How To Paint Over Flaking Paint

A common household problem, flaky and peeling paint is a disaster for the way it looks and feels for your home. It can also lead to further damage if not appointed to right away. In this article, we’ll go through how to fix chipped and peeling paint for your home to ensure the surface is looking smooth and back to normal.

Flaking paint is an achievable task to fix, but must be treated with care for your plaster and walls. Trying to lay freshly new paint over flaky, peeled paint is difficult. As you won’t get fine results. The flaky areas of paint must be stripped back entirely to the plaster before you start.

Read on to discover the steps involved and how you can get what your home is looking for.

What we’re looking at:

  1. What tools do I need?
  2. Causes for paint flaking
  3. How to paint over flaking paint
  4. How to seal flaking paint
  5. How to identify flaking paint
  6. FAQs on flaking paint & cracks

So without further ado, let’s begin:

Tools & Equipment needed

Carrying out the task to complete a smooth running surface for your wall will require the following:

Causes for Paint Flaking

Paint flaking can occur with a number of different factors. Most commonly, improper application to the wall and too much hard grain is used.

Flaking is when the paint is lifted from the wall surface. When the wall becomes cracked, this is caused by the splitting of a dry paint film from either one coat of paint or more.

Water and humidity can cause the paint to peel easily when it’s applied to a damp surface, or exposed to high humidity.

Plywood is said to be very easy to expand due to humidity levels, making it open to flaking and cracking within the structure.

Another factor is the quality of paint used on the wall. Low quality or expired paint can peel much easier and a lot faster than fresh, high-quality paint.

The walls surface of preparation can lead to cracks and flaky paint. This is when the surface is either dirty or not primed efficiently.

For ways to avoid everything mentioned above, ensure a high-quality paint is used and that the surface of the wall is primed and carefully smoothed out on a dry surface.

The best way to tackle flaking paint in your home is to identify the problem sooner rather than later. As the process will be much smoother, easier and quicker to get the job finished early on. Also the later it’s left, there’s a chance it could spread if the surface isn’t ticking all the boxes.

How to Paint over Flaking Paint

Begin by removing all the loose paint you find on the walls by using your wall scraper. It’s recommended to have a good sharp edge high-quality scraper to get the best results.

Once you’ve scraped those areas needing attention, use your wire brush and vigorously sweep up the areas you’ve scraped. This will attend any remaining debris from the area.

If the paint begins to peel from using your wire brush, go back and use your scraper to ensure it’s running smoothly on the wall.

Next is to prime the affected surface using a performance wall sealer. Once coated, leave the wall to dry.

Then, after successfully carrying out the wall sealer, skim coat the area with a wall filler. Again, lookout for a good quality filler for the job. Allow the filler to dry efficiently for at least 2-3 hours.

Now you want to sand down the area using your sandpaper and your aim is to smooth out the edges until the original paint is coming through to the top. To speed up the process you can use a sanding machine for the job.

Give your work a check by running your hand over the areas. Your objective is to ensure it’s smooth throughout.

Now prime the filler and surrounding edges with a good quality prime sealer. Priming the surface will give your wall a chance to blend in perfectly when you apply fresh paint.

Now that you’ve stripped the peeling paint and carried out what’s necessary to action, it’s time to apply your fresh paint. Be sure to give it two coats of paint for best results.

In-between these stages you’ll need to give each step a chance to dry out for your wall. One of the most common reasons for paint peeling is a wet surface for where the paint lies. So be sure to let the wall thoroughly dry between each stage.

Painting over flaking paint can be easily done. As long as the steps involved are seen throughout. Some stages of flaking paint can be quite severe with big cracks in the walls. In this case, the steps mentioned will still be appropriate. If the wall is completely covered in cracks that are quite severe, then seek out professional help.

How to Identify Flaking Paint

There are different stages you’ll see on the walls to determine flaking paint. Early-stage cracks are named hairline cracks, which is a sign of developing stages and what’s to be expected of what’s to come.

