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adhesion problems to old oil-based enamel surfaces

14 years ago

I've been repainting interior rooms of my house during the last couple of years using water-based paints from Lowe's. I have had excellent adhesion results on flat surfaces... hallway walls, bedroom walls, etc.

Where old enamel exists, however, adhesion has been a problem, even though I cleaned the enamel and used reputable water-based primers. (Zinnser, Kills, etc.)

The enamel underlying my problem was applied some 16 years earlier. It was an alkyd (oil-based) interior paint from Dunn Edwards.

I avoid sanding here, as I want to avoid dust. Perhaps I could wet-sand. I have not used a de-glosser.

In one bathroom, I didn't use primer, two years ago. The water-based enamel I applied has pealed horrendoulsly... I think I'll have to STRIP all the paint off, down to the PLASTER. Eegads. I don't think I can even use a steamer (suitable for pourous coatings like old wallpaper.) I might have to use chemical stripper... at great personal peril.

So I am appealing for advice on appropriate PRIMER PAINT, so I might preclude these misearable developments in subsequent efforts in bedrooms that still exhibit the old Dunn-Edwards painted surfaces. By the way, that stuff never pealed! It is rock-hard and thick, too boot.

The Lowes water-based enamels are gorgeous to look at, with their amazing colors. But they seem to apply thinly... a virtue I like... but perhaps that thinness is a problem from the standpoint of robustness.

So I see myself using REAL TSP to clean old enameled surfaces such as closet doors; wet-sanding; then de-glossing chemically (yikes).

Then I want a truly-sticky primer.

Shouldn't I get better results with an alkyd-based primer?

Keep in mind I intend to use a water-based enamel on top of my new primer.

Thanks in advance!

Comments (7)

  • paintguy22
    14 years ago

    You are never going to get any real serious adhesion until you accomplish two things. One is clean and the other is dull. You have the clean part down but your trim is still shiny. Shiny means slick and paint won't ever stick to slick like it will stick to dull. When you dull a shiny surface, you are giving your primer/paint tooth. Wet sanding doesn't work and I don't believe in deglosser. The reason I don't believe in deglosser is because sanding is easy. You get yourself a few sanding blocks, throw on a dust mask and get after it. Before you know it, it's over and there isn't that much dust made from sanding painted trim. It's a step that really shouldn't be skipped IMO...your problem is evidence of that. The primers that are going to stick the best are bonding primers so be sure you select the right ones. Oil based primer are probably the last primers I would use. BIN would be my first choice and if you don't want to use that then there are a ton of high quality acrylic bonding primers available.

  • johnpeter
    Original Author
    14 years ago

    I avoid sanding to prevent a mess in the interior regions of the house. (Outside it wouldn't be an issue.) So if anyone can recommend a chem deglosser that WORKS, I'd be interested. I tried one years ago (can't remember its identity) and it didn't visibly work.

    I have lots of experience with various strippers, by the way.

    Thanks for the comments, paintguy. I am heartened to hear that your remedy isn't through the use of alkyd-based primers... which I find annoying to use. Could you elaborate on why you say oil-based would be the "last primers" you'd use?

    Never heard of "BIN" but that testifies to my lack of experience. Can I get that at HD or Lowe's? Maybe a good hardware store?

    I've had universal success with the popular water-based primers everywhere but in this instance. They're popular for a reason. The stuff is produced and consumed by the "shipload."

    So yes you are obviously right that "gloss" is deadly, by design, for adhesion. Yet somehow, in commercial instances where I've primered over old bathroom and kitchen walls, I've never had peeling. From that experience I just assumed good primer would stick to anything, as long as the surface was CLEAN.

    I suppose I could run an experiment with GLASS... the rather glossy surface that it is. Apply various primers, let set, and then use razor scraper to remove.

    Any specific product recommendations would be appreciated, for primers.


  • la_koala
    14 years ago

    It's Zinsser's "B-I-N" I believe, unless there's another one out there. Hopefully paintguy will correct me if I am wrong about that.

    I bought Zinsser B-I-N at Home Depot.

  • paintguy22
    14 years ago

    We use BIN or acrylic bonding primers because they stick better to slick surfaces or they stick equally as well so there is no need to bring out the oil. BIN sticks better than anything though. It's not an oil but may be worse than working with an oil because it is shellac based so it probably smells worse. It dries super fast though so with open windows the smell should dissipate quickly. The big boxes and Ace probably do carry it.

  • 2ajsmama
    14 years ago

    I have a similar but not exactly the same problem in that the oil-based glossy paint is about 35-40 years old and probably has lead in it. Thread is above, no one's answered and I *really* need help b/c I have to do any dusty work tomorrow - my mom has hired someone to paint the ceilings on Monday and he won't do the walls but she doesn't want me messing up the new ceiling either.

    My thought was to skim it all with joint compound - I've already primed ripped sheetrock and patched it. Now I have the intact paint to worry about. Will joint compound stick to the gloss paint if i wash it down with powdered dishwasher detergent? Or do I have to scuff sand? Thanks.

    13 years ago


  • wormgirl_8a_WA
    13 years ago

    I faced this issue several years ago and through the advice I found here I decided to go with Zinsser BullsEye Odorless. It is alkylid. It's not truly odorless but a lot less bad than the regular. I've had no adhesion issues. I also used it to paint a stained ceiling with no paint over (that's one of the suggested uses) and it looks great and stains have not come through.

    If I were painting all my trim I'd skip the Lowe's paint though.