How To Fix Peeling Paint (+ What Causes The Flaky Paint)

Your living room looks gorgeous with the paint color you chose. Everything went fine at first. But suddenly, the paint is peeling, and you have no idea why. 

It could have been the paint, the surface that the paint was applied to not being cleaned properly… Several factors can make paint start to peel. The good news is, with a high-quality primer, a few tools, and some painting, you can fix the problem yourself fairly easily.

This article will discuss some of the factors that cause peeling paint, such as too many layers of paint, dryness, or high temperatures, and teach you how to prepare the surface and take other precautions to make sure that your next paint job lasts as long as possible.

What Causes Peeling Paint? 

Most times peeling paint is caused by water on the surface, a dirty, unprepared surface, old paint, too many layers of paint, or something else, peeling and bubbling paint is a problem that should be dealt with before the paint is applied for the best results. 

This next section will outline all of the factors that can cause peeling paint:

Peel Paint

Calcimine Paint

If you notice patches of peeling paint hanging from your ceiling or paint chips on your floors, there’s a good chance that the paint applied last to your home was calcimine paint. 

Calcimine is a water-based mixture of glue binder and chalk. If your paint is relatively new, there’s a good chance that your painter was unaware of the calcimine when he applied the new paint. 

This poses a problem because to get new paint to adhere to the old paint, your painter would have had to remove the old calcimine first. 

Calcimine Paint

Water Damage 

In bathrooms, ceilings, and on interior and exterior walls, peeling paint is typically caused by water, which is why you should use waterproof paint. The liquid penetrates through paint layers, separates them, and then slowly separates them from the painted surface. As a result, the paint bulges, cracks, and peels. 

Paint that has been damaged by water

Moisture can still cause problems even if there is no visible evidence of water damage. Other sources such as water splashes, leaky roofs, water intrusion, clogged gutters, etc. can cause peeling paint also, so it’s always recommended to hire a professional who is trained to inspect for all of these factors.

Too Many Layers 

It is common for walls or ceilings to have multiple layers of paint. But eventually, the weight of the paint causes stress, which causes the paint layers to start to peel or fall off. 

Paint that is applied too thickly to any surface, but especially the ceiling, will become heavy and crack. Paint tends to fall off immediately if there is no strong adhesive bond supporting the weight.

High Humidity 

Sometimes, flaking paint is primarily caused by humidity in poorly ventilated buildings. When there is a high level of humidity, the walls start to sweat, causing the coatings to blister, bulge, crack, or be chipped as a result.

Alternatively, condensation can soak into the surface beneath the paint, which encourages mold growth. Paint layers lift and flake due to these fungi. 

High Humidity can cause the paint peels

Painting on Dirty Material 

Dirty surfaces do not allow the paint to adhere. A variety of surfaces, including wooden, metallic, and concrete, are susceptible to dirt, grease, and oils preventing paints from adhering properly. 

When the paint has been applied to a dirty surface, it will immediately start to bubble and bulge, causing the coats to fall off.

Before painting a surface, wipe it down with a damp cloth. A tiny particle of dust can interfere with paint adhesion even if you cannot see anything dirty with the naked eye.

Not smooth surface

Long Exposure to Sunlight and High Temperatures 

When temperatures rise during the summer, the paint may not adhere well to surfaces. Paint also dries faster at high temperatures, which prevents layers from bonding strongly. 

However, oil paints are vulnerable to cracking when exposed to intense sunlight. This happens because the sun weakens the bond between latex and elastic paints.

Wall paint expose to sunlight

Using Incorrect Primer 

There are different types of primers available for different types of surfaces, including wood, metal, concrete, and plastic.

The wrong primer can also lead to peeling since these substances are designed to work with different types of paint. Try to stay away from poor-quality primers. For best results, try a high-quality primer suitable for all types of surfaces.

Sample of Primer

Not Preparing Your Surface

Surface preparation is essential for a paint coat to adhere properly. Unprimed or uneven surfaces will blister and peel quickly if the paint is applied to them.

