Interior Peeling Paint – Identifying the 10 Most Common Causes

The root of all interior peeling paint is poor adhesion to the previous surface. Here are the ten most common causes of poor adhesion.

  1. Peeling often gets a foothold from water getting under the paint. Bathrooms are a major place to look for the water’s source, but there may be other issues with the house such as excess humidity or a leaky roof. Water is the cause of most peeling issues. Even if water damage cannot be seen, moisture could still be wreaking havoc.
  2. Interior Peeling Paint - Paint loosing adhesion and starting to peel on interior wall.Inadequate cleaning of surfaces before painting will cause paint to peel. A coat of paint applied over a dirty wall is almost guaranteed to peel or crack down the road. Latex is especially vulnerable to dirt.
  3. Incompatible paint layers will cause peeling paint. For example, when latex-based paint is used to cover a previous paint job that used oil-based paint, peeling will occur. (It’s usually okay to paint over latex with oil-based paint.)
  4. One possibility is simply age – paint does not last forever.
  5. Sometimes an incorrect primer is used, or the problem could be no primer at all.
  6. Sometimes paint goes bad before being used. For instance, if left in an unheated garage over winter, paint could freeze. After thawing, it won’t have the same performance abilities.
  7. Some painting experts contend that inferior paint brands can prematurely fail. Others say that while professional painters have their own brand preferences, all major brand-name paints meet quality standards which are quite adequate when applied properly. Personally, I don’t think all brands are the same even when some are expensive. Research your paint before buying and get the best you can afford.
  8. When too many paint coats are added to a wall over the years, the weight of all the paint can cause stress, and gravity eventually pulls everything down and off.
  9. Sometimes paint over new wood, even if you think it’s dry, will prematurely peel because the paint degrades from interaction with the wood’s natural oils leaching out. Cedar is especially vulnerable to this. Wood that is not cured enough can also have too much moisture present for good adhesion.
  10. While water and moisture are the most common causes of peeling, the opposite can also be true – excessive dryness can lead to peeling paint.

These are the 10 most common causes of interior peeling paint. Knowing this information can help your next paint job go much better for you.

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  1. Greg

    Will interior painted walls (latex) that have dried for several years, peel or crack if left to freezing temperatures for several months?
    I ask this because we live in Michigan but will be spending winter in Florida. I plan on draining all water pipes and winterizing traps so that won’t be a problem, but I have heard differing opinions that the paint on my walls will crack and peel off if I allow interior temps to fall below freezing.

    • I can’t imagine this causing cracks, as long as no water gets in and causes damage. If the underlying substrate remains stable then the paint will as well.

  2. I have walls in every room of my house the paint peels no matter how many coats of primer I use and what kind of paint I use it still have the same problem after awhile just a few months peels off in chunks.

    Is it the drywall wall or is my house just too dry or too wet and that is why the paint cracks and peels? In my bathroom you can just pick the paint off like peeling skin on a sunburn and it goes all the way down to the drywall and the paint has turned rubber like when it comes off. In my bedrooms the paint cracks and peels off in hard chunks.

    What am I doing wrong? I prime, sand and paint with 2 coats of paint.
    Is it my drywall or my paint?

    • From what you described I think the problem is with the underlying drywall. Peeling can occur where there is a contaminate on the surface before painting but peeling will stop at this contaminate. You have peeling down to the original drywall surface. How old is you house? Some “newer” homes had Chinese imported Drywall sheets installed, these have been shown to be of the lowest quality and have known health hazards.

      Check for problems with the underlying wall framing; excessive water vapor in the walls and/or ceilings can cause peeling.

      Opening up a problem wall might give answers.

  3. Roger

    I recently purchased a brick home, built in 1957, and all the rooms had been freshly painted with latex paint…..Three years ago, I had USA installation come in and apply foam installation for the entire house hoping to lower the heating cost….The following winter, the paint started peeling off the several of the bedroom exterior walls such that you could tear off large sections with your bare hands…….This year it’s even worse in that the living room and dining room are having the same problems…..I have been to several paint stores with the peeling samples, but no one has suggested a real solution….Can you help???

    • One possibility; Trapped Moisture. The new foam insulation could be acting as a vapor barrier and trapping moisture that is migrating from the inside of your home to the outside through the walls. Before this moisture would just slowly pass through.

