How to Fix Peeling Paint on the Ceiling - Paint Failure Cures (2023)

This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission from purchases made through them, at no additional cost to you. You help to support

Have you ever looked up at your ceiling only to notice that your paint is peeling? This can be extremely annoying, especially considering how challenging it can be to paint a ceiling. There are many reasons that a ceiling would begin to peel, and it can be quite challenging to fix unless you know what you’re doing. With that being said, if you’re looking to fix a ceiling that’s looking a bit blotchy, we’ve prepared a short tutorial detailing how to fix peeling paint on ceiling surfaces. We also go through why ceilings peel, and provide some tips on how to prevent this from happening in future.

Table of Contents

  • 1 Why Is My Ceiling Paint Peeling?
    • 1.1 Adhesive Failure
    • 1.2 Excessive Exposure to Moisture
    • 1.3 Excessive Exposure to Heat
    • 1.4 Your Paint Is Old
    • 1.5 Too Many Layers of Paint
  • 2 Why Is It Important to Fix Peeling Paint?
  • 3 How to Fix Peeling Paint on Ceiling Surfaces
    • 3.1 Prepare Your Workspace
    • 3.2 Remove the Peeling Paint
    • 3.3 Repairing the Surface of Your Ceiling
    • 3.4 Paint the Surface of Your Ceiling
  • 4 Tips to Prevent Paint from Peeling
  • 5 Frequently Asked Questions
    • 5.1 Is Peeling Paint a Problem?
    • 5.2 Can You Repaint Peeling Paint?
    • 5.3 What Causes Paint to Peel?

Why Is My Ceiling Paint Peeling?

Usually, when we notice strips of paint missing from the ceiling of our homes, the first thing that pops into our minds is “Why is my ceiling paint peeling?”. That being said, peeling paint is usually an indication of a far larger issue that you’ll likely have to spend money to fix, which makes identifying the underlying cause of your peeling ceiling all the more important.

Adhesive Failure

If your ceiling was painted without the surface being properly cleaned, if the incorrect primer was used if no primer was applied at all, or if the paint was not allowed to dry completely, this could result in the paint lifting, bubbling, and eventually peeling away from the surface of your ceiling leaving an unsightly mess.

How to Fix Peeling Paint on the Ceiling - Paint Failure Cures (1)

Excessive Exposure to Moisture

One of the most common reasons for peeling paint on ceiling surfaces is due to the presence of moisture. If moisture gets underneath the surface of the paint it will cause the paint to bubble and eventually peel away from the surface of the ceiling. This can come as a result of a leaking water heater or leak in your roof allowing rainwater into the attic.

How to Fix Peeling Paint on the Ceiling - Paint Failure Cures (2)

Excessive Exposure to Heat

Peeling paint on ceiling surfaces can also be a result of excessive exposure to heat. This does depend on the type of paint you’ve chosen to use, but generally speaking, if the paint is exposed to too much heat during the drying process it will not dry correctly, causing the paint to adhere poorly and eventually peel away from the surface of your ceiling.

How to Fix Peeling Paint on the Ceiling - Paint Failure Cures (3)

Your Paint Is Old

One of the more common reasons for paint peeling away from the surface of a ceiling aside from moisture or heat would be age. Like anything else, paint tends to get old, and when paint gets old it tends to lose all of its adhesive properties in addition to its moisture content. This causes the paint to dry up and fall off the surface of the ceiling.

(Video) Fix flaking peeling bubbled paint for good - Easy DIY

How to Fix Peeling Paint on the Ceiling - Paint Failure Cures (4)

Too Many Layers of Paint

Another reason that you could find paint cracking on ceiling surfaces is that there are simply too many layers of paint on the surface. If you don’t remove the previous layer of paint using either a scraper, solvent, or a combination of the two, and simply paint over each coating every time you repaint your ceiling, eventually your paint will fail to adhere correctly, if at all.

How to Fix Peeling Paint on the Ceiling - Paint Failure Cures (5)

Why Is It Important to Fix Peeling Paint?

You might be asking yourself why you would need to repair paint cracking on ceiling boards if it’s a purely aesthetic issue. After all, it’s just ceiling board, and if you don’t look up it’s not really a problem now, it is? Well, no. There are two reasons why not tending to the bubbling of flaking ceiling paint can turn out to be disastrous for you and anyone else who lives under the same roof.