Although obvious, flaky pieces of paint on the floor in your home is a sign. This is caused by paint failure and when the paint curls up and shatters, collapsing onto the floor.

The later stages on the surface will show the paint to start separating and crack apart, which leads to a more serious problem and overall harder to fix. This could be an issue with how your paint is attaching to the walls and if it’s gone through the substrate.

Tackle the flaking problem as early on as possible, as it will save you money in the long run. The damage will persist throughout the walls, begin to spread and will get worse if left alone.

As mentioned, the hairline cracks damage in the wall, this can be fixed more easily. Especially for a DIY project.

FAQs on Flaking Paint & Cracks

We’ve collated some of the commonly asked questions around flaking paint and cracks for you and answered them below:

Do you have to scrape all the paint off before repainting?

The short answer is no, you don’t need to do this. You only need to scrape off those areas needing assistance. Paint that has simply failed like peeling off, curling up, and any loose paint, will be the case.

What’s the best way to scrape the paint off? Is there a certain technique?

Ensure you scrape the paint up until you reach the surface. Hold the scraper securely in your comfortable hand and carry out the same arm movement throughout. The motion is to stroke upwards and to repeat the same motion for best results. If any wood comes up with the paint, stop.

I have a lot of flaky paint on my walls. Is there a faster approach other than using a scraper?

There’s plenty of power tools you can use for your walls. Especially if you have lots of flaky patches of paint scattered on your walls.

  • Oscillating paint scraper (Multi-tool) – Produces rapid circles from a tight and controlled motion. Overall, is a faster and an easier on the arms approach to dealing with peeling paint.
  • Heat gun – Compact and sturdy power tool. The objective from the heat gun will cause the temperatures of the paint to wilt away. This won’t have an impact on your household walls.
  • 8-in-1 tool – A popular tool and works great for this type of work. The sharp edges give you the opportunity to tear away paint within a flash. Great for removing old paint and digging into cracks.

Will streaks go away when the paint dries?

Adding a second coat of paint will get rid of streaks left by rollers. You can make the job more seamless by taking a brush and going over the streaky areas to smooth out.

Another alternative, the areas showing raised roller marks is to start again by sanding down after the paint is completely dry. Then once dry, wipe down the areas where you sanded and add another layer of fresh paint.

Do cracks in walls indicate a structural problem?

Seeing cracks in your walls can be a scary sight. There are three cases we’ll look at:

Small cracks, larger cracks, and the ability to determine if it’s small or large.

Most small cracks in drywall or plaster walls are considered not so serious and it all comes down to seasonal expansion and contraction of the wood framing in the house over time.

Larger cracks in your walls, this indicates a structural or foundation problem.

The last thing we’ll talk about is how you can tell the sizing apart with cracks in the wall.

How do you know if you have a small or large situation?

Large cracks in walls:

Cracks up to 25mm wide is a potential sign of structural damage. Professional help will be required. Anything above this is a very severe sign and professional help is compulsory in this case.

  • The crack has a 3/16” or wider gap.
  • The door is no longer functional within the frame.
  • One side of your wall is higher than the other.

Small cracks in walls:

  • Hairline cracks, as mentioned earlier, these are faded and light cracks less than 1mm in width. Easily fixed from the steps mentioned above.
  • Cracks between 1 and 5mm in width. Again, easily fixable and nothing serious.
  • Cracks between 5 and 15mm. This can be passed as small but is recommended to get professional help for assistance on this matter.

Final say

As you can see, it’s utmost achievable to carry out this work yourself as a DIY project. However, if the damage is vastly spread throughout the walls, it’s recommended to call in an expert to help. Especially if the wall(s) has cracks that are deep in-depth and coated with them.

Some scenarios of having flaking paint or cracking in the walls can cause a commercial building to lose its aesthetics and calculated value. So it’s very important to repair any signs of issues immediately.

About Steven

An enthusiast of DIY and household ideas. I've experience my fair share of tough projects in my time and have learnt a lot along the way. I enjoy a good DIY challenge, sharing my experience & research.

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