      Some important questions;

      • Are your walls finished with plaster? Old plaster can react with moisture to produce localized peeling.
      • What region is your home in? Is this an area with high humidity? Possible source of moisture.
      • Is all or most of the peeling on the same side of your home. Does it start close to the ceilings then spread? Could indicate a possible problem area(s) of your home.

      You should contact the insulation company and try to find out if this has happened before. They might have some ideas but might not be very cooperative due to possible liability issues.

  4. Brandi Strickland

    What is the best way to remedy this issue? My ceiling paint is chipping badly in many areas. In some areas the paint will scrape off while other areas cannot. It appears to be latex paint on top of oil based paint. How can I remove all of this chipoing paint?

  5. Tony Bimonte

    We are experiencing alligator cracking on the ceiling of only one room in our home and no one can explain why it happened. A second coat was applied by a professional painter about 20 years ago and that’s the paint that’s cracking and actually pulls away from the bare drywall in some spots. ( You can see the original drywall surface) The cracking gradually started to appear in one section of the ceiling and over time spread into other areas of the ceiling. We don’t have any moisture problems – we tested for moisture. The original coat of paint done by the builder didn’t have this problem, but yet when we pulled the paint off of the drywall, that coat of paint also pulled away from the drywall surface. The painter who applied the second coat is puzzled since he used good paint and this problem hasn’t showed up in the other rooms he painted, or in other homes he has worked in. He even had the Paint Rep come look at it and he’s also puzzled by the condition and referred the problem to his technical group – currently awaiting their response. There’s no pattern to the paint cracking. It’s just in areas around the ceiling. No one suspects the paint, but they suspect something with the drywall surface. Now we’re thinking of having a drywall professional look at it and see if he can identify any problems with the drywall. We’re at a loss. Can you help?

  6. The drywall (wallboard) surface could be the problem. The actual problem could be with the wallboards paper surface or drywall mud used for taping-floating and texturing. Some kind of contamination is messing with the paint. Has anyone tried a primer? Oil base or shellac primer might help.

    • Tony Bimonte

      Should we have a drywall contractor look at the situation? what can we do to resolve the problem so that we can repaint the ceiling?

      • In the past I have seen something similar happen from the use of spray air fresheners, must be either the oils or propellant used, and this reacted with the paint. This caused some bubbling of the paint.

        Right now I would wash to remove any surface contamination then apply a shellac primer to the ceiling. After the primer dries try repainting and see what happens. I don’t think a drywall contractor could give any additional answers but as a last resort give them a call.

  7. Henry Hart

    Some one called me with a complain that the emulsion paint is peeling off from the wall, though it’s a renovated building with old and new walls, but he’s mad at me because I manufactured the paint myself and it’s only been months. Please what could be the cause?

  8. Ray Turner

    Pealing paint on woodwork. Not sure if original paint but second repainted is latex enamel that is coming off in sheets. How do I prep trim for repainting and should I paint with latex or oil-based paint?

    • Could be latex over oil base paint without a coat of primer. The only way to fix is to remove all loose paint, carefully scraping and sanding, then prime with a good universal primer. An oil base primer is preferred, like Zinsser Cover Stain, but many acrylic primers stick very well to hard and shiny surfaces.

  9. Ashley

    What should I do when the paint is cracked due to old age or improper type used?

    I am not sure what the previous owner used, but the walls in our daughters room has started to crack.

    • You have a couple options, choose one that best suits your situation.
      1- For peeling paint; Scrape off anything that is loose. Prime the affected areas then patch any damage. Repaint.
      2- For tight paint not peeling but showing cracks; Look for anything that is loose and remove (scrape). Apply a penetrating binding primer to seal up and glue down the old paint. Peel Stop emulsified latex is good for this, can find at your local paint store or hardware store. To hide the cracks skim over the areas with drywall mud and retexture where needed. Repaint.

  10. Jane

    I had my apartment painted for the first time in 7 years by a professional painter. The previous paint had absolutely nothing wrong with it except for the colour which was just a bad choice. Not even 6 month after it was done, during the winter month of Montreal, I noticed an ever expanding brown patch near the vertical window edge. This has continued to grow until it finally started growing out of the wall, like a bad pimple basically, and the tip of the volcano head is peeling, revealing the several layers of paint under it. The strange part is that I never had any water infiltration issues. Could be a coincidence that after the paint there is water infiltration or it is a problem related to the craftsmanship of the painter?

