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Paint peeling on outside of house

Before you begin repairing the peeling paint on your house exterior, you must first dig a little deeper into the problem. Finding the cause, and then fixing the damage are your two key steps. Let’s see how you go about doing both of these so you don’t have the problem again.

While the paint on the outside of your house is meant to bear the elements and last for years, it has its enemies which can shorten its performance (and looks).

The three main culprits that cause peeling house paint have to do with how the surface was preparedthe quality of paint applied, and the amount of regular moisture exposure (water from many sources can wreak havok on outdoor paint jobs over time).

Sometimes, making repairs to the cause of your paint problems (peels, cracks, bubbles, etc.) and then a simple reapplication of your paint makes everything like new again for years to come. Let’s look at the most common symptoms and the steps you need to take.

Topcoat of paint is peeling

This type of failure is the most obvious. Paint is literally falling off the wood on your house, and it doesn’t look very attractive. When this happens you begin to see the wood underneath or previous layers of paint. The prime reason this is happening is due to how the surface beneath was prepared when the now blistering paint went on. The under layer was probably not completely clean (the top coat never had much to adhere to), was just too damp or a situation where the surface had an oil-based paint with latex paint added on top.

Your fix involves removing all of the paint layers that are bubbling and/or peeling on your house. It’s important to note that you cannot just remove the peeled paint portion only and try to sand/smooth what’s there before reapplying. It’s almost guaranteed that the paint just around the damaged area hasn’t started peeling yet. You need to work 6″-12″ beyond the bad area.

You can remove the layer that’s coming off by sanding, scraping or pressure washing with a machine. You should consider all three and go with what will work best depending on your time, money and comfort level. When you’re done, you need to carefully prepare the exposed surface for reapplication.

Clean and dry well. Your best best is to use a pressure washer for the cleaning part. These are easily rented.

For drying, make sure you have a couple of warmer, non-rainy days to work with. Remove all dirt, grime and stains for a consistent surface. Use a paint additive (first coat only) if you’re using latex paint on top of a an old oil paint application (especially if it has a chalking appearance from oxidation). You can also use paint that is specially made for problem surfaces, which may help you now that you know this paint job may be prone to peeling.

Small areas of peeling paint

If you notice that you have isolated spots on the outside of your house that have begun to peel, your problem is most likely due to a moisture issue. Remember, water is not paint’s best friend if subjected to it continually, especially if it’s not allowed to dry. Identify where the water is coming from (such as a plumbing leak, sprinkler overspray, steam from dryer vent exhaust) and take care of it. Only then can you remove the peeled paint and repaint.

Solving the water problems may depend where on the house you’re finding peeled paint. For example, anywhere the walls of your house may have small gaps or thinness between the inside and outdoors. Also, any place where warm, moist air from your home can try to escape to the outside when it’s cold can be a problem. You don’t want this since it causes condensation on your outer walls and gets stuck behind your exterior paint over time.

Paint peeling on soffits and overhangs
Roof overhangs are notorious for holding on to moisture and causing paint to crack and peel. Check out your soffit vents and determine if they are adequate given the area’s exposure to sunlight and breezes.

You may need to cut out holes and add vents to help circulate air more on these overhangs such as soffits extending from the roof or porch ceilings that have been painted. Use round vents as they are easy to install. You can even get lengths that will span the distance of the ridgeline of your home.

Be sure to clean the places well before repainting as dust and even mildew loves to collect on these undersides that never get washed from rainwater.

Paint coming off around windows and doors
This is another popular place for cracking paint to worsen and peel. Again, moisture is too blame, and is particularly bad on stucco or brick homes. This is because moisture escaping from exterior walls finds an easy path on your home’s trim.

To solve the problem, ensure you have a good seal between wood trims and walls. Use a caulk rated for outdoor use. When repainting, use a high quality primer and two coats of a latex trim paint. Acrylic is your best bet as it lets moisture pass through more readily.

Peeling paint on house gables
If you find issues on painted surfaces on gables, it’s a clear sign that your attic needs to dry out more. Increase the ventilation by adding larger gable vents or longer ridge vents to increase the flow of air and keep water from accumulating.

In summary, remember to first identify what’s causing your paint to peel. It will be related to water in some way, so stop it at it’s source. Then adequately remove damaged paint, clean and repaint to get things looking good again.


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