How to Smooth Peeling Paint

Written by cody sorensen
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How to Smooth Peeling Paint
Peeling paint can harbour dust and insects. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Peeling paint usually means that the adhesive binders have broken down and allowed the pigments to peel away. As the paint peels away, the surface becomes vulnerable to moisture penetrations. The paint clinging to the surface doesn't need to be removed, but a fair amount of prep work needs to be performed to achieve smooth results. If you know what caused the paint to peel, fix the problem before repainting. Failing to correct the problem may result in the paint peeling again.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Putty knife
  • Orbital sander
  • 150-grit orbital sandpaper pads
  • Dust brush
  • Vacuum
  • Water-based primer
  • Paint tray
  • Paintbrush
  • Mini roller
  • Drywall compound
  • Mudding knife
  • 150-grit sanding sponge
  • Water-based finish paint
  • Wood filler
  • Auto body filler
  • Dust mask
  • Safety glasses

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  1. 1

    Scrape the peeling paint off the surface with a putty knife.

  2. 2

    Sand the rough edges of the remaining paint using an orbital sander equipped with 150-grit orbital sandpaper pads. Keep the sanding pad flat on the surface to avoid gouging.

  3. 3

    Dust the sanded surface with a dust brush and vacuum up all debris.

  4. 4

    Pour water-based primer paint into a paint tray and use a paintbrush and mini roller to primer the sanded surface. Allow the primer to dry for 24 hours.

  5. 5

    Open a tub of drywall compound and scoop up a fair amount of mud onto a mudding knife. Skim the primed surface with a coat of mud. Hold the blade at a 45 degree angle while going over the surface. The idea is to fill the low spots with the compound. Wait 24 hours for the mud to dry, and then sand it with a 150-grit sanding sponge.

  6. 6

    Dust the sanded drywall compound, and then prime. Wait 24 hours before painting with the finish paint. The surface should be smooth at this point.

Tips and warnings

  • Use wood filler to skim coat wood surfaces.
  • Use auto body filler to skim coat metal surfaces.
  • Always get peeling paint tested for lead before disturbing.
  • Wear a dust mask and safety glasses while sanding.

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