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Peeling Exterior Paint - Reasons and Solutions

By Kevin Dresseel  -  January 18th, 2019

Peeling results when wet wood swells under paint, causing the paint film to loosen, crack and fall off. Among the variety of ways for water to reach painted wood are:

  1. Uncaulked joints allowing moisture to seep into adjoining wood surfaces.
  2. Worn-out caulking
  3. Debris choked gutters, causing moisture buildup under shingles
  4. Moisture-laden air trapped inside buildings which rises to the surface of exterior walls when heated.
  5. Damp Basements
  6. Painting boards which are too close to bare ground
  7. Vegetation giving off moisture too close to the wood
  8. Leaking roofs
  9. Painting over wood damp with rain or dew

Two more common places where moisture enters into the wood of a house are between the porch slab and the house foundation and through leaks in the roof.  Sources of moisture may also be inside of the home.  As new homes are built more tightly, the higher inside humidity concentrates in areas where it can still escape to the outside.  Check for proper sealing and caulking of woodwork on the inside of the house.

Solutions - Steps to take to resolve the peeling paint

The first step is to eliminate the source of moisture. Carefully inspect the outside of the building, paying special attention to window and trim areas and other joints.  Remove loose or cracked caulking and repair with a quality product.

You may need to install vents to relieve moisture, especially in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry area.  Attic louvers, exhaust fans and dehumidifiers are also helpful and should be used regularly all year round.  A good rule of thumb is to provide one square inch of attic louver per each square foot of attic floor in your house.

If moisture is rising from the ground through the masonry, you should waterproof the foundation with specially designed coating. If wood is touching the ground, remove that portion of the wood.  Siding should come down no further than 5" above the ground.

Check the roof for signs of leakage and clean out gutters and downspouts. If you suspect vegetation is a cause of peeling, cut it back away from the wood.

If you can't eliminate the source of moisture, try repainting the stripped wood with a thin coat of latex paint, which is more porous than oil or alkyd coatings. A water-repellent solution also can be applied to exposed wood.

Remove all loose paint with a scraper or wire brush down to the bare wood if necessary.  Sand rough surfaces.  Seal all bare wood with a primer and allow it to thoroughly dry before applying the topcoat.

The best topcoat for these chronic peeling surfaces is actually lower solids acrylic latex paint in flat or very low sheen.  The lower solids and sheen paints allow more air transfer through the paint film, improving breath-ability.

Contact us today to help you with all of your painting needs.  Call (503) 579-8201 or complete our Estimate Request form.

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