For one, if you don’t tend to paint that has begun to peel on the surface of your ceiling the problem can very easily spread to other sections of your ceiling, eventually causing large chunks of paint to fall off. If you’ve ever been inside an old, abandoned building you’ve likely seen this happen, and if you haven’t, look it up if you need some motivation.

How to Fix Peeling Paint on the Ceiling - Paint Failure Cures (6)

The second reason that you should tackle repairing flaky sealing is that it’s usually an indication of a larger issue. Ceilings don’t really get a lot of action as they don’t have any foot traffic and they aren’t exposed to a lot of sunlight. That being said, if there’s something causing your ceiling’s paint to flake, it’s probably indicative of a larger core issue either inside your ceiling or the structure in general.

How to Fix Peeling Paint on Ceiling Surfaces

Now that you know why paint peels away from the surface of ceilings and why it’s a good idea to tackle this problem as soon as possible, it’s time for you to learn how to repair a ceiling that has fallen victim to peeling. When working with paint (regardless of whether it is wet or dry) always ensure you are wearing the appropriate personal protective gear.

Prepare Your Workspace

It goes without saying that repairing a ceiling can get messy so it’s best to ensure that the area beneath your affected ceiling is adequately prepared before the repair process begins. The best place to start is by removing all the furniture from the space, and if certain things are unmovable, find a tarp or similar covering to cover them up nicely.

How to Fix Peeling Paint on the Ceiling - Paint Failure Cures (7)

Once the area is clear it’s time to prepare the floor of your work area. Once again you can either use some large tarps or some old newspaper to protect your floor. Regardless, ensure that they are secured with some painter’s tape, so they do not move and expose your flooring to paint chips and wet paint while you work.

Next, you should ensure that you have everything you will need to repair the paint job. Having all the tools you need beforehand will save you quite a bit of time and effort while you’re working, and when you’re climbing up and down a ladder and straining your neck upward, energy becomes a rather scarce resource. That being said, here are a few of the things you will need:

(Video) Drywall Ceiling Paint Peeling Fix

  • A ladder
  • Paint of your choice
  • Primer
  • A scraper
  • Patching compound
  • A putty knife
  • Sandpaper/orbital sander
  • A brush and roller set (preferably with a long extension pole)
  • A paint tray

Remove the Peeling Paint

Before you get to fixing the paint job you should ensure that you remove all the loose paint from the surface of your ceiling. The best way to go about this is to scrape the majority of the loose paint off the surface of your roof using a scraper or, if the paint is quite loose, simply use your putty knife. Since you’ll likely be on a ladder leaning upward you might want to have someone holding the ladder for you.

Ensure that you get underneath all of the paint flakes and get as much off in the immediately affected area using the scraper as possible. You should also ensure that you wear eye protection and some gloves while doing this as the flaking paint can have some really sharp edges that can cut into your hands and/or hurt your eyes.

How to Fix Peeling Paint on the Ceiling - Paint Failure Cures (8)

Once you’re done you need to ensure that you sand the area you have scraped. Why? While the majority of the paint flakes would be removed using the scraper there will likely be a lot of smaller pieces that are a bit more challenging to remove. Using some sandpaper, a sanding block, or an orbital sander is the perfect way to get rid of these.

Ensure that you sand the affected areas evenly and be sure not to miss a spot. If the area has been affected by moisture your goal is to remove as much of the surface as possible before you complete the repair process. Once you’re done, give the surface another good once over before you begin filling the surface of your ceiling.

How to Fix Peeling Paint on the Ceiling - Paint Failure Cures (9)

Now that the surface of your ceiling has been thoroughly sanded you should give it a good clean. First, give a wipe with a clean cloth and then give the affected area a good once over with some good old-fashioned soap and water and allow the surface to dry completely before moving on to the next step in the process.

Repairing the Surface of Your Ceiling

Repairing the surface of a peeling ceiling is pretty straightforward stuff. How do you go about it? Well, now that the surface of your ceiling has been sanded and cleaned it’s time for you to patch any holes or recesses that have resulted from the peeling paint. Since ceiling board and drywall are similar you can use some spackle if the damage is minimal or some drywall putty if it’s a bit more extensive.

