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Peeling paint in beach house

I have a beach house with a cathedral ceiling in the living room. The room also has a wood burning stove. The problem is paint AND primer are both peeling off the dry wall ceiling. I don’t think the cause is water infiltration because there are no water stains. Is it possible the high humidity and temperature fluctuations would cause the paint and primer to peel? What can I do to prevent this from happening again when I re-paint?

Re: Peeling paint in beach house

Is this peeling over the whole ceiling or just in certain areas, such as over where the drywall mud is? Was the original primer sprayed or rolled? What temperature range is the interior this house is subjected to? Is it heated in winter? I am searching for factors which might influence the breaking of the bond of the paint from the drywall surface.

My first thought is improper bond caused by spraying and not back rolling the primer. This is especially important over the mudded areas where there is often a heavy coating of sanding dust. The dust should ideally be removed first, but if it is simply sprayed over and not back rolled, an extremely poor bond occurs.

Dry wall in unheated buildings such as summer homes does a fair amount of expansion and contraction seasonally. Indeed, in some such homes expansion joints are put in the drywall to allow for such movement. If the drywall and paint are expanding and contracting at different rates. it is conceivable that the bond could be broken.

Re: Peeling paint in beach house


The house is about 30 years old. I don't think the ceiling had been painted in twenty-five years. Five years ago, I lightly sanded and wiped off the dust. I rolled on an oil base primer and finished with a latex paint. The peeling is fairly general and not just the mudded areas.

The minimum temperature in the winter is about 45. The wood burning stove and summer temperatures probably cause the heat to climb to 100 at the peak of the cathedral ceiling.

If expansion and contraction is the cause, what's the solution?

Thanks for your help.

Re: Peeling paint in beach house


I suspect that the original paint job was marginally bonded to the drywall and that your paint job broke that marginal bond. Why did you use an oil primer and then a latex top coat? Normally, if a good paint job were on the surface, an oil primer should not have mattered, but I suspect it is involved with breaking the bond. There is a phenominum which on rare occasion occurs on exterior paints where a house that has had oil paint in the past is given a top coat of latex paint. The oil paint is a hard, brittle coating and the latex flexible. The latex expands at a diffent rate then the old oil paint and a house which has never had a history of peeling, begins to severely peel. You have a cathedral ceiling and I suspect the temperatures at the ceiling get rather warm. I believe because of the dissimlar paints and the temperature variations, the bond is being broken.

Anyway, the question is what to do now? I have no easy answer. I think you must try to scrape the peeling paint back to where it is sound. If a bad bond is present, try using a putty knife and bare down on the blade as you pull it along, rather than pushing it. Downward pressure often encourages tha paint to pop. When you have gotten the loose paint off, patch the areas with dry wall topping compound. Topping compound sands much easier that regular compound. After sanding smooth, I would prime the whole ceiling with an 100% acrylic dry wall sealer. I prefer pure acrylic to a PVA sealer as it seals better and the film is more flexible. I would then top coat with an acrylic ceiling paint. All "ceiling" paints are formulated to be dead flat. The dead sheen will aid in hiding any imperfections that might still exist.

My condolences. This is not fun work!

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