Moisture and Peeling Paint

Painting your home can be a long, slow process.

Then add in moisture, sun, heat and cold and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. It is almost impossible to get any coating to adhere to a home with mill glaze unless all of the old coatings and the mill glaze are completely removed. This is not practical, and many paint jobs have failed over the years because of mill glaze.

Moisture is almost always a factor in peeling. Moisture contributes to peeling of old coatings as mentioned above and to mill glaze peeling. Moisture can also be a problem on its own. In many old homes built prior to 1995 there is major amounts of moisture behind the siding and in between the outer and inner walls of a building.

This moisture can be caused by leaks near the roof or trim boards or it can come from inside your home. As you breath, take a shower, or cook or run your heating system moisture is created and tends to accumulate between the inside and outside walls. Then spring arrives and on the first hot day the moisture is drawn outside rapidly. Many coatings including paint and stain cannot handle the pressure this creates and they form bubbles and eventually peel.

This is a very hard problem to solve and in some cases the only solution is to strip and reside your home while adding a proper moisture barrier.

What About The Trim?

Trim is usually made of pine and on many homes is the main area where peeling is a concern. Most of the time, trim peels because it is saturated with moisture that works its way into the cut ends or absorbs into the wood from the back if the board was not pre-primed. Many painters think two coats of paint will solve the problem, but in reality ten coats won’t help if the trim is peeling due to moisture.

Unless you replace moisture saturated boards you should expect them to begin peeling every 1 or 2 years.

If you do replace any trim boards, make sure you use the new premium composite trim boards or at least use premium primed “Windsor” pine trim. These premium products cost more, but they are worth every penny.

It amazes me when I see contractors and homeowners continue to use inferior trim boards. They simply don’t last.

So how does this all relate to the fancy new lifetime coatings? Well, if you hire a national franchise with a big budget for radio ads, do you really think they are going to come to your home and tell you why it’s peeling? No chance. They will have a strict “sales model” to follow, kind of like the “customer help lines” from Asia you call when you need help with your credit card account.

It usually goes something like this: “If customer says X, you say Y, and so on.” You can tell it is a well-trained person using a script who doesn’t really understand your needs.

Well, that’s what hiring a national franchise to work on your home is like. Sure, they will sell you a permanent coating solution but make sure you read the fine print. Will you be covered if your home has many old layers of paint, a moisture problem, mill glaze and rotting trim boards? Not likely.

Will they take the time to advise you that your home needs new siding or all new trim, or will they be focused on selling their coatings? Hey, call me a skeptic, but these fancy new coatings seem to have been popping up here in the Boston area over the last 2 or 3 years.

Not much of a track record for a “lifetime coating.” If you want to live in a painted wood home the smartest thing you can do is to understand why it is peeling and to make sure that you plan your budget well so you can paint it every 5 to 8 years and keep it looking great.

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