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What to Do About Peeling Paint

What to Do About Peeling Paint

Peeling paint is by no means uncommon, but it doesn’t have to happen often. Understanding what causes paint peeling and what to do (or not do) about it can help extend the life of your paints and finishes.

Why Is My Paint Peeling?

The reasons for peeling paint vary widely. Here are the most common root causes our painters find:

  • Dirty Walls: Painting over dirty walls can lead to premature paint peeling. The surfaces must be clean and smooth so nothing interferes with the adhesion.

  • Moisture: Moisture damage can loosen the paint over time, causing it to peel. If you see discoloration around the peeling, moisture damage may be the culprit. You’ll want to address it before it spreads through your home.

  • Incorrect Surface Prep: If old paint, primers, and stains are not completely removed, new paints will not stick to the surface properly, which could make them peel, pop, and bubble.
    • Other surface prep issues include not allowing paints and primers to dry completely before applying more and not removing wallpaper/adhesives fully before painting walls.

  • Mismatching Paints and Products: If you’re using latex paint on top of oil paint, it can reduce the paint's adhesion and cause it to begin peeling and flaking off.

A Safety Note About Paint Damage

If your home was built before 1978, there is a chance lead-based paint may have been used at some point in your interior or exterior painting. If your home has never been tested, find a company that specializes in lead-based paint remediation near you before taking any additional steps.

If you know your home has no lead-based paint, you can move forward with more conventional painting maintenance.

What Do I Do About Peeling Paint?

As tempting as it is to do a quick patch-up, addressing peeling paint means time and resources need to be set aside to fix it properly so it doesn’t happen in an endless cycle. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Remove all the peeled paint using scrapers, solvents, and any other materials needed to get the surface completely smooth.

  • Use mild cleaners and cleaning cloths to get the surface clean and free of any dirt and debris that may have been hiding there.

  • Let the wall dry.

  • Be sure that the wall is smooth and in good condition and that there is no drywall damage. Some sanding may need to be done, or you may need to schedule drywall repair, depending on the condition of the underlying wall.

  • Choose primer and paint that matches your surfaces and the existing finishes you’re using. Apply primer and let it dry.

  • Apply paint one coat at a time with a brush or roller, letting it dry completely in between coats, until it is the color and finish of the surrounding painted walls.

This process will likely be a bit less complicated when repairing peeling that has damaged interior painting. Most of the steps are the same for exterior painting, but you’ll likely need pressure washing services from exterior house painters to get all the dirt and debris off the wall, rather than wiping it down by hand.

How Can I Guarantee Less Paint Damage?

Paint damage often happens when DIY projects become rushed or overambitious. Professional interior and exterior painters can alleviate a lot of stress with a proactive approach to minimizing paint damage that includes:

  • Complete surface preparation and repair of surface defects.

  • Thorough and complete paint, stain, primer, and adhesive removal.

  • Professional-grade primers and paints that are customized to a range of house painting projects.

  • High-durability paint options that are more resilient to wear and tear and resistant to peeling.

  • Post-project walkthrough to ensure you got the finish and results you wanted.

If you’re ready to break the cycle of painting, peeling, and repainting, Trico Painting are the local house painters trusted by homeowners and HOA leadership throughout Roseville, CA and the surrounding communities.


Our commitment to craftsmanship and our proven process mean that both interior and exterior paints last longer without premature aging, damage, or peeling. Ready for more beautiful rooms without the stress of DIY? Contact Trico Painting for your project estimate today.