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Dusty 09-16-2006 06:44 AM

What happened here?
3 Attachment(s)
I've bought an old house that was previously a rental so imagine the paint was whatever was cheapest. I have a couple of areas I am wondering about as I will have to fix them before painting. I'm attaching some pictures. Those bathroom cracks in the close up section would be about 3" in real life. The one in the kitchen close up is about 8".

One is the bathroom. The tub is in a bit of a cove and it's ceiling is a complete mess. There are lots of little splits where the paint has either peeled back or just separated the way crackle finish looks. Apparently the coats underneath did the same thing so I have paint over the original problem and visible problem even with the most recent paint. It looks like some of it goes right back to the original plaster.

Also in the bathroom, every joint that is higher than 5' is so weird. It's as if there was tape put over the corner to round it, but it's paint and if I push on it my finger goes right through and I can see the plaster corner which is square. That happens on the walls and where the ceiling joins the walls. It's almost as if the paint shrunk away from the corner and is now a quarter inch or more away from the corner. Unfortunatly, very hard to get a decent photo of.

Then there is the kitchen, sort of the same problem but much larger cracking and peeling and only in one area. The rest of the paint on the cupboards and walls seems intact. You can see the brown of the wood underneath.

So, what do you think happened and what should I be doing to fix it? Can I fill the crackled parts and prime and paint or do I need to peel that paint off (please say no)? I am betting the bathroom ceiling is at least partially a moisture problem (no vent) which I will be addressing.

dougrus 09-16-2006 07:38 AM

Does it appear to be the same batch of paint in all of the areas that you cited?
If so, My guess would be a poor quality paint, unmixed/old paint or perhaps someone recoated too early without letting it dry. Of course the moisture in the bath just exacerbated the problem.

Use a scraper or putty knife to knock it down as far as it will go...In other words until it wont flake off anymore when you scrape over it...Sand well to ease the edge, prime and paint...:yes:


slickshift 09-16-2006 08:24 AM

Looks like incompatable paints/improper prep

Rental units get a lot of "just paint it" paint jobs with the wrong paints, and no prep, right over nicotene and grease and....stuff

You'll need to scrape off anything that's not adhering firmly
After that I'd take it on a room by room basis
-a better fix for some rooms may be different than others like the bath
It may be possible to seal in what remains with a specialty primer
It may be better to remove it all
We won't know until you start scraping

And a few more things...

It would help for us to know how old the house is, and whether that's actual plaster or drywall/sheetrock
Also test for oil/latex
PWG's got the best DIY test for that

Originally Posted by prowallguy
Many people ask how to determine if the existing paint on their walls/ceiling/trim is oil or latex.

Latex paint shows more brush strokes and roller stipple than oil, and can usually be dented with a fingernail very easily.

Oil dries to a much harder, brittle surface, is usually very smooth/glossy, & shows hardly zero brush or roller marks. It also can't be easily dented with a fingernail.

For the real test:

Take a rag, or Q-Tip for smaller spots, and dip it into some denatured alcohol. Rub it into the paint. If the paint comes off onto the rag, or smears, or appears to melt, its latex or another water-based product. If it remains solid, it is an alkyd, or oil product.

You can also use 'Goof Off', or 'Oops' to try this.

I'd start with one room and post up what you find

AtlanticWBConst. 09-16-2006 03:27 PM

I'm not a painting expert, but, is it also possible that H2o could have gotton behind those areas from an old leak or even a one time leak?

I've seen water soaked wood and even ceilings that have gotten wet, expanded and then dry and shrink back to their original size do the same thing to the paint covering.

?:confused1: ?

dougrus 09-16-2006 03:48 PM

Looking at this again it occurs to me that the heavy cracks seem to be happening near the wall and ceiling where perhaps someone layed the paint on thick...which leads me to think that it is, like slickshift said, an adhesion problem...
Could also be a leak, like was said, but is it happening in two locations that are a good distance away from eachother?...Anything above that could have been leaking like a second story bath?
The guy next door is a professional painter, if he comes by tonight Ill have him take a look.

slickshift 09-16-2006 04:45 PM


Originally Posted by dougrus (Post 18360)
The guy next door is a professional painter, if he comes by tonight Ill have him take a look.

