Paint Peeling off the Wall When Rolling (SOLVED)

I’ve been there many times – I apply a coat of paint and then I go to apply the second coat and find that the paint is peeling off the wall when rolling. And there’s nothing more frustrating.

If you’re reading this article then chances are, you’re feeling this frustration too.

But fear not – fortunately, there is a solution. Unfortunately, you’ve wasted a few litres of paint and have plenty more work to do.

If your paint is peeling off the wall when you’re rolling, this easy-to-follow guide is for you!

Example of paint peeling off the wall after rolling.

Reasons Why Your Paint is Peeling off the Wall When Rolling

There are a number of reasons why your paint is peeling off the wall during the rolling process. By finding out what’s causing your problem, you can easily find the remedy.

There Was No Mist Coat on the Plaster

One of the most common reasons for peeling paint whilst using a roller is that there was no application of a mist coat when the plaster was new.

Plaster is extremely porous so needs a thinned-down emulsion applied to it before painting. The mist coat absorbs into the plaster and provides an optimal key to which the emulsion can adhere.

In the absence of a mist coat, the first coat of emulsion will struggle to adhere to the surface. Once dried, it will be extremely fragile so when you go back over it with a roller, the first coat can easily peel away from the surface.

You Painted Over Old Wallpaper Paste

If you’ve just stripped wallpaper from your walls and proceeded to paint them, it’s possible that you’ve painted over old wallpaper paste. Paint struggles to adhere to wallpaper paste and with that in mind, the first coat will peel away when going over it with a roller the second time around.

The Walls Were Greasy Before Applying the Paint

This is a common problem I come across when painting kitchen walls. A slow build-up of grease on your walls over the course of a few years will largely go unnoticed and if you didn’t wipe the grease away with a product like sugar soap, the paint has a hard time adhering to that particular spot.

You will know if grease is the cause if you have sections of the wall, particularly near the hob, where the paint is peeling instead of peeling on the entire surface.

Painting Over Old Paint

On rare occasions, painting over old paint can cause peeling. I experienced this once when applying Dulux Diamond Matt over a wall that was painted with contract matt. For some reason, the different paints simply didn’t agree with each other, resulting in my roller dragging up the first coat I had applied.

How to Fix Paint Peeling off the Wall When Rolling

Regardless of the reason for your peeling paint, there is a relatively straightforward, if slightly costly, solution.

Step 1: Allow the paint to dry

At this stage, there’s not much you can do besides waiting it out and letting the defective coating dry.

Step 2: Rub the wall down

Once the defective coating is dry, you’ll want to use a sander to remove as much of the paint as possible whilst smoothing down the walls. This stage can be physically tiring if you’re using manual sandpaper so if you can, I’d fully recommend using a dustless sanding system.

Dustless sanders such as Mirka or Festool will obliterate the defective coating and smooth the edges where the peeling occurred. Furthermore, it will vacuum any dust, saving you lots of time in the process.

Step 3: Apply a sealer

After sanding and dusting down, it’s time to apply a sealer. I can’t recommend Zinsser Peelstop enough for this purpose. It will seal the plaster and defective coating whilst providing plenty of grip for future top coats.

Step 4: Wait for the sealer to dry

Allow the sealer plenty of time to dry. If using Zinsser Peelstop this will be about 2 hours depending on the temperature of the room.

Step 5: Repaint the wall

I’d give it 4 or so hours before painting over the sealer just to be safe. Apply your first coat and give it plenty of time to dry. After the first coat dries, apply a second coat.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve made it this far, hopefully, you have now identified the reasons for your roller dragging up your paint and have a pretty good idea as to how to fix it.

Good luck!