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Exterior Peeling Paint? Advice for New Homeowners

Exterior peeling paint is a very common problem and an issue to check for as you do exterior spring cleaning or general fall maintenance.

As a new homeowner, you might not recognize exterior peeling paint from other problems you may on the outside of your home. Exterior peeling paint, as opposed to blistering (which is a heat related problem), efflorescence (which is a masonry related salt problem) or crackling (which is a incompatible paint or dryness problem), tends to occur in large, curled, sheet-like strips. Often, you’ll find exterior peeling paint around windows, doorways and gutters.It will generally happen for one of two reasons, moisture under the paint or poor paint adhesion.

Exterior Peeling Paint
Exterior peeling paint should be dealt with quickly so that water damage doesn’t occur to your new home.

You’ll want to repair peeling quickly since exterior paint is your home’s protection from water infiltration. Water can lead to wood rot, mold and attract insects. Poor adhesion and peeling paint will also make your new home look like it hasn’t been well maintained, which you certainly don’t want as a house-proud new homeowner!

exterior peeling paint

How to Repair Exterior Peeling Paint

To repair, plan on a day you know the weather will remain dry. You’ll need to scrape off the peeled paint with a paint scraper, making sure to scrape off anything loose. If you don’t deal with it the right way now, the problem will persist and reoccur quickly. Once you think you’ve scraped everything loose off, use this tip. Run the scraper over the area. If it gets caught up on any paint, snagging or impeding your movement, scrape that location again. It’s likely this is another problem spot even if you can’t actually see the paint peeling here.
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Your next step is to sand the entire area, trying to create as smooth a surface as possible. Without this step, the paint is less likely to adhere, the other reason why it would peel. You'll also want to make the area your repairing look like there aren't stepped levels of paint on top of each other. Anywhere there is a ridge, sand it so that when your finger runs over it, you can't feel the change from one layer to the next. Remember, you're going to try to make this look just like the painted area around it, not an obvious patch that tells people you fixed a problem.

With warm water, dish soap and a sponge, clean the area of paint and wood dust, as well as exterior dirt. Allow the area to dry thoroughly since water was the likely cause of the problem in the first place. Apply a coat of primer, and wait for it to dry, 30-60 minutes for latex exterior paints. Use the best quality primer and paint you can afford, matching the color to the existing paint (hopefully, you'll have found some left over from the prior owner so you'll at least be able to match the color). Apply a coat of latex paint, allowing it to dry for the same length of time as the primer and then apply a second coat. Once this second coat has dried, you're done and your repair should last until the home is painted again.

Prevention is the best solution for exterior peeling paint. Guess which one we'll let you know about first? Clogged, struggling gutters, of course! Don't just think that paint peeling near your soffit or gutters is the only place that you'll see a peeling paint as a result of a gutter clog, the problem can often be far away from the gutter, but generally will be near or below where it overflowed. Protect your gutters with a gutter guard so that they won't clog in the first place and ensure that the gutters themselves drain properly towards the downspout and keep moisture away from your home.

Winter ice dams resulting from poor ventilation will cause peeling. Make sure your attic is properly ventilated with soffit vents, roof ridge vents, and siding vents. Air must be able to come in through one vent and out another evenly (this is a topic for its own post) to help avoid ice dams.

When addressing areas around windows and doors, check the caulk for failing or missing sections. Remove anything loose with your paint scraper and recaulk the area with a bead of a product designed to be used on the exterior of a home.

Have you dealt with exterior peeling paint and do you have any other tips for a new homeowner? Please feel free to share them here.
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