    • Most likely water getting behind the paint film. Could be from condensation on the window getting into the wall, caulk the window frame next to the wall. Or the water is coming from the outside, caulk around the window frame to seal.

      After sealing the area will need some repair and repainting (touch-up). Then wait and see how it works out.

  11. Doug Cousins

    My wife just painted our walls. The house built in 1963. The paint on on wall just peeled off down to drywall. The paint feels almost like a vinyl or wall paper. Never seen this before. What might have caused this?

    • Jennifer

      I’m having similar issues with I 1960’s house I just took possession of on Monday. I’ve been scraping away the peeling/chipping paint and patching with drywall spackle. I’m hoping it won’t continue…but I keep finding more “air pockets” which are what’s causing the paint to crack. Not too sure what to do about this. Do I just keep repairing the cracks and hope eventually it stops?

  12. Kelly Laws

    I have an old home in which we are remodeling. We painted our dressing room a couple of years ago, and the paint is starting to bubble and peel. This is happening at the ceiling area. Why?

    • Water condensing in to the wall or ceiling can cause bubbling. Also check for roof leaks, missing or damaged flashing or plugged up gutters. All of these can create a situation like this.

  13. Emma

    We have recently had our stairs and hallway plastered. After 2 weeks we applied 2 coats of primer/base coat then applied 2 coats of dulex. When taking off masking tape the coloured paint peeled off! We have now peeled off all the coloured paint. What do we need to do to ensure the next paint does not do the same??

    • Standard plaster needs 30 days cure time before painting, fresh plaster’s PH is too high. Right now allow the plaster to cure then get an acrylic masonry primer. Allow the primer to dry over night then paint. Test a small inconspicuous area before committing to the entire project just to make sure everything is OK.

  14. Barb Ramirez

    HI, like many other posters, I have sections of paint that are peeling, it comes off in huge sections and is rubbery. My problem is that this is a brand new home, built this year, 2017. Throughout the house, where any thing has leaned against the wall, or pushed against the wall at all, the paint peels, like its rubber peeling away from the wall. The areas around the actual paint hole is all bubbled out like the paint was pulled away from the wall, then let go.

    This is a semi custom built home, not part of a master planned community. Is this something I should tell the contractor he has to fix? I’ve been in the house 3 months. And if he has to fix it, will that mean he needs to peel the paint off of every wall in all the rooms??

    • I would definitely mention it. Fixing might not be possible. Here’s why; Sounds like the current paint isn’t fully adhered to the wall surface. One possible reason is no wallboard primer used to seal the walls before painting, another one is cheap paint used. Either way fixing it now isn’t really possible. A band-aid solution is to repaint or apply another layer of better and maybe harder paint over your existing paint. Might or might not work but could be worth trying.

      Yes, do mention it. Give the contractor the opportunity to inspect the problem and come up with a solution. It is possible something very different is going on, having a professional personally inspect the situation will allow for better solutions.

  15. Taz Miller

    Paint peeling off doors and trim. Scrapped paint off in small area. Did the denatured alcohol trick . Peeling layer came off . But the layer under it also came off. House was built in the early 90s.

    • You basically have 3 choices;

      • Live with it. Repaint when needed to fix the areas that peel or is easily damaged. Scrape and sand, spot prime then repaint.
      • Strip off the old paint then prime and repaint. This is the most labor intensive way to deal with this problem.
      • Replace with new. New trim and doors will be a permanent solution but expensive.

      Repairing were needed then repainting is the best way to deal with this. It’s unfortunate but there isn’t any easy way to deal with this problem.

  16. Rose

    Had plastering done, then did a kill primer, then tried to paint and some paint took the other is just peeling off as being painted. Thinking of sanding that area down then painting with a brush, would that help

    • Sand the area, might need to apply a little Spackle or other patching compound to cover up the repair, then reapply the primer by brush. Allow to dry well before painting or touch-up.

