A Fix for Paint Peeling

Mysterious exterior paint peeling, under the eaves.

“We’ve been house hunting and just toured a 1920s Dutch Colonial with low eaves. Although it has recently been painted, there’s an area on the back of the house where a section of paint, roughly 4′ x 6′, has peeled and popped off. The wood underneath is sound and dry. In fact, it’s protected under an overhang, so we’re mystified.” —Drew Scott and Carl Stottlemeyer

“The paint had peeled in just one area— actually, it had popped off entirely, down to bare, apparently sound wood,” —Drew Scott and Carl Stottlemeyer

Brett Affrunti

The Fix

Several things could lead to paint peeling in one location and not others. That particular section may have been painted when it was raining, when the wood was wet, or when it was too cold for the paint to adhere properly (under 50 degrees F). More seriously, there could be a problem with pooling and cascading water where rooflines meet.

But judging from the freshness of the paint, the roof pitch, the location of the popping paint (some right under the eave), and the presence of a patio, it might simply be this: The previous owner got a little carried away with his charcoal grill. Intense heat too close to paint can easily burn it or cause it to blister and peel. As many OHJ readers know, heat applied to old paint will loosen the old layers.

To repair the area, first scrape away all areas of blistered, wrinkled, or popping paint. You may need to sand a few stubborn areas smooth so new paint will adhere. Save a couple of the loose chips to take to the paint store. When the area is clean and dry—in a day or so—prime it. Don’t cut corners by using diluted top-coat paint. For best adhesion, use a specially formulated primer. The best are oil- or alkyd-based because these penetrate the wood, creating an exceptional bond. You can use latex paint over oil-based primer.

Have the paint store match paint to the color of the chips. Repaint the prepped area, taking care to blend it with surrounding areas. Pick a dry day for the work, but don’t paint when direct sunlight is hitting the wall. You may need to apply more than one finish coat.

What have you, your spouse, pet, contractor, previous owner (you get the picture) screwed up? Email us at lviator@aimmedia.com.

Tags: OHJ April 2020 Peeling Paint

By Old House Journal

Founded in 1973, Old House Journal is the original authority when it comes to old-house restoration, traditional house styles, period kitchens, bath & kitchen restoration, DIY projects, gardens & landscaping, and more-- from Colonial and Victorian through Arts & Crafts and Mid-century Modern homes. 

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