How to Prevent Paint-Peeling on Walls or Ceilings

Updated on April 6, 2019
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Januaris is a professional painter and author of painting guides. He has been painting houses and other structures for more than 13 years.

As a professional painter, I can confirm that peeling paint is a problem that affects almost all surfaces. The problem can occur immediately or after a long period, depending on a number of factors that may include the quality of the paint and the competence of the painter.

A Surface with Peeling Paint
A Surface with Peeling Paint | Source

In this article, I will discuss how to prevent paint-peeling on walls or ceilings. Read on to learn how to stop flaking paint in your bathroom or any other place affected by this problem.

How to Prevent Paint-Peeling on Walls or Ceilings

  • Protect the painted surfaces from water.
  • Control humidity and condensation around the surfaces.
  • Prepare the surfaces properly before painting.
  • Apply paint only on clean surfaces.
  • Protect the coated surfaces from heat and sunlight.
  • Use the right paint and primer.
  • Employ the right painting methods.
  • Keep corrosive substances away from the coated surfaces.

1. Protect the Painted Surfaces From Water

According to paint chemists, water weakens the adhesive bonds between the paint and surface. This causes the paint layers to separate and detach from the surface. After the layers detach, they bulge, crack, and finally peel off.

To prevent the water damage, you can use sealants which block water and other substances from coming into contact with a newly-painted surface. If you have a damaged roof, flashing, gutter, or soffit, you need to repair it to keep water away from the walls and ceiling.

2. Control Humidity and Condensation Around the Surfaces

If not well controlled, these two conditions can cause moist conditions on the painted surfaces. They can therefore make a new coat to detach from the surface immediately after application. They can also cause the growth of mold and mildew which damage old coats.

To control these conditions, you can keep your windows open in humid weather. You can also install an air conditioning system (especially in the washroom) to help drive out moist air and bring in dry one.

3. Prepare the Surfaces Properly Before Painting

According to my own experience, paint doesn't stick properly to a poorly-prepared surface. For example, if it is applied to a surface with cracks, holes, or depressions, it will crack and peel off on drying.

To prepare the surface adequately, you need to use a patching material which provides an even surface. Concerning the ceiling, you need to fix any incomplete joint compound and seam tapes to create a uniform surface.

If you are repainting a surface, you need first to remove the old coats using a scraper or brush. You then need to fill any holes or cracks with a suitable patching material before painting.

Choosing the right scrapper can really be a doubting task, but as a professional painter, I can help you make the right choice. I usually recommend the Red Devil 6-In-1 Tool which is designed to make repair and refinishing jobs quicker and easier. According to my own experience, this tool can be used as a putty remover, gouger, spreader, roller cleaner, scraper, and knife. It comes with great features such as solvent-resistant handle and rust steel nail setting head. In addition, it is designed for maximum dependability and safety, and the best thing when it comes to handling is that it can fit in your pocket.

Another great way to prepare a surface is to use a primer. In case you didn't know, a primer is a substance used to coat a surface and make it more suitable for painting. In order to prepare your surface adequately, you need to use this substance.

4. Apply Paint Only on Clean Surfaces

Paint does not also stick properly to a dirty surface. If a surface has substances such as grease or oil, it cannot provide enough support for the paint layers.

To remove common dirt like mold and mildew from a concrete surface, you can use an electric cleaner. To clean your wooden ceiling, you can wipe it with a damp cloth. If it has some tough dirt, you can use a sandpaper.

5. Protect the Coated Surfaces From Heat and Direct Sunlight

Heat causes paint to dry faster, preventing it from forming strong bonds. On the other hand, intense sun makes paint fragile and less elastic. If paint is exposed to these conditions, it flakes after a short period.

A Surface with Flaking Paint
A Surface with Flaking Paint | Source

If you want to paint a surface that heats up, you need to do so when it is in the normal temperature. As for the sun, you can just shade your newly-painted surface from intense sun with a suitable shading structure.

6. Use the Right Paint and Primer

Different paints and primers are designed for different surfaces. Some are designed for concrete surfaces while others are designed for wooden surfaces. Using a wrong paint or primer can lead to bonding issues which are well known to cause the peeling problem.

It is therefore important to choose the right paint and primer for your walls or ceilings. If you find it difficult to make the right choice, you may need to get help from a professional painter. Personally, I recommend oil-based or latex-based paints and primers for concrete surfaces.

7. Employ the Right Painting Methods

According to my own researches, poor painting methods and practices are a major cause of peeling paint. Some practices like using wrong brushes and applying thin layers contribute greatly to this problem.

If you are painting a rough concrete surface, you need a brush or roller with thicker bristles. If the surface is smooth and you are using an oil-based paint, you need a brush or roller with thinner bristles.

Many brushes have been manufactured, but most of them are not reliable - they break or the bristles detach in a short time. If you are looking for a durable brush, I would recommend that you go for the Purdy Brush 3 Pack. I have been using these brushes for more than 2 years and they have never shown any signs of breaking or wearing out. The super-strong brushes come with a high quality solid wood handle, nylon/poly blend bristles, and chemically angled and tapered filament tips. They are great for interior/exterior use and work with all kinds of paints and primers.

When it comes to coating the surface, you need first to apply one layer of primer then two or three layers of paint. It is recommended to allow one layer to dry up before applying another. It is also recommended not to apply too thick layers as they can become heavy and fall off.

After coating your surface, you need to protect it to allow the paint dry up and cure to form strong bonds. As mentioned above, you need to protect your surface from water, heat, and intense sun.

8. Keep Corrosive Substances Away From the Coated Surfaces

Some good examples of substances that corrode paints are the ones that contain strong acids and bases. These substances react with paint, causing the layers to disintegrate and flake off.

You should therefore ensure that these substances do not come into contact with your painted surfaces. When working with the corrosives, you should not pour or splash them on the painted surfaces. You should also not store them near the surface.

A Painted Surface Affected by a Corrosive Substance
A Painted Surface Affected by a Corrosive Substance | Source


As you can see, it is a straightforward job to prevent paint-peeling on your walls or ceilings. You can actually prevent the problem on your own if you have the right tools and time. You just need to identify the cause of the problem and then employ the right preventive practices as described above.


  • Thompson G. W. "Painting Defects: Their Causes and Prevention.". Industrial and Engineering Chemistry. ACS Publications. (2002).
  • Gola E. F. "Avoiding Mistakes in Exterior Painting.". The Old House Journal. (1976).
  • Batcheler, P. H. "Paint Color Research and Restoration.". Technical Leaflet 15. American Association for State and Local History. (1991).
  • Labine C. "Selecting the Best Exterior Paint.". The Old House Journal. (1976).
  • Weeks K. D., Look D. W. "10 Exterior Paint Problems on Historic Woodwork: Treating Paint Problems.". National Park Service. (2002).

Are you facing the paint-peeling problem in your home?

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

  • how can I fix interior paint peeling?

    First of all, get protective gear to ensure that you are safe throughout. You also need a ladder to fix high walls. After this, you need to empty the room and open windows and doors to get fresh air.

    The next thing is to place a drop cloth on the floor and start removing the old coat. After removing the old coat, you can go on to prepare the surface for a new coat.

    The last thing is to prime the surface and apply new paint. You can also protect the newly-painted surface for some time if it is vulnerable to damage.

© 2015 Januaris Saint Fores


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