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I have recently painted an internal hallway (yellow), and now come to paint the white shelf so applied painter's tape to the yellow wall (Frogtape Delicate Yellow) . After gently removing the tape, the yellow paint easily peeled off with it:

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  • The yellow paint is Valspar Classic Walls and Ceilings (water-based, matt).
  • The wall originally had 2 coats of white emulsion on about 2 years ago, on top of the fresh plaster.
  • Then this week I have sanded the wall back smooth with 180 grit, and then dusted and wiped it as clean as possible.
  • Finally, applied two coats of yellow Valspar, 1 day apart. Then 1 more day later, applied the Frogtape and saw the peeling.

Have I done something wrong in my prep here? I was under the impression that no primer would be needed, because this wall was previously painted white emulsion. (You can see that the white paint below is not peeling, only the yellow coats). Is there anything that I can do to avoid this?

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    Not quite sure but I think the paint needs more than a day or two for good bonding to the wall.
    – crip659
    Oct 2, 2023 at 20:06
  • Latex paints take about a month to cure. Alkyd paints take about a week to cure. If you had waited a month and the stuff still peeled, then I would question your prep.
    – popham
    Oct 2, 2023 at 22:29
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    Did you use a roller or a brush? From the pattern in the paint it looks more like a brush - either way I wonder if you applied the first coat a bit too thick. Also, paint needs to be properly stirred, goes off once opened plus you can always get bad batches. But yes I agree with others that applying tape 24 hours later was always pushing it a bit
    – James
    Oct 3, 2023 at 12:07
  • @James I first cut in with a 3 inch angle brush, and then rolled the rest of the wall, getting as close to the edges as I could. It's possible that the first coat was too thick. I am kind of limited by how thick the paint is though. I could dilute the paint with a little water, to be able to apply a thinner layer, but on the tin it says "do not water down".
    – teeeeee
    Oct 3, 2023 at 12:12
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    @bobflux No, as stated in the OP, it's a hallway (completely grease-free).
    – teeeeee
    Oct 3, 2023 at 16:33

5 Answers 5

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Paint takes some time to fully cure.

Painter tapes note that and typically offer a "delicate" version (Frogtape's version is yellow while 3M's is purple) that can be used on fresh paint (fresh usually means under 3 days old). I wouldn't be quick to conclude that you have an adhesion problem as you used regular tape on paint that's just 1 day old.

Edit: I just realized the OP was indeed using the yellow delicate tape. I might still blame too-fresh-paint rather than adhesion, but this does open the possibility of adhesion issues.

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I had the same thing happen to me with B&Q Colours paint. Onto bare plaster, I applied a couple of coats of Leyland white emulsion paint for new plaster. Then 6 months later I cleaned the wall and applied red paint with a spray gun. More than 6 months after that, I caught the red paint while applying a wall sticker and it peeled. I can still peel it now, more than 18 months after application.

Peeling paint

I didn't sand down the wall as you did but did use sugar soap. The paint appears to have formed a skin that's weakly stuck to the underlying paint. Perhaps it's just the type of paint.

As for avoiding the issue, I'd forgo the masking tape when applying the second colour where they meet. Just use an angled brush, a steady hand, wipe the brush, and drag a bead of paint along the joint. I'm at quicker and neater doing this now than bothering with the masking tape.

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  • I painted the details on my porch columns by hand like this. Took my time and got lots of nice neat lines simply by brushing carefully. Would have taken hours of masking, painting, drying, remasking different areas for different colors... As it was, I did a base coat, then the next day did all the trim colors. Job done.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 3, 2023 at 15:18
  • Thanks Chris, yours looks eerily similar to my problem! To be honest, I normally don't use the tape either. Like you, I found more success after a while doing it by hand with the angled brush. My main concern this time is not really how to avoid using the tape, but whether there is something more fundamentally wrong with the adhesion of the paint to the surface (regardless of whether tape is used or not).
    – teeeeee
    Oct 3, 2023 at 16:30
  • Learn how to cut, +1.
    – Mazura
    Oct 4, 2023 at 1:00
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There could be other causes but as James notes in the comments, a big mistake is putting the paint on too thick. The first coat should be somewhat transparent. And it's not necessary to thin the paint, it's how much you put on the roller for a given area. The other thing is that you might want to buy a better-quality paint. The cost difference between paints is largely due to the amount of pigment. A cheaper paint typically means you will need more of it to get the same amount of pigment on the wall.

As you note, this approach will leave a poor looking end patchy result on the first coat. But that's actually what you want to achieve the best results. A very thin (patchy even) coat. By the time you come around a medium sized room, it should be ready for edging. Go around all the edging and it should be ready for a second roller coat. With big-box-store paints, I'll do 3 coats at least. With a higher-quality paint, I can often get away with 2. This sounds like it will take a lot longer but because you are not trying to get a perfect opaque coat, they go up fast. You also don't need to wait days between coats. As you add coats, the patchiness should disappear. Once I'm done with that, I'll go around and touch up any patches that need a little more coverage.

The problem with thick coats of paint comes down to water. For the paint to dry, the water needs to come out of it. There are two places it can go: into the wall surface or into the air. The wall surface will only absorb a small amount, so the rest needs to go into the air. With a thick coat of paint, a skin will form before the water from the rest of the paint layer can migrate to the surface and evaporate. This will greatly slow the drying and if you put another coat on before it dries, you make the situation even worse. Extremely thin layers avoid this entirely.

When using tape (I don't typically bother with it and free-hand edges with a good brush and a wet rag/paper towel at the ready) you can get better results by taking a small brush and lightly painting over the tape and its edge. Let it dry and then do your main painting. This will give it a cleaner 'break' and also help keep paint from getting under it.

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  • Thanks for this. I suspect this is exactly what is happening. It could be (as noted in the comments) that I have tried to put the tape on before the paint is fully dried and cured. However, the "skin" effect that can be seen in my photo (and indeed in Chris' answer as well) supports your explanation. Also, Chris says above that the paint peels even after 18 months, which for sure is not due to un-cured paint. I will try a much thinner first coat next time.
    – teeeeee
    Oct 3, 2023 at 16:36
  • @teeeeee the first coat is the most important, but I would avoid the temptation to slather it on for the second (or third) coat as well. If your paint isn't completely dry to the touch within a few hours, you are putting it on too thick. Give "thin to win" a shot. I think you'll find it saves you time and gets you a better result.
    – JimmyJames
    Oct 3, 2023 at 19:47
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Try a Deglossing agent. There are a few different products, but most all work in a similar way to prep the old paint for new paint.

Even if the original paint was not glossy, I have found the deglosser helps new paint to stick to old.

With some on a rag, wipe it on the old paint and let it dry. (refer to the particular product instructions that you are using)

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I try removing the tape in a test area and if the paint lifts then I run a very sharp knife or razor blade along the edge to break the joint.

Only light pressure is needed...

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  • I'm not sure that running a knife along the edge of the tape would keep the tape from pulling paint up like this. The OP wasn't looking to mask a line on the wall where the paint pulled up, he was looking to keep the white paint on the trim from getting onto the yellow paint on the wall.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 3, 2023 at 20:15

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