Why Is Latex Paint Peeling, and How to Paint Over It

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Last updated: September 1, 2023

Understand why is latex paint peeling and how to paint over it in this detailed painting guide!

Why is latex paint peeling

Imagine spending your time and effort applying latex paint onto your beautiful walls only to find it peeling off after a few weeks. Frustrating, right?

If you’ve ever experienced this and wondered, ‘Why is latex paint peeling off my walls, and how can I fix it?’ This post is for you.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll uncover some of the common reasons why latex paint peels off and offer expert tips on how to restore the paint. 

Say goodbye to peeling paint woes and embrace a flawless, long-lasting finish on your surfaces.

Why is My Latex Paint Peeling Off?

Your latex paint may be peeling off because it was improperly painted. You may have failed to prepare the surface properly before painting or painted latex over oil paint. Latex paint may also peel off due to excess moisture or intense sunlight exposure.

What are the Signs of Latex Paint Peeling Off?

When latex paint starts peeling off your surfaces, you’ll notice an unusual appearance, which should be a warning sign. 

Some of the tell-tale signs of peeling paint include:

  • The appearance of flakes or bubbles on the painted surface.
  • The appearance of loose or detached sections.
  • Curled or raised edges on the painted surface.
  • Uneven texture-the surface may start feeling rough or bumpy
  • The appearance of cracks on the painted surface.
  • Presence of flakes or chips of paint on the ground or floor.
  • Presence of mold, mildew, or dampness around the peeling paint.

What Causes Latex Paint Peeling?

Latex paint may start peeling off your walls or furniture for several reasons, often related to surface preparation and environmental conditions.

Sometimes, it can happen just a few weeks after painting or a few years later.

Here are some of the most common causes of peeling latex paint:

1. Poor surface preparation

Inadequate surface preparation before painting is one of the most common causes of paint peeling.

Before applying paint, you should always clean, sand, and sometimes prime the surface. Skipping these steps might make the paint not adhere properly and may begin to peel later.

2. Incompatible surfaces

Applying latex paint over surfaces previously coated with oil-based paints can lead to poor adhesion and eventual peeling.

If you fail to remove the old paint layer or prime the surface properly, the new latex paint might not adhere well.

3. Moisture and water damage

Latex paint can peel off walls due to excessive exposure to moisture.

Latex is a water based paint and when water seeps through the surface, it can weaken the bond between the paint and the surface, making it peel off. 

This is especially common in areas prone to high humidity, leaks, or vapor condensation.

4. Extreme temperature fluctuations

Frequent and extreme temperature changes can cause latex paint to expand and contract. 

This can eventually cause the paint to start cracking and peeling.

5. Poor quality paint

Your latex paint may peel off if you use low-quality paint with poor adhesion properties.

Cheaper paints might not have the necessary flexibility to withstand temperature changes or other stresses, which makes them peel off easily.

6. Improper drying time

When applying paint, it’s always important to leave enough drying time between coats.

If you apply subsequent paint coats before the previous one fully dries, the layers might not bond properly, causing the top layer to peel off.

Can you paint over peeling latex paint?

Yes. You can paint over peeling latex paint. However, you need to prepare the surface well so the new paint will adhere properly and last longer. For the best results, remove the loose and peeling paint, apply primer on the surface, then repaint with high-quality latex paint.

When to Paint over Peeling Latex Paint?

If the latex paint on your wall keeps peeling and peeling, you may be confused about when to repaint it.

Here are the situations or conditions that can guarantee a full repainting job on your peeled walls:

1. Addressed underlying issues

Before repainting, you should have identified and addressed the root causes of the peeling. 

Are your walls peeling due to excessive exposure to moisture, poor paint quality, or poor surface preparation?

Identifying the root cause will ensure you don’t repeat the mistake, and the new paint can last longer.

2. Ideal weather conditions

The best time to repaint your peeled walls is when the weather conditions are moderate (e.g., moderate temperature and humidity).

Extreme weather conditions like rain or too much sunshine can prevent the paint from adhering to the surface properly.

3. Stable surface

The only time you should repaint over peeling latex paint is when you’ve prepared the surface thoroughly to guarantee a long-lasting paint job.

To achieve a stable surface, remove all the loose and peeling paint and sand or prime the surface before painting.

4. The extent of peeling

 If the peeling is limited to a small area, it might be easier to address it before it spreads further. 

Extensive peeling might require you to hire professional assistance and use more resources to fix it.

5. Time and Resources

Finally, you can only repaint peeled surfaces when you have the time and necessary resources to properly prepare the surface and apply the new paint.

How to Paint Over Peeling Latex Paint

Like any other paint job, there are some basic steps you need to follow when painting over peeling latex paint.

You also need to collect all the necessary tools and materials before you start working. 

Here is a detailed guide on how to go about it.

Tools and Materials You’ll Need

  • Paint scrapper or putty knife.
  • Sandpaper (medium and fine grit)
  • Clean, lint-free cloth or sponge.
  • Mild detergent.
  • Latex primer.
  • Latex paint.
  • Drop cloth/plastic sheeting.
  • Paintbrush/roller.
  • Painter’s tape.

