How to Fix Peeling Paint on Drywall? (6 Steps)

The paint will peel off the drywall if you don’t prep the surface correctly. So, how to fix peeling paint on drywall?

To fix peeling paint on drywall, remove the paint with a paint scraper (or paint-removing compound). Next, repair and prep the surface, and apply a primer. Once the primer is dry, apply two coats of fresh paint.

If the peeling paint wasn’t applied recently, you must find the cause of the problem and fix it before applying new paint. If not, the new paint coating will peel off for the same reasons. 

Why Does Paint Peel On Drywall?

If you don’t use a primer before applying paint on drywall, the paint will peel off. That’s because drywall is a synthetic material gotten from paper and gypsum plaster. The synthetic drywall material prevents the paint from sticking well to it without a primer.

So, if you don’t apply a primer, the paint will peel off the drywall. Here are some other reasons why drywall paint peels off:

1. Exposure To Moisture

If unsealed drywall is exposed to moisture, the paint will peel off. That’s because drywall is a porous material, and water will penetrate the drywall surface and wash off the paint. 

2. Using Bad/Expired Paint

The paint will peel off if you use expired or bad paint on drywall. That’s because expired paint doesn’t have strong binder additives, so the paint won’t stick well.

If the paint container is puffed or swollen, the paint has gone bad. 

3. Bad Paint Application

Using the wrong applicator method, not allowing enough dry time between coats, and applying the paint on a dusty surface can all result in peeling drywall paint. To prevent this, follow the right steps and the manufacturer’s instructions when applying paint over drywall.

4. You Painted Over A Sealed Drywall

If the drywall is sealed, applying paint over it will cause it to peel off. That’s because a sealer has a glossy and moisture-resistant layer that repels liquid, including paint. As such, sealed drywall can’t accept paint. 

To know if the drywall is sealed, use a paint scraper to scuff the paint. If the scraper has a glossy buildup, the drywall is sealed.

5. You Combined Different Types Of Paints

If you mix different types of paint on your drywall, the paint will peel off. That’s because paints have different formulas and won’t mix well with each other. For example, if the drywall is painted with oil-based paint and you apply water-based paint over it, the finish will peel off.

Don’t Paint Over Drywall Peeling Paint

You shouldn’t paint directly over peeling paint because the new paint will peel off too. That’s because the same factors that caused the old paint to peel off will also cause the new paint to peel off.

For instance, if the old drywall paint peels off because of moisture exposure, the new drywall paint will also peel off because of the moisture. Or, if the paint is peeling off because of improper drywall preparation, the new paint will also peel off for the same reason. 

To paint over peeling paint, you must remove the paint, fix the issue, and apply a new paint coating.

How To Fix Peeling Paint On Drywall?

Here are the tools you need for this task:

  • A plastic putty knife
  • Large nylon bags
  • Medium and fine-grit sandpaper
  • Paintbrushes/Paint sprayers
  • Polyurethane/Varnish
  • Joint compound
  • Rags
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paint stripper (Optional)

1. Remove The Peeling Paint

First, remove the peeling paint from the drywall using a plastic paint scraper. Don’t use a metal paint scraper, as it can damage the drywall surface.

To scrape peeling paint off drywall:

  1. Use a plastic paint scraper. 
  2. Place the paint scraper under the paint and lift it.
  3. Scrape as much paint as you can. 
  4. Put the scraped paint in a plastic bag, so the workspace doesn’t get messy.
  5. For leftover or stubborn peeling paint, use a paint stripper.
  6. Apply the paint stripper over the peeling paint and wait 30 minutes.
  7. After 30 minutes, use a paint scraper to remove the paint and the stripping compound. 

The paint stripper penetrates the paint coating and dissolves it. Once the paint stripper dries, you can remove it together with the paint it has penetrated. 

2. Repair The Drywall

After removing the peeling paint, repair the drywall. Apply joint compound if the drywall wall has holes, cracks, or splits. The joint compound will fill the holes and even out the drywall surface. After you apply the filling compound, allow it to dry before sanding.

3. Sand The Drywall

You must sand the drywall before applying the primer and paint. Sanding will remove the imperfections, smooth out the surface, and make it ready for paint. 

To sand drywall before painting:

  1. Start with 120-grit sandpaper to remove bumps. 
  2. End with 220-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface. 
  3. Remove the dust. 

You must sand the drywall manually because a power sander can be too harsh for the paper material of the drywall. 

4. Prime The Drywall

Once the drywall is sanded, apply one coat of drywall primer. Priming will serve as a base coat of the paint to stick to. This will increase the adhesion between the paint and drywall. 

To prime drywall:

  1. Use primer designed for a drywall surface (preferably waterproof). 
  2. Apply the primer will a paintbrush or roller. 
  3. Leave the primer to dry fully before applying the paint.
  4. If the primer coating isn’t even, sand it. 

5. Apply The Drywall Paint

When the primer dries, apply drywall paint. 

To paint drywall:

  1. Use water-based paint for indoor drywall and oil-based for outdoor drywall. 
  2. Apply 2-3 coats of paint using a paintbrush or roller.
  3. Wait until one coat dries before applying the next one. 

6. Seal The Finish

Once the drywall paint dries, you must seal it with a waterproof sealant. A sealant will protect the drywall paint and material from moisture, water, scratches, and damage. 

For indoor surfaces, sealing is optional, but for outdoor surfaces, sealing is mandatory. That’s because outdoor drywall is exposed to weather elements that can wash off the paint and damage the drywall. 

The best sealants for drywall paints are polyurethane and lacquer. For outdoor drywall, use an exterior-grade sealant (for example, exterior polyurethane). 

Apply 2 coats of sealant over drywall pa

Preventing Paint From Peeling Off Drywall

Here are some tips for preventing drywall peeling paint:

  1. Use the right drywall primer and paint.
  2. Leave enough dry time between each coat of paint.
  3. After painting drywall, seal the finish with a waterproof sealer.
  4. Use the right applicator methods and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when painting drywall.
  5. Sand and clean the drywall before painting.
  6. Don’t mix and use paints with different bases (or solvents) on drywall.
  7. Only paint drywall when the room temperature is between 50-85 degrees (F). If the temperature is too hot, the paint can dry too quickly and blister off.

Final Words

Peeling drywall paint is caused by the lack of a primer coat under the drywall paint. Other possible causes include exposure to moisture, expired paint, and recoating too soon.

To fix the peeling paint, peel off the loose paint and find the cause of the peeling. Then prep the drywall and reapply the drywall paint. To prevent the paint from peeling again, use a good sealer and clean the paintwork regularly to remove dirt.

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