Why Is Paint Peeling Off My Walls Like Wallpaper?

Paint Peeling Off Wall

When you start to notice paint peeling off your walls, it can be really frustrating. It’s especially annoying when you can pull the paint off your walls in sheets, just like wallpaper. It’s an upsetting situation, plus it means you need to repaint pronto.

If the paint is peeling off of your wall like wallpaper, it’s most likely the result of a poorly prepared surface. Low-quality paint, painting a wet surface, and insufficient drying time between paint coats can also cause paint to peel. The best thing to do is remove peeling paint, prepare the surface properly, apply suitable primer, and repaint the wall.

Often, without doing the necessary prep work before painting, you’ll eventually deal with issues like cracking and peeling. Your paint job is more susceptible to things like moisture, which causes bubbling and other issues. When you try to remove that small piece, you suddenly have a whole sheet of paint in your hand; what to do?

What Causes Paint To Peel Off Walls?

If your paint’s peeling, it’s a real drag, but it’s important to understand why it’s happening. After all, you certainly don’t want to repaint only to have it happen again soon after.

Here are a few common reasons your paint is peeling off in sheets.

1. Poorly Prepared Surface

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The most common reason for peeling paint is painting over an ill-prepared surface. If you paint over a dirty wall, it can affect the paint’s adhesion. Therefore, always ensure you wipe down and clean any surface before you begin painting.

Also, if you neglect to prime before you paint or use the wrong type of primer, it can cause peeling. Priming helps even out the surface you’re painting, blocks stains, seals the surface, and improves adhesion and durability. Ensure you choose the right primer for the job; there are different primers for different applications.

2. Excessive Moisture

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Another typical culprit when it comes to peeling paint is water. When water penetrates your paint job, it makes its way between paint layers and the original surface. When this happens, you’ll start to notice unsightly bubbles and blisters in your paint.

Eventually, these little bubbles start to crack and become the starting point for peeling paint. However, since water seeping between your paint separates it from the surface, you could easily pull a whole sheet of paint off the wall.

If your peeling paint occurs in your bathroom or around windows, then moisture is likely to blame. But, moisture can cause problems for your paint job in any room of your home, especially if your home lacks proper ventilation. If you live in areas with lots of humidity, you could also face peeling paint issues.

3. Low-Quality Or Old Paint

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Unfortunately, paint doesn’t last forever (whether it’s on a wall or in a can). Old paint can start to separate over time, reducing its integrity and ability to adhere properly. Not to mention, old paint can also start to develop mildew and mold and have a funky smell.

Additionally, trying to save a few bucks by buying paint on the cheap could also lead to peeling problems.  If you’re going to invest your time into painting, it’s worth a few extra bucks to use high-quality paint. It will save you time, money, and a lot of headaches in the long run.

4. Using The Wrong Paint

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Speaking of buying paint, make sure you get the right kind for your project. Using the wrong paint is a surefire way to jeopardize your paint job. For example, if you’re painting outside, use exterior paint.

Painting in a bathroom? Opt for paint and primer with mold and mildew-resistant properties. There are even paints specifically for kitchens and baths.

Also, depending on the surface you’re painting on, you’ll need different paint. Some paints only work on drywall, and you’ll need masonry paint if your wall is stone. You get the idea.

5. Painting A Wet Surface

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Yes, cleaning your wall before you paint is essential, but you have to let it dry completely. Painting on a surface while it’s still damp will not only disrupt adhesion but trap water between the surface and your paint. And, we already know what moisture does to a paint job.

6. Not Letting Paint Dry Between Coats

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Understandably, you’re eager to get your paint job complete, but patience is critical. Allow the paint to dry before you start on the next coat. Otherwise, you end up with streaks, unevenness, and eventually bubbling and peeling.

As a good rule of thumb, you should allow latex paints to dry for about 4 hours before applying a second coat. Oil-based paints take longer to dry, and you’ll want to wait 24 hours before your next coat.

If you simply can’t bear waiting so long to finish a paint job, consider using a paint-and-primer in one. You’ll still need to wait for the allotted time, but at least you won’t need as many coats. Plus, primers tend to dry faster than paints.

