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Old 09-09-2011, 02:38 PM   #1
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recurrent peeling paint on interior walls


We have a recurrent problem with peeling interior wall paint in one of the bedrooms (in old brick colonial house that breezes all too well). This bedroom has three exposed walls (is the coldest room in winter and the hottest/most humid room in summer) and door towards the deck above garage. When we bought the house, walls were painted and did not seem to have peeling problem. There were cracks in the corners and we wanted different color for the room, so we decided to repaint. My contractor repainted last summer and on the surface everything looked ok, except he did complain that it was a difficult job since paint kept coming off. Then we had a problem of water from radiators flashing on the wall (no visible moisture damage, only walls looked bit dirty . A year later, we decided to repaint the corner which was exposed to dirty water. After repainting (without primer), paint kept peeling off in various random places (not everywhere, but also not localized at previous area exposed to moisture, or near windows) or appeared cracked, but still attached ("alligator" look). We scraped the loose paint (surface was cleaned well), patched, sanded, primed entire room (so far everything looked good), repainted. After repainting, the same result--paint peels off at places and has "cracked" look in other places (possibly the places that were not affected previously. I would like to avoid using oil-based primer because I and my young son sleeps close to this bedroom. Someone suggested to put a thin drywall over the existing walls, but I think if the moisture from exterior (walls are brick) is causing peeling, eventually it will get through the drywall as well. How to solve this problem? Do I need to tackle possible moisture problem? How to block moisture ...could I use paintable moisture barrier that one uses in bathrooms under ceramic tile? Could I glue on special wallpaper, then paint it (common way to reduce cracks in painted walls in Europe in old houses)? Walls are plaster and they may have had a wallpaper once, it maybe that the glue was not properly washed off...but after so many coats of paint, I don't see how I can get to that glue. I need a guaranteed solution as I can't stand redoing this room any more. Many thanks for any advice or insight.

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Old 09-09-2011, 03:49 PM   #2
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recurrent peeling paint on interior walls


You have a complex problem that isn't likely to be absolutely solved buy someone over the internet. the best we can give you are clues to look at.

The temp changes are a problem. if moisture is penetrating from the outside, that is another problem. If there is paste that is still activating that is another problem.
All have different answers.

Lets start with, what was the primer and paint you last used, and did they dry weird ( much longer in the affected spots) than evenly?

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Old 09-09-2011, 03:56 PM   #3
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recurrent peeling paint on interior walls


Was there ever wall paper in there?
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Old 09-09-2011, 07:08 PM   #4
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recurrent peeling paint on interior walls


Thanks for your replies.

The primer was by Behr (I think) from Home Depot, water based (not oil based). The paint was Benjamin Moore Super Spec interior latex flat finish paint.

I am not sure, but there may have been a wallpaper there before. The patching in one place comes off in big piece as if underlying mesh tape did not adhere well.
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Old 09-09-2011, 07:18 PM   #5
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recurrent peeling paint on interior walls


Krista, what level is it peeling down to, the plaster or another layer of paint? You have to have the answer to that question before you can make a determination as to where the failure is occurring and why.
PS: you had to mention the "B" word?
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Old 09-09-2011, 11:10 PM   #6
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recurrent peeling paint on interior walls


Thanks for trying to solve this.

Peeling is not dramatic peeling in sheets, rather it's more like cracked paint (from distance looks almost invisible, but close up like cracked dry mud), but eventually it does come off. When I scratch the cracked pieces of paint off, I think it is down to the original layer of paint which was there when we bought the house (it was in grey color, and right now all peeling is linen white which is the color we painted over) not to the plaster. Again cracking is patchy, not all over the wall. Only in one place where there was a big crack in underlying plaster, which was taped over with mesh tape and patched big time, there is big time peeling down to the plaster (not sure it looks like plaster because it is in brick color?). All in all, peeling paint does look and feel somewhat moist (let's say not completely dry).
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Old 09-10-2011, 12:23 AM   #7
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recurrent peeling paint on interior walls


