Can You Prime Over Peeling Paint? (Explained!)

If you don’t apply paint properly, the paint will start to peel off. When that happens, can you prime over peeling paint?

You can prime over peeling paint, but you shouldn’t. Primer will stick to peeling paint, but both the paint and new primer will peel off after a while. 

That’s because peeling paint will repel primer and prevent adhesion. To prime over peeling paint, you must scrape the paint first, then apply primer.

Primer Doesn’t Fix Peeling Paint

Primer won’t fix peeling paint permanently. The peeling paint problem will be fixed temporarily with a primer, but eventually, both the paint and primer will peel off. 

The primer is also a paint type, that’s because the primer has almost the same features as paint. The main difference is that primers are designed to be a base coat, while paints are designed as a finishing coat. So, the same issues that made paint peel off will make the primer peel off too. 

Primer will only stop paint from peeling if the primer is applied before the paint. If the primer is put over the paint after it begins to peel, then the primer won’t stop the paint from peeling off.

To fix peeling paint, you must scrape the peeling paint, then apply primer and paint to the surface. 

Is Scraping Chipped Paint Necessary?

You must scrape all the chipped paint using a paint scraper before applying paint. If some parts of peeling paint are tough to scrape off, you can use a paint stripper to remove peeling paint. 

You don’t have to remove the entire paint coating before applying paint; you only have to remove the peeling paint. So, if the entire coating isn’t affected, you don’t have to remove it.

However, if multiple spots on the paint coating are peeling off, you must remove the entire paint coating before priming. If multiple paint spots come off, it indicates bad surface preparation or paint application. If that’s the case, the paint coating will soon peel off.

Paint can peel off if there’s moisture, water leak, grease, or dirt on the surface. Therefore, you must clean or fix the surface before applying the new paint coating.

If you don’t scrape off the peeling paint, the primer won’t adhere properly. Since the primer won’t adhere well, the new coat of paint won’t adhere to the primer and will start to peel off too. Even if the paint doesn’t peel off, the new paint coating will be uneven, sticky, and won’t have a consistent color. 

How To Prime Over Peeling Paint?

You can prime over chipped paint, but you must remove the peeling paint first. Here are the tools you to for this task:

  • A Paint Scraper
  • A Solvent (Like Rubbing Alcohol or Mineral Spirit)
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint Primer
  • Wood Filler or Concrete Paste
  • A paintbrush
  • Paint Stripper (Optional)

1. Scrape The Peeling Paint Off The Surface

Scrape The Peeling Paint Off The Surface

First, scrape the peeling paint. To scrape peeling paint, use a paint scraper (metallic or plastic). Put the top of the paint scraper under the peeling paint, and lift the paint scraper to scrape the paint. 

You don’t have to remove the entire paint coating using a paint scraper; remove the loose parts of the paint only. 

2. Use a Solvent or Paint Stripper

Use a Solvent or Paint Stripper

If some parts of flaking paint won’t come off, use a paint remover solvent. The solvent will weaken the bond between the paint and the surface by weakening the paint particles and dissolving the polymer. The paint remover will liquefy the peeling paint and allow you to wipe the paint with a rag.

Use rubbing alcohol as a paint-removing solvent to remove water-based paint. To remove peeling oil-based paint, use mineral spirits as a painting solvent. 

To remove peeling paint with paint removing solvent:

  1. Douse a rag with rubbing alcohol or mineral spirits. 
  2. Use the dampened rag to wipe the peeling paint. 
  3. Wait a few minutes (10). 
  4. The paint will start to change its color and turn liquid. 
  5. Use a clean rag to wipe off the peeling paint. 
  6. You can also use a paint scraper to scrape the remaining paint off. 

Instead of rubbing alcohol or mineral spirits, you can use a paint stripping compound. Using a putty knife, apply 2 coats of paint stripping compound over the peeling paint. The stripping compound will absorb the painted surface and remove it. After a few minutes, scrape the paint with a paint scraper. 

3. Fill The Cracks and Holes in The Surface

Fill The Cracks and Holes in The Surface

After removing the peeling paint, you may notice cracks, dents, or holes in the surface. You must fill these holes as they can be the reason the paint is peeling. 

To fill holes in a surface, use wood filler for wooden surfaces and concrete filler for concrete surfaces. The wood filler can be used for plastered surfaces too, and concrete sealer can be used for bricks and stone surfaces. 

To apply wood or concrete filler, use a putty knife. Fill the holes with the filler and leave it to dry. Wood filler takes 30-60 minutes to dry, and concrete filler takes 4-6 hours to fill. 

4. Sand The Affected Spot

Sand The Affected Spot

Once the wood filler is dry, you must sand the surface. Sanding removes the extra wood or concrete filler and creates a smooth surface for the paint to stick. To sand, use 150-grit sandpaper or a power sander. 

After you sand the entire surface, inspect the surface carefully to see why the paint is peeling off. If you notice damp or water spots, the surface has a water leak problem, and you must call a plumber to fix it. If you don’t fix the issue of why the paint is peeling, the new coating will peel off too.

However, if you don’t see anything wrong on the surface, it means the previous paint was poorly applied. 

5. Apply Two Coats Of Primer

Apply Two Coats Of Primer

When the surface is dry and sanded, apply two coats of primer. The primer you will use will depend on the type of paint you intend to use on the primer.

You must use a water-based primer to apply latex paint to the surface. Acrylic, chalk, matte, and water-based enamel also need a water-based primer. If you apply oil-based paint, you must use an oil-based primer. You must use oil-based primer for polyurethane, polycrylic, and varnish too.

To apply primer, use a paintbrush. Sand between each coat of primer. Wait until the first coat of primer dries before applying the next one. 

6. Sand Lightly

Sand Lightly

Once the second coat of primer dries, sand it using 320 fine-grit sandpaper. The fine-grit sandpaper will create a smooth surface for the new paint to stick to. 

7. Apply The Required Paint

Apply The Required Paint

When the primer is dry and sanded, apply 2-3 coats of paint on the surface. 

After the paint has dried, you can apply a sealant such as polyurethane to help the paint last longer. 

Related Read: Does Primer Go Bad?

Don’t Paint Over Peeling Paint

You shouldn’t paint over peeling paint without removing the peeling paint first. The finish will turn streaky, uneven, and tacky if you paint over peeling paint.

The new coat of primer won’t stick to the flaking paint. If you apply paint over peeling paint, the new paint will start to peel too. Painting over chipped paint won’t stop the paint from peeling. 

When paint starts to peel off a surface, it’s a sign that the surface is in a bad condition, or you didn’t apply paint correctly. If the paint peels off a few weeks or months after application, something stops the paint from sticking to the surface.

Paint peeling can be caused if you apply a paint coat without the previous coating drying properly. The paint will turn sticky and peel off, if that’s the case. 

So if you paint over the peeling paint to seal it, the new paint coating will also peel off because you haven’t addressed the underlying problem. Find out what is causing the paint to peel, fix the problem, then repaint the affected spot. If the problem isn’t taken care of, each coat of new paint will also peel off.

Related Read: Is Primer Supposed To Look Streaky?

Final Words

Overall, you shouldn’t prime or paint over flaking paint. If the paint is peeling, it’s because it wasn’t applied properly or the surface is defective. Whatever the problem is, it must be addressed to prevent successive paint coats from peeling off.

Before painting a surface, you must use a primer to make the paint adhere stronger to the surface and not peel off.

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