  17. Will

    We just applied a coat of white latex exterior paint to the inside of our garage using a roller. Although the old paint had been scraped prior to painting, which removed several chunks of peeling paint, additional large pieces of old paint would loosen onto the roller and create a globby mess. We used the thicker exterior paint due to the extreme temperatures that garage would be exposed to during summer and winter. I’ve had rescraped the ceilings and walls with some drywall surface exposed and some old paint still adhered. Need to know what we should do next. I’ve considered using a power spray painter instead of a roller, which seems to exacerbate the peeling. Help, please.

    • Spraying would be best. If you have a paint sprayer or access to one go a head and spray the ceiling and walls. If rolling is your only option make sure to prime the affected areas prior to painting and thinning of the primer and paint would help.

  18. Lu

    My front double door, which was painted with lacquer paint about 8 years ago has just begun to peel in huge sheets. Over a period of about 3 days this has happened, and while it is below freezing outside, the inside is obviously warmer and no water issues that I can see. What could be causing this all of a sudden?

  19. Michelle

    This house was built in 1940 and I bought it in 1999. The kitchen ceiling has not been painted in 19 years. The paint is peeling so I scraped, patched, and sanded those areas. I applied Killz primer and within minutes other areas began bubbling up. It is a somewhat damp day. Outside temp is 25. Inside about 65. Could it be the weather or do you think the old paint is just too heavy? If too heavy, do I have to sand and scrape the entire ceiling?

    • Sounds like the old paint is failing. You will need to scrape and patch were needed prior to priming and painting. If the Kilz is the original oil base then try an acrylic primer and see if this helps.

    • Glen

      If it is that extreme of a temperature difference between inside and out, the first concern I have is to the effectiveness of the ceiling (attic) insulation and moisture barrier, which must always be well applied on the winter-heated side of the insulation, whether it’s in the ceiling, walls, or under-floor. Consider consulting a reputable insulation contractor, as a cold, under-insulated surface will often be suspect.

  20. Farhat

    We have a newly constructed house. Within 6-8 months the paint in a bath room and almost all the areas where ceiling and wall meets paint is cracking and chipping. Also the wood moldings are separating at the joints. I called the builder and he did try to fix and now 6-8 months into that again the same problem at the same places. I do not know how to solve this problem and do I seek legal advise as the builder is not cooperating. He is just not willing to pay for the repair or repaint.

    Also I live in St. Louis. Do you have any recommendations for an expert to look into my problem.

    • The best course of action now is legal advise and contacting your local BBB. Plus contact the paint supplier used on your home; Look at the touch-up paint cans and contact the manufacturer, explain what is happening and request an inspection.

      The Better Business Bureau will have better recommendations and could be a first contact to get this resolved.

  21. evan

    Help! We recently purchased a 1974 home that needed paint/floor updating. We cleaned and primed bedroom walls and ceiling. The ceiling started peeling within a week or two and within a month large portions of the ceiling were peeling badly–hanging off in medium sized pieces. At this point, it’s at least 30-40% of the ceiling. I’m not sure what the ceiling is made of, it seems thinner than drywall. A few large patches on the walls as well, peeling from bigger cracks. One of the walls was primed-over plastic paneling, and the paint is still perfect on that wall, so a friend suggested that maybe the original drywall on the other walls and ceilings was poorly prepped. Does that make sense or could there be another issue? What would we have to do to fix it? Thanks!

    • Is the peeling just your primer and paint? Not the previous or original coat of paint? What did you clean with? And, what primer was used?

      Some possibilities; Surface contamination, possible soap film, interfered with adhesion. The original paint could loose adhesion to the original surface through oxidation and moisture penetration. Glues or resins in the original wallboard breaking down. The possibilities are somewhat endless.

      At this point you will need to scrape off all loose paint. Try to be careful as scraping will cause additional damage to the surface.

      Prime the surface with an oil base bonding primer or shellac primer. Sometimes additional peeling can happen when rolling on the primer.

      Repair the surface. The powdered drywall mud available at your local home improvement store sticks really well to many surfaces and is good for repairs. The 90 minute powder will work well, better than spackling compounds. Tape and float out all cracks. Texture as needed.

      At this point roll on another coat of primer then repaint.

