How to Seal Flaking Paint

If you’re wondering how to seal flaking paint then you’ve come to the right place.

Flaking paint is one of the most common (and annoying!) problems you can come across when it’s time to give your home a fresh lick of paint. Whilst many DIYers will simply scrape some of the flaking paint off with their fingernails and crack on with the job, ultimately this is going to result in the same problem occurring down the line.

With that in mind, it’s best to address the issue head on and get it sorted.

How to seal flaking paint

Step 1: Scraping off loose paint

The first step you need to take is to scrape off the flaking paint. In terms of what scraper to use – any cheap one will do. It’s also worth mentioning that you only need to scrape off the flaking paint rather than the entire wall.

Step 2: Wash the area

Once you’ve removed any loose paint, it’s worth washing the area to ensure no paint residue is left behind. To do this you can simply wet, scrub and wash the area.

Step 3: Sanding down

Next, you’ll need to use a fine grit sandpaper around the edges of the problem area. This should help level the surface out.

Step 4: Apply filler

After you’ve sanded down the edges of the affected area, you’ll want to go over them with some filler.

Step 5: Sanding down (again)

Once the filler is fully dry, you’ll want to use your sandpaper again to sand down the edges.

Step 6: Apply a coat of sealer

Next you’ll need to apply a coat of sealer. My favourite sealer for this type of job is Zinsser Gardz as it dries in a short amount of time whilst forming a hard film that prevents blistering and bubbling of the filler you used in step 4.

Step 7: Apply your finishing coats

After the sealer has fully cured, you can go ahead and paint over your walls with 2 to 3 coats of whatever you choose. FYI, I’m a big fan of Johnstone’s Acrylic Durable Matt at the moment and would highly recommend that, especially since it’s washable.

Alternative method: Use a steam stripper

Whilst the method above is our tried and tested way to seal flaking paint, you can also go down the route of using a steam stripper if you have one available. All you have to do in this method is use the steam stripper to soften the flaking paint before scraping off as much as you can. After you’ve done this, give the area a good wash and let it dry. Finally, apply your sealer and finishing coats.

Possible causes of flaking paint

In order to prevent flaking happening in the future, it’s worth looking at some of the possible causes of the flaking paint in the first place. Understanding the causes means you can avoid making mistakes and should result in a paint job that’s highly durable.

With that in mind, here’s some of the most common causes of flaking paint:

  • Lack of surface adhesion when applying the old paint.
  • A lack of surface preparation before painting. If you painted over a surface that was powdery, loose surface which could’ve been caused by size-bound distemper or paint that became powdery with age this would almost certainly result in flaking paint.
  • You applied paint over too many old coats which resulted in a heavy build up on the surface.
  • Dampness on the surface of the wall.
  • Lack of adhesion between coats (try to follow the manufacturer’s guide when it comes to drying/re-coat times).

How to tell if my paint is flaking

Flaking paint is essentially paint that has lifted up and come away from the surface. If your paint looks like the image below, it’s flaking.

flaking paint coming away from the surface