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armen30 05-27-2007 08:29 AM

Paint peeling off Bathroom Ceiling!!!
About two weeks ago we had a contractor come in to install an exhaust fan and fix up our bathroom ceiling. He scraped and sanded the surface then primed it with Kilz oil based primer then used a dry wall compound to smooth out the ceiling imperfections. He came back the next day added another coat of Kilz primer then came back two days later to finish up the exhaust fan and painted the ceiling with a Benjamen Moore latex paint. He told us to wait about three days before using the shower. This is no problem since we have another shower to use (although we prefer our main shower) We ran the exhaust fan and another fan over a couple of nights to help the drying process. Well two weeks have gone by since we started using the shower (after the three day period of no use) And the paint in the shower area, which is a lowered ceiling just started to peel off, in fact as I started to pull on it, most of it just came right off and it seems to have taken the primer with it. The surface is uneven in spots again with some paint and patch spots that wouldn't come off. The ceiling that's raised up from the shower area has a few spots where the paint has peeled off as well. We have been running the exhaust fan but still we get a lot of moisture on the ceiling. What should we do??? Did we need to wait longer than three days to use the shower? On average the shower is used about 30-40 minutes a day. I have a bonding primer from Sherwin Williams and some Perma White that worked great on the walls, but not so great on the ceiling (Didn't use a primer that time and it took the Perma White months before it started to crack). We have plaster walls and ceiling.
Any ideas or suggestions would be great!!!!!!

Oh one other question, since there are only two small spots where the paint has peeled on the upper portion of the ceiling seperated from the shower, could those spots just be patched and painted over and allow the ceiling to dry and cure longer. Or does the whole ceiling have to be re primed and painted again???


jms 05-27-2007 10:22 AM

peeling paint
Peeling paint means bad adhesion on either primer or top coat.
Moisture is the problem.
I believe the ceiling was not cleaned well and maybe not dry when primer was put on. Oil and water do not mix well. Oil primers are great
but not for where there is moisture. Make sure ceiling is cleaned as well
as possible-sometime this is the hardest part of painting a bathroom.
Scrape areas where paint and primer are failing to adhere. Light sanding of ceiling. Wipe off dust with a damp cloth not wet but just damp enough to pick up dust. Let dry for 20 minutes. Use a latex primer-sealer(zinsser primer 123). One coat should be enough. Then top coat with what ever you want. Latex will breath and let moisture escape oil will not. I have painted 100"s of bathrooms with procedure and never had a problem. and yes I learned the hardway when first starting out. I thought using oil primer would fix all problems. Remember oil and water don't mix. Paint or primer must have a clean dry surface to stick to.Hope this helps.


slickshift 05-27-2007 05:20 PM

If it's pulling the primer, then it's a prep/prime problem
Not cleaning properly, or not wiping off the drywall dust (if drywall was repaired or joint compound was used anywhere) would do it
If it's that waxy drywall often used in bathrooms, that would do it (if not sanded or primed properly)
If it's truly "plaster", then I can't help with what type of primer should have been used
It's SOP around here to remove all plaster and replace it with drywall
But, whatever method/product the contractor used...didn't work

Three days should have been plenty of time-that's not the issue

Call back the contractor
I believe it's either
A) His fault, or
2) It needs an eyeball to determine exactly what happened/failed

Unless it's a substrate failure (it doesn't sound like it), it should be covered under the contractor or paint co. warranty

Don't do anything until you have the contractor back
Anything you do may/will negate any warranties, explicit or implied
Even if your contractor does not provide a warranty (a piece of paper saying so), there may be laws in your state which provide them

Don't touch it
Call the contractor

armen30 05-28-2007 11:56 AM

When I first tried to do it myself I used a latex primer from Sherwin Williams and that also had a problem sticking. I did the joint compound myself and maybe I didn't have the surface cleaned properly. But so far nothings bonding to the surface??? Taking all of your points into consideration and calling the contractor on Tuesday.

slickshift 05-28-2007 01:11 PM


Originally Posted by armen30 (Post 46621)
I did the joint compound myself and maybe I didn't have the surface cleaned properly.

Even if you did the joint compound, the cleaning is part of prep and the painter's responsibility (in other words-again not your fault if you farmed out the painting part)


Originally Posted by armen30 (Post 46621)
But so far nothings bonding to the surface???

That is worrisome

Is it actual plaster, or drywall/sheetrock?

armen30 05-28-2007 02:25 PM

It's plaster, everything here on the main floor is plaster. I'm guessing it's all original to. This is a Bungalow that was built in 1950. We decided months ago to repaint the bathroom as the paint was starting to ware out. We painted over the old stuff using Perma White bathroom paint. I didn't use a primer because it said it was self priming but I did put two coats on. After a few month or two the paint on the ceiling started to crack and flake, the walls however are just fine. So I scraped the ceiling the best I could, used a joint compound around spots where paint wasn't coming off trying to create a smooth level surface (not so level or smooth) Then I used a latex Sherwin Williams primer (two coats) and some exterior paint we had left from painting the outside of our house. Of course that started bubbling and peeling underneath and that's when I called the professional.