  22. Suene

    Really frustrated. We have a historic home. It was freshly painted before we bought it about a year ago. At first paint was starting to peel outside mostly under the overhang of the roof. Not too long after I saw some bubbling at baseboard in master bedroom, then paint started cracking around window trim. Now the paint is basically peeling off all over room. I see other places in the house doing the same thing. The kitchen ceiling and around kitchen windows. The paint in kitchen is taking on a weird brown blotchy color in places and is cracking and peeling. Is this because latex paint was used on likely oil paint or could it be a much bigger problem?

    • Could be latex over oil paint but the exterior peeling and interior discoloration could indicate that moisture is entering the walls, coming out wherever it can and causing the bubbling and peeling.

      A fresh coat of interior paint can be exacerbating the problem, trapping the moisture in the walls. Cheap paint can also contribute to these issues. At this point have your roof inspected and look carefully at the exterior surfaces. Look for peeling paint, split or cracked caulking, rotted wood, etc.

      It is possible this is simply a cheap paint job falling apart or could be signs of bigger issues.

      Signs of cheap paint; Use a clean white rag or cloth and wash a small area. Does the paint come off easily? Or does the sheen change? Scratch at the wall surface with your fingernail, does the paint come off easily?

  23. Joe

    I’ve read through the posts/responses, and I think I have my answer but want to hear it from you. We had a painter come in and paint the home when we first moved in (home built in 90s). It doesn’t appear that he prepped any of the surfaces. He used a airless sprayer, the wall paint seem to be fine, but the trim paint easily peels if anything brushes against it. I can easily scratch it off with my fingernail without applying pressure.

    Home built in 90s, we bought and had it repainted in 2015.

    Not sure what the original house paint was (oil vs latex) before buying home. But based on your previous responses, I need to: scrape, clean, prime, repaint? Correct? We bought latex paint from Sherwin Williams to redo the trim.

    • You are correct. All loose paint must be removed, ten primer applied then finally paint.

      Scraping and/or sanding can be very time consuming depending on type of trim. Often it can be cheaper, from a pro’s point of view, to replace the trim (or some of it) with new and start over. Something to consider.

  24. I needed this information! We have localized peeling in the laundry room of a newly renovated house. Thinking it’s a combination of dirty walls, lack of primer, and incompatible paint bases. Thanks for the info!!

  25. David Peaspanen

    I have a home which was probably built in the 1950 era. It is about 200 feet from the south shore of Lake Erie. It was my mother’s place until she passed and we have kept it as a summer refuge. In the winter we keep the thermostat set at 40 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing. On an almost weekly basis I spend one day/night there to keep an eye on things and turn the heat up to 65 degrees or so. Three years or so ago the kitchen ceiling began to peel in large flake 2 inch size flakes. It seems that only the kitchen ceiling is a problem. It is a single story ranch and we have inspected the attic area but can find absolutely no sign of a leak and there are no signs of water stains on the kitchen ceiling. Any thoughts?

    • Might be condensing moisture, at 40 degrees I can imagine the ceilings getting a little wet and staying that way for a while. Could try adding more insulation in the ceiling and maybe keep the house a little warmer, 50 degrees.

  26. David W. Peaspanen

    Is there any significance in the fact that the kitchen ceiling is the only one experiencing this problem? Both bedrooms, living room and bathroom have no such issue. Thanks.

  27. David W. Peaspanen

    Any thoughts on why this is only happening in the kitchen and no where else. The kitchen has two windows (one facing outside and the other facing the inside of the garage). All other rooms have windows which face outside.

    • All I can think of is the low temperature in the winter and possible moisture condensing, either on the surface of the paint or underneath it. Most problems with peeling is due to moisture.

      I assume this is a plaster over lath substrate without a moisture barrier. Moisture could move from the attic through the insulation into the plaster. It would be a slow process but could be a cause. The only real fix is adding some more insulation and increasing the temperature during the winter.

      I don’t know why there would any difference between rooms. Orientation to the prevailing wind and winter storms plus soffit vents near the kitchen (these can let snow into an attic space) are a couple possible ideas.

  28. Birgit Vaughan

    We have Promar 200 which is zero voc paint and 3 months after the job was completed, the rooms still reek of paint, The paint is tacky and cardboard sticks to it. The paint also peeled off until recently, Now it can be scratched off easily. I don’t want to paint over it and trap more moisture under the new coat. What to do?

