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“My Paint is Peeling”

March 29th, 2009 · No Comments

“Why is my paint peeling in spots and what can I do about it?” We hear this all of the time so here are a couple of thoughts and suggestions.

Old houses inevitably have original oil paint as the sub-straight beneath newer latex top coats. My perennial suggestion is to paint oil on top of oil when considering repainting. New alkyd/oil paint has similar properties to “historic” oil finishes and will adhere better than latex.

This is because old oil paint just gets harder and more brittle as time goes on and the latex paint reacts differently to seasonal temperature changes and moisture issues. Latex basically moves a lot more, therefore as it adheres to the old paint layers and begins to move it pulls the more brittle original finishes off of the siding.

In the case of an old house that has a couple of layers of latex paint on top of old paint you have a couple of options. One is to treat the peeling paint as scrape and touch up work. This will go on for a while but eventually the owner will have addressed all of the problem areas and can then be prepared to repaint – down the road – with latex top coats. Another is to strip the clapboard down to wood, there are several ways to do this, and prime and paint with all latex/acrylic paints. Only use the best paints for any of this work, it is a shame to go to this extreme preparation and have “cheap” materials fail or not live up to expectations. The most drastic option would be to replace the original siding with some replacement material.

We never recommend this route for the obvious sustainability and historic preservation reasons. Sustainability; of course it fills the landfill with perfectly good old growth lumber and the carbon footprint of newly milled wood siding is not light, not to mention the carbon footprint of vinyl or cement board siding. Historic preservation; “old growth” lumber is no more and can not be replaced and new lumber will never perform as well or last as long. Historic homes with a large percentage of original materials in good condition “historically” out perform comparable new homes, or old houses with a lot of new/replacement materials, in resale and market value. Typically up to 14 percent higher.

Are you glad you asked? (smile)


Tags: lead paint

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