Ceiling Paint Cracking / Peeling - Help!

5 Jan 2013
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United Kingdom
Hi All

Just moved into a new house.

I have begun painting the ceilings which had a few cracks in some places and some of the paint was flaking. I filled some of the cracks and, where it was flaking, scraped the flakes off.

Then the problems begin.

I have painted most of the ceilings without any problems; however, in some places the act of painting peels off existing paint... so I let it dry and scrape it off and then try to paint it again.... but it just dries with lots of cracks in it.

I am at a total loss as to what to do.

When I scrape, it goes right back to the original artex.

Will it help if I scrape the paint off, put some of this stuff (link below) over the affected area and then re-paint?

Thank you.

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The sealer is really designed to seal new plaster/plasterboard. It may work but as your's has previously been painted that in itself should have sealed the surface.
It sounds more like someone has previously used some cheap dodgy paint on the ceiling which is coming away when it gets wet with the new paint. For me that is the clue - you need to thoroughly wash the entire ceiling with something like Flash or maybe even use Sugar Soap, which has a mild abrasive quality. Test a small area first to see if it lifts the old paint off the surface. If it does then that is the answer. You will need to rinse off with clean water before applying any new paint to make sure there are no more contaminants on the ceiling.
Putting more coats of anything on the surface without treating the original cause is likely to cause similar problems - sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and do the hard work.
I had a similar experience many (30+) years ago when I emulsioned a ceiling in a 1900's house. It went on beautifully until I had nearly finished when it started to peel and eventually came off in sheets. The reason? The old paint was in fact distemper (a form of whitewash made from powdered chalk or lime and often containder lead). The emulsion paint was wet enough to soften the distemper which lead to it peeling off. A full washdown and repaint was the only solution. Your's is not a distemper problem as it hasn't been around for years but is of a similar nature hence my recommendations above.
Good luck.
Maybe a bit late but we had a similar problem painting emulsion over an area which was previously painted in smooth sheen. It just peeled and peeled, the more we painted the worse it got. Eventually sanded and coat of Zinnser which allowed anything to adhere to it.

Best of luck.

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