    • Sound like the paint isn’t curing properly, might be a bad batch. Call the Sherwin Williams store and talk to the sales rep. Have them stop by and take a look. At this point all that can be done is prime over and repaint. The sales rep can help determine what happened and supply the materials to fix it.

  29. DJ

    Recently moved into a home we were told was stripped to the studs and remodelled. Immediately the bathroom ceiling paint started peeling and now the hallway as well- in large bubbling chunks. By reading your responses to others I’m guessing either cheap or old paint, dirty surfaces, excessive moisture or vapour barrier or the plugged gutters. Thanks for the ideas 🙂

  30. Linda

    Our paint is cracking in a bedroom just above a vent. and at the bottom of a window that is not exposed to the weather. Also, there is a flower planter that is attached to the outside of the window. The planter is attached to the house and has to be water because it is under the roof of the house. We have lived in the for 45 yrs and just now started to have problems. Also, the windows were replaced a year ago!

    • You have 3 items that might be causing the peeling; vent, window and planter. First, check the caulking around the window both inside and out. Second, the planter might be allowing some moisture into the wall. Seal or paint anything that might allow moisture into the wall, brackets with their screws or behind the planter.

      The vent might be the problem area and this one might not be fixable. Possible cause; condensing moisture around the vent due to increased humidity caused by the new better sealing windows. House plants or aquariums, people, pets, etc, all cause the humidity to increase and now your house isn’t “breathing” as it once did (air exchange with the outside due to the new windows). Without knowing where you are, weather conditions, house construction used, both inside and out, landscaping, etc, it’s impossible to offer more but if no mold then not a huge problem but annoying for sure.

      Scrape off the loose paint, check for water stains or mold, repair if needed then repaint or touch-up. Keep an eye on it and other areas around your home.

  31. Dyp

    Recently got my house painted. Walls are fine but most of the trimming is easy to scratch off. Painter is only fixing the bathroom but frankly all trimming needs to be fixed. This is really a nightmare.

  32. Maryann

    We have a guest bedroom where the paint on the exterior wall Is cracking in large sheets. I don’t see any apparent leak, and I suspect that the prior owner painted over possible damage. One day, I pulled back one of the sheets and it looked like there was mold on the back of it, but not on the drywall. There is no bubbling in the paint. Do you think I need a mold remediation person to come in before we remove the old paint?

  33. Sheila Palermo

    Our home was built in 1963. The walls are sheet rock. When we purchased the home in 2000, there was peeling paint on all of the walls on the second floor. We got advice from our local Benjamin Moore dealer. As suggested, we scraped all the walls, sanded them down, wiped them, and then applied KILZ. Once the KILZ was dry we painted the walls. Within in few months, the paint was peeling again. So, we went through The whole process again only to get the same results. I’ve mostly just ignored it. But after years of not dealing with it, it’s now time to address it again. We had the house checked for moisture issues and it was determined that we don’t have that problem. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • This is a little weird. So, the same areas keep peeling?? Is the new peeling confined to the old painted areas, not previously removed through scraping? If not then this is strange, especially since it is confined to the 2nd floor.

      1- Possible the Kilz isn’t working well. You could try a different primer, like BIN shellac primer. Test a wall and wait to see if a different primer solves your problem.

      2- Kilz oil base primer is a good all purpose primer and since you are having peeling come back so soon I will assume a new primer isn’t going to work. So; To truly fix you might have to either replace the affected sheet rock (this assumes some strange chemical reaction is taking place) or cover up the affected walls (could be done with 1/4 inch sheet rock or paneling- laminating a layer over top the existing walls).

      At this point I would pick a couple of the worst walls and try a couple, or more, primers to see if something sticks around without peeling. You can always do something more radical later.

  34. Ki Kim

    I took possession of a house built in the mid-1950s, in Chevy Chase, MD (DC suburb) about a year ago. At that time, I had the interior walls professionally re-painted using high-quality primer and paint (Benjamin Moore). Recently, I’ve noticed some peeling in the ceiling of two of the upstairs rooms. I couldn’t find any evidence of roof leakage. Could the peeling have been caused by humidity? If so, should the air conditioning be kept on to prevent that? It’s summer time, but we’ve refrained from turning on the AC for environmental and cost reasons. Thanks!

    • Possible humidity is an issue. You can tell if the subsurface is damp or discolored from water intrusion. Carefully peel back the loose paint and take a look.

