Home Garden

Persistent Peeling on the Ceiling While Painting

You've chosen your colors, cleared your schedule, put down your drop cloths and started painting only to find that the paint is peeling off the ceiling while you are rolling it on. Several reasons can account for why this might be happening. Once you identify the problem, you can take steps to correct it to achieve professional-looking results.
  1. Moisture

    • Peeling paint can occur in rooms with high moisture and condensation, such as bathrooms and basements. The paint peels because it can't adhere to the surface due to the moisture. Check for leaks and repair them, and avoid painting on very humid days. Open windows while painting and, if there is no window, install an exhaust fan in rooms with high moisture levels.

    Dirty Surface

    • You probably don't think of washing your ceiling, but dust, grease or chemicals from perfume and hairsprays may be clinging to the ceiling, preventing the paint from sticking. As you roll on new paint, the foreign substances can prevent good adhesion, causing the paint to peel off soon after it is applied. Paint needs a clean, dry surface to adhere well.

    Paint Incompatibility

    • Older homes are likely to have been painted with oil-based paints rather than the water-based latex paints widely used today. Latex paints cure within weeks whereas oil-based paints are constantly in a curing process. This chemical incompatibility may cause water-based latex paints to blister and peel right off of an oil-based painted ceiling.

    Inadequate Preparation

    • Homeowners will sometimes apply two or three coats of paint as an alternative to applying one coat of primer. Skipping the primer to get the job done quickly can prove to be a mistake. Primer is formulated to create a smooth base and strong bond for paint. The semi-gloss finishes often used in bathrooms and kitchens are slicker than flat paints. If a semi-gloss was previously used on the ceiling and the surface was not properly prepared to receive new paint, the old paint may peel off as you paint. For best results, clean the ceiling, lightly sand it and prime it before applying new paint.