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Thick, Chipping Paint Problems

My wife and I recently bought a Southern California home that was built in 1946. The walls are plaster and we have found that in many areas the paint is chipping right off the wall. It is coming off in thick chunks, and the more I chase it with the sc****r the more it spreads.

Here is an album with some before and "after" shots. http://imgur.com/a/qLuTr#0

Some of the paint is holding strong while other areas flake right off. I am really hoping I won't have to sit here and sc**** down the entire house, but clearly I can't leave it like this either.

Should I just try to sc**** the flakiest bits and then skim coat over the rest? How would you handle it?

Re: Thick, Chipping Paint Problems

I am not a painter but from a plaster side I think you have a moisture problem.
Did the house sit for a while with out heat & air? If it did that could be the problem.
Also looks like most of the chipping is on exterior walls and around windows which also indicates moisture.
Before you do a skim coat use a spray bottle with water mist the wall and if the paint releases from the plaster you will not be able to skim coat as the skim coat will add moisture to the existing plaster.
The ceiling also indicates heat & air was off for a period of time.
Also it may be an insulation problem causing a dew point within the plaster.

Re: Thick, Chipping Paint Problems

I am not sure of the physics of what is happening, other than i agree with Clarence that moisture has been involved with the breaking of the bond between the slick finish plaster and the paint adhered to it.

Over the years, I have run into this several times in plastered homes. You are lucky if all the paint zips off, allowing you to prime and start over. If it doesn't come off cleanly, you have no choice but to chip away at it until you reach firmly bonded paint. At this point prime the entire area with an oil based primer. Feeling that moisture has been involved with the original problem, I am reluctant to prime with water based primers and possibly agravate the situation.

The dried oil primer should give you a good bond to the old plaster and also act as a moisture barrier against the moisture in the patching material. In the past, I have simply used drywall topping compound to feather out all the rough edges. It is easy to apply, adheres well and is easy to sand. After sanded and smooth, re-prime all the patched areas.

After the primer is thoroughly dried, you should be able to convert to latex paint for the finish coat. In California you probably couldn't use oil paint if you wanted to!

I know that Clarence dislikes patching plaster with non-plaster patching products, but I believe using the oil primer alleviates the possible problems of patching directly to bare plaster. Oil gives good adhesion and gives a little "tooth" for the drywall compound to stick to.

Re: Thick, Chipping Paint Problems

The house did indeed sit vacant from October to May... that most likely led to most of my problem.

Thanks for the help guys. I've been scraping for hours but I think I've removed all the flaky stuff at this point. I'll get the oil primer on there and give it a shot.

Re: Thick, Chipping Paint Problems

Watch out for lead paint. Wear respiratory protection and dispose of the paint chips properly according to your local rules. Try to avoid creating dust.

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