7. Painting In Poor Weather Conditions

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You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t paint in the rain. This is due to the obvious reason of too much moisture, but also when it rains, it can affect your paint’s dry time.

But, did you also know that painting in too hot or too cold weather can also cause problems with your paint job? When it’s below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, paint can take longer to dry, increasing the chances of dirt and dust gathering on your paint. Plus, it could limit the number of coats you apply or tempt you to rush the job and paint over wet paint.

On the flip side of the coin, it’ best not to paint in temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. These high temps can dry your paint too quickly and dry it out. This can cause your paint to separate, adhere poorly, and lead to cracking and peeling.

The ideal temperature ranges to paint in are between 50 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit for latex paints and 40 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit for oil-based paints.

How Do You Remove Peeling Paint?

When paint is peeling off in big chunks, it’s best to get rid of it and start fresh. Peeling off in sheets is a much bigger issue than just a couple of small spots.

So, roll up your sleeves and grab the following items to help you remove the peeling paint–paint stripper, drop cloth, and a scraper. If your paint is already peeling and cracking, you likely only need the scraper.

However, if you’re also trying to remove paint that hasn’t loosened, you’ll need the paint stripper as well. Place the drop cloth down to catch all of the paint you’re about to scrape off the wall.

Scrape Off Peeling Paint

Using a paint scraper or a putty knife, use the flat edge to start scraping the paint from the wall. Ensure you keep the edge flat against the wall so you don’t take out a chunk of it with the paint.

Scraping should remove the majority of peeling paint, especially if it’s coming off in sheets. However, you can use fine-grit sandpaper and sander for any areas that are a bit trickier.

Source: photoL

Use A Paint Stripper

For paint that won’t cooperate with the scraper, apply a small amount of paint stripper to a small area. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions as allowing paint stripper to stay on a surface too long can lead to damage.

However, usually, you let the stripper sit for a few minutes to work its way into the paint and loosen it. Then, come behind with the scraper. Make sure you wear gloves, a mask, and safety goggles when you use paint stripper.

What Is The Best Way To Prevent Peeling Paint?

Now that you know the leading causes of peeling paint, keep these pointers in mind to prevent future peeling:

  • Ensure you choose the correct primer and paint for your specific paint job. Opt for high-quality materials.
  • Check the weather before you plan to paint, so you’re painting in ideal conditions. This applies whether you’re painting outside or inside.
  • Clean the surface and let it dry thoroughly. You might want to plan to wait until the next day to start painting.
  • Ensure you’re painting in a well-ventilated area.
  • Always prime before you paint.
  • Allow all primer and paint to dry completely before applying the next coat.
  • Only do as many coats as necessary; doing more than needed is overkill.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you paint over peeling paint?

In a word, yes, but you probably don’t want to. Priming over paint that is only peeling a little can seal it and stop the peeling. However, your end result won’t look very good.

If it’s just one small area, you could use putty or joint compound to try and fill in the area and even it out, then apply primer. However, if you want an attractive, professional-looking paint job, it’s best to remove the old, peeling paint first.

What if I suspect the peeling paint is lead-based?

Many older homes constructed during the early to mid-1900s feature lead-based paint. While painting over lead-based paint in good condition can seal it and cause no issues, peeling paint is another matter.

If lead-based paint starts peeling and cracking, it can release lead particles and lead dust into the air. These particles can lead to a host of health issues. If you suspect your peeling paint has lead in it, it’s best to call in professionals to test it and remove it.

How long does a high-quality paint job typically last?

If done well, a high-quality interior paint job can last for ten years or more. This lifespan assumes that the surface was prepared properly and high-quality, suitable materials were used for the specific job. If the room is a high-traffic area, your paint job might need a touch-up sooner than a room not used as often.

Exterior paint jobs typically don’t last as long as interior ones since they contend with the outdoor elements. However, a lot depends on the surface you’re painting. A high-quality exterior paint job can last anywhere from 5 to over 15 years, depending on the location and the surface.

For example, if painting wood siding, you might need to repaint it closer to 4 years later. However, a paint job could last about 7 to 10 years for stucco and over 15 years for brick.