We’re working on an update in the main bedroom. When pulling off the wallpaper I found a major issue- peeling paint. And not just a little, but all the walls had big chunks missing. Ugh- I was hoping to paint and then move on. But I thought I’d share what to do about peeling paint if you have the same issue.
why does peeling paint happen?
Paint peels for a variety of reasons. It is most commonly found in bathrooms. Here’s the main reasons that paint chips off the wall-
- The walls weren’t cleaned before painting. Paint can’t adhere to dust and debris
- Or the walls were wet when painting. Paint doesn’t adhere well to a moist surface
- Primer wasn’t used which can help with moisture issues
- The paint wasn’t allowed to fully dry between coats of paint
- Cheap, low quality paint was used
- Humidity will accelerate all these issues so you’ll frequently see peeling paint in the bathroom
At our house, which we bought a year ago, it’s been obvious that the last owner had the house painted and the painters probably made a bunch of these errors. We’ve found peeling paint issues all over our house, but when I pulled off the wallpaper it took the paint with it in huge chunks- way worst than anything I’d encountered before. So what to do?
what to do about peeling paint
SUPPLIES to deal with chipping paint
- paint scraper or a metal putty knife or a wire brush for scraping paint
- plastic putty knife for applying spackle
- spackle to smooth the wall
- sander to sand the wall after sparkling
- 220 grit fine grit sand paper for the sander or a sanding sponge
- Kilz primer or Zinsser primer
- Angled paint brush
- Roller and Roller Cover
- Paint- I use Ultra Pure White by Behr in a Satin finish
step 1- scrape off peeling paint
Use a putty knife or paint scraper or wire brush and scrape off all the peeling paint from the walls. If the paint is loose- get it off! Our whole wall had peeling paint issues, so I used a step ladder to reach the top.
You might want to wear goggles and a face mask when removing the old paint since the little flakes of paint get everywhere.
If the peeling paint is old- from before the 1980’s, I’d suggest doing a lead test to stay safe.
The scraped off paint made a big mess on the floor. But I just swept up the paint flakes and dumped them into a trash bag.
step 2- smooth the wall with spackle
Next, there’s a major issue to deal with- there’s a ledge between the paint that peeled and the paint that’s left. If the wall just gets repainted, the difference in the levels of paint will be obvious and look horrible.
So! To fix the uneven wall paint, use a putty knife and apply spackle to bridge the gap on the paint ledge. Apply thin and even layers on the ridge. I used spackle that turns from pink to white when dry. Mine dried super fast which was nice! But I waited 24 hours for it to dry to make sure it was completely set.
Another option besides spackle is to use joint compound. It designed to do this job better than spackle. I used what I had at home and it worked great, but this is a superior option.
The spackling is super easy to apply. And it makes a big difference immediately! Let me show you-
Once the spackle is dry, sand the area with fine grit sand paper until it is smooth. I used a sanding sponge. I found that not much sanding was needed since I tried to carefully only apply a little spackle.
Check the texture by running your hand over the wall and feeling for it to be smooth. If needed, add more spackle to any leftover uneven spots and sand until the wall is blended.
Last, use a damp rag to clean the wall that’s been speckled. Gotta get that dust off the wall so that the paint will adhere this go around! I had to frequently dump the water and get fresh water since there was so much dust on the walls from sanding.
Make sure to let the wall dry throughly before moving on. We don’t want to create moisture issues again ;).
step 3- prime
And now, prime the repaired walls. If you’re like me, primer seems like an extra step I’d rather skip. Yes, paint usually has primer built in, but a stronger formula is needed. Since I don’t want to deal with peeling paint again, I bit the bullet to prime. A good primer like KILZ or Zinsser is meant to block stain which will also help guard the wall from humidity.
Do not skip this step. Your paint will most likely peel again if you don’t prime.
The great thing about primer is that it is less expensive than paint! A gallon of primer is usually half the price of paint. So it’ll help use less paint- which saves money.
Primer can also be tinted so if you’re going dark with the paint, adding pigment to the primer will help paint coverage as well. Just ask for it to be tinted at the paint counter at the hardware store.
Another point towards using primer is that if you just paint over the spackle or patched sections, the paint may look to have a different finish on those parts. It’s called “flashing”- the light reflects differently where primer isn’t used over spackle and will catch the eye for a less professional finish.
Use a paint brush and either prime the patches or use a roller and roller cover to prime the whole wall. Since the paint on my walls was mostly scarped off, I went with the option to prime all of the walls.
A primer will help the paint adhere to the wall since it will seal the surface from moisture. Bathrooms that have peeling paint should definitely be primed after being repaired since water is even more abundant and is more likely to cause peeling.
step 4- paint
Finally, it’s time to paint! Of course, make sure to wait until the primer is completely dry before repainting. My can of primer suggested waiting 1 hour.
If you’re going with the original color, you can use that paint and touch up just the patches.
I, however, wanted to give the wall a completely new color, so I painted all of the walls Ultra Pure White with a roller and roller cover. Sometimes touching up patches gives a splotchy paint job, so if in doubt- and for the most professional looking final result- roll paint over all the walls.
And here for the most boring after ever- white blank walls- lol! But it looks much better when considering where we started. I LOVE the ship lap ceiling and the crown molding!
I still need to add panel molding above the chair rain. The new rug needs to go out. The mirror above my vanity needs to be hung. And the curtains are too short. I’m planning to dye them pink and add more fabric to the bottom. A big wallpaper mural will go up behind the bed. Oh, and I need to accessorize better. What else would you do?
Although it has a long way to go, this light and breezy room is really lovely to be in!
As a recap, peeling paint is caused by not enough drying time between coats, low quality paint, and/or painting over dirty or wet surfaces.
The solution to peeling paint is to scrape it off to remove it, repair the wall with spackle, and use a primer. Then, when painting use quality paint and let it dry completely between coats.
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Looks amazing! Have you thought about new closet doors? Maybe with the molding on them?
Ashley Wilson says
Hi Patricia, I’d love to change out the doors one day. They don’t bug me too bad because the louvers are very coastal to me. But I don’t like how they catch dust and are hard to paint. Maybe one day I’ll tackle that project! I hope you’re having a nice day! Ashley