How to Fix Peeling Paint on the Ceiling - Paint Failure Cures (10)

Once the surface has been repaired it’s time for you to once again smooth out the surface of your ceiling. Ensure that the putty and/or spackle has been allowed to dry for the manufacturer’s recommended time period before attempting to sand it. Using a sanding block, some sandpaper, or an orbital sander to ensure that the filled areas are flush with the rest of the ceiling.

Once the surface has been sanded, remove as much of the putty dust as possible using a clean dry cloth. Once you’re sure the surface is relatively clean, it’s time to apply some primer. All that you need to do is give the container a good shake, pour some out into a painter’s tray, and get some on your roller.

For the next part, you have the choice of using a short-armed roller while standing on a ladder or using a long-armed roller while standing firmly on the floor. Regardless, apply the primer to the surface of your ceiling and ensure that you get it on all of the affected areas. While professionals tend to recommend repainting your entire ceiling (and so do we) this is entirely up to you and your blending skills.

(Video) Repairing peeling paint in a bathroom.

How to Fix Peeling Paint on the Ceiling - Paint Failure Cures (11)

Once your primer has been applied to the surface of your ceiling, allow the surface to dry for the manufacturer’s recommended time period before moving on to the next step in the process. You can lightly sand the surface once more to ensure maximum adhesion but this usually isn’t necessary, especially if you are using a good quality primer.

Paint the Surface of Your Ceiling

Painting the surface of your ceiling is pretty much the same as priming it. First, give your paint can a good shake to ensure the heavier particles at the bottom of the can are reintroduced into the mixture. Once this is done, pour some out into your painters’ tray and get some on your roller and start painting the primed areas of your ceiling.

How to Fix Peeling Paint on the Ceiling - Paint Failure Cures (12)

Once again, you can sand, prime, and paint the entire ceiling but this is entirely up to you. If you are simply spot-repairing the affected area, we recommend applying an even base coat and allowing it to dry completely. When it’s finally dry, give the surface a light sanding with some fine grit sandpaper and apply your final coat, allowing this one to dry completely as well.

If you find that your coat is still transparent and your filled areas are still showing through, feel free to give your final coat a light sanding and apply another coat. Repeat this process as much as you need to in order to get your desired finish, and ensure you allow the final coat to dry completely as well.

Tips to Prevent Paint from Peeling

Bathroom ceiling paint peeling is pretty common, especially in older buildings. If you’re wondering how you can avoid having to scrape, fill, sand, and paint your ceiling in the future there are a few tips and tricks you can follow to ensure that your ceiling does not peel. As with most things, prevention is far better than cure, so let’s have a look at how you can avoid bathroom ceiling paint peeling (and any other ceiling on your surface).

The first and best course of action to take is to ensure that you fix any leaks and/or other exposure to moisture as soon as possible. If you have a water heater leak or have a leak in your roof that could affect your ceiling, sort out the source of your leak and dry the surface as soon as possible before the damage can set in permanently.

How to Fix Peeling Paint on the Ceiling - Paint Failure Cures (13)

Another trick to avoiding bathroom ceiling repair is to use the correct paint and primer. Some paint types such as specialized acrylic paint paired with a sealer can remain watertight for years, and naturally repel water and its subsequent effects. While other paint types can look more appealing and/or be a bit cheaper, it’s always best to use paint intended for bathroom usage.

You can also ensure proper ventilation in moisture-rich environments. Whether this is opening a window or installing an extractor fan, the less moisture that is allowed to rest on the surface of your ceiling the better. This is actually quite a simple and effective means of preventing moisture damage on your ceiling.

How to Fix Peeling Paint on the Ceiling - Paint Failure Cures (14)

(Video) How To Stop Peeling Paint In A Bathroom Forever.

Another great way to avoid bathroom ceiling repair is to be sure of what cleaning products you choose to use. Some cleaning products can quite easily remove paint, so ensuring that you understand the tolerances of your paint and the strength of your cleaning products can save you a lot of time and money down the line.

