we moved into our house 2 years ago and the previous owner must have had the house recently painted just prior of going on the market. The issue, that we’ve noticed almost from the beginning, but just becoming worse and worse is the door and trim paint. It seems like they must have used latex paint over glossy oil based paint and it literally flakes and peels off if you look at it the wrong way! It seems pretty obvious it was not prepped right by any means. I’m not 100% sure it’s oil based underneath because I didn’t investigate diligently but do know it’s at least glossy. So for me to repaint it the right way I’m just not sure what angle to tackle it. Does all the paint have to be stripped off to the wood? Do I use a chemical stripper, sand it all down, primer, etc. And input would be great. Thanks

  • I always thought that latex over oil was OK. Your problem is probably related to the fact that the surface of the glossy paint wasn't prepped properly.
    – SteveSh
    Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 1:37

1 Answer 1


The only reason you'd need to strip all the paint to bare wood would be if you were aiming for a clear finish over wood (natural or stained.)

If you intend to paint, you need to remove all the peeling paint, and prepare the surface of the paint that's well-adhered so that new paint will stick to it, most likely by sanding. Depending exactly how poorly it was prepared and what had gone on in the house over time, you may also need to wash down the surface of the glossy paint when you have it exposed (typically with tri-sodium phosphate) to remove greasy deposits that will interfere with painting and only then proceed to sandpaper the gloss off it.

A shellac-based primer is a generally safe bet when you don't really know what the underlying paint is, once you have gotten the underlying paint clean and de-glossed.

  • Ok thanks. So in a nutshell; sand all the chipping top layer of paint off, wash down with tsp, prime, then repaint
    – Kurtjs86
    Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 1:57
  • Save on sanding! Start by looking at it sideways some more. ;^) More seriously, something like a plastic scraper (old credit cards or the like) might take a lot off if it's that poorly adhered, without loading up a bunch of sandpaper and making dust.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 2:06
  • Gotcha. So not necessary to get every ounce of paint off? If it doesn’t want to come off let it be? So if it all doesn’t want to come off “easily” from scraping it just go ahead with the next steps of cleaning, priming etc? Will the spot that flaked off show in the final product though? Or should I sand the edges of the chips before I clean and prime to blend it in better? Thanks
    – Kurtjs86
    Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 2:18
  • If it doesn't come off easily with scraping, then you should sand it. But before you do that, test the underlying paint layers for lead. The EPA has a bunch of good lead paint info. Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 3:38
  • Lead check is a good point. No, I'd go for getting all the bad paint off, but I'd get as much of it off as easily as possible, rather than starting with sandpaper, which is not, IME, particularly easy. Scraping seems likely to work if it's as poorly attached as you say.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 13:14

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