Painting issue - paint peeling/scraping off

27 Jul 2018
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United Kingdom
Hi there. Apologies in advance, this is long winded! So, I am a complete novice when it comes to painting walls really but I just assumed it would be as simple as painting them and things would be ok.

We moved into this house about a year and a half ago, and the walls had been freshly redone. All had been painted in white. We have tried to paint three rooms over the course of living here, and each one has presented us with an issue.

The main issue is that the paint does not seem to stick to the walls. It scratches off so easily (our son has pretty much used his wall as an etch a sketch that doesn't shake away), or is flaking off in various areas.

The white paint that the previous people painted with scrapes off with the lightest touch of the fingernail, and in fact you can wipe off the paint to the bare plaster underneath (in the utility room the paint is just flaking away all over place too).

This week I have painted the attic room. Anyway, the paint is now literally peeling off, and I get the impression I could just peel the entire wall off in one sheet. Picture attached of this.

It seems to be an adherence issue we think. I have Googled around and from what we can understand, may be they haven't sealed the plaster properly before painting over it?

Has anyone got any idea what we can do to sort our walls out? I am in the process of trying to repaint a number of rooms, one of which is to be a nursery, (I am pregnant so we are having a bit of a move about of rooms...), and so want to get it sorted as soon as possible.

Thank you!

Edit: What would be the best way to paint over the already painted walls too?


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When walls are freshly skimmed (bare plaster) they are very porous and soak up water very quickly. If you just paint straight onto them, the water in the paint is sucked up by the plaster leaving the paint virtually sitting on top not adhered to the wall. This is amplified even more if the fresh plaster was painted with vinyl paint.

The most common recommend way to avoid this is a mist coat. This is normal white emulsion (not vinyl) watered down slightly usually 10-20%. Cheapo Leyland contract Matt is perfect for this. This mist coat can then fully bond to the walls and you can then paint over with whatever you like.

I'd scrape off the paint and start again. Sounds like the house was done up in a hurry.
Apologies if I'm wrong, but the picture seems to show the old white paint is still stuck to the wall, so would this be a mist coat issue?
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Yeah that is the thing; it is literally what we paint over that comes off, so you can peel that one off and scratch at the painted walls to reveal the white.

However, on certain walls, paint is flaking away of its own accord down to the bare plaster.

This is what is really confusing me!

So what would be the best plan then?

Thank you :)
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Get as much of the paint off as possible then look at Zinsser products on t'net. I would suggest their Peel stop.

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