Now that you know what ceiling peeling is, what causes it, how to avoid it, and how to repair it, it’s time for you to get out there and put your newfound knowledge to the test! Remember to always ensure that your workspace is well prepared and to ensure that you always wear the appropriate personal protective gear when repairing ceiling paint.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Peeling Paint a Problem?

Peeling paint can be a fairly easy problem to solve, but it can also be an indication of larger problems such as water damage or paint that has reached the end of its lifespan. Regardless, fixing peeling paint is quite easy and relatively inexpensive.

Can You Repaint Peeling Paint?

It is entirely possible to repaint peeling paint! All that you need to do is remove the paint that has begun to peel, patch the surface, sand it, prime the area, and apply the new paint. Painting a ceiling is very similar to painting drywall.

What Causes Paint to Peel?

There are many reasons that the paint on your workpiece could begin to peel. Some of the most common reasons are too much exposure to moisture, heat, age, and even using the incorrect primer and paint together.

Elijah Johnson

Elijah Johnson is a 28-year-old painter and decorator who shares his skills and experience on Elijah trained as a painter and varnisher and started his own business in 2017. Since then he has built up a broad knowledge in designing facades, walls, ceilings and renovating all types of surfaces. Learn more about Elijah and under the menu item about us.

(Video) How to fix paint peeling off the bathroom ceiling


How do you fix peeling paint without repainting? ›

Use spackle or drywall patching compound to fill gaps. Spackling paste is excellent for filling small areas. Larger low or shallow spots may be repaired better with joint compound. If the paint has chipped off a wooden surface, use a wood filler instead.

How do you fix badly peeling paint? ›

Using a scraper or 100-grit sandpaper, remove any loose, cracked, or peeling paint from the damaged area. Remove any dust or debris from the area with a water-dampened rag. Using a putty knife, apply a thin layer of patching material to the damaged area. Allow it to dry.

Why does my ceiling keep peeling after painting? ›

Dust, dirt, oil, or grease prevent the paint from being applied properly. Applying paint to dirty surfaces will cause bubbling, which will result in peeling paint on interior walls or ceilings.

Can you paint over peeling paint? ›

When peeling or chipping paint is found in a small area, you may be able to simply brush off the peeling paint and then prime the wall and paint over it. As long as the remaining edges of the peeling area are stable, this solution will work.

What primer to use over peeling paint? ›

Stop peeling paint in its tracks with Rust-Oleum® Zinsser® Peel Stop® Clear Binding Sealer. This low-odor, water-based formula is highly recommended by painting professionals. Simply brush on to seal paint cracks, bind chalky residue and glue down peeling paint.

What paint to use over peeling paint? ›

You can use oil-based or water-based paint over peeling latex paint. The main thing to keep in mind is to make sure that the new paint is compatible with the old paint. For example, you wouldn't want to use a water-based paint over an oil-based paint, as this could cause the new paint to peel.

How do you seal paint from peeling? ›

Once you peeled as much paint as possible, either by sanding or by using a Spackling knife, you can seal the rest. Using a problem surface sealer you can encapsulate the rest of the paint and stop further peeling.

Can you wrap peeling paint? ›

The good news for those with a peeling car is: the short answer is yes, vinyl wrap can be applied to a peeling car. Especially if it's peeling clear coat.

What is peeling paint commonly caused by? ›

Peeling paint is most commonly created when water gets under the paint. Therefore, the most common areas for peeling paint to occur are in the wet areas of a house or building e.g. bathroom, laundry or kitchen. However, there may be other issues with the premises such as excess humidity or a leaky roof.

How much does it cost to fix a peeling ceiling? ›

Repair Method

Caulking has a price range of $100 to $500, while patching drywall costs between $100 and $600. Replastering plaster ceilings, a common repair method in older homes, has a price range of $300 to $1,500.

What kind of paint will not peel off the ceiling? ›

Choose a paint that has a gloss or semi-gloss finish. These paints don't absorb moisture as other paints do. They also won't peel or flake over normal bathroom use. A higher-gloss eggshell might also work, but don't go any lower than that.

Why is my ceiling bubbling and peeling? ›

Water is the key cause of peeling paint on ceilings and bathroom walls, as well as exterior walls. When water saturates through the coats of paint, it makes the layers detach from the surface. This develops into bubbling or peeling paint.

