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Paint peeling on salvaged doors

When adding a new master bath to our home last year we opted to buy salvaged doors for the room. We found some great ones that matched the sizes that we needed and were very happy. After a year of being installed 2 of the 3 are now peeling. Apparently someone painted latex paint over oil based. Some of the paint will peel off and some I have tried scraping off to prep to re-paint but if I wait about a week it will loosen up some more and begin peeling. How do I get all of this paint off so I can safely repaint? I have sc****d some down to original wood and other parts are just down 1 or 2 colors. I also have another door that we are using as an interior closet door and it was apparently an outside door at some time. I would like to retain the aged look of the door so how do I stabilize the paint that is still on the door or do I have to sc**** down to bare wood and repaint as well? HELP! I thought we were helping the environment buy re-purposing old doors but this is really turning into more work than we bargained for.

Re: Paint peeling on salvaged doors

Having had a renovating biz for 20 some years, your problem is a common mistake, you cannot paint latex over oil and expect it to adhere.
The solution being you can strip off the old, then paint.
or you can sand it real good, paint with an oil primer
let dry, then you can paint with latex.

Re: Paint peeling on salvaged doors

Since these are older doors you'll want to test the paint for lead. Be careful before sanding the old paint from the doors.

My preferred primer is Zinser with the blue label.

Re: Paint peeling on salvaged doors


When trying to strip poorly adhered paint, often I will use a sharp putty knife to bear down on the paint as I drag it across the surface. The pressure will often encourage the paint to further release.

Another possible way to help break the bond is to use a heat gun to "shock" the paint. The latex paint expands much more rapidly than the hard, ridgid oil paint underneath. The goal is not necessarily to remove all the paint, but rather to further break the bond of the top coat. The underlying hard oil paint can then be feather sanded.

"You cannot paint latex over oil and expect it to adhere" isno longer quite accurate. Acrylic (latex) based primers will adhere to oil paint and allow a finish coat of acrylic or oil paint. Further, there are now acrylic paints on the market which will bond directly to slick oil paints.

That being said, I still prefer oil based primers and enamels on fine woodwork. They dry to a hard, durable finish, without that gummy feeling inherent in acrylic enamels. They also level themselves better. Oil paint applied with a good brush is almost as smooth a surface as a sprayed finish.

Re: Paint peeling on salvaged doors

Thank you so much for your replies. As to the comment about lead paint I feel sure it probably is. These doors came from homes that were being torn down in an older area of Houston known as The Heights and these homes were built during the early part of the 20th century. I will be sure and use precautions and keep any/all sanding to a minimum.

Re: Paint peeling on salvaged doors

<- owns a Heights 1920 Home

C&D hardware has those lead testing kits you can rub on the paint to find out. Or send the door out for stripping. The last one we had stripped ran $125.

Re: Paint peeling on salvaged doors

Another option is for that farmhouse country look. Allow the door to peel and enjoy the two toned look. There are books that show people how to do this with new furniture to get that old worn look.

If you want to strip, use a heat gun it will be faster or Peel Away which is the safest.

Good luck,

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