason I mentioned the standing water under the house is I'd be willing to bet there is fungus among other nasty things growing under that house by now.
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Old 02-12-2012, 03:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BraniksPainting View Post
There is one question I have: Is the siding peeling in any other area of the house that is NOT under the windows? From the two pictures above I notice two things right off the bat. First picture, water stained wood with mildew. The second picture, water stain along the cracking of the paint. So you definitely have a water issue behind your siding somewhere. Now back to my original question...is this happening only under the windows? From the pics you posted, the majority of the peeling is under those windows. It is possible you are getting water behind your siding from those windows. Check the windows/trim to see if the caulking is tight.
On another note, I don't really forsee how standing water in a crawl space can do that kind of damage to your siding...especially 3'-4' up your siding. If any, you'd have mold & mildew under your crawl space from stagnant water, hot weather, etc, etc.
I don't think what you're looking at there in the first pic is mildew, nor water staining. To me, both pics look more like redwood (tannin) staining with some actual wood fiber (brown stains on the back of pic 1 and slight yellow ring in pic 2). The exposed siding (pic 1) looks like aged wood with perhaps the original primer that has penetrated deeply into the wood, giving the appearance of a transparent, hazy, whitish stain - with nothing left on the surface except the chalky remains of a worn out paint film...and whatever integrity the previous coats of paint may have had at the time the new paint was applied, seems now to be adhering to the paint chip (instead of the wood siding).

I agree with you on the standing water in the crawl space, it couldn't be a good thing for it to just sit there and should be drained, but I don't see how it directly is gonna affect the film..

...and one more thing. I'm guessing these are southern or southwestern exposures of the house. Now take a look at RX's first pic. Because of the size of the eaves (or cornice) a large shade is cast to just below the window as is seen in pic 1...That is why most of the peeling takes place beneath the windows - that's where there is the least amount of protection from the sun's rays - moisture, in the form of vapor, will always gravitate to the areas of the most warmth. The higher up the wall, the more protection from the sun, the less peeling takes place (look at the shade pattern in RX's original pics #3 & 4).

Last edited by ric knows paint; 02-12-2012 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 02-12-2012, 04:42 PM   #8
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).
You've got a good point there Ric. Very well could be redwood siding. It's still gotta be holding or absorbing some water from behind though which is making it peel like that. I do see the large overhangs and that is why I asked if most of the peeling was below those windows. Rain can blow though and it's possible it's hitting those windows and finding it's way behind the siding. Hard to say for sure without really being there to assess the entire situation.

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Old 02-12-2012, 07:47 PM   #9
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did they powerwash the house, and how much time elapsed between that and applying primer/paint? One observation I have have is that the siding looks extremely sealed and is not sufficiently gapped enough to breath, a situation for which there are remedies like vents and siding shims. Liability is ensuing here and I'm pretty certain that someone on the hook will figure out how to solve it.
Thanks jsheridan for the welcome!

Exterior was powerwashed on Fri morning, with crews starting prep the following Wed, and completing Thu late afternoon (2day). So about four/five days elapsed. How long should it be?

As for someone on the hook, painters expect us to remedy crawlspace water issue before repainting. We are fine with it, though not certain if that's the cure. Remember that the paint prior had the same issues to content with, but never this bad.

Last edited by RX8tasy; 02-13-2012 at 12:59 AM.
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Old 02-12-2012, 08:00 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
Is the grade under the house lower then the outside grade?
Has there been any trenching and a sump pump added under the house.
With those open soffits I'm guessing you also have no soffit vents.
Is there at least a ridge vent on the roof?
One way would be to do a simple miosture test on the peeled areas. A probe is pressed againt the wood and a reading should tell if the moisture level is to high.
After doing all this and the paint still peeled, the home owner finily installed vinyl siding.

The house sits on concrete walls & wooden posts underneath, with bare earth that is below grade on the outside, which I believe is typical here. If it was full slab foundation, I'm sure that water percolation would find it difficult to come in underneath the house.

We do have full-length ridge vent and soffit vents, though those are related to roofing and attic ventilation, not sure of its significance to crawlspace.

Painter did use moisture probe as part of follow-up examination, but not prior to start of job. I have probe myself too, and can provide data as instructed if it's helpful here.
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Old 02-12-2012, 08:06 PM   #11
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http://www.sherwin-williams.com/do_i...ling/index.jsp
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Old 02-12-2012, 10:28 PM   #12
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Too much moisture in the crawlspace because of no ground cover plastic sheeting will migrate up the exterior walls due to the "stack effect" ending in the attic; http://www.wag-aic.org/1999/WAG_99_baker.pdf

Brought on by both natural and forced pressure differences as the article brought out. Any power fans or turbines on the roof to vent the attic? Are the wiring/plumbing holes in the crawlspace floor air sealed with canned foam? Are there any outlets on that wall right where most of the peeling paint is? The siding requires gaps under it as it is lap siding. Any moisture in the wall has to come out, especially on the sunny-side, driven in- similar to:http://www.buildingscience.com/docum...n-brick-veneer except the moisture is driven up the wall cavity due to the temperature/pressure differences from the damp crawlspace.
I'd drive some wedges under the siding on that side only, photo #4: http://www.buildingscience.com/docum...oss-enclosures

And, welcome to the forums!