How long before I can paint over peel stop? ›

Drying Time- At normal temperatures Peel Stop will dry in one hour and may be primed or painted in two hours. Note: Peel Stop that has seeped under the edges of remaining paint layers or has filled minute cracks may take longer to dry than material on exposed surfaces.

Should I scrape off peeling paint? ›

If you find any evidence of unevenness or paint failure, your best bet is to remove the peeling paint from your walls by scraping it and removing anything that's loose. If it's smooth, even and flawless, lucky you—you won't have to do any scraping or sanding.

Do you have to scrape peeling paint? ›

As a rule of thumb, you can stop scraping when the surface is no longer flaking. Remember, the paint must bond to the surface, and if that surface is loose and flaky, then the new paint has nothing to cling to. Be sure the surface is clear of loose paint chips and debris to get the best adhesion.

Should primer completely cover old paint? ›

Depending on how strong or bold the previous color is, it may be necessary to apply more than one coat of primer. However, it is not necessary to over apply the primer with so many coats. As long as the primer applies uniformly over the previous color, then one or two coats should be sufficient.

Is there a primer that fills in cracks? ›

Mad Dog Crack Fix(MDPCF) is a water-based, non-toxic, stabilizing interior primer. Mad Dog Crack Fix(MDPCF) penetrates, stabilizes and prepares peeling paint, cracking stucco and plaster, rusty and galvanized metal, wood, and concrete surfaces. MDPCF often doubles or triples the life of most projects.

Do I need to remove old paint before primer? ›

That depends on your project. Some people choose to skip this important step, but they're missing out on some of the benefits paint stripping provides. Both individuals and businesses have situations where they need to paint strip, and removing old paint gives you a fresh start and a more even new coat of paint.

Can I clear coat over peeling paint? ›

Unfortunately, there's no way to restore a clear coat once it has begun peeling. You'll need to have an auto body shop strip and repaint your car. If your clear coat has been neglected badly enough to peel in some areas, you'll still need to have the entire car repainted so that the color and finish match throughout.

Can I paint over old cracked paint? ›

Paint cracking on walls, ceilings, and exterior surfaces happens due to a variety of causes, one of the most common being poor preparation of a surface prior to painting. Painting over cracked paint is a bad idea; it is important to remove any flakes from the surface before repainting.

Can you encapsulate peeling paint? ›

Similarly, suppose the lead paint you are looking to encapsulate is peeling or flaking off. In that case, encapsulation is not a good recommendation. Once the paint starts to deteriorate, the risk of lead dust spreading increases drastically.

Does a paint job last longer than a wrap? ›

A wrap typically lasts about five years, while a good paint job can shine for decades if it's cared for. And although you won't have to wax the wrap or tend to it the same way you would paint, an automated car wash with brushes or a power washer can tear the vinyl.

Do wraps hurt paint? ›

The truth is that a vinyl wrap or car wrap as some call it, is completely safe to be applied to any type of paint – whether it's gloss or a matte finish. Made from ultra-thin vinyl materials, the car wrap is one of the greatest multiple-purpose paint protection products.

Can paint peel because of heat? ›

#2 Dryness or high temperatures

This then causes the paint layers to fail and your paint to peel. More commonly here in the PNW, high temperatures can destroy paint jobs both inside and outside. The heat essentially causes the paint to dry out and separate.

What is the best paint to touch up ceilings? ›

Most painting experts agree that using flat latex paint for ceilings is best. This goes for both light and dark ceilings. Accordingly, too much gloss on a ceiling may become distracting in a room. This becomes even more of an issue when paired with eggshell or satin walls.

Will touch up paint eventually blend in? ›

Unfortunately, in most cases the answer is no. There are a few circumstances where it can be done with good results, but in most instances the touched up spot will not blend in, but rather result in a slightly different color that looks even worse than the original blemish.

Can humidity cause paint to peel? ›

Another common problem is weather-related humidity. If your building is located in a naturally humid region, the excess moisture can cause wall paint to peel and eventually fall off. Humidity may not result in immediate damage, but can take a toll on your paint over time.

