How to Prevent Paint From Peeling

by Karen Sheviak
Paint can start peeling for a variety of reasons.

Paint can start peeling for a variety of reasons.

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Paint usually peels because it is adhering poorly to the previous coat of paint or the surface. Poor adhesion can happen for a number of reasons, including moisture, dirt or even too many coats of paint on the surface. Taking a few important steps before painting can help prevent peeling later on, and prevention is usually much easier, less time-consuming and less expensive than fixing peeling paint.

Items you will need

  • Cloth
  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP)
  • Primer
  • Detergent
  • Alcohol
Step 1

Clean the wall thoroughly using a degreasing cleaner, such as TSP, then rinse and let dry for 24 hours. Lack of proper cleaning is one of the main causes of paint peeling. Any grease or residue on the wall can prevent the paint from adhering properly, which can then cause peeling.

Step 2

Apply a primer first, then the next coat of paint, especially if you will be painting over a glossy surface. Paint will not adhere well to any glossy surface, and it's often not practical to sand an entire glossy surface adequately to allow for adhesion.

Step 3

Check the plumbing for leaks when painting in a bathroom or kitchen, and ensure that taps and showers work properly, without spraying water onto the walls. Moisture is another main cause of peeling paint. It's best to fix any water leaks or issues before you start painting to prevent the problem in the first place.

Step 4

Paint only when the humidity is at an acceptable level. Humidity of less than 50 percent is ideal for painting. When it is higher than 70 percent, latex paints will not cure as they should because the water from the paint will take much longer to evaporate, and the quality of the finish could be reduced. Oil-based paints will also take much longer to dry.

Step 5

Clean a small area of the wall with mild detergent and water, then rub with alcohol. If the paint comes off, it's latex; if not, it's oil-based. This is important to know because the existing paint will determine what you can use over the top. You can paint latex over oil paint, but you will have to apply primer first or else the latex will peel.

Step 6

Store paints properly, ensuring that they neither freeze nor get too hot. Temperatures at either extreme can affect the quality of the paint and, therefore, the quality of the finish. Store paints in the house, if possible, to ensure a consistent temperature, or in a heated workshop or garage.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images