When to use peel stop and when to scrape and remove existing loose paint.


My story starts with a cedar sided house. Originally the builder decided to stain the cedar siding, with what looked like an oil semi-transparent stain. The house was built and located in Wesminister, Colorado in 1979.

At some point the stain had become undesirable and the house was painted a green oil, with no primer between the stain and the green. I can see two other colors under the gray latex finish paint presently peeling on the exterior of the home, some white spot priming and another coat of gray latex. I suspected that the house had been peeling for many years and had been scraped and spot primed with either latex or oil primers and repainted several times with another coat of gray. Some of the house has gray latex that is much thicker, mil.thickness, in the frontal high traffic areas where people would tend to notice the new coats peeling soonest. These areas also had less peeling paint and I noticed some evidence of previous pressure washer use. Pressure washers tend to cut into soft, water damaged, moldy, cedar wood. The higher and further from the doors the worse the surfaces had become also the paint was much thinner in these areas and peeling bad.

I was sent to this home, a rental home, and had no direct conversation with the owner till the third day of prep work. I often do subcontract work through a company that bids the work and then takes 40% off the top of the bid for expenses. Most of the time this system works just fine. The money isn’t great but it fills the gaps in my schedule.

Here is my dilemma:

I started this home with my pressure washer and some bleach on the south side. After the back garage door where the paint was thinnest a wall about 24″ high and 35″ long, as my time progressed over this area I realized the full extent of the condition of this one side. Much of the paint came off with the pressure washer and about 90% total came off with the introduction of a simple scrapper. The only places that didn’t come off were under the eaves, soffit ares, and the places that I assumed had peeled in the past and had been spot primed. Wish I could submit more pictures. Most of the paint seemed to be various sized bubbles and all of the wood under the paint was moist or wet.

After three days scraping and sanding I realized I did not have sufficient funds to finish the house in this manner. I did have sufficient funds to scrape lightly and apply Peel Stop to the other areas and then finish the house trim and back porch.

I am a poor man and live hand to mouth much of the time and not about to sell my car to paint someone else’s house.

Well on the third day the owner shows up and surveys the situation and I tell him that this side of the home is a total paint failure. Something quite unexpected to me. He expressed shock and an unwillingness to further fund this operation in this manner. I explained this situation to my host contractor and was told they would find someone to lightly scrape and apply Peel Stop to the rest of the home and so then I was let go and then told that I damaged the siding and might incur charges to fix the home. These charges to be taken out of funds from any projects I might do for them in the future.

Needles to say I feel horrible about the whole situation. My point of view is that I sincerely attempted to fulfill the written contract. The contract stated that the house would be pressure washed and any loose and peeling paint would then be scrapped and primed and the whole house was to receive one full coat of latex house paint. I feel that if the paint wasn’t in fact loose I would not have been able to remove it with a simple scraper.

Has anyone else had a similar situation and how have they handled it? Is Peel Stop really good? Will it essentially glue the loose paint back on the building? How do you get the Peel Stop behind the bubbles?

I asked my host contractor if it were his house would he want the loose and peeling paint off of the building? He did not reply.

2 Responses

  1. I have seen this a lot over the years. The original siding never should have been painted. Now you have been screwed trying to fix it, shame.

    Well, Peel Stop is good stuff but it won't fix the underlying problems. It is intended to glue the edges of cracked paint and cannot/will not penetrate through the bubbles as you mentioned.

    You already know that all loose paint has to be removed (washing, scraping, etc) and most if not all of the house primed before painting. Doing it the other way will last 4-5 years before major peeling and the paint job will deteriorate fast after that.

  2. I have told the salesman many times that you never know how bad something is going to be until you get a scraper on it, feel it study it. Like some wallpaper jobs those bubbles might be under five layers sometimes. You can simply cut them out and repair but sometimes its easier to start all over. Five years is never my target goal. I've never found a latex that penetrated wood enough to prevent peeling more than a year and I'd rather walk away than have to go back every year and attempt to put multiple band-aids on here and there. I'd like to put a couple of coats of Man o War spar marine spar varnish on it and then scratch it up and paint it but I don't think its in the cards. A simple oil primer thick enough to make a solid un-cracked surface ready for finish. I can only recommend though cause like I said it isn't my home and I'm not selling my car to paint someone else's house. If they want to pay for my time that's great I'll do it. I absolutely refuse to work for free.

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