Of all of the house painting problems we encounter, this is one of the most common ones we see. There are a number of things that can cause paint to peel -- from a lack of surface prep, to water infiltration, to poor product selection.
Wouldn't it be nice if there was something that you could apply to stop paint peeling in its tracks? Well, actually there is...kind of.
My Paint Is Peeling. What Do I Do?
Let's be clear, in most cases normal surface preparation will remedy the paint peeling issues and get your surface ready for new coatings. I would say that 9 times out of 10 when we encounter peeling paint on exterior siding we will begin by pressure washing the home, which cleans the surface and also removes the majority of the loose paint.
After we give it a few days to dry thoroughly we'll come back with scraping tools and work on any remaining edges that aren't well-adhered. If everything appears to be good, you can then feather-sand all of those edges to smooth the transition and help to minimize future peeling.
Ok, so you've followed these steps but your paint is still peeling. What now?
My Paint Is STILL Peeling. What Do I Do Now?
I was working on an exterior repaint project on wood lap siding a few years back and no matter what we did the paint would NOT stop peeling. The more we scraped, the more it continued to peel.
In the past, the only option would have been to do a complete paint removal down to the bare substrate with either heat, abrasive blasting, or chemical stripping. But thanks to modern chemistry we had an alternative solution to try first.
We decided to try a specialty binding primer made by Zinsser, called Peel Stop. Peel Stop claims to glue-down loose edges and stop further peeling so you can paint over the affected surfaces. And while I would never recommend this type of product as a replacement for proper surface prep, we were at a point where it was either employ this as a solution or strip the paint off of the house, so the homeowner was willing to give it a shot.
This primer doesn't require any special applicators or techniques. It's simply applied the same way that other primers are applied -- using a brush and/or roller.
Fortunately, in this case, it worked and has held up nicely for the homeowner so far.
Are All "Peel-Stopping" Primers The Same?
The short answer is No. The primer that we used successfully was a binding primer that is designed to glue-down loose edges, seal cracked surfaces, and bind chalky surfaces. There are a few other primers that are somewhat misunderstood to be be the type of product that will do what Peel Stop does.
One such popular product is XIM brand Peel Bond High Build Bonding Primer/Sealer. Peel Bond is a great bonding primer that can be used when you need to apply a topcoat over a surface that you are concerned it may not stick to. It will even penetrate bare wood and masonry to promote better adhesion, as well as bridge hairline cracks in existing surfaces. What it won't do is seal-down loose edges.
Another product we see used often is PrimeRx Peel Bonding Primer by Sherwin-Williams. It is very similar to the XIM Peel Bond it what it does, but again, it is not intended to be used to tie-down loose edges.
Maybe the best use for these types of primers is to use as a barrier coat over previously painted surfaces that are lightly cracked or alligatoring to keep you from having to do so much scraping and sanding to make your topcoat look good -- but not for stopping the peeling of existing coatings.
The Best Of Both Worlds
Recently Zinsser came out with a new version of their Peel Stop product called Peel Stop Triple Thick which combines the benefits of the original Peel Stop binding primer with primers like Peel Bond and PrimeRx so it also works well from smoothing over those marginal surfaces prior to paint.
Is This The End Of Scraping & Sanding?
Are these primers a cure-all that will eliminate the need for scraping and sanding? Absolutely not.
Unfortunately there is no substitute for manual labor surface prep to get a house ready for paint. However there are certainly times that these niche products can be used in lieu of extensive or complete removal of problem coatings. It would be a big mistake to ever reach for a peel stopping primer right away in hopes that it will cut down on prep time. Even if you were able to slap some primer on your walls and even make it look good enough for paint, chances are you'd just be covering up a problem that will soon come to a head.
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