We do not recommend directly painting over peeled paint as they will create thick layer problems and will most likely start peeling in a short amount of time.
The best way is to remove all peel layers, fill and repair the damages, sand it to level, and lastly, prime and paint it. A little time spent and elbow grease will create long-lasting results.
If many areas have peel issues, we recommend identifying the underlying problem first. Most mass peel issues are caused due to moisture and leakage issue.
What Causes Paint to Peel & Flake
There are several reasons for the peeling issue, but the most commons ones are as follows:
- Excessive moisture levels in the surface, plaster, walls, etc., or humidity levels above 50 percent
- Poor surface cleaning and preparation during previous application
- Mixing different bases of paint
- Water leakages or plumbing concerns
- Did not prime surface during the first application
- Applying paint before previous layers dried off
- Poor quality paint
- latex over oil-based paint ( Water repels oil)
- Painted over impurities, rust, oil, and grease during previous application
- Dilution of Paint not done per manufacturer’s specification
- Deeper Crack or Crumbling concrete issues. (If cracks are above 1/8-1/10 inch wide, we recommend professional help as it is a sign of structural problems)
How to Paint Over Peeling Paint
We do not recommend directly painting over peeling paint as it will only be temporary, the layers can be thick, and you will most likely be at square one. Take the time to do it properly with the steps below, and the results will be long-lasting.
The optimal humidity level for painting is 40-50 percent. Humidity also affects dry time. Strictly avoid painting if the humidity level is above 85 percent. Do check weather reports of at least an average of 5 days for rain if you are fixing outdoor surfaces.
Follow the steps below and get maximum results.
Get the Items Ready
- Paint Scraper/ 5 in 1 tool
- Putty Knife
- Painter’s Tape
- Stiff Nylon Brush/ Wire Brush (according to need)
- Filler/Patch Materials (Should be according to the surface)
- Fine Grit Sandpaper or Handheld Electric Sander
- Tack Cloths, Rags, or Sponges
- Plastic sheets/Tarps for indoor areas
- Proper Safety Equipment (Gloves, Respirator Masks)
- ladder (Situational)
Check Paint for Lead
If there is confusion about the type of paint, we recommend testing the paint for lead. If you are sure it is not lead, skip this step.
We can find lead paint test kits at local hardware stores. They generally cost around 10 to 30 pounds. If the tests turn positive, stop everything, and call a lead abatement agency.
Lead paint is extremely dangerous and is known to cause brain damage and organ failure. In children, it can cause behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures, and in the worst-case scenario, even death.
Prepare the Surface
Firstly, tape off the area to protect any surrounding surfaces.
We will need to remove any loose peels of paint debris surrounding the area. Use a paint scraper to remove these layers. If the scraper isn’t doing a satisfactory job, use a brush. We recommend using wire brushes only as a last resort as they scratch surfaces easily. You can also get those 5 in 1 tools from local hardware stores to scrape away the peels.
Take your time to do this step and be as gentle as possible. Do not gouge wood surfaces with the edges of the scraper tools. Our goal is to remove the top layer, not the surface.
If this is an indoor wall, we recommend placing plastic sheets on the floor before starting to catch any falling debris or loose paint. If the peels of paint are still not coming off, get a heat gun and apply some heat to the area from a reasonable distance.
Do Necessary Filling & Repairs
Once the peels come up, you can see the surface. Do necessary repairs on it. Fill the wood to mask the damages. If you plan to repair peels on a concrete surface, concrete patchers are found in local hardware stores.
It doesn’t matter which surface you are fixing; fillers are easily available in the market. If this is your first home project, you can make generous applications with the filler material. Do not worry as we will need to sand it later. Use a putty knife to add the filling layers.
For more experienced DIYers, we recommend filling damaged areas and leveling them off with the putty knife using angled strokes. If wooden surfaces are badly damaged or eaten away by termites, we recommend changing the boards entirely.
Once the application is made, you will need to let the filler or patcher dry completely. Always follow manufacturer dry time as different brands will have variations in the dry time. Water-based fillers generally dry faster than oil-based ones.
Sand the Area
You can use fine-grit sandpaper (100-220 grit will work) or a handheld electric sander to do this. Remember to ask for finishing grits of sandpaper. We aren’t trying to sand to the bare surface. Sand the area until the surface looks smooth and level with the surrounding surface.
Do not sand the area to its bare surface. The filler layers must be intact. We sand areas for smoothness and leveling; we do not completely strip the surface.
Clean the sanded area with a tack or microfiber cloth or lightly damp sponge/rag. Use another dry cloth to get rid of any moisture left by cleaning.
Apply Primer to the Surface
Applying primers is the most important step. We have seen a lot of people skipping this step and later facing problematic consequences. Primers are layers that help in the adhesion of paint to the surface. If you do not prime the area, the paint might not stick, and you will be back at square one.
Primers will be differentiated according to the surface and type of paint, so ensure you get the specific primer for the surface underneath.
The only time you can skip this step is if you have a two-in-one paint that composes of both primer and paint. These types of paint are brand-specific. It is fine if you can get it, else buy a separate primer.
You will also need to follow the manufacturer’s specified dry time.
Paint the Surface
Once you are sure that the primer layer has dried off completely, apply the coat of paint. The general norm is two coats of paints. Remember you cannot apply both coats one after the other. You will need to wait for the first coat to dry properly, check the result, and then apply the second coat.
Sometimes, when you finish off the first layer, you might find protruding lumps sticking out. Scrape that out before the second coat. The dry time of coats will be defined in the paint labels and can vary according to the brand.
Do not mix paints; use the same base paints as before.
If you are using epoxy-type paints, additional options are there in the market for a protective top layer. If you have epoxy floors and there used to be decorative flakes, you will need to get them too and add them during the second coat.
If it’s concrete floors that you are fixing, you might need to get some grip additives to add to the paint.