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Fixing Paint Bonding Problem

September 17, 2012

Last week, I shared our painting debacle with you.  Well, let me explain what we discovered. After priming and putting on our first coat of paint, we discovered bubbling.

Hubs went in to start picking at them and realized that there was a big problem.  As many of you mentioned, we thought the walls were dirty, maybe it was oil based paint, and worst maybe water damage.  After a lot of googling, forum posts, and talking with our local paint store, we finally figured it out.

SPACKLE! Maury from Life on Mars got it.  We definitely had a bonding issue.  It turns out that the previous owner (the developer who rehubed our place) fixed the walls with spackle and didn’t wait long enough before painting over it.  The spackle wasn’t completely dry, so the paint never properly adhered to the wall.  Because he only put one (maybe two) layer of paint over it, the bubbles didn’t really form.  After our 2 additional layers (primer + 1 layer color), the bubbles formed because the paint layers were very heavy and were pulling away from the wall even more.

How to figure it out:

  • It wasn’t just our paint that was lifting, the primer and the color below lifted as well.
  • After peeling away the lifting paint, there was a white powder left that would come off on your finger.  We now know that is some type of spackle or compound.
  • Every spot that had big peel away also had signs of a hole or wall damage that had been fixed.  See that first photo and where the arrows are pointing?

How to fix it:

  • Peel away all the paint that is lifting.  We used a spackle blade to help.
  • Clean the surface with a mix of vinegar and water.  This will help to neutralize the powder residual you have left.
  • Wait for the water and vinegar to dry completely.  We waited overnight because we were paranoid of having another moisture problem.
  • Spackle over the area making sure you go over the edges where the new paint sits.  I highly recommend the spackle that comes in a bright color and turns white when it is dry.
  • Sand the spackled area to make sure it is flat, especially at the edges.  Don’t skip this step!  You need flat edges or you’ll be able to see it through the paint.
  • Clean off the dust with a microfiber cloth and vacuum the area (wall and ground).
  • Prime
  • And finally you’re back to where you started.  You may paint again.

I know it sounds like a total pain, but it’s really worth it.  Notice that same wall above.  It’s nice and flat with no bubbles.  Totally ready for its second layer of color. We really love how it turned out.  No more bubbles.  It’s actually done properly now.

*Sorry, I’ve been changing the lighting in these photos just to give you a better view of the problems.  Next, you’ll get to see more realistic images and the paint names.


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  1. laurenann05 permalink

    Glad you guys were able to figure out the problem and fix it!

  2. heartonhomestead permalink

    Glad you figured it out and fixed it!! What a pain!

  3. loverenovations permalink

    I’m so glad you got it figured out! I love the color you used!

  4. HandcraftedLife permalink

    What a pain! So glad you got it fixed and painted smooth!

  5. sholtsman permalink

    Dude, that sucks.  But it really does look great now that you’ve got it fixed.  Love the color!  

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