Procedure

  • Prepare the surface

As mentioned, you need to prepare the surface properly so the paint will adhere well and provide a smooth finish.

Here’s how to prepare the surface before painting:

  • Scrape off loose paint

Using a scraper or putty knife, gently scrape off any loose or peeling paint from the surface until you reach a point where the remaining paint is firmly adhered.  

Be careful not to damage the underlying substrate.

  • Sand the edges

Once you’ve removed all the loose paint, sand the surface or the edges of the remaining paint to smooth out any roughness.

Sanding the edges will help to create a seamless transition between the old and new paint layers.

When sanding, start with medium-grit sandpaper and then move to fine-grit sandpaper to achieve a smoother finish.

  • Clean the surface

After sanding, wipe down the surface with a clean cloth or sponge dampened with water and a mild detergent solution.

This will remove dust, debris, grease, and any contaminants that could prevent the paint from adhering. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and allow the surface to dry completely.

  • Apply latex primer

Apply an even coat of latex primer to the clean, sanded surface using a paintbrush or roller and allow it to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

The primer will help to promote paint adhesion, seal the surface, and create a uniform base for the new paint.

  • Protect surrounding areas

Now that your surface is well-prepared and ready for painting, use painter’s tape to mask any adjacent surfaces you don’t want to paint.

Also, remember to cover the floor and furniture with drop cloths or plastic sheeting to protect them from any paint drips.

  • Apply latex paint

Now comes the fun part—applying your latex paint of choice!

Once the primer is completely dry, apply your latex paint with a high-quality paintbrush or roller.

Apply thin, even coats, and let each coat dry before applying the next. Multiple thin coats are better than one thick coat, as they will result in a more even and durable finish. 

  • Finishing Touches

After you’ve painted the entire surface and achieved a smooth finish, slowly remove the painter’s tape while the paint is still slightly wet.

Be careful to avoid pulling up any dried paint along with it.

Remember to take your time through every step when painting over latex paint. Rushing through can lead to poor adhesion, uneven paint application, and a less durable outcome.

How to Fix Peeling Latex Paint Using Oil Paint

Peeled latex paint can be frustrating and look unpleasant to the eye. Sometimes, the peeling on your walls, trim, or boards can be so bad that you want nothing but a complete change.

Maybe you’re thinking of entirely replacing the latex paint with oil paint to give your surfaces a more glossy and elegant look.

But how do you go about replacing the peeled latex paint with oil paint?

Let’s explore the steps you need to take in that case:

Materials You’ll Need

  • Scrapper or putty knife.
  • Sandpaper (medium and fine grit).
  • Clean cloth or sponge.
  • A mild detergent or TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) cleaner.
  • Drop cloth or plastic sheeting.
  • An oil-based primer.
  • Oil-based paint.
  • Paintbrushes or rollers.

Procedure:

  • Address underlying issues

Just like with latex paint, you need to start by addressing the source of the problem before repainting the peeling.

If the peeling was caused by moisture or water damage, ensure you fix any leaks, improve ventilation, or address any other moisture-related issues before starting your repainting project.

  • Remove loose paint

The second step is to remove the loose latex paint. Use a scraper or putty knife to gently remove loose or peeling latex paint from the wall, board, or trim.

Be gentle with the scraping not to damage the underlying surface.

  • Sand the edges

Sand the edges of the remaining latex paint to smooth out any rough or uneven areas.

It’s always best to start with medium-grit sandpaper and switch to fine-grit sandpaper for a smoother finish.

  • Clean the surface

After sanding the surface, wipe down the area with a clean cloth or sponge. The cloth should be dampened with water mixed with a mild detergent.

Thoroughly rinse with clean water to remove any residue, and allow the wall to dry completely before proceeding.

  • Apply an Oil-based primer

Since you’ll be using oil-based paint, it’s essential to use an oil-based primer on the surface.

Apply the oil-based primer to the prepared surface, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Oil-based primers provide excellent adhesion to oil-based paints and help prevent peeling. 

Again, wait for it to dry completely before moving to the next step.

If you’re working indoors, ensure proper ventilation when using oil-based products since they tend to produce more fumes than latex paint. 

Open up doors and windows, and turn the fan on if you’re painting indoor trims, kitchen boards, or interior walls.

  • Apply Oil-based paint

Once the oil-based primer is dry, apply an oil-based paint in the color of your choice. Use a high-quality paintbrush or roller to achieve a smooth finish.

Apply the paint in thin, even coats, and allow each coat to dry before applying the next.

Remember, oil-based paint requires longer drying times than latex paint, so you’ll need more patience between coats.

  • Apply multiple coats

Apply one or two more coats of oil paint on the surface to achieve a thicker and more durable layer.

Multiple coats can also help you achieve the desired paint shade, as the shade will get darker with each coat.

