HomePaintingCan You Paint Over Peeling Paint? 

Can You Paint Over Peeling Paint? 

Nothing can ruin a room’s appearance like peeling paint. If it’s a tiny stain, you can perhaps cover it up with a photo or a painting. However, if it’s more extensive, there will not be much you can do about it other than re-paint.

Can you peel over peeling paint though, or do you need to remove an entire layer before applying a new coat of primer and paint? 

Can You Paint Over Peeling Paint?

When there is peeling or chipped paint in a small area, you can brush and scrape it away and then prime and paint over it. The key is for the edges to remain stable. You can do this for larger areas as well, but it will take more work and attention to detail.

If you notice peeling paint, don’t just grab a brush and paint over it. There is more work involved to ensure the peeling does not spread and that you don’t end up with a horrible stain on your wall. 

You will need to brush and sand the peeling paint off, prime the wall and only then paint over it. 

You will also need to uncover the cause of the peeling paint. The likeliest cause is damp, either in the wall or from not waiting long enough between coats of paint. You could also have done a very poor paint job previously, which has caused the peeling paint. 

So, in short, while you can paint over peeling paint, i.e. it is fixable, you will need to prep the wall before you do so. Painting directly over peeling paint will just make this fresh layer crack and peel off too. 

Can You Prime Over Peeling Paint?

You can prime over peeling paint, but you will first need to get rid of the peels and cracks to ensure the primer does its job. 

Here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Brush away all the peeling paint you can, and then use a scraper and sandpaper to get a smooth surface.
  2. Prime the wall.
  3. Once the primer is completely dry, use a filler to coat the area. 
  4. Sand the filler down until the surface is completely smooth.
  5. Apply a second coat of primer or your first layer of paint.

You can do only the first two steps if you are dealing with a small amount of peeling paint. For larger surfaces and extensive damage, you will need that second coat of primer to ensure you get the smoothest possible result. 

Make sure you wait between the primer and paint until the primer is completely dry. You can also use ceiling paint as a primer on your walls if you are painting them white, or if you need a white primer. 

What Causes Peeling Paint?

While one of the most common causes of peeling paint is damp, it can also be caused by a poorly executed paint job or applying too many layers.

Here is what may be behind your peeling paint:

  • Moisture and damp: if there is water breaking though your wall, it will cause the layers of paint to peel over time. You may be dealing with a leak in your pipes, condensation or poor ventilation. You may also start to see mould on your walls, if your walls are full of damp. 
  • Poor paint preparation: if you have failed to apply primer properly, have not left the primer or a layer of paint to dry properly, or if you have painted over a damp wall, the paint may start to peel. 
  • Too many layers: if you have applied several thick layers of paint, it will start to peel as the coats become too heavy as they cure. 
  • Inadequate painting temperatures: if you live in a hot and humid area, or if you have chosen a hot and humid day to paint, yoar coats may not have settled properly, which is now causing your peeling paint problem. 

When painting a wall, always make sure it is completely dry and clean, that you give each layer of primer and paint enough time to dry, and that you are working with the best possible materials. 

Is Peeling Paint a Sign of Damp?

While damp can be the cause of peeling paint, if you notice cracks in your paint it does not automatically mean you have a damp problem. 

Rising damp will cause paint and wallpaper to peel away from the wall, as the moisture from the wall dissolves the bond between the wall and the layer you’ve applied over it. 

However, if paint is peeling in your kitchen or bathroom, the moisture generated by cooking and bathing can also be the cause, and you may not have damp in your walls. 

You will likely need to call a professional in to assess your home if you believe there is damp in your walls. If your home is old and you already know there are issues with the insulation, especially if you keep seeing the same damp spots, aim to fix the underlying cause before repainting your home. Otherwise, you will just be wasting time and money and fixing the peeling paint over and over again. 

Why is Fresh Paint Peeling Off the Wall?

If you have just applied fresh paint to the wall and it’s peeling, you may have applied the next coat too soon, or you may have applied latex paint to an oil-based layer of paint.