If you're grilling, I'll be there about 7
Medium rare to medium is fine

dougrus 09-16-2006 05:03 PM

Nah man...

Bloodly as hell is the way to go...still mooin'

Looked at your profile didnt know yousss was a painter...:blush:

Dusty 09-16-2006 05:11 PM

more info
I'm so glad to be getting some ideas on this. As for your questions...

The house is a 1930 bungalow, plaster walls (well as far as I can tell although I have pulled tiles etc out of the bathroom and around the tub there was also some drywall from a previous tile job), and evidence of some roof leakage at some time in the past (new roof on now but not a great job). The ceilings themselves don't have the type of damage I'm familiar with from water/roof leaks (no soak type marks or just sagging paint). I've had a similar age and style house before and never saw paint do this before even in the bathtub cove.

This is a small house so the bathroom problems would only be about 20' (as the crow flies) from the kitchen. The walls and ceiling in the rooms directly adjacent to the bathroom show no similar problems. So paint in corners in bathroom wierd, but fine 6" away on opposite side of wall.

I don't know if the paint was the same batch or not. I guess with the bathroom ceiling being white and the kitchen being white it's entirely possible. The bathroom walls which also have the problem in the higher area of the wall (but not next to the ceiling) are green so unless someone mixed the white in, it was probably different paint. It's hard to know although I can tell you I found old paint stored in the unheated garage (not done around here as we get good old cold Canadian winter and the paint freezes which I know ruins it).

It does look like the cracking in the bathroom ceiling was an existing issue and whoever just painted right over it. No way to know if that original cracking was there for a long time or if someone just took the same paint that caused it the first time and recoated when the first coats went wonky on them.

In the kitchen the problem area is painted over wood. I'm wondering if this is moisture, if someone plugged in a kettle or something in this area and the steam hit that area. That might explain why it didn't happen in other areas but then wouldn't it also damage the cupboard doors right below the cracks?

This type of problem isn't happening in any other rooms.

I think (going by brush marks and testing with alcohol) the paint is latex. I can tell you whoever painted around here didn't have a clue. They coated all the original wood trim and doors which were stained and shellaced with something like urathane which has alligatored. Swearing from me let me tell you as I have to remove it all (discovered alcohol works like a charm there). I won't even mention the other paint problems because they are so typical of sloppy painting.

dougrus 09-17-2006 07:04 PM

Well I guess it could be a number of things...either way, the paint has failed in those areas. I think like slickshift said it may have not been preped properly...My neighbor (the painter) also said the same.
Have you tried scraping it? how much is comming off?

Dusty 09-17-2006 08:43 PM

Haven't started scraping yet
I haven't attempted anything on the paint yet as I still have to tile. At the moment I am trying to anticipate any and all problems so I can figure out what things are going to cost in time and money for the fixing, tile, paint, etc. With all the work there is to do around here, I'm going for easiest and biggest bang so to speak.

So, for instance, if the paint is going to be a complete pain or a recurring problem, I might add some cove moulding just to hide it and forget it. In the cove I could tile the walls to the top and do the ceiling too I suppose (adding a piece of cement board over the ceiling which would again just hide it all). That part does seem like hard work to me though (harder than painting). What I really don't want is to scrape, fill, sand, paint and have it all happen again.

In the kitchen I am hoping the paint isn't adhered properly so I can strip all the cabinets without a lot of grief. The dark wood underneath looks pretty interesting to me. If moisture is an issue from kettles and such, I may have to consider avoiding paint there (although there is now a fan and window that opens in the kitchen....this house had no windows that opened and no fans which may explain it if moisture does this type of thing to paint).

I guess my real quest is to make sure that if I do paint in either place, I don't have the same issues.

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