Paint Keeps Peeling

Dear Greg,

The paint keeps peeling off the clapboards on the front of my house and though I have had it painted several times it only lasts about 3-4 years. The last time I had it done a professional paint company sanded it down to bare wood, primed it with oil based primer and top coated it with 2 coats of 100% acrylic latex paint. Now 4 years later the paint is bubbling up and peeling off. Any idea what I should do?

Paula S., Harwich

Dear Paula,

It sounds to me as though the painter you hired did exactly what he was supposed to do as far as painting goes. You didn’t say if he had advised you to hire someone to look at the structure to see if there is an underlying problem causing your paint to peel. Generally when I see this happening over and over again, it tells me that there is something wrong with the building envelope of the house. Moisture is getting behind the clapboards and the wall system is not allowing it to dry to the outside. The moisture is probably trying to dry to the inside as well depending on the temperature outside. Do you have a musty odor in the house or do you see any signs of mold inside your house, especially near this particular wall?

Depending on the age of your house and the way that it was constructed, it’s very possible that if the clapboards were removed you would see signs of mold growth between the clapboards and the exterior sheathing (either plywood or wood planking). This dampness may have already caused this sheathing to deteriorate and the extent of this damage is unknown unless you remove the clapboards. Once the clapboards are removed and any damage repaired it is critical to address the cause of this trapped moisture. There are a few different ways to do this and I would have to see your house before I could advise you which would work best for your house but the best way to solve this problem is to create a rain screen wall.

Wood shingles and clapboards are only the first defense against water entering your home. They are made of wood and they are supposed to get wet but they are also supposed to dry and the preferable way to dry is to the outside and into the air so that no damage is done to your house.

Have someone look at your house as soon as possible because it will only get worse as time goes by.


Greg Springer

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