Additionally, improper seam tapes and incomplete joint compounds can hinder paint adhesion. Always be sure to clean the surface area thoroughly before painting.

Paint Does Not Adhere to Surface

Some surfaces can react with paint, thereby making them incompatible. A poorly cured or new wood, for example, produces natural oils that prevent paint from adhering effectively. 

Some paints do not adhere well to smooth or glossy surfaces. Surfaces with these characteristics are unable to mechanically adhere to paint, so any coating applied to them will flake off immediately.

The adhesion of the coat of paint can also be hindered by synthetic polymer materials. When polymers are chemically cured, the incompatibility problem is exacerbated. Epoxy and polyurethane are examples of such materials.

Using Expired Paint 

The shelf life of paints is similar to that of other chemical products. Separating paints, paints growing mold or mildew, and freezing paints are all possible. The rust on a tin can caused by water-based paint will ruin the paint over time. 

This means you should expect to experience flaking if you use expired paint if any of these signs or odors are present.

Using expired paint

Using Low-Quality Brands 

Flexibility and adhesion are poor in some paint brands. In a short period, low-quality paints will peel and fail to dry properly. 

It is not recommended to use paints containing calcimine, for instance. Make sure the paint you choose has a high pigment content, resin (which makes paint stick), and few solvents (like water).

Extreme Dry Climate 

Dry environments make it difficult for paint to adhere to your walls effectively. Direct sunlight can heat materials to such a degree even when the ambient air temperature in a room is not excessively hot. Your paint peels as a result of this failure of the paint layers. 

Both inside and outside painting jobs can be destroyed by high temperatures in certain areas. The paint separates and dries out due to the heat. Paint becomes fragile and cracks more easily as a result.

Ineffective Painting Methods 

It is possible for a coat of paint not to adhere to the surface if the paint is applied using poor painting techniques, such as the wrong brushes and very thin layers. 

Cohesive bonds do not form between paint molecules using these two methods. As a result, they contribute to the cracking and chipping of the layers.

How to Fix Peeling Paint

Most paint dealers blame paint peeling problems on poor prep work. However, even the best routine of cleaning, scraping, sanding, and priming won’t stop paint from peeling if water gets into the wood. For this reason, inspect and repair peeling areas annually.

Covering over old, peeling, or chipped paint with a fresh coat tends to leave telltale rough edges. Paint cover-ups can be highly noticeable under certain lighting conditions.  

To fix peeling paint, you should always remove old paint, inspect it, and then smooth and prepare the surface area before a new coat is applied. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Lead-based paint may have been used on older homes, especially before 1978. Studies show that lead-based paint causes neurological damage to pregnant women and children. Before stripping or sanding the paint, test it for lead. A qualified painter should remove the paint if it contains lead.

How To Fix Peeling Paint

Step 1: Remove The Peeling Paint 

Remove The Peeling Paint

Safety masks, glasses, and gloves should always be worn even if there is no lead-based paint. Any stray paint pieces should be caught with a large plastic sheet or tarp, regardless of the size of the area or the type of paint used. 

Be sure to remove all furniture, rugs, and other finishings from the space, and tape off nearby trim areas. 

Keep paint off other surfaces by placing drop cloths around the room. You should use paint scrapers or tools that are five-in-one to remove loose edges of painted surfaces. 

When removing the paint becomes difficult, stop prying. Use a scraper with sharp edges to prevent gouging or damage to the wood.

Step 2: Fix Any Imperfections

Apply patching compound to the wall

As a result of removing peeling paint, the wall might have cracks or holes. Repainting should be done after any damage has been repaired. 

Apply a patching compound ($14, The Home Depot) with a putty knife as needed; smooth and let dry according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Step 3: Smooth The Surface 

Smoothen the surface

The peeling paint area should be sanded, regardless of whether you patched it or not. The area should be smoothed down using very fine sandpaper.

 Ensure that the surface is completely even with the walls around it by running your hand over it.

Step 4: Prime The Surface 

Protecting your newly painted area from moisture is especially important if your old paint was peeling. 