Kind of a stumper. I'm not sure if I'm following you 100%. If the problem is moisture passing through the wall, the failure would go to the plaster, entirely. Moisture is not going to cause inter-layer failure. The base layer will not remain intact while the second or third layer failed, it would take all layers down to the substrate. As to temperature fluctuations, I've seen it in older, uninsulated plaster homes where it's caused paint failure, but in your case it wouldn't happen immediately, or even in the short term. So if I'm reading you correctly, all is failing, except the patch repair, down to the original gray existing at the time of purchase. Did the coat that you put on at the time you moved in show any signs of failure? Am I right in thinking that you painted over gray, then your contractor painted over what you did, then you repainted over the damaged areas? Three paint jobs? Or, was your contractor the one who painted over the original gray? This is where I'm not following you, on the order and number of paint jobs and time frames between. It would help if you spelled it out linearly bulletin pointwise. This is important because the problem is not at the substrate level, but inter layer. Can you feed that back?
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Old 09-10-2011, 12:46 AM   #8
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recurrent peeling paint on interior walls


1. One guy painted white over the grey last summer ~June 2010. He complained that it was difficult to get the paint stick. Nevertheless job looked well done as I did not notice any problems.
... After a month or so water got splashed on one corner during installation of radiators. There was no visible damage other than a bit dirt on the wall (from water).
3. One year later, this summer ~June 2011, different guy painted over the dirty corner; he probably did not use primer.
... I am not sure when the peeling started because I was out of country for month and a half. When I came back, inspected the paint job, paint was peeling off.
4. Now September 2011 ~ 3 months after the second paint job, the guy who did second paint job, scraped, patched, sanded, primed and painted entire room. They may have rushed it...primer was painted on one day, paint the day after.
Many thanks!
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Old 09-10-2011, 05:29 AM   #9
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recurrent peeling paint on interior walls


Quote:
Originally Posted by Krista2 View Post
Thanks for trying to solve this.

Peeling is not dramatic peeling in sheets, rather it's more like cracked paint (from distance looks almost invisible, but close up like cracked dry mud), but eventually it does come off. When I scratch the cracked pieces of paint off, I think it is down to the original layer of paint which was there when we bought the house (it was in grey color, and right now all peeling is linen white which is the color we painted over) not to the plaster. Again cracking is patchy, not all over the wall. Only in one place where there was a big crack in underlying plaster, which was taped over with mesh tape and patched big time, there is big time peeling down to the plaster (not sure it looks like plaster because it is in brick color?). All in all, peeling paint does look and feel somewhat moist (let's say not completely dry).

I do not know about the rest of the story, but that sounds like painted over adhesive to me.
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Old 09-10-2011, 07:27 AM   #10
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recurrent peeling paint on interior walls


Chris, I think that you and brush are right about the paste, but Krista stated that the original gray had only, I'm guessing, stress cracking in the corner. If there was paste under the gray to the extent that it caused the next coat to give the painter problems, how would it not have caused the gray to fail? And I don't think it would have given the painter bonding problems during the job. Would it have been possible to have had paper over the gray, removed cleanly and never fully, properly washed? That seems unlikely but could give the problems she suffers. I can think of contaminents that could cause adhesion failure, but other than paste I can't think of any that would cause cracking/crazing. And fresh paint over that coat would activate what's under and cause the cracking/crazing subsequently. I think you guys are right, I just can't make sense of how. Krista, it's possible to prime and paint in the same day, so priming one day and painting the next is fine. I would repair/prepare one or two of the most troublesome areas. Since you don't want oil, which believe me would be fine, you can use a product called Gardz by Zinsser, which you can buy by the quart. Scrape and sand the area, wipe it with a damp rag, prime it with Gardz, then do any patching. Prime the patch with Gardz, then apply some finish. Let it set for a while to see if it solves the problem. I think it will. Then you can do all the patches. The areas of the room that haven't shown any indication of failure to date shouldn't need treatment, so you should be able to treat the problem areas and put one coat of finish on the walls affected. If this doesn't solve your problem, we'll go back to square one. Good Luck and please keep us posted. Checking back with the results completes the thread.
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Old 09-10-2011, 07:57 AM   #11
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recurrent peeling paint on interior walls


