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Elaborating on the title:

I hired a licensed and bonded painter to repaint my kitchen. Two days after he finished the job I noticed a small patch of paint came up (very easily) after my fingernail brushed against it while opening a cabinet. Then I noticed a nickel-sized patch that had been rubbed off where two cabinet doors rub together when closed. These little imperfections have happened in a few other spots.

I know he painted the kitchen with a semi-gloss latex, but I’m unsure of what the original coat was, although I suspect it was oil. He’s coming by this week to see what’s going on. But in the meantime I’m curious about the root cause and would like to educate myself on the solution so I can be comfortable with his.

Assuming it was oil he painted over, would the new latex paint need to be stripped off completely before repainting? Or is there a way to avoid that?

And FWIW I think the prep-work was probably “shortcutted”, hence the poor adhesion. Thanks!!

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    Bummer. Should have been primed, and latex isn't hard enough for cabinets in my opinion. – isherwood Dec 6 '17 at 0:35
  • Was back side of cab door also repainted? If so test the bond on the center of a door. Sometimes edges are the grimiest and also easy to miss during prep. If it peels in middle of a door you may not have a bond anywhere. – Kris Dec 6 '17 at 1:39
  • @Kris thanks! I’ll check when I get home. He’s telling me to not pick at anything so it can harden further, but this seems suspect to me since it’s been 5 days or more. – Matt Dec 6 '17 at 1:42
  • Also a full cure of paint could take 14- 30 days – Kris Dec 6 '17 at 1:42
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Looks like the prep worked was skipped completely! He should have sanded down the cabinets to give the new paint something to bond to, as well as put a good primer on. Unfortunately based on the picture it looks like it wasn't sanded at all.

I would get him to re-do it

  • Yeah, that’s how it looks to me as well. I’ve begun the “this needs to be redone” conversation already. Unfortunately, he’s been paid in full so there’s an element of stress there for me. – Matt Dec 6 '17 at 0:39
  • You do not need primer over a previously painted surface that is properly prepared (sanded). – Jimmy Fix-it Dec 6 '17 at 5:48
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How glossy is the exposed surface? Fairly glossy.

That's your trouble, it should have been dingy flat. Not even flat like paint... past that, with very slight scratches visible.

Microscopically, the surface should look like the Rocky Mountains, not northern Indiana cornfields.

That "tooth" is what the new paint bites into.

This is super important when overcoating 2-part epoxies and 2-part acrylics/urethanes like Imron, since they are so very glossy and rock hard. I could see factory-manufactured cabinet doors having a 2-part finish, it is a magnificent coating.

The other potential issue is chemical compatibility, but that should only be an issue if the substrate (previous layer) hadn't fully cured. 2-part coatings cure very fast, before it even gets to your house from the factory. Oil/alkyd coatings cure in a couple of years tops. So if this is new product you decided to have painted for style reasons, that was your problem.

Painting over the white is a mistake. The bond between beige and white layer is worthless (unless he in fact did do prep, and you just found a spot he missed). All the old paint has to come off. The good news is I find latex softens and releases fairly easily, even with a soaking in water sometimes, and certainly with some of my more aggressive solvents. I would experiment to find the right chemical that softens and removes the latex without digging into the previous coating too much.

Prep is 90% of the job. How does a licensed painter not know this?

  • I asked about the surface (in the picture) not looking like it was sanded and he stated that his “helpers” did that part of the job. I think this was probably done a lot. He told me not to check other areas because the paint needs to harden and it might mess it up, but I’m skeptical of this since it’s been 5 days as it is. – Matt Dec 6 '17 at 0:55

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