      I suspect this isn’t the real issue. Old plaster can be the problem, or more specific- putting modern paint over old plaster/paint. This stuff is reacting with the humidity, seasonal temperature changes, etc, and creating gasses that can cause peeling. At this point peel back the loose paint, (assuming no leaking issues or visibly damp plaster) lightly sand the edges then prime with a oil based bonding primer, then do any spackling needed before touch-up the paint. With any luck that will take care of the peeling spots.

  35. Annabel Lockwood

    Hi, my house is a mid 60’s and i have been experiencing peeling paint. I firstly decorated the smallest room (not using primer first of all ) the paint came off like badly chipped nail varnish! Me and my husband sanded the walls right back in the affected areas and filled them then applied Dulux paint primer. Whilst it did solve about 90% of the problems there are still affected areas about 30cm away from the ceiling on the walls.
    I am now about to proceed to painting the stairs but again about 30 cm from the ceiling its all cracked (bit like alligator skin) and peeling. What might be causing this and what can i do? Thanks in advance.

    • Alligatoring is caused by old oil based paint naturally deteriorating over time or a very hard enamel applied over a softer paint. This can also happen when a harder paint is applied over a primer before it has properly dried.

      Fixing is straight forward; Remove any loose paint (scraping, check for leaded paint if appropriate before scraping or creating dust), seal up the old paint with a good bonding primer, a patching compound can be applied over the primed paint to cover up anything unsightly, now apply the new paint.

  36. Michelle

    I’m considering buying a grand piano that has been professionally painted and placing it underneath two skylights and within three feet of a third window. I live in Colorado where it’s very dry but sunny most days. The piano is very expensive, and I don’t want to get it if I’m going to have problems down the road with peeling or cracking paint (the artist who painted it really made it look like art, rather than just a solid color, and I won’t be able to replicate it or sand off sections and repaint). I can’t imagine in my dry climate that I would have any moisture issues, but do I need to be concerned about sunlight exposure damaging the paint — and would there be a way to seal the paint to eliminate any concerns? If in fact there are no concerns from sun exposure, how long could I expect a property painted and sealed wooden surface to last before the paint just goes bad and starts having issues?

    • First, you need do discuss this with the artist. They will know the materials used and any potential problems that might happen over time. UV shouldn’t be too much of an issue but it might be possible to wax the piano against any UV damage, discuss the use of a car or furniture type wax with the artist. The life of good finishes kept indoors and well maintained can be decades or longer. Maintenance includes proper cleaning and possible occasional buffing and waxing.

  37. Lois Balthazore


    I am having my house painted and the home is about 30 yrs. old. The painters had to do a lot of repairs to the walls in areas where tape was lifting and a lot of nail pops. The walls were patched and sanded. They did apply primer and let it dry overnight. Primer used is KILZ VPA. Thursday they applied 2 coats of Benjamin Moore paint. That evening there were spots of paint bubbling. Today they started to fix the bubbles and the primer is just peeling off the walls in large sheets that look like tissue paper.

    This is happening in my family room. On one side of the room, the wall is fine. On the other side of the room, the primer just peeled off. The back of the primer feels a bit gritty to me. I should mention the wall that is having paint/primer failure is the wall shared with the garage. There is no excessive moisture or humidity at this time.

    The reason for the painting is because my second floor washing machine overflowed and caused damage down this wall. I did have water mitigation and the walls are dry.

    Could this problem be a moisture issue or paint issue from the previous owner who flipped the house. We did discover the ceilings had no primer.

    Any advise is greatly appreciated. I would be happy to send pictures. Thank you!

    • Hard to say for sure but since this area was wet at one time there might be a correlation. A shared wall, shared with an unheated space, combined with soap and enzymes in laundry detergent could all have this effect. At this point either an oil base primer or shellac primer should be used to promote better adhesion. Sorry for the late reply.