I have seen crazing on walls that have many layers of dissimilar paint. probably an oil lead based or two on the bottom, followed by other coats, maybe a flat latex over the oil, not prepped enough. Then with all those temp/ humidity differences the each expand anc contract differently making small hairline cracks, perhaps loosing adhesion altogether.
That's my best guess.
The solution in just about all these cases is pretty similar ( except the moisture coming from outside..)
Scrape off all bad spots that you can find, be careful with the dust- there is probably lead in there at the bottom layers.
I'd prime all with Gardz, then follow what JS said.
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Old 09-10-2011, 08:49 AM   #12
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recurrent peeling paint on interior walls


Quote:
Originally Posted by Brushjockey View Post
I have seen crazing on walls that have many layers of dissimilar paint. probably an oil lead based or two on the bottom, followed by other coats, maybe a flat latex over the oil, not prepped enough. Then with all those temp/ humidity differences the each expand anc contract differently making small hairline cracks, perhaps loosing adhesion altogether.
That's my best guess.
The solution in just about all these cases is pretty similar ( except the moisture coming from outside..)
Scrape off all bad spots that you can find, be careful with the dust- there is probably lead in there at the bottom layers.
I'd prime all with Gardz, then follow what JS said.
I thought about those possibilitie as well Brush. But those are failures that would occur over time, especially exp and contraction, not in a month or two, and certainly wouldn't give the painter trouble during the application. It's a stumper, and maybe possible that we'll be back to the drawing board in the process of elimination. We didn't consider that one of those batches was bad. Thanks.
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Old 09-10-2011, 11:15 AM   #13
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recurrent peeling paint on interior walls


Hi again and thanks for all your thoughts.

Re suggestions by jsheridan: this is exactly what we did on last round--scraped affected areas, patched and sanded them, then primed entire room (with regular primer though) and painted the room. Immediately the cracks were back, and it seems to me also in places that were not affected before. It even seemed to me that prepped areas now were fine at center, but were invaded by cracks from surrounding area.
Then would the primer you suggested make a difference?

Would oil primer absolutely solve the problem?
How many days it takes for oil primer to dry and not smell anymore?
Does anyone think that putting up a new thin drywall would solve the problem (completely)? How about paintable wallpaper (or wallpaper, I am from Europe and we had all our walls covered with wallpaper back home!) instead of painting?

I am just not sure that I want to do this job more than one time.

Thanks again.
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Old 09-10-2011, 12:18 PM   #14
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recurrent peeling paint on interior walls


Krista, we're (I) operating under the assumption that paper adhesive, or possibly another contaminant, is creating the problem. Of the possible reasons floated for the failure, I can't see any that would result in immediate failure, and moisture transfer would result in blisters/peeling, not cracking per se. But, not being able to experience the room as a whole, it's a determination based on your description. A standard latex primer is no defense, barrier, against residual paper paste. Gardz, though a latex, and oil will do that. They will seal away what's underneath from topcoats. However, I would prime before and after the patching. I'm trying to encourage you to exhaust the options with paint, without necessarily doing the whole room. Do some of the most extreme areas as samples to see how well they do. Based on your experience, you should see something pretty soon. If they fare well after a good period, you should feel comfortable doing the whole room with the proven fix, this since you seem to think new areas are appearing, which isn't surprising. Your suggested options might work, at a greater expense, but depending upon what the real reason is behind the failure, they may not be a true solution. What can be causing a problem with the paint could be something that can cause a problem with the paper. You get my point. And putting up new drywall is a big job to do it right, which you still have to paint anyway. Just put up a sign asking to pardon your appearance during the experimentation/renovation stage. Hang in there.
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Old 09-10-2011, 04:17 PM   #15
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recurrent peeling paint on interior walls


Thanks for the info on primer. Sounds like a good idea to try small area and perhaps the primer will make a difference. Will update you when we'll get this done. Thanks!

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