Can You Prime Over Peeling Paint? (How-To)

When you notice paint peeling off the wall, floor, or furniture, your first thought is to seal the paint by applying new coats of primer and paint over it. But can you prime over peeling paint? Here is the answer to that.

You can prime over peeling paint but you should not. Priming over peeling paint is possible but the primer and new paint coat applied on the peeling will not be durable.

This is because the peeling paint will repel the primer and prevent adhesion. This will result in the entire new coating peeling off too after a while.

To prime over peeling paint, the peeling paint has to be scraped off before the primer is applied.

But that’s not all. There is more to know about priming over peeling paint and this post digs right into the topic.

So let’s dive in.

Do You Have To Scrape All The Peeling Paint Off Before Priming?

You have to scrape all the peeling paint in the area that is affected before applying a primer. Any peeling paint that proves tough to scrape off should be removed with a paint stripper or paint-removing solvent before priming the affected spot.

This doesn’t mean you should remove the entire paint coating. You should only remove the part of the paint coating where the paint is coming off the surface. If the entire paint coating isn’t affected, then you don’t need to remove it.

However, if multiple spots on the paint coating are peeling off, then you should remove the entire paint coating before priming. Multiple peeling spots on a fresh paint coating usually indicate improper surface preparation or paint application.

If the peeling paint isn’t removed entirely, the primer will not adhere to the surface as it should. Since the primer doesn’t bond well to the surface, then applying paint over it will prove very difficult.

When you notice peeling paint, ensure to scrape all of it. This is because there is a reason the paint is peeling off that affected spot. It could be because that spot on the surface has moisture content or is affected by grease.

Whatever the problem is, you will not notice it if you don’t scrape the entire peeling paint off.

Also, if you don’t scrape all the peeling paint off before priming, then the primer when dry will not be smooth. This also means that the successive paint coats that you apply over the peeling coat will not sit well.

The coats will also be uneven, sticky, and will not have a uniform color due to the rough nature of the surface. So always remove all of the peeling paint. So how do you prime over peeling paint? Let’s take a closer look.

How To Prime Over Peeling Paint (Made Easy)

Priming over peeling paint isn’t difficult but the task can be time-consuming. This is due to the level of prep work required on the affected spot before the primer is applied.

To prime over peeling paint, you’ll need the following tools:

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

Here is a quick rundown of how to prime over peeling paint:

  1. Scrape The Peeling Paint Off The Surface
  2. Use A Solvent or Paint Stripper To Remove Tough Peeling Paint
  3. Fill The Cracks And Holes
  4. Sand The Affected Spot
  5. Apply Two Coats Of Primer
  6. Sand Lightly
  7. Apply The Required Paint.

Now, let’s get to work.

1. Scrape The Peeling Paint Off The Surface

Scrape The Peeling Paint Off The Surface

The first step is to remove as much of the peeling paint as you can. If there is any part of the paint coating that appears flaky or swollen, peel it off too. Use a paint scraper or a putty knife to remove all the offending paint.

If there are tough parts that don’t come off with a paint scraper or putty knife, you should…

2. Use a Solvent or Paint Stripper

Use a Solvent or Paint Stripper

The stubborn peeing paints that don’t come off should be removed with a solvent.

To use a solvent, douse a rag with rubbing alcohol or mineral spirit. Then use the wet rag to clean the part of the paint that is peeling. This will help to remove any stubborn paint that you want to remove.

Another safe alternative is to use a paint stripper. To do this, apply two coats of paint stripping compound on the affected spots.

Press the paint stripping compound with a putty knife into the surface. This helps the paint stripper to be fully absorbed into the surface. After applying the paint stripper, wait a while for it to cure.

Then use a putty knife to remove the dried paint stripping compound. The paint stripper works by first dissolving the peeling paint that you want to remove.

Then the fabric material in the paint stripper soaks the dissolved paint and cures. So when you scrape off the paint stripper, the paint also comes off with it.

3. Fill The Cracks and Holes in The Surface

Fill The Cracks and Holes in The Surface

After you have removed the peeling paint, you will have a good view of the affected spot. You may notice cracks, dents, and holes in the surface. These holes could be the reason the paint is peeling off the surface.

So, fill these holes. If you are working on a wooden surface like furniture, use a wood filling compound to seal these holes and cracks. Wood fillet also works for plastered surfaces.

If you are working on a concrete surface, use a concrete filler to seal the holes and cracks in the concrete surface. Concrete filling compound or concrete paste also works on bricks and stone surfaces.

After applying the wood or concrete filler, leave it to dry. This can take a few hours.