Sealing the surface with primer helps prevent moisture from seeping in and preventing paint from adhering properly. Follow the manufacturer’s directions when applying primer and allowing it to dry.

Step 5: Repaint the Area 

Repaint the surface

You are now ready to paint your wall. Cover the prepared area evenly with the first coat. If necessary, apply a second coat and let dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Enjoy your new smoothed-out surface after removing the tape and drop cloth.

How To Keep Paint From Chipping

Primers prepare surfaces for painting by preparing them for paint. There is a difference between a primer and paint. To protect the surface against moisture and make it easier for the paint to adhere, primers seal the surface. 

It is important to use a primer that has great adhesion properties to prevent the peeling of paint. Using primer establishes an obvious difference in appearance and allows the paint to hold onto it. Your cabinet’s aesthetic won’t be ruined by a lack of quality primer. 

Interior/exterior primers are good for both indoor and outdoor painting. If not, use primers formulated indoors and outdoors separately. It depends on what type of paint you’re using and the type of surface you’re painting.

A primer for the exterior should protect surfaces from mildew and minimize cracking and erosion because exterior primers are more durable than interior primers. 

Your paint can be protected from peeling with a simple protective top coat. Top coats protect your paint by creating a clear, transparent layer. As a result, your paint is protected from external factors for a long period.

What Are The Best Paint and Primer for Peeling or Chipping? 

A primer that is suitable to work on both interiors and exteriors is Rust-Oleum Corporation 260925 Triple Thick Primer (Zinsser Peel Stop Triple Thick High Build Binding Primer). 

The best primer for covering peeling paint is probably this one. The product is water-based and low in volatile organic compounds. 

It hides and locks down peeling and weathered surfaces while creating a smooth white finish. 

An application of peeling paint can be done with this primer’s high-build binding properties. It forms a stable surface ready for the next coat of paint by adhering tightly to the old paint.

The Best Quality Paints 

A great option for exterior use is Rust-Oleum’s Painter’s Touch Latex Paint, which is one of the strongest paints available on the market. Paint coverage is guaranteed for long periods, without streaking or other defects, with this highly durable formula. 

Painter’s Touch Latex Paint from Rust-Oleum offers superior durability and is designed to work on most surfaces, including wood, metal, and plaster, with its waterborne, premium latex formulation.

Iridescent glitter interior wall paint, 32 fl oz (Pack of 1), Rust-Oleum 323860, is the cheapest. Incorporate contemporary style and the latest interior design trends into your home with Rust-Oleum 323860 Glitter Interior Wall Paint.

Rust-Oleum 241140 Specialty Dry Erase Brush-On Paint Kit provides an excellent surface for writing, drawing, and painting when used with Rust-Oleum dry-erase paintbrush-on paint. 

The handy handle provides a nice grip, and the dry brush makes applying your words simple. Rust-Oleum is the most durable interior paint and primer in one, with a semi-gloss finish.

Include a table with products if applicable. 

The Best Quality Primers 

The characteristics of a primer should be considered when choosing one for your project. The right primer for your project depends on the type of environment you’re working in, the surface you’re painting, the time frame of the job, and the quality of the finish you would like to achieve.

Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Water-Base Primer works with any topcoat and adheres to numerous surfaces without needing to sand. In the field of rust-preventive paints, this brand is considered one of the best.

 It provides excellent coverage on interior and exterior surfaces and has a low odor and low volatile organic compound content. 

It’s made from acrylic water-based paint that won’t blister, peel off, or grow mold or mildew. In addition to white and gray, the primer can be tinted. Spray-paint versions are also available.


Peeling or chipping paint can be caused by several different factors including moisture, a poorly prepared surface, excessive heat or dryness, etc.

 To be certain that your paint lasts as long as possible, it’s always better to stop peeling paint by taking proper measures in advance to prevent it from happening in the first place. 

Using a high-quality primer and high-quality paint will also prevent paint from prematurely chipping and;/or peeling. In the end, it’s always better to call a professional painter to ensure that preparation processes are followed and your paint job comes out as good as possible. 

Contact us to get the help of a professional painting contractor!

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