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I had my home freshly painted about two years ago.

Unfortunately, after evicting a renter, I noticed that the paint is now peeling off in large pieces on my kitchen ceiling and in the bathroom. I suspect they may have done something to cause this damage.

Any ideas or suggestions on what could have caused the paint to peel off like this?

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    Could you post a photo please Aug 21, 2023 at 9:17
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    Photo and paint manufacturer/type needed. In wet places need to use paint for wet places if not then can peel. Second is surface preparation - if bad then paint can peel. Thrid - there are stuff to make paint peel but this will be visible on picture.
    – k_z
    Aug 21, 2023 at 10:00

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Painting is all about surface prep. Since the paint is peeling in the bathroom and kitchen, the primary suspect is trapped moisture before paint was applied. Next time you paint, make sure that the surfaces are dry and then apply a primer. After the primer is completely dry, then apply paint.

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I agree with Cheery. Look closely at the substrate (the part that is remaining on the wall). If it is at all shiny or dirty, that is a case of improper paint work; the proper cleaning and scuff-sanding of the old substrate was not done. This is exceptionally important in areas where high gloss paint is used, such as in bathrooms and kitchens. Very typical landlord behavior - that's why the lead paint crisis happened. Children were eating the peeling paint, because lead paint tastes sweet.

However, the tenant can worsen the problem by not doing proper humidity control. High humidity makes the above-mentioned paint failure more likely. It's still the landlord's fault for doing improper paint work, but the tenant is not helping any.

Your best bet for the tenant's behavior is to fit automatic exhaust fans in bathroom and possibly kitchen, that respond to humidity. And if the central A/C is not working, fix it.

It's also a win to go to modern variable speed A/C or heat pump systems. The cheap, old-style "bang-bang" A/Cs have a serious weakness when it comes to humidity control: they only run at one speed, and it's often too much for immediate house needs, so they switch off before they run very long. They need to run for awhile to collect meaningful amounts of moisture.

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