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Question DetailsAsked on 6/20/2014

How do I paint walls that were originally painted with oil paint, then latex (and are obviously now peeling)?

I'm considering purchasing a home that had oil paint - then someone used latex paint everywhere, and the paint is all just flaking off. How can this be fixed? Who should I contact? And what will the cost be?

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2 Answers


Latex over paint is probably not the issue - I do that all the time - oil over latex is another issue as it commonly raises and bubbles the latex or partially dissolves the latex so it then peels - commonly the oil and latex coming off together.

I am afraid your problem was probably inadequate or no prep, or improper application - maybe painted over dust or dirt or cooking smoke or cigarette smoke or wallpaper glue on walls, failed to "etch" the walls with sandpaper to give the new coat "tooth" - places to bond to (especially if a gloss, sermi-gloss, or stain finish), painted before wall was dry or in very humid (or failed to dehumidify paint moisture) or cold conditions so did not cure properly, painted while drywall skim coating and drywall compound was being done in earnest elsewhere in house so over-humidified house, was rained on before cured (if exterior), thinned the paint, thinned with paint thinner or used paint thinner or cleaner on brush and then contaminated paint, put it on too thick, etc.

To fix - several solutions that are dependent on costs in specific area for specific job and how perfect you want the job to look, so need bids - chemically strip the paint off, remove by scraping while heating with heat gun, remove by drywall resurfacing planer, or remove paint with mechanical paint removal discs in hand grinder and belt sander - then patch and skim coat drywall and prime and paint from there, do soak-type paint remover and pressure wash to bare wood then prime and paint (only exterior or unfinished basements of course), remove drywall and re-drywall and repaint from scratch.

Regardless of how done, personally unless looking at it as a way to get a credit for having it done professionally (at a pretty high price) and then DIY the fixes to let you pocket most of the money or credit benefit, I would not leave this (and its indeterminate) in your ballpark. I would at a minimum require owner identify in writing HOW he intends to solve it and require (as a deficiency) that it be fixed at his cost PRIOR TO closing, with proviso that you can inspect a test area at various stages of prep and paint as contractor gets started to verify it appears it will do the job right, AND with subsequent right of approval or refusal on final product when done. Would need CAREFUL definition of exact scope of work and exact areas to be redone.

Of course, easiest way is to back off based on deficiency and find another house and not worry about it at all. Catch-22 on that - you may not be able to unless initial offer was made sight unseen, because the peeling paint was an obvious defect, so even if appeared on inspection report you probably could not legally back out of purchase on that premise. Talk to Realtor or lawyer on that, if thatis your route.

Cost highly variable depending on how well adhered (where not peeling), indoors or outside, types of paints involved and number of coats, if any lead paint involved, what season being done in, etc. Commonly $1-2/SF for normal stripping and surface prep, on up to $3-5/SF ($2-3/LF for trim) range for hard-to-strip and on woodwood trim and such - plus reprime and refinish cost of $1.50-3.00/SF depending on material, type of finish, number of coats, etc. IF ceilings too, textured generally cannot feasily be stripped unless adjacent walls are to be stripped too, and flooring replaced afterwards - just gets too messy. Though can sometimes remove texturing with paint and all and retexture at reasonable cost. You can see why redrywalling or replacing trim rather than stripping can be the more economic solution at times - and MUCH quicker than stripping and repainting.

BTW - SF costs are for actual painted area, NOT real estate SF of house. And do NOT use these numbers to figuee cost - you need true firm bids to give you a good working number to make your decision, if you do not shy away right off. Personally, I might allow rework or replacement of a small area problem, but in buying a new house, for total surfaces strip and repaint or resurface by owner as a deficiency- you can imagine that the owner will take the lowest bidder, so the finish prodcut is likely to be shoddy looking so then you are into a position of backing out of the deal at closing, and have lost several months time in the closing process and THEN have to start over looking for a new house and trying to get your down payment released ? You do not need that grief on a new house - and can cause major issues if have to get out of your current house or apartment on firm date or would have to extend lease or such because you cannot move into your "new home" because of failure to get work done on time or improperly done. My advice - NEVER accept a problem house unless you are positive the repairs (and only nominal ones except for reroofing or new flooring) are done SOON after your offer with contingencies is accepted, unless you are looking to DIY a fixer-upper.

And do NOT let anyone tell you they can sand it and reprime and paint over it with good results - unless you want a real true hick look to it.

Several other prior questions with responses on the peeling paint issue can be found right below this answer also.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD


Here is another similar recent question and answer that might help you also -

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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