  • Finishing touches

Once you’ve achieved your desired shade, allow the final coat of oil-based paint to dry completely in an open space or a well-ventilated room.

Carefully remove any painter’s tape while the paint is still slightly wet to avoid pulling up the paint when dry.

  • Monitor and maintain

Keep an eye on the repainted area over time to ensure the new paint is not showing any signs of peeling.

Also, be keen to provide regular maintenance and address any issues promptly to extend the life of your newly painted walls, trims, or boards.

Why Is Paint Peeling Off My Trim?

Have you noticed an unsightly appearance of paint peeling off your trim even though it hasn’t stayed long?

Latex paint may be peeling off your trim due to three common reasons:

  1. You used low-quality latex paint. Low-quality latex paints often have poor adhesion properties, which make them peel off trims a few weeks after painting.

  2. You used low-quality latex paint. Low-quality latex paints often have poor adhesion properties, which make them peel off trims a few weeks after painting.
  3. You painted latex paint directly over an oil-based paint. Latex paint and oil paints are incompatible, so if your trim was previously painted with oil paint, you should sand it and apply latex primer before applying latex. While applying latex paint over oil-based is a recipe for disaster, there are subtle ways you can successfully apply latex paint over oil-based paints.
  4. You applied latex paint directly over an oil-based paint. Latex paint and oil paints are incompatible, so if your trim was previously painted with oil paint, you should sand it and apply latex primer before applying latex paint.

  5. You failed to apply a bonding primer. Without a bonding primer, there will be a weak bond between the paint and the surface, which means your paint will soon start peeling off the trim.

How Can I Fix the Peeling Paint on My Trim?

Just like peeling paint on walls, here are the steps to take to fix peeling paint on your trim:

Lay down drop cloths or plastic sheeting to protect the surrounding area from paint drips.

  1. Use a scraper or putty knife to remove all the peeling paint from the trim gently. Be cautious not to damage the trim underneath.
  2. Sand the trimmed surface to smooth any remaining edges and create a uniform texture. Start with medium-grit sandpaper and proceed to fine-grit sandpaper for smoother finish.
  3. Wipe the trim with a damp cloth or sponge to remove any residue, then let it dry completely.
  4. Apply latex or oil primer (depending on the paint you plan to use) to promote adhesion and provide a consistent base for the new paint.
  5. Once the primer is dry, apply your choice of paint using a paintbrush or roller. If the existing paint is latex-based, use latex trim paint and use oil-based trim paint if the existing is oil-based.

Apply thin, even coats and allow each coat to dry before applying the next. Multiple thin coats are better than one thick coat.

FAQSWhy is My Latex Paint Peeling Off

Can you add a different paint over the peeling latex paint

Yes, you can add a different paint, like oil paint over peeling latex paint, but with proper surface preparation. First, you need to scrap off the old latex paint that is peeling or hanging loose before sanding to make it look smoother. You then need to clean and prime the surface before applying the new coat of paint.

Why is my latex paint peeling off?

Latex paint may be peeling off due to poor surface preparation before painting, moisture infiltration, insufficient drying time between coats, or using low-quality latex paint. The peeling may also be due to extreme temperature changes and improper application techniques. It’s essential to identify the underlying cause and address it to prevent further peeling.

Can I just paint over the peeling paint?

No. Painting over peeling latex paint is not a long-term solution. Without addressing the underlying issues, the new paint coat will soon start peeling too. For the best results, you need to scrap off and remove the loose paint, sand the surface, prime, and apply the new paint in thin, even coats for better adhesion and durability.

Will primer stop paint from peeling?

While primer alone can’t stop paint from peeling, it significantly reduces the chances by improving adhesion and creating a suitable surface for the paint. However, fresh paint peeling can still occur due to excess moisture exposure and temperature fluctuations. Always address the possible causes of peeling for your paint to last longer.

Why is my paint peeling off when I repaint it?

Paint might peel off after repainting if the underlying causes of peeling (such as poor adhesion, moisture, or incompatible surfaces) aren’t addressed. Ensure that you’ve properly prepared the surface, removed loose paint, and followed recommended painting techniques to prevent the issue from recurring.

Can I add latex paint directly over oil paint?

No. You can’t add latex paint directly over oil paint since it won’t adhere or stick properly. Oil and latex paints have different properties, making them unable to adhere to each other. To apply latex paint on a previously oil-painted surface, you’d need to sand the oil-based paint, apply a latex primer, and then apply the latex paint to ensure good adhesion.

Content Summary – latex paint peeling

Peeling latex paint is a common phenomenon you’ll likely encounter as a professional painter or a DIYer.

However, it shouldn’t be a cause for alarm if you identify the problem early enough. The key to maintaining the aesthetic appeal of your painted surfaces is to understand the reason behind the peeling and learn how to fix it effectively.

Whether due to improper surface preparation, moisture infiltration, or incompatible paint layers, addressing the root cause will save you the hassle of fixing recurring paint problems. 

Following this article’s guidelines, you can confidently tackle peeling paint and restore your surfaces to their former beauty. 

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