Home>Discussions>EXTERIORS>Exterior paint is blistering/cracking and peeling off in massive amounts!
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dfairfield
Exterior paint is blistering/cracking and peeling off in massive amounts!

This is my first post on TOH. Thanks in advance for any help/advice you can give.

We bought our house (in CT) 2.5 years ago. The exterior (clapboard) had been freshly painted when we bought it. Now there are many areas of the house where the paint is peeling/cracking in large sections. Primarily the sides that get the most sun. I've attempted to attach some pictures to this thread but that does not seem to work. Here's a link to see: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6oqfy1nyctk02iw/paintpeeling.JPG. Also, I can email pics directly to anyone willing to help. A few people have suggested there's a moisture problem and that is "pushing" the paint off, and that makes sense to me. How do I determine a) if this is moisture related b) the cause of the moisture and c) how to alleviate the problem before I spend a lot of time and money on repainting? I have soffit and gable vents in case you are wondering.

Also, assuming the cause is identified and dealt with, any recommendations on what to repaint with and the steps involved?

Thanks so much!
-DF

MtMan54
Re: Exterior paint is blistering/cracking and peeling off in massive amounts!

Hi, A plastic wrap under the siding has been used to stop the blistering but you will have more problems if you use this fix. I would use a mesh under the siding to get it vented. Thanks

MLB Construction
Re: Exterior paint is blistering/cracking and peeling off in massive amounts!

there's possibly 2 issues here. one is that the house wasn't properly prepped prior to being painted. if it was prepped properly, even if you have a moisture problem, the paint would not look like that where it's peeling. second issue is that it appears that you "might" have a moisture problem behind the clapboards. easiest way to determine the extent of a potential moisture problem is to remove one or two clapboards in the area of the peeling paint. it's also very possible that, due to the no prep issue, that water got behind the paint, not the clapboard, shortly after it was painted.

a good painter that you can trust should be able to shed some light on the problem. tell him you'll pay him for an hour to come over and consult with you so that he won't just tell you that the house has to be repainted.

dj1
Re: Exterior paint is blistering/cracking and peeling off in massive amounts!

There are various possibilities on why your paint is peeling - lack of proper prep, wet surface when it was painted or lack of adhesion - it's anyone's guess.

Here's one repair solution, painters do all the time:
- Using a putty knife, clean the peeling paint off.
- Sand to create a smooth surface.
- Prime.
- Paint.

ordjen
Re: Exterior paint is blistering/cracking and peeling off in massive amounts!

Without knowing the age of the house and materials used in its construction, it is really hard to say what exactly is going on. Generally, when peeling is to bare wood, moisture is usually involved. To prevent a repeat of the peeling, you have to locate the source of the moisture.

In recent years, it has become common practice to put a heavy plastic absolute vapor barrier in back of the drywall to prevent interior generated moisture from migrating to the exterior siding. (a practice that can cause other problems).

Also in recent years has been the advent of rain screen products that help keep the back of the siding from directly touching the house sheathing and allow a way for moisture to exit and air to move.

Your home does not appear to be all that old? Homes built back in the 70's would simply have had tarpaper on the sheathing with the siding in contact with it.

I would be curious to know if the house shows signs of having peeled in the past?

Short of taking all the siding down, applying a true rain screen or battens on rainscreen, I am not sure how to guarantee peeling from not re-occurring.

There is another scenario that might be occurring if your house is old enough to have had a coat or two of oil paint in its early years. Oil paint is brittle when it drys and gets more so with age. It does not expand and contract as well has latex / acrylic paints. Acrylic paints expand and contract greatly in the harsh exterior environment. Acrylic paints have great adhesion. If you put a layer of acrylic paint on top of a non-expanding oil paint, something might well give! There are documented cases where massive peeling has occurred as the expanding acrylic paint literally broke the bond of the underlying oil paint to the wood. Peeling to bare wood which is NOT moisture related.

Indeed, there are paint strippers on the market that work kind of in this fashion. They dry, adhere, contract, and literally break the bond of the old paint to the point where the old paint film can be zipped off with a scrapper.

Mastercarpentry
Re: Exterior paint is blistering/cracking and peeling off in massive amounts!
MLB Construction wrote:

you "might" have a moisture problem behind the clapboards....
,,,,it's also very possible that, due to the no prep issue, that water got behind the paint....

I'm betting that the "prep" done was with a power-washer, which has become the most common way painters remove loose paint on house exteriors. What they fail to do is to let the wood dry out thoroughly and completely before proceeding to apply primer or paint. Most just go when the surface seems dry enough, failing to understand that the pressure spraying drove moisture deep into the wood and that it is going to find it's way to the surface- right underneath the newly-applied coating which will now fail. This process can take as much as a year with the better-adhering paints, and I see these exact results all the time where I live :mad:

My personal belief: Only an idiot intentionally wets the wood before painting it when loose paint removal can be done well without wetting the wood. Yep, it's a lot of hard work to do it the right way and that is why so few want to do that anymore.

