In Exterior House Painting, How To, Interior House Painting, Painting Tips

When paint is peeling from the interior or exterior walls it is usually because of moisture.  Exterior wood is exposed to environmental stresses like rain, snow, extreme cold or humid temperatures. Interior walls are affected by moisture and improperly prepared surfaces before painting.

Other reasons may be things like improperly caulked gaps left around windows and doors on the outside of the home, or using the wrong type of paint for high level moisture areas such as bathrooms and kitchens.  Let’s break down the reasons why paint peels, cracks or sticks.

Why Interior Paint Peels

When paint peels from interior walls it is often due to the surface not being prepared properly.  Peeling paint problems  are usually caused by moisture.  Moisture is the main culprit to why paint is peeling.  Properly preparing the surface areas by painting a quality paint primer  that is specifically formulated for high moisture level areas like kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms is important to avoid the headaches of having the paint peel away and starting over again.

peeling paint


Other reasons why paint peels, cracks, sticks or flakes is because not enough drying time was allowed between the coats of painting.  Allowing plenty of drying time in between each coat of paint will give you better painting results and avoid what is known as alligatoring.

Alligatoring paint is unattractive as it resembles the cracks on alligator skin.  It makes the walls look old and poorly maintained.  Using low quality paint products is also part of the problem when you see peeling paint.  Lower priced, bargain paints tend to not adhere as well as the better quality paints.

Unsightly peeling, cracking, and flaking occur when the surface has not been cleaned, prepped, or primed properly.  Preparing the interior walls before painting will ensure that the paint adheres properly and you get the best smooth finish and end result.


Why Exterior Paint Peels

The most common cause of exterior peeling paint is moisture.  Problems will arise from not having the plastic vapor barrier between the drywall and the framing.  It’s common in some of the older homes like those in Ottawa neighborhoods like the Glebe, or Rockcliffe that are populated with homes built as long as 100 years ago or more as construction was very different then.

Another issue that causes exterior paint peeling is lack of caulking or improperly applied caulk.  This creates gaps where water accumulates under the paint or primer and separates them from the surface.

Using lower quality paint products or primers is another culprit to exterior paint peeling away from the surface.  Ensure you use the proper paint primer and paint or stain over the exterior surface, as it is exposed to so many natural elements.  Know that you cannot and should not paint the exterior of a home using interior paint.  The two paints are formulated differently to perform at their best when used accordingly.  Painting the exterior in extreme heat or cold temperatures is not recommended as paint will not adhere to the surface as it should and will most likely peel or crack.  Maintaining the exterior painting is good home owner practice.  It helps to alleviate bigger problems by taking care of the little ones often.

Problems With Paint

Other paint problems that can arise are things like it sticks or transfers, cracks or flakes.

Why Does Paint Stick or Transfer.

When wet paint meets another surface it is inevitable that it will stick, bleed over onto the other colour and transfer.

wet paint sign

When two freshly painted surfaces such as the front door and the door frame or a window frame collide or are pressed together you are going to have the paint sticking to the opposite surface.  There should be plenty of time in between paint coats to allow each coat to thoroughly dry and some time to pass before closing one surface onto the other.

As an example we will use painting the front door .  If you have painted the door in a gorgeous black paint and the frame is painted in a white paint colour the you need to allow enough drying time before you close the door.  Otherwise the black paint will stick to the white and bleed onto it causing a black and white mix you were not really planning for.

For exterior painting at least 6 to 8 hours is optimal to allow complete drying time before you close the door or windows, although the second coat of paint can be applied within an hour or two of each other.

For interior painting at least 2 to 3 hours should be given to allow the frames of any doors or windows to completely dry properly before closing them.

A secret of the painting trade is, if you must close or lock the exterior door before enough dry time has passed simply apply with the finger a generous yet reasonable amount of petroleum jelly a.k.a. vaseline around the frame or weatherstripping where the door meets the frame.  This does provide a little bit of a barrier and prevents the freshly painted door from sticking.

How to Prevent Paint from Peeling, Sticking,or Transferring

Use quality paint products to prevent and avoid the paint sticking or transferring from one surface to another, and prevent it from peeling off a freshly painted surface.

Read the labels and directions carefully on the paint cans. Manufacturers provide detailed information on every paint can on how to use the product. From temperature to environment to surface they provide a lot of useful information for homeowners doing it on their own.

Before you start painting, ensure the following steps are followed

  • all loose paint is scraped off.
  • sand the surface(s)
  • wipe clean with a wet sponge/cloth.
  • Allow a few minutes to air dry.
  • If you already have a glossy paint it should be sanded down to a dull before painting
  • paint a primer as needed and ensure you read the instructions on the paint can in regards to drying time


Tips on how to repair peeling, cracking or flaking paint problems

Aging of paint in older Ottawa houses is a natural and normal event, although it is sometimes visible that years have passed without proper maintenance and you will see the paint cracking or flaking.

They start off small and worsen over time if left unattended. Repairing the cracking or flaking paint will avoid small patches turning into bigger problems.

A simple scraping, patching and repair of the cracked or flaked paint, an appropriate primer and 2 coats of finish paint is all that is necessary at best to fix a small area. If the area is larger then of course a complete painting job is required in order to unify everything and it avoids the visible paint lines from old to new paint.

Painting with lower quality paint products can be a reason for the paint cracking or flaking. When using higher quality paint products such as the ones we use in the Benjamin Moore Interior and Exterior Paint Lines you will end up with more than adequate paint adhesion to your walls, ceilings, doors, baseboards and trim.

Oil Based Paints should never be painted over latex based paints. Because of the composition and chemicals in oil based paints there will be poor adhesion.

Applying a thin coat of a poor quality paint will result in cracking or flaking and peeling.

Like everything else paint ages and deteriorates over time.  If left in a garage and exposed to freezing it will destroy the balance of the paint and should not be used.  Along with humidity, moisture and temperature changes or leaving a can of paint improperly sealed will cause problems in the end result.

Allowing the right amount of dry time can avoid such headaches. In between painting of a second or third coat of paint you should allow at least an hour at minimum.   While today’s paints are mostly water based and do dry quickly.

Not taking care of preparing the surface will result in poor results.  Ensuring all drywall repairs are done before painting and using the correct undercoating, and paint primer will help avoid these issues.

Paint Fixes for Cracked or Peeling Paint

To help you achieve the perfect end painting results and avoid the pain of painting you can hire a who will ensure you get the results you are looking for.

It is not as expensive as some may believe to hire a painter as most painting companies in Ottawa are competitively priced.

Not knowing all the steps and precautions necessary may cost the homeowner more in the end when doing a DIY painting project.

To start here are just a few tips to help you get started

  • Remove the loosened or flaking paint with a scraper for interior painting or with a wire brush for wood surfaces on exterior painting.
  • Patch with drywall compound if necessary. If there are a few layers of paint that has been scraped off or peeled away then you need to use a filler.
  • Sand the affected area to smooth everything out
  • Prime any of the bare or bald spots
  • Repaint
  • If the damage is really deep you should remove all the paint with a scraper or heat gun and sand it until smooth and even. Then paint a primer and repaint entire area with minimum 2 coats of paint finish.

We hope these tips have been useful.  If you need any further assistance for any paint problems and want to hire a professional painter contact us.

Contact your local house painters in Ottawa to solve your paint problems


This article was originally published on Jun 1, 2017 at 10:00 and edited on January 20, 2020 at 10:19am