Fresh paint will most often start to peel if you apply your coats too soon. You need to let both the primer and the first coat of paint dry completely before you apply the next one. 

You also need to ensure your paint has cured completely. Even though it may feel dry, it can take up to 30 days to set entirely. If the room is humid and too hot during this time, the paint may start to crack and peel. 

Alternatively, you may also have inadvertently applied a latex paint over oil-based paint that was already on the wall. To check, dab a bit of nail polish remover on a cotton pad and wipe the wall. If the paint comes off, it’s oil-based, and you need to use another oil-based paint over it.

Why Is Paint Peeling Off My Exterior Walls?

Paint may be peeling off your exterior walls due to improper application, inadequate curing, or an underlying issue with moisture. 

If the previous paint job was not executed correctly, i.e. if the surface was dirty or wet and the paint was not allowed to cure, you may notice it has started to peel. Even if you have done everything as you should have but the weather has turned moist and hot in the first 30 days after painting, you may now be seeing cracks and peeling spots.

You may also have an underlying damp problem. Check for moss, mould and mildew on your walls both indoors and outdoors, and see if you can identify any damp spots. You may need to call a professional to help you check. 

Note that peeling paint on the exterior of your home should be addressed as soon as possible, as it may be the first sign of damp or mould that can require extensive and costly repairs.

Will Primer Stop Peeling Paint?

Primer can stop peeling paint, as long as you apply it correctly and choose the right type of primer for the paint job at hand. 

For example, if you don’t clean and sand your wall, but use a good primer, it can result in a very decent coat of paint. Primer helps even the surface out and the paint stick to the wall, so it will definitely help.

You will achieve the best results if you go through all the steps described below (priming included). 

How Do You Paint Over Chipped Paint on a Wall?

If you want to tackle chipped or peeling paint yourself, here is what you need to do: 

1 – Scrape Off All the Peeling Paint 

Your first task is to get rid of all the peeling paint. You can use a flat blade or a brush (the former will give you the best results). Make sure you place a tarp or a sheet on the floor, to catch all the falling paint. 

Scrape away until there is no more peeling paint on your wall. Stop when you get to an area where the paint no longer comes off easily. 

Make sure that pregnant women and children don’t inhale the dust that you’re producing. Older paints may contain lead, which is especially toxic to them. Wear a mask yourself. 

2 – Fill in the Damaged Areas 

If there are any cracks or holes (from paintings, for example), fill them in. Get a putty knife and dip it into a patching compound. For your external walls, use exterior spackling compound paste. 

Spread a thin layer over the damaged areas. Make sure you smooth it out as much as possible. Let the material dry: the instructions on the product will tell you for how long.

3 – Sand It Down 

Use sandpaper to sand the surface down. Gently but firmly run it over the areas you just filled in. You can also use a disc sander, but make sure you do go over everything by hand, as that will make for the smoothest surface. 

You want no discernable transitions between the areas where the paint was peeling and the rest of the wall. Leave a bit of grit though, as that will help the primer stick. Remove the bumps. 

4 – Clean the Entire Wall 

You need to apply primer to a clean, completely dry wall. Use a damp cloth to wipe away all the dirt, old paint, dust and any debris collected on your walls. 

Run a clean, dry cloth over the walls and absorb all the moisture. Let your wall sit for a while, to make sure it is 100% dry. 

5 – Prime 

Apply your primer. It will provide a smooth canvas for your paint and make it last longer. Let it dry. 

6 – Paint 

Now is finally the time to paint. Cut in to ensure your edges are smooth, and roll the paint out in even strokes. Let it dry completely before you apply the next coat. 

Wait for the paint to dry before you put the furniture back in the room. Make sure there is plenty of air circulating and that the room is cool. If the temperatures are too high and there is a lot of humidity, the paint will just start to peel all over again.

Wrapping It Up 

Painting over peeling paint will require a bit of effort and a fair amount of time in order to get it right. However, the investment will certainly pay off, as you shouldn’t be seeing the same issue again, as long as you don’t have damp in your walls. 


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