  38. Anne

    I recently purchased a property in Palm Springs, built in 1964. Upon doing a paint test run we stripped some baseboards, before sanding and patching, only to reveal the previous owner’s tenants haphazard paint job. (This guy literally painted over outlet panels and plugs!, etc.) Anyway, while removing part of the baseboard it wasn’t scored properly so it lifted the paint (which was painted sloppily over the baseboards, too, not surprisingly.)
    The paint at the base seems to be peeling like wall paper. Do I just sand, drywall paste, then prime? What’s the best course of action to get the peeled portion to blend seamlessly before applying new paint?
    Wondering if this peeling is from age, the previous tenant’s poor paint job, or combination of. Uncertain what the drywall material is, but like I said — constructed in the 60s. There appears to be at least two different coats and colors under the main dark accent wall we’re attempting to paint over. We will have professional contractors in eventually to remodel more of the property, but would like to get this one wall finished myself.

    Thanks so much for any advise!

    • Peel up whatever is loose. Seal the area with primer (whatever type you have), then apply the drywall mud. This way the drywall mud (paste) sticks without any problems. Primer the area after the repair then paint.

      Cause is probably age related.

  39. Daniel Pontious

    I am having issues with my front door frame entryway. We moved in in 2015. We have had issues with the paint just on the entryway wood since we moved in. These paint problems continue to the inside of the doorframe. If I tried, I could lift the paint in about 5-6” strips about 2-3” wide. This door has been repainted at least once, but the paint in this area continues to flake. I believe the issue was with the original application of paint on this section of my home. The rest of my paint is wonderful. Any ideas as to why this problem is occurring? I purchased the home in April. It must have been completed in February or March. My home is located in a cold, moist climate.

    • New pre-hung exterior doors often peel down to raw wood no matter what type of paint was used. I think this is a problem with the cheap primer the manufacture used. I have seen this and dealt with it for decades now. The only way to stop the peeling is to strip and/or sand off all paint and primer then reprime and repaint. You can keep chasing this problem by sanding down the affected areas then spot prime and touch up.

      If this isn’t a door manufacture problem then moisture could be the culprit. A cheap moisture meter would tell for sure. They’re not very expensive.

  40. Sarah Chhith

    Hi, I’m having an issue with my living room paint peeling off in thick sheets down to the plaster. I was in the process of removing door trim and unfortunate lifted off some of the paint. I tried to scrape off whatever was loose but it ended up coming off like wall paper. The paint comes off in big hard sheets consisting of multiple layers of paint. Now one of the walls is pretty much stripped down to what looks like a primer painted onto plaster (??) but the primer is very powdery and leaves a white cast on your finger. I was planning to repaint the living room anyway but wasn’t sure how to go about priming and painting this area.

    • Wash the plaster to remove dust from the surface. Just warm water should be OK but white vinegar can be added for more cleaning power, 1 cup per gallon should be enough. You won’t remove all powder but try to get most off the plaster. Prime with a universal bonding primer, for hard to stick surfaces. Zinsser 123, Gripper or whatever is available to you. The primer should stick well providing a base for the paint, paint as usual. All repairs should be done over the primer then spot primed.

  41. Sheila

    House built in the 50s. Plaster walls. Paint chipped off in huge brittle chunks, the whole entire room. Underneath that layer are three other paint colors, some spots are down to the bare plaster. Chipped off the layers that I could and sanded. Disappointed, I left it for a year, now the top layer of paint is peeling in spots. Chipped off the loose paint. I feel like I am wasting my time and that you will still see the layers once I repaint.. any suggestions?

    • You need to get this sealed up to stop the peeling. One good product for this is Peel Stop by Zinnser. The regular clear is a thin latex emulsion that will penetrate cracks and open areas and glue it together. Might take a couple coats.

      The peeled areas will show after repainting. the only way to hide this is to cover it up with drywall compound or your preferred patching compound. You could consider adding a texture, with a texture brush or skip trowel, to hide these areas further. If you decide to texture all the walls, and ceiling, make sure to prime all surfaces with a good acrylic primer first. Prime after sealing with the Peel Stop.

  42. RC

    I repainted old bathroom cabinets. They were already painted. I cleaned them, applied Kilz primer and then painted with Latex paint. In just a few days the paint is peeling off the primer. The primer is still there covering the old paint. What’s wrong? How do I fix it?

    • It’s possible the paint you used needed more cure time before being put back into use. Many regular house paints need a few days minimum of curing and other cheaper brands, example Behr or Valspar (any paint from a big box store), shouldn’t be used at all. The best paints are Benjamin Moore Advance and Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane trim paint.

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