DIY Painting & Remodeling

Top Causes of Peeling Paint

Posted on March 27, 2013 by 

Painting is a great, affordable way to spruce up your home. However, it can also lead to some frustration when the coat begins to crack and peel. While there are many possible reasons for peeling paint, here are some of the top causes:

Cause #1: Build-up of moisture

Water is the cause of most peeling problems. The paint won’t dry properly if the surface to be coated is moist. When an already-painted surface constantly gets wet, the paint will inevitably peel. Because of this, you should never paint any outdoor surface moments before or after rainfall. Even the moisture in the air will make it difficult to paint because it will stick to the surface.

Cause #2: Inadequate cleaning of the surface

There’s a very good reason why a surface should be cleaned thoroughly before it’s coated with paint: the paint won’t dry and stick properly to the surface. Think about it: every piece of dirt clinging to the surface gets in the way of the paint, so when the dirt under the paint separates from the surface, the paint peels in that area. Latex paint is particularly susceptible to dirt. To avoid this problem, always wash and vacuum the surface before any painting is done.

Cause #3: Accumulation of fungi

Like dirt, moulds and fungi can cause paint to crack and peel. Fungi can be caused by the build-up of moisture on the surface. Again, make sure you properly clean the surface before painting over it.

Cause #4: Incorrect or no primer

The primer serves as an undercoat to ensure better adhesion of paint to the surface. Using primer also improves the coat’s durability and actually protects the surface. For instance, if you’re painting on wood, the right primer protects the surface from mildew and dry rot, and adds to the waterproofing effect of the paint. Putting a primer on metal protects it from corrosion. If you use the wrong kind of primer or put no primer at all, the paint would peel soon enough.

Cause #5: Inferior or wrong paint

Painting isn’t just a matter of applying a coat or two over a surface. You also need to consider the right type of paint to use, especially if you’re painting over an existing coat. As a basic rule, try to use the same type of paint that’s already on the surface. If the coat is water-based, apply water-based paint. For latex coats, apply latex paint.

There are exceptions (e.g. you can apply latex paint over oil-based paint), but unless you’re a veteran painter, you might find the intricacies quite confusing (e.g. you shouldn’t use oil-based paint over latex paint) so stick to the basics.

Another thing to consider: some paint brands are simply better than others. The mediocre ones don’t last as long so they crack and peel prematurely. What’s important here is that you do your research before attempting to paint. Find out if you’re using the right kind of paint and determine what brand you should buy.

Cause #6: Age

Sometimes, it’s really just age because paint doesn’t last forever. Sooner or later, you’ll have to apply a new coat.


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