Peeling paint is a common symptom of poor surface prepping. If it occurs in areas like bathrooms, it can be a sign of a moisture problem. And it can sometimes be simply a sign of the use of poor-quality paint.

The good news is that fixing a peeling paint problem is easy. To fix the problem, start by scrubbing or scraping the loose paint away. Clean the surface. And when you are done, apply enough patching material to fill up the gap left by the peeled paint. Next priming and repainting the surface should get the surface to look flawless.

Here is what you need to know about peeling paint and what you can do about it.

What to do about peeling paint

Fixing peeling paint is not complicated. In fact, it is something that you can do on your own. Here is a list of steps that you should follow when fixing a peeling paint problem.

Step 1: Scrub, scrape, or sand

The first step is to get rid of the peeling paint.

To achieve this, you have three options. You can scrape the paint off, scrub it off or simply sand the area.

If you have a wire brush, then scrubbing the peeling paint off the surface is ideal. You can also use the wire brush right after scraping the loose paint off with a paint scraping. And sanding with sandpaper can also get you the same results.

Step 2: Apply filler material

When you get rid of the loose paint, you will create an uneven surface. Painting over this surface without evening it out will leave you with undesirable painting results.

Therefore, before you move to the painting stage, you need to fill the gaps left by the peeled paint. To do this, use a putty knife to apply filler material — the type of filler that you will use will depend on the surface on which you are painting.

Step 3: Sanding

After applying the filler, you will end up with a not-so-smooth surface. To smoothen it out, you will need to sand it.

Therefore, get a hold of fine-grit sandpaper and sand the areas where you have applied the filler. When doing so, take care not to sand it to a point where you dig into the base material.

Clean the area

The scraping and sanding process will leave dust, paint particles, and debris on the surface. Therefore, in order to prevent premature peeling or a bumpy paintwork, you need to rid the surface of any impurities.

A damp sponge is usually enough to get rid of these unwanted particles and materials. Use it to wipe the surface clean. Thereafter, dry the surface off with a piece of clothing. You can also give it an hour or so to completely dry before moving to the next step.

Prime the surface

Good primers are great at making paint stick more firmly to the surface. Some are also good at blocking stains and ugly marks on surfaces, and so when fixing a paint-peeling problem, using a high-quality primer is always recommended.

All you have to do is to apply it on the clean surface and then give it enough time to dry before applying the first coat of paint.

Repainting the surface

Repainting is the last step in the process. And since low-quality paints are notorious for peeling. Therefore, if you are already having a peeling problem, it is always advisable to go the extra mile to ensure that you get high-quality paint.

With the paint ready and prepared for application, use a high-quality sponge brush, roller, or paintbrush to gently apply to the affected area. Apply the paint, starting from the damaged surface, and then moving outwards. And when doing so, take care not to apply thick coats.

And once you are done, give the paint enough time to dry — as much time as the manufacturer recommends — before applying the second coat. In most cases, a 24-hour interval in-between coats is adequate.

What causes paint to peel?

Painting on a dirty surface

Painting on a surface that hasn’t been properly cleaned is a common cause of paint peeling problems. This is because the dirt and debris that exists on a surface come in between the surface and the paint.

Consequently, the paint won’t have a stable enough surface to hold onto, and it will thus form a weaker bond with the surface. As a result, the paint will eventually peel off prematurely.


Moisture problems

For areas that have high humidity and a lot of moisture problems like bathrooms, the leading cause of peeling paint is usually moisture. This is because when the paint is constantly exposed to water, it loses its ability to stick on a surface. It thus eventually peels off.


Applying thick coats of paint

When applying paint, thinner coats of paint are always advisable. This is because, with thinner coats, the individual particles of paint have a wider surface area on which to stick. This is not true for thicker coats.

For thicker coats, part of the applied paint has to carry the weight of the amount of paint that isn’t in direct contact with the surface. This is something that normally leads to premature peeling.


Inadequate drying time between coats

It is always advisable to give the first coat enough time to dry before applying the next coat. Doing so always ensures that by the time you apply the next coat, the first one has formed bonds that are strong enough to bear the weight of the additional coat.

