Reasons Why Your Fresh Paint Keeps Peeling Off The Walls

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey

There is nothing like a nice new coat of paint to get a room, piece of furniture or even your home’s exterior looking shiny and new. Painting your walls is a great way to reinvigorate them without having to start from scratch. But sometimes our best intentions end in disaster, like when a freshly painted wall starts peeling. But if you just completed this job recently, you are likely wondering why your fresh paint is peeling off the walls.

Fresh paint is likely to peel off the wall if it is applied to a damp surface or during very humid weather. Paint is also apt to peel if it is painted on unprepared surfaces, which is why sanding and wiping your walls before you paint is critical. Skipping a primer layer also tends to result in peeling, as does expired or otherwise bad paint.

There are many reasons why a paint job can end up peeling off the walls. But regardless of the cause, the result is very frustrating, as it involves lots of cleanup. Worst of all, you have to do the entire job over again. However, once you understand the top reasons why fresh paint peels off walls, you can easily avoid this irritating issue happening to you.

Top Six Reasons Why Fresh Paint Peels Off Walls

1. Painting On A Damp Surface

One of the most common reasons for paint to peel shortly after it is painted is a wet surface. You have no doubt heard about the importance of painting on a clean dry wall. This is not a suggestion, but in fact, mandatory for quality results.

When you paint on a damp surface, you are essentially trapping the moisture between the wall and the paint. The water eventually has to go somewhere. This is where you see paint bubbling up, and then peeling. If you are noticing this peeling near a window, or crack in the ceiling, then water is likely your culprit. Make sure to seal any vulnerable areas before repainting.

2. Failure To Sand And Clean The Surface

Another reason for paint peeling off shortly after it is applied is due to a lack of prep work. Sanding your surfaces is recommended, and cleaning your wall before painting is a must.

When you paint over a wall that hasn’t been cleaned, you are not applying paint just to the wall, but also to the layer of filth over that wall. If you have a particularly dirty wall, that is covered in dust or grease remnants, there is a good chance your paint will struggle to stick to the wall itself. Neglecting the cleaning and sanding steps can cause the paint to peel, mostly because it doesn’t have a strong grip on the surface. Always clean the surfaces when you paint, and sand them whenever possible.

3. The Weather Was Too Humid

It isn’t just the walls that can be too wet. It is also entirely possible that you painted dry walls, but on a day that was far too wet. Painting on a rainy day with very high humidity can cause fresh paint to peel. The ideal humidity for painting is 40 to 50 percent humidity (because believe it or not, too dry can also cause peeling).

You should not paint when the area in question is above 85 percent humidity. Not only will it take much longer for your paint to dry, but it can also cause peeling. If you live in a humid area and are painting inside, consider using a dehumidifier or air conditioner to remove some of the moisture from the air.

4. You Didn’t Use A Primer

Any painting professional will tell you — don’t skip the primer layer. Many say a coat of primer isn’t even optional, but mandatory. There is a good reason for that. It is not simply to add a base coat and make the color and surface smooth. A primer acts as the glue between the wall and the paint.

If you skip a primer layer, there is a greater chance that the paint you use will not stick well to the surface. This is particularly true when you are using a specialty paint on a surface that it doesn’t react favorably towards it.

5. Painting Over One Type Of Paint With A Different Type

Another reason your freshly painted walls might be peeling is due to a reaction between two paints. If you have painted walls that are smooth, you might think you can easily paint over them.

In some cases, this is true. But if, for example, you paint over oil-based paint with some latex paints, the two paints can react with each other. After all, one is oil-based and the other is water-based. We all know what they say about oil and water — they don’t mix. So, this lack of mixing can also cause one paint to not properly adhere and set to the other, which can cause peeling.

6. Expired Or Otherwise Bad Paint

Lastly, it could just be some bad paint. Paint, like any other man-made product, has an expiration date. Make sure you always check the paint’s expiration date. Expired paint can separate and lose its ability to bond, both of which can cause it to peel shortly after applying it.

You can also have a bad batch of paint. This usually happens when you don’t store paint properly. If you store paint at very high or very low temperatures, it can damage and even ruin it. This might not always be noticeable to the naked eye. This is why it is critical that you purchase your paint from a reliable source. You also should make sure you store your paint in a cool (not cold) dry and dark place.

Summing Up Why Freshly Painted Walls Keep Peeling

A bad paint job is frustrating, but freshly painted walls that start peeling almost immediately can feel infuriating. In order to prevent this from happening to you, make sure you don’t paint on wet walls and you never paint on a very humid day. Make sure you always clean and sand the surface before painting, and do not use expired or otherwise damaged paint.

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Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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