Paint chips easily off ceiling

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slownsteady

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I'm getting around to repainting my hallway ceiling. It's the second floor with a cold attic above.
First let me say that the paint has been up there for a while. We had painted with ceiling white over the previous owner's color years ago. For a while now, we've noticed a few small cracks in the finish, but now that I'm up there and trying to clean up those bad areas, I'm finding that pretty large areas of paint are easily chipped right off. Once I open a crack, I can push a thin scraper (putty knife) right along the edge of the paint and it separates so cleanly that the drywall looks untouched. It's easy to see that the ceiling was never primed.
Of course i plan on priming this time, but I am worrying that I'm going to have trouble where the old paint still is. Is there any kind of additive that will help the old paint bond? Do I have to scrape the whole ceiling (or replace drywall)? Or should I just ignore my worries and just go forward with plan A?
 

bud16415

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Give it your best shot and where you can’t get it off it will most likely never come off. For whatever reason some of it bonded and some didn’t is what I would say. Feather the edges in and prime and paint is what I would do.
 

slownsteady

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I'm curious why the paint would be so easy to get off. Is the lack of primer the main cause, or could it have something to do with the attic space above? Or it could be just cheap paint used originally?
 

bud16415

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My guess is a reaction to something on the unprimed drywall. Most likely dust from sanding the joints and not cleaning it.
 

DFBonnett

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Take a look in the attic and see if anyone put plastic down in that area. If there is, condensation could be the problem. Over the years I saw this in a few customer's homes.
FWIW
YMMV
 

slownsteady

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Haven't found any plastic, or any signs of moisture damage in the drywall. But the small cracks I found on the ceiling seemed to me like a moisture problem. i guess it could be dust that caused them.
I am pretty sure that the previous homeowner did the work himself here. The walls have a few places where he didn't smooth after spackling. Generally sloppy work that we ignored for all these years, but now that I'm looking again, I just shake my head.
 

ProPaintTips

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I would definitely suggest checking your vapour barrier and ensure it is doing it's job. What temperature was it above when you painted previous. Make sure it is within the specifications of the can. I would highly recommend scraping any loose flakes of paint to make sure you get proper adhesion this time around. There is nothing worse then having flakes come off a freshly painted ceiling.

I would even consider using a strong oil based primer such as the one offered by benjamin moore(fresh start or something) . This is probably overkill, but sometimes overkill can save frustration in the future. The issue is your brush will no longer be usable unless cleaned in the proper solution.

If you follow all the advice in this thread and use high quality materials you should end up with a beautiful finish.
 

slownsteady

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Thanks. i scraped thoroughly, and then I scraped some more. A lot came off, but I kept it up till i found solid contact at the edges. then I used drywall compound to smooth it all out. Full coat of primer, and the finish coat of ceiling white. I went with B Moore latex. Looks pretty good now.
 
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