As a result, if you apply the second coat before giving the first one enough time to dry, the surface will experience cracking and peeling.


Old paint

The ability of paint to stick on a surface fades with time.

Therefore, when paint gets old, it will gradually loosen its grip on the surface on which it was applied. This process is what manifests as peeling.


Poor quality paint

Not all paints are created equal. Some have stronger adhesives than others. And while some can stick on a surface even without priming, some need priming.

Therefore, if you use poor quality paint that does not have lasting stickability, it will peel off prematurely.

What to do about paint peeling off the ceiling?

Start off by scraping off the chipped or peeling paint with a paint scraper. A putty knife will also do.

With the loose material off the surface, use a putty knife to apply patching material on the affected surface. And after you are done, use a fine-grade sanding paper to even out the surface.

Prepare the surface for paint application by first using a damp sponge or rag to get rid of any dirt or dust. Dry it off. And after you are done, apply a primer.

After the primer dries, apply the first coat on the surface. Give it a few hours — follow the manufacturer’s instructions — and then apply the second coat.

After fixing the problem, the next step is to fix the underlying cause of the peeling on the ceiling. Look for roof leaks and fix them. And if your home has naturally higher humidity, investing in a dehumidifier will go a long way towards preventing a peeling problem.

What to do about paint peeling in the bathroom?

In order to keep paint from peeling in the bathroom, you need to eliminate the bathroom moisture problem

To do so, start by always leaving a bathroom window open when using the bathroom. And if the bathroom doesn’t have one, leaving its door open and opening other windows in the house will help to improve its aeration.

A good fan will also help to alleviate the high humidity problem. Keep it running for a few minutes after using the bathroom to get the most of it.

And as far as the paint is concerned, using high-quality paints that have been specifically designed to handle the bathroom moisture problem is ideal. These paints tend to be moisture and mold-resistant. They can thus withstand the harsh bathroom environment.

As for how to fix a peeling problem in the bathroom, it is quite simple. Start by getting rid of the loose paint. And then use a filling compound to even out the surface.

You should then clean the surface, give it a few minutes to dry, prime it and then paint it.

Should I hire a painter or do it myself?

If you have a peeling paint problem, you have two options. You can choose to fix the problem yourself. Or you can call a painter and have them fix the problem for you.

Should I hire a painter or do it myself

Here are the pros and cons of hiring a painter vs doing it yourself.

Do it Yourself


  • Can be a fun activity with loved ones
  • Saves money because you don’t have to pay for the labor and expertise of a painter
  • Saves time since you don’t have to go through the process of vetting and hiring painters
  • Gives you absolute control in terms of materials and chemicals used


  • Requires your commitment and time
  • Higher risks of a recurring peeling problem
  • You won’t get the same paint results as an expert painter

Hiring a Professional


  • Gets the job done faster
  • Higher quality results
  • Low risks of a recurring problem because expert painters can easily diagnose the underlying problem and fix it
  • No need to engage in tedious and time-consuming work
  • It doesn’t require your time and commitment


  • Using a professional painter costs more than when you do it yourself
  • You may have to go through the tedious process of searching for and vetting painters near you


Fresh paint is peeling either because you have:

  • applied thicker coats
  • failed to allow enough time to pass before applying the second coat
  • used a poor quality paint
  • didn’t use the right primer to prime the surface before painting.

It can also happen in cases where the painted room experiences extremely high humidity or the painted surfaces have been constantly exposed to moisture.

A good quality primer can go a long way towards stopping peeling paint. This is because a primer helps to create a paint-friendly surface. As a result, it allows the paint to develop stronger bonds with the surface being painted, something that definitely helps in preventing peeling.

No, it is not mandatory to remove old paint before repainting. You can get great results by simply removing any cracking or peeling paint and then repainting.

You start off by removing any loose paint from the surface. This includes any cracked, peeling, or flaking paint. And once you have removed this paint, clean the area. Let it dry. And then prime it before applying a high-quality latex paint.

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Timothy Munene
Author: Timothy Munene - Timothy is a freelance writer and an online entrepreneur.