How to Paint Over Peeling Paint

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Eliminate as much of the peeling paint as you can.
Eliminate as much of the peeling paint as you can. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

If you apply a new finish directly over underprepared, old peeling paint, expect to see a recurrence at some point in the future. Paint failure is almost always caused by improper or inadequate surface preparation. If you want the new finish to last, dedicate yourself to meticulous preparation or expect to see rampant flaking in the future. Utilize the proper tools to help ease the preparation process, without causing unforeseen damage to the underlying surface.

Things You'll Need

  • Pressure washer
  • Low-pressure tip
  • Plastic putty knife
  • Metal putty knife
  • Pull scraper
  • 80-grit sandpaper
  • Latex primer
  • 2- to 4-inch synthetic paintbrush
  • Acrylic latex primer
  • Galvanized metal etching primer
  • Latex paint
  • Acrylic latex paint
  • Acrylic enamel

Eliminate as much peeling paint as possible from exterior surfaces using a pressure washer. Ensure the washer is equipped with a low-pressure tip. Wait a full day for wood surfaces to dry. Wait three to four hours for metallic and vinyl surfaces to dry. Skip this step if the surface is located indoors.

Scrape off large pieces of loose, peeling paint, using a putty knife. Use a metal putty knife on durable surfaces, such as metal, vinyl and wood. Use a plastic putty knife on drywall.

Scrape smaller bits of flaking paint from durable surfaces using a pull scraper. Don't use a pull scraper on drywall as it may cause scarring.

Smooth stubborn fragments of chipping paint using 80-grit sandpaper.

Coat exposed areas of bare wood or vinyl with latex primer using a 2- to 4-inch synthetic paintbrush. Use a galvanized metal etching primer on exposed metal. Wait two hours for the primer to dry.

Wash the synthetic brush with water.

Coat the properly prepared surface with latex paint, using the clean brush.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use acrylic latex primer and paint on exterior surfaces. Use an acrylic enamel on surfaces subject to duress.
  • Do not use a metal putty knife on drywall or it may carve gouges.
  • Do not paint over peeling paint or you will see a recurrence.
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