Phil

dfairfield
Re: Exterior paint is blistering/cracking and peeling off in massive amounts!
MLB Construction wrote:

there's possibly 2 issues here. one is that the house wasn't properly prepped prior to being painted. if it was prepped properly, even if you have a moisture problem, the paint would not look like that where it's peeling. second issue is that it appears that you "might" have a moisture problem behind the clapboards. easiest way to determine the extent of a potential moisture problem is to remove one or two clapboards in the area of the peeling paint. it's also very possible that, due to the no prep issue, that water got behind the paint, not the clapboard, shortly after it was painted.

a good painter that you can trust should be able to shed some light on the problem. tell him you'll pay him for an hour to come over and consult with you so that he won't just tell you that the house has to be repainted.

Thanks for the suggestion. I've had two painters out to look. One hasn't got back to me with his theory or recommendation. The other feels its probably bad prepping. He suggests that I make a test area, sand to wood, prime, and paint and wait to see how that works. The problem with that is I'd have a wait a couple of years to see how that compares to my current situation. I want to start dealing with my peeling this spring/summer.

If I do remove a clapboard to see whats going on behind them can you point me in the right direction on steps how to do that and what to look for?

Thanks for your help.

dfairfield
Re: Exterior paint is blistering/cracking and peeling off in massive amounts!
Mastercarpentry wrote:

I'm betting that the "prep" done was with a power-washer, which has become the most common way painters remove loose paint on house exteriors. What they fail to do is to let the wood dry out thoroughly and completely before proceeding to apply primer or paint. Most just go when the surface seems dry enough, failing to understand that the pressure spraying drove moisture deep into the wood and that it is going to find it's way to the surface- right underneath the newly-applied coating which will now fail. This process can take as much as a year with the better-adhering paints, and I see these exact results all the time where I live :mad:

My personal belief: Only an idiot intentionally wets the wood before painting it when loose paint removal can be done well without wetting the wood. Yep, it's a lot of hard work to do it the right way and that is why so few want to do that anymore.

Phil

Interesting! One thing I did not mention was that even in spots that are not peeling, there is evidence that the same thing has happened in the past. There are obvious places where the paint peeled in the same way (several inches long) and it was repainted over with no attempt to "smooth" the spot which peeled into the existing paint. Would using a moisture meter help in determining how/when to paint the current areas that are peeling? Would it also make sense to sc**** or sand paint off an area that is not peeling and use a moisture meter?

Thanks again!

dfairfield
Re: Exterior paint is blistering/cracking and peeling off in massive amounts!
ordjen wrote:

Without knowing the age of the house and materials used in its construction, it is really hard to say what exactly is going on. Generally, when peeling is to bare wood, moisture is usually involved. To prevent a repeat of the peeling, you have to locate the source of the moisture.

In recent years, it has become common practice to put a heavy plastic absolute vapor barrier in back of the drywall to prevent interior generated moisture from migrating to the exterior siding. (a practice that can cause other problems).

Also in recent years has been the advent of rain screen products that help keep the back of the siding from directly touching the house sheathing and allow a way for moisture to exit and air to move.

Your home does not appear to be all that old? Homes built back in the 70's would simply have had tarpaper on the sheathing with the siding in contact with it.

I would be curious to know if the house shows signs of having peeled in the past?

Short of taking all the siding down, applying a true rain screen or battens on rainscreen, I am not sure how to guarantee peeling from not re-occurring.

There is another scenario that might be occurring if your house is old enough to have had a coat or two of oil paint in its early years. Oil paint is brittle when it drys and gets more so with age. It does not expand and contract as well has latex / acrylic paints. Acrylic paints expand and contract greatly in the harsh exterior environment. Acrylic paints have great adhesion. If you put a layer of acrylic paint on top of a non-expanding oil paint, something might well give! There are documented cases where massive peeling has occurred as the expanding acrylic paint literally broke the bond of the underlying oil paint to the wood. Peeling to bare wood which is NOT moisture related.

Indeed, there are paint strippers on the market that work kind of in this fashion. They dry, adhere, contract, and literally break the bond of the old paint to the point where the old paint film can be zipped off with a scrapper.

The house was built in 1987. There are definitely signs that the same thing has happened in the past. There are obvious places where the paint peeled in the same way (several inches long) and it was repainted over with no attempt to "smooth" the spot which peeled into the existing paint. There are lots of these spots. My guess is previous home owner had the same issue and knew they were selling so they did the least costly paint job possible. Can a good paint store take a paint chip and tell if there was an oil based paint underneath? How about using a moisture meter to tell if there's a problem (after a good dry spell I assume)?

Thanks for your help!

dfairfield
Re: Exterior paint is blistering/cracking and peeling off in massive amounts!
dj1 wrote:

There are various possibilities on why your paint is peeling - lack of proper prep, wet surface when it was painted or lack of adhesion - it's anyone's guess.

Here's one repair solution, painters do all the time:
- Using a putty knife, clean the peeling paint off.
- Sand to create a smooth surface.
- Prime.
- Paint.

Right....but if there's another issue that is causing moisture to get into the siding won't this just keep happening? I'm trying to prevent spending the time/money before I understand the cause of peeling.

MtMan54
Re: Exterior paint is blistering/cracking and peeling off in massive amounts!
dfairfield wrote:

Right....but if there's another issue that is causing moisture to get into the siding won't this just keep happening? I'm trying to prevent spending the time/money before I understand the cause of peeling.

Hi, I'm happy to see someone that is more interested in fixing the problem and not trying to fix the symptoms. Don't be confused by all this talk about the paint and prep because these are not the problem. A mesh under the siding will solve the moisture problem. Thanks

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