So I don't know? We've tried a couple different primers (oil and latex) and three different kinds of paint and nothing is bonding to it????

boman47k 05-31-2007 08:18 AM

Slick? Think it may be possible that the fan is not vented to the outside and letting the ceiling get wet from the topside causing the primer and paint to be pushed off? May be worse with blown insulation staying moist?

armen30 05-31-2007 08:36 AM

Our contractor came by on Tuesday and was puzzled by what happened he said he was going to talk to his paint guy and show him a sample. Another contractor a friend asked first said "remove the plaster" But offered the idea of running a dehumidifier for three days pulling any and all moisture from the plaster as it probably has been absorbing it. It's been running for a day and a half now. Last night I went in and started to scrape paint from the ceiling and noticed that a portion of the ceiling near the door was cured and as solid as the walls. It seemed ok. Then I went to the shower portion and started scraping there and eventually pulled off layers of paint??? I'm not sure how to describe it but the sections that didn't have the drywall compound on it and some that did became kind of soft and plyable where it just kind of peeled off. Down to this green paint that was underneath. In some spots some of the plaster is now visible and that green paint can be chipped away. The green layer of paint is the last layer before you hit plaster. Still waiting to hear back from our guy but my thought is to try and get the ceiling dry, scraped and sanded and give it another go with the Bullseye 123 primer and some perma white.

The contractor did vent to the outside, whether it was properly done I'm not for sure.

The other thought is, if we've been painting on other layers of paint and now drywall compound, how could the plaster even be a factor???

Sorry if this seems like a jumble of info but I'm trying to put out as much info that I can. Thanks for your time!!!!

Dusty 06-01-2007 05:04 AM

Here's a long shot for you but just in case...

I have seen this happen a couple of times now. Where we actually found out why was in my mom's house (1960 all plaster) when a painter noticed a small bit of paint actually starting to peel away (basically looking like it was falling from the ceiling). What he felt was that whatever had first been painted on that plaster was now giving way under the weight of all the additional layers of paint. So it may have held for say 8 top coats, but the 9th was pulling it off.

This seemed weird to me but he refused to paint the ceiling because of it (it was one of those ceilings that looks like icing so hard to remove the paint) and he glued back the falling piece and it was left alone.

Meanwhile, about a year later in my 70 year old house I painted a bedroom ceiling and one night a piece fell to the floor. Some more areas were starting to pull away. There seemed to be some very fine cracks forming so I went after it with a putty knife and a lot of it came right off, down to virgin plaster, no cracks, no moisture, just junks of paint. What a mess, some paint stuck solid, some gone. I can only think it was the same issue after seeing that pristine plaster shinning through after all those decades.

I have another old house now and in my office there are a lot of bumps and cracks and patches and I fear the same thing is going on. If the thickness of paint in the corners is any indication, there has been a lot of paint applied in this room. After dealing with it before, I think the smart move this time is to simply cover it with dry wall.

armen30 06-01-2007 08:30 AM

Yeah, I'm starting to think a new surface may be our only option. It's going on three days since we last spoke with our contractor....I'm starting to feel as though we've been abandoned. I'm on the fence on trying one last chance effort to use that bullseye 123 primer with a topcoat of perma white and just let it dry and harden for a week or longer and see if that sticks. At the same time we probably we'll be looking for a new contractor.

slickshift 06-01-2007 03:48 PM

Moisture shouldn't be getting behind all that paint and making it peal from the primer up after the paint has been applied

At this point, here's almost no other explanation other than the substrate has been compromised

Whether there is old moisture under there from when it was applied, oil, hairspray, some other contaminant, or it has simply aged it's way into this situation...I couldn't say from here

It interesting that the joint compound has stayed
It's possible it could have contaminated after j/c but before the first coat of paint
It could be that the j/c is merely hanging on a bit longer

Hard to say from here

Dusty 06-02-2007 01:41 AM

FYI, I just found this while looking for some other paint info. It pretty much describes the type of peeling I had on my ceiling although it didn't look as dramatic as these photos. Anyway it does explain about there being too much paint sometimes.

BTW the site is kind of interesting to roam around in with tips and examples of how things can go wrong etc.

armen30 06-02-2007 08:03 AM

Is it possible to take out the plaster from the ceiling and replace it with drywall without affecting the walls? It would seem that the shower would be the tough part at it curves down to meet the wall and tile on both ends.

boman47k 06-04-2007 11:22 AM

Why not just cover the paster with ne drywall. I see no need to tear out the plaster. Depending on the curve, you may be able to put 1/4" dw up there. I have never put 1/4" dw on the ceiling for fear of it sagging, but have read on here of it being done. I might would use furrowing strips to make sure I had enough support for the rock. Then again, maybe scrape off all the paint that will come off and use adhesive in the field beteen ceiling joists. Just pondering the situation here. Maybe Slick or one of the other more experienced can comment on the adhesive and plaster aspect.

armen30 06-04-2007 11:38 AM

Well as I said before our contractor has jumped ship on us. He won't return our calls. So this weekend I cleaned off the ceiling the best I could primed once with bullseye 123 and put on two topcoats of Perma White. The surface is no longer smooth but if the paint sticks that's a win in my book. I left the dehumidifier running and then later switched to a regular fan. The plan is to just wait a week before showering and see what happens. A different contractor called Sunday and thought that was a good game plan to go with and to call if things don't work out.

This sure has been a strange experience in the world of home repair. For anyone who might be curious about how this all turns out I'll post updates as they happen. I know it's along shot at this point but we'll see if the paint holds this time.

Thank's for all your suggestions so far, this forum is great!!!!

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