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What's going on with my paint peeling and coming off walls?!

Postby andycook » Mon Sep 13, 2021 12:01 pm

Hi DIY-ers!

I'm absolutely losing my mind here, guys. If anyone could help me figure out what's going on, I'd appreciate it so much!

I'm painting my living room.
I'm painting white matt emulsion onto four walls.
One of the walls is an internal partition wall, built about five years ago. It's a different colour to the other three.
The other walls might not have been painted for 10 or 20 years.

We found one tin of paint - yellow matt emulsion. I'm not sure which of the walls it was used on: the outer walls or the partition wall. They were both a very similar yellow. However, all the walls were very matt. We assumed it was matt.

We sugar soap the walls.
We leave it 1.5-2 hours. Maybe that's not quite enough. But we didn't absolutely soak the walls either.
The first coat of white goes on fine. We used two different brands of white matt emulsion: B&Q White and Dulux Brilliant White. Perhaps that was dumb; I don't know.

We leave a humidifier in the room on overnight. We leave a window open until noon the next day. 12 hours in total has passed. The walls feel nice and dry.
We've run out of white paint though so I get some more. This time, it's a third kind: Wilco Matt Intense White Emulsion. Same colour as brilliant white.

And we start painting the second coat. It's going great. Life is good.
Then... in some places on all four of walls, the first coat seems turn back into liquid! The paint flecks off the walls, and if you put your finger on it you can smudge it right back to the horrible yellow coat underneath our lovely new white walls.


This was Sunday afternoon. The previous 24 hours had been relatively humid. It got up to 89% apparently and was quite warm.

So we stop and leave it for another 10-12 hours, window open, and try again. It's been 24 hours. We try the 2nd coat. Same thing.

And worse!


On the partition wall (where the first coat had 24 hours to dry) the paint bubbled up. It peeled off my white coat and the horrid yellow, right back to the plaster.

I kept scraping and discovered a part above the internal door where the paint really didn't want to stay..

big mess.jpeg

've been told that plaster should be white, not pink, if it had been mist coated.
And I've also been told matt emulsion shouldn't peel off like that.
And I've been told that if you paint silk onto plaster you don't have to mist coat it.

I can't replicate this problem everywhere in the room. Just in seemingly random parts of the room.

Are there two issues here?

A) On the partition wall, have I painted matt emulsion on silk, which has gotten wet and fallen off the wall?
B) And on the other walls, has the paint just taken ages to dry, and so disintegrated when the second coat goes on?

Or could it just be problem B?

It has been another 12 hours (8 hours dehumidifier, 4 hours window open). Everything feels nice and dry again.

Thanks for tuning into my story! Any ideas what to do?
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Postby stoneyboy » Tue Sep 14, 2021 9:11 pm

Hi andycook
Did you wash off the sugar soap?
Regards S
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