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Old 02-12-2012, 11:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BraniksPainting View Post
There is one question I have: Is the siding peeling in any other area of the house that is NOT under the windows? From the pics you posted, the majority of the peeling is under those windows. It is possible you are getting water behind your siding from those windows. Check the windows/trim to see if the caulking is tight.
On another note, I don't really forsee how standing water in a crawl space can do that kind of damage to your siding...especially 3'-4' up your siding. If any, you'd have mold & mildew under your crawl space from stagnant water, hot weather, etc, etc.
We do have areas where new paint cracked either horizontally or vertically without crawlspace or nearby windows. However, the majority areas peeling off did experience water coming through the window frames from leaky shake roof ('10) or shower leaking behind walls at some point ('08), prior to being remedied. So it's unclear whether the sidings/framing/insulation/kraft paper ever dried up after all this time. They also happen to be eastern/western exposure.

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Old 02-12-2012, 11:51 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by ric knows paint View Post
it looks like you've got redwood siding that has had multiple coats of paint applied over the years. The thickness of the paint chips indicate that the new paint isn't what's peeling...it's what is underneath the new paint that has given up adhesion - but, by itself, that's not really the cause of the problem.
We do have redwood siding per a number paint estimators. Bulk of estimates all bid on spot scrape/sand/prime/paint, instead of taking off existing/previous layer if in smooth condition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ric knows paint View Post
So, to begin with, anytime paint peels to the substrate as yours has is pretty indicative of a moisture problem that needs to be repaired. You've obviously got a moisture problem within your home - probably from, but not necessarily limited to, the crawl space. While it looks like it's properly and adequately ventilated, apparently not so. Moisture will ALWAYS find the path of least resistance to escape, and evidently that path is right through your siding. You might want to check your crawl space to see if it's not, in fact, over-insulated (which may keep the moisture from escaping through the vents).
I will check every ground-level vent to make sure airflow is unimpeded.

Silvery/shiny part is the standing water immediately after rain.




Signs of previous water invasion



Insulation is seen around heating piping and outer wall floorboard.



Quote:
Originally Posted by ric knows paint View Post
It's also apparent from your pics, that this isn't the first time the paint has peeled. If all your painters did was to repair the areas that had peeled, then painted over the entire surface - all they've accomplished is to make the moisture, that must escape, find a new path of least resistance...in other words, peel somewhere else next time it's painted. I didn't say their prep was wrong, but I'm not really sure it was complete.

I'm also a little concerned with the thickness of the new paint - 2 spray applications? Not that that, in itself, would necessarily create a problem, but often times (too often) spray apps go on a tad thick. It'd be interesting to get a mil reading on the newly applied coat(s).

I'm gonna recommend a couple of things - (1) have someone other than your painter or a Kelly Moore rep look at it for their recommendation. It's always good to have an un-biased observation...(2) consider removal of existing coating - from the pics, specifically #5, it looks like their is a breakdown in the original coatings that may have turned to loosely bound chalk - products like Peel-Stop work great on "re-binding" that chalk, but it won't penetrate through an existing coat of paint. I think you're gonna need to remove what's there...(3) Once removed, install siding wedges and/or 1" ventilating louvers around the areas where peeling has been the biggest problem (typically the south and western exposure)...then, (4) prime and finish. I personally prefer an oil primer in this type of application, but my guess is you don't have much access to oil in your area - so stay with a high quality latex primer with tannin stain blocking properties and finish with a high quality acrylic finish.

The problem here is not the paint - it is a moisture problem + inadequate surface prep by your paint contractors. Kelly Moore makes a pretty decent product and I wouldn't hesitate to use it again, although I wasn't real impressed with their response to your predicament. Good Luck.
Thanks for the multitude of advices. Re (1) second opinion, is it copacetic/fair to the new painter knowing he/she won't be the person getting the repair job in most likelihood? Also, the sides faring the worst is eastern exposure during morning to noon, with second worst being western exposure. We were thinking to plant hedge/vine along the most serious affected wall to avoid sun pulling the moisture out of the paint, as an aid. Thoughts?
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Old 02-13-2012, 12:08 AM   #15
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Not a great idea, why would you add plants that would shield it more not less.
Never a good idea to have any plants right up againt any siding.

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