4. Sand The Affected Spot

Sand The Affected Spot

The affected spot should be sanded repeatedly with sandpaper or a sanding block. After filling the holes and cracks, the filling compound will not dry smoothly.

You will most likely notice raised edges and bumps in the filling compound. These imperfections should be removed with sandpaper. Use 150-grit sandpaper for this task.

When you have sanded the surface, inspect it especially the parts where the paint was peeling off. You need to find the reason why the paint was peeling off. If the affected spot seems damp, then it’s a water problem that will require you to call the plumber.

If the affected spot looks filthy or greasy, then you need to clean the spot with a degreaser.

If you don’t see anything wrong with the affected spot, then it means that the paint was peeling due to improper paint application or lack of a primer. So the next step is to…

5. Apply Two Coats Of Primer

Apply Two Coats Of Primer

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

If you want to apply latex paint on the surface, then you need a water-based primer. Acrylic paint, chalk, matte, and water-based enamel also require a water-based primer.

If you intend to use an oil-based paint or clear topcoat, then you need to use an oil-based primer. Polyurethane, polycrylic, oil-based enamel, varnish, and the likes require oil-based primer.

Ensure to sand between coats of the primer. This means you need to wait for the first coat to cure. Then sand it before applying another coat. When both coats of primer have cured fully, you should…

6. Sand Lightly

Sand Lightly

That’s right, sand again. This time, use fine-grit sandpaper like 320 grit to sand the final coat of primer. Sanding will help to achieve a smooth surface so the new paint coat can adhere properly and most importantly, not peel off.

7. Apply The Required Paint

Apply The Required Paint

When the primer coating is dry and well-sanded, you should apply the required paint on the surface. About two or 3 coats of the required paint type are usually enough for a vibrant and strong finish.

Will Primer Fix Peeling Paint?

Applying coats of primer over a peeling paint will not fix the peeling paint permanently. Applying coats of primer over peeling paint is just a temporary provision. The primer will eventually peel off if used over peeling paint without scraping the peeling paint first.

This is because the primer regardless of its bonding qualities will also be affected by whatever is causing the paint to peel. This will eventually cause the paint primer to also peel after a while.

Many people think applying multiple coats of high-grade primer will fix peeling paint. This is false. When you apply a coat or two of primer over paint that is already peeling, you are just wasting the primer or finding a temporary fix to the problem. This is why –

The primer applied is also a paint type. Most people don’t know this but primers have the same features or qualities as paint. The only difference is that primers are designed to be used as base coats and not for finishing.

So if you apply primer over peeling paint, the primer will also be affected by whatever is causing the paint to peel.

This will cause the primer to also peel off after some time. This problem will be much worse if you already applied paint coatings over the primer because the paint will peel 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 will not fix the problem but rather compound it.

The best fix for peeling paint is to scrape off the peeling paint and primer the affected spot before repainting it.

Related Read: Does Primer Go Bad?

Can I Paint Over Peeling Paint?

You should never paint over peeling paint without removing the peeling paint first. Painting over peeling paint will result in a streaky, uneven, and tacky finish.

This is because the new coat of paint will not adhere well to the surface since the peeling paint wasn’t removed before it was applied.

The new coat of paint will also peel off eventually because it will be affected by whatever caused the existing paint to peel off.

Painting over peeling paint will not stop the paint from peeling and it will not cover the problem permanently too. Let’s find out why.

Why Shouldn’t You Paint Over Peeling Paint?

You shouldn’t paint over peeling paint because it will also peel off.

When paint starts to peel off a surface, it’s usually a sign that something isn’t right. In most cases, the paint begins to peel off due to old age. Even the most durable paint will peel off when the time comes.

But if the paint is peeling off after a few weeks or months of its application, then something is stopping the paint from sticking to the surface properly. It could be because the painted surface wasn’t dry before the paint was applied over it.

It could also be because the paint didn’t cure properly before another coat was applied over it. A dirty surface will also cause paint to peel off.

There are different reasons why paint will peel off a surface. But, all of these reasons come to one final point which is the fact that the surface isn’t good enough for the paint.

So if you paint over the peeling paint to seal it, the new paint coating will also suffer the same fate as the peeling paint because you haven’t addressed the underlying problem.

When you find out what is causing the paint to peel, you can address the problem and then repaint the affected spot. If the problem isn’t taken care of, then a million coats of paint will keep peeling off the surface.

Related Read: Is Primer Supposed To Look Streaky?

Final Words

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

You should also use a primer before painting a surface to make the paint adhere stronger to the surface and not peel off.

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