Bubbling and peeling new bathroom paint

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Well-Known Member
Jul 19, 2020
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I've been renovating a bathroom and got to the point of painting the walls. The problem is that on the recent coat the paint was bubbling at several locations (see photos below) and pulling on the bubbles would simply peel off the paint. I took the paint back but the store person was insistent that it was a problem of the walls "because of a thin film of drywall dust". Frankly, that sounded like them simply trying to avoid taking the blame because (1) I thoroughly clean my walls with a table broom to get the sanding dust off before priming and (2) if that were the case, then every drywall application would have the same problem around the joints. Anyway, there is a problem for sure because if I simply get an area of the paint wet (and well someone wipe or scrubs their walls) then I can peel the whole thing down to the skim coat (see the last photo).

I think that the main problem is the primer that I used and if I redo it with oil-based primer then it should be good. I'm asking here if others have experienced this and what fixed it?

For context, this bathroom used to have 30+ years old wallpaper which I removed using hot water, a bit of white vinegar, and lots of elbow grease. As a result, the drywall had a lot of marks plus there were a few bigger repairs that I did, so I skim coated the whole wall with drywall compound. After sanding everything smooth, I scrubbed the walls top-to-bottom with table broom to make sure that there was no accumulation of drywall dust on the walls. Then I primed (all the paints these days says that they have primer but frankly I don't trust it). Then painted a first coat without noticeable issues. The bubbling showed up on the second coat. I used Valspar primer and paint.


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Were both the primer and top coat of the same kind (ie. water based or oil based)?
Yes. Both are water-based.
As I mentioned, I was thinking that perhaps I need to use oil-based primer for improved humidity resistance, but I would still be using water-based paint afterward. Would that be a problem? Or even better (as I'm dreading having to use oil-based primer), can you suggest a different way that would prevent this problem from happening?
I avoid Valspar.
I agree that I need to do that moving forward. I was planning to use Killz original (oil-based) and then Sherwin-Williams Showcase latex paint (water-based) over it. Have you experienced a problem when using water-based paint over oil-based primer?
Is it possible that the paper layer for the drywall has peeled off and that you need to put a thin coat of mud on the walls to cover those spots? Or get a special primer specifically for drywall. Jeff Thorman on Home Renovision DIY channel on Youtube was talking about a primer that was specifically for drywall to make stuff stick after you've had to remove wallpaper from it.
Not sure which is better. I *think* Jeff Thorman recommended the PVA kind but am uncertain.
It might work on the old drywall too.
This one is for older drywall I believe https://www.homedepot.com/p/Roman-R...all-Repair-and-Sealer-Primer-209907/203799597

Have you checked the level of moisture in the walls prior to painting? I'm wondering if there is some dampness somewhere causing the paint to peel off.
Also, a tack cloth could help get any dust off the walls better than a simple broom.
PPG makes an acrylic, water based bonding primer called Seal Grip Gripper than handles dust on the drywall very cheerfully. It also handles rather heavy chalk on outside walls. (Been there, done that, tape pull-off tested. A-OK)

It is available at Home Depot, but is about half the price at a PPG store if one is nearby. I paid 24.00 USD per gallon in October. VOC is very, very low for indoor use. Odor is not noticeable.

Be careful which Seal Grip you get. They have a bunch of different ones. Seal Grip Gripper Bonding Primer 17-921XI is the one to which I'm referring.


Here's the TDS:


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