What is the difference between flaking and peeling of paint? ›

Flaking is similar to peeling, but with the former the coating tends to be harder and brittle. Peeling is more often associated with softer and pliable coatings and is caused by a loss of adhesion between individual coats or between the first coat and the substrate.

What temperature does paint peel? ›

If you paint your house when the temperature is too hot, the paint dries too rapidly and the heat compromises adhesion. At temperatures over 90 F / 32.2 C, bubbles and blisters form in the paint. Once the paint cures, it could start to peel away from the surface.

What happens if you paint over latex paint? ›

Painting with an oil based paint over latex is OK but doing the reverse will cause you grief for many years to come since any further coats of paints applied will stick to the latex only.

What is the cheapest way to redo a ceiling? ›

If you're looking for an affordable option that's low maintenance and easy to install, consider a glue-on or staple-on ceiling. They're available in basic textures and elaborate designs and attach directly to the existing ceiling or onto furring strips attached to the ceiling.

How do you fix peeling water-damaged ceiling? ›

How Do You Fix a Water-Damaged Ceiling?
  1. Locate and Stop the Water Source. Before any type of repair begins, the source of the water damage must be found. ...
  2. Dry the Ceiling. ...
  3. Remove the Damaged Parts. ...
  4. Repair the Ceiling. ...
  5. Paint the Ceiling.
Feb 27, 2022

Can you Untexture a ceiling? ›

Remove texture with a scraper

Plasterer Nicholas Smacchia suggests 'scraping off the high points' first. Then work with your scraper from the middle of the ceiling and move towards the walls. Be careful not to use too much force as it can lead to cracks and damage.

Does peeling paint affect appraisal? ›

The peeling paint rule always applies to FHA, USDA and VA appraisals, but it can also apply to conventional appraisals. If an appraiser notes that peeling paint is a health or safety concern, even on a conventional appraisal, it will need to be remedied before the loan can close.

Can I paint ceiling without washing it? ›

When you are preparing to paint a room, one of the first steps to take is cleaning the walls and ceilings. Getting rid of dust and grime will help the paint to adhere well.

Should I pop a water bubble on my ceiling? ›

Pop it! Sometimes it can take weeks from estimate to fixing the issue. The longer the water sits behind the paint, the more damage it will do the drywall, and especially with ceilings, which will fall into the house if the drywall gets too wet and heavy. The best preventative measure is pop the bubble.

What causes ceiling to crumble? ›

“Causes of ceiling collapse may include incorrect access and use of the roof space; the use of inappropriate materials; or poor workmanship.”

Do I need to sand between coats of ceiling paint? ›

Sanding between coats may only be required if there are bits on the first coat due to dust etc but is not required for adhesion.

Can you paint over cracked ceiling paint? ›

Paint that is cracking on walls, ceilings, and other exterior surfaces happens for a variety of reasons. One of the most common causes is poor surface preparation prior to painting. If paint is applied over cracked paint or flaking paint, the new paint will start to crack quickly.

Is peeling paint on ceiling -- is it water damage? ›

One of the more common issues with problem ceilings is moisture. There are several reasons why moisture occurs. Moisture from storm damage can release the coating from any ceiling surface causing peeling or blistering paint. Also wet areas in the house such as the kitchen, laundry and bathroom can create moisture.


1. How To Stop A Bathroom Ceiling From Peeling And Bubbling
(Daniel Nugent Painter and Decorator)
2. 🔨How to paint a peeling house🔨
(Daily Virus)
3. How to Fix Paint Bubbles and Peeling Away from Ceiling
4. RESOLVE Ceiling Painting Problems!
(Paint Life TV)
(PJ Danita Trends)
6. Paint cracking and peeling off ceiling and walls
(Painting and Decorating)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Twana Towne Ret

Last Updated: 27/08/2023

Views: 6253

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (64 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Twana Towne Ret

Birthday: 1994-03-19

Address: Apt. 990 97439 Corwin Motorway, Port Eliseoburgh, NM 99144-2618

Phone: +5958753152963

Job: National Specialist

Hobby: Kayaking, Photography, Skydiving, Embroidery, Leather crafting, Orienteering, Cooking

Introduction: My name is Twana Towne Ret, I am a famous, talented, joyous, perfect, powerful, inquisitive, lovely person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.