Asked on May 27, 2015

Ack! Peeling paint over laminate! What to do?!?

Kim Conner
by Kim Conner
I painted a laminate chest this weekend. I used Zinsser BIN primer first, let it dry overnight, then painted it the next day. The brush pulled the paint up (I couldn't paint over a place where I'd just laid paint- the primer was fine), but eventually I realized that I had to work quickly and let it dry completely before adding another coat.
I left it covered with a tarp, planning to finish it today. Last night we had a HORRIBLE thunderstorm- and I knew I'd have problems. The paint is now peeling in rubbery sheets. So I have two questions- 1) Did it just not dry good? It had time about 48 hours dry time before the storm. Did I not let the primer dry long enough? It had about 24 hours curing time before the paint started going on. And 2) How do I fix this? Let it dry then sand the spots that have peeled? Try to peel it all back off and start over? The primer seems to be sticking to the laminate of the furniture just fine- it's the paint that's the issue.
Thanks for all your help!
Kim in NC
PS- I KNOW the piece should not have been sitting out, but this storm came out of the blue. Ack.
  17 answers
  • Christina McMullen Christina McMullen on May 27, 2015
    I use Kilz Adhesion Primer (Home Depot). it sticks to the laminate and then the paint will stick just fine. Did all 35 of my kitchen cabinets with it and it worked GREAT. Also, make sure you clean the piece with TSP before priming. It will remove ALL the deeply embedded grease and grime. Sorry, but it looks like you will have to start over :(
  • Shari Shari on May 27, 2015
    I have successfully painted over several pieces of laminate furniture so it can be done. Was the primer oil or water based? What kind of paint are you using?
  • Linda Mendez Linda Mendez on May 27, 2015
    I have had this happen under 2 possible conditions 1) the paint wasn't completely dry between coats 2) and humidity. Now I would sand and start all over.
  • Kim Conner Kim Conner on May 27, 2015
    The Zinnser primer is shellac-based and is for laminate, as well as other surfaces that paint would normally not stick to. The coat of primer seems to be fine; it's just the paint that's peeling off. The paint is a latex paint (satin or eggshell, I think). Horrible humidity here right now- it's been more than 90 percent humidity since yesterday (the day after I painted). I'll try the sanding and repainting. Do I have to re-primer it too? The top of the dresser is ruined though. Might have to cut it off completely. *sigh*
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on May 28, 2015
    Think your problem is not related to humidity. Think you have to use an oil based top coat. I stained some woodwork with an oil based stain, and mistakenly used a water based poly. Bad results.
  • Nikki Nikki on May 28, 2015
    I agree I think that could be the problem one was oil based and the other water based. I don't know a lot about that but have read several horror stories of mixing them. I painted a laminate desk with zinnser primer that was water based and used water based latex paint and it was fine, I now have found using liquid sander deglosser to be the biggest lifesaver when painting laminate or any shiny surface, you rub it on well and once its dry which is fast 10 minutes tops. Your ready to paint. That or I use chalk paint which sticks to any surface... No sanding or priming needed on any surfaces.
  • Nikki Nikki on May 28, 2015
    I wanted to also say I would make sure you peel and or sand off the peeling paint at least enough to have it smooth again, if some of the paint stays I would give that a light sanding too or use the deglosser I mentioned so your fresh coat of paint sticks. If your primer is still intact and has a good coat left on your furniture you definitely don't need to re prime it. just make sure if its water based primer you used use water based paint or vise versa if it is oil based. It's all about trial and error I have learned the most that way hahaaa! and with great advice from my fellow Hometalk'ers =)
  • 1673412 1673412 on May 28, 2015
    What did the manufacturer's directions say for how long to let the primer cure? Most would be a minimum of 24 hours, so if you only waited overnight it may not have been long enough. Also most paints recommend a 24 hour dry time in between coats, so if you applied the second coat before that it could have easily caused it to peel up because it wouldn't have adhered to the primer coat properly.
  • Kim Conner Kim Conner on May 28, 2015
    Thanks for all the advice! The Zinsser BIN primer says it's shellac-based. Not sure where that fits in as far as water or oil based. Will have to investigate that. I've moved the piece to the garage and it seems to be getting better the more it dries. I'll probably not have time to work on it until next weekend, so at least there's plenty of time to think about fixing it.
  • Louis Lieberman Louis Lieberman on May 28, 2015
    #1 u don't pany laminate-u pee; it off with an steam iron or heat gun then glue some thin veneer-pine or spruce is fine then go to work with the paint.laminate has an oil base which deters paint
  • Doreen Doreen on May 28, 2015
    Sand all areas first. I just had this happen to a piece I worked on and got it looking fabulous. was outside and got damp and pealed. I have to start all over again. I should have sanded so the paint could adhere better. No one to blame but myself. It looked so cute. Now...very bad! ;-)
  • Joanna Carrisal Joanna Carrisal on May 28, 2015
    I used bonding primer on some laminate doors before painting and the paint stuck great.
  • Shari Shari on May 28, 2015
    I don't think the excessive humidity helped matters at all but, by your description, you started having problems before the thunderstorm started so I tend to agree with the others that said there is probably an incompatibility between the primer and paint. I prefer the Zinsser brand of primer but I don't recall ever using one with shellac, and all my laminate pieces have been painted with latex interior paint so that, in itself, is not the problem. Unless you had an oil-based primer, the overnight drying time should have been sufficient. To repair, I would suggest allowing additional drying time--maybe even a week or more if the humidity level is still high where you live. I would also suggest bringing it indoors where it doesn't have to be covered up. It needs to have air circulating around it to dry well. In extreme cases, latex paint can take up to 30 days to fully cure. Sometimes, if you try to sand before it has cured, you might experience the paint "rolling" into little balls rather than producing the fine dust you typically get from sanding. If the paint rolls, stop and let it dry longer. Once good and dry, do a very light sanding over the whole piece. Personally, I would prime the whole piece again (one or two very light coats) but make sure you have a water-based bonding primer. Then follow up with a couple very light coats of your latex paint and you should be good.
  • Duv310660 Duv310660 on May 28, 2015
    I usually sand laminate to give it tooth, then follow up with good water based products, which are very effective formulations nowadays. I prime lightly but 2 coats. I'm busy, so pieces always dry thoroughly inside away from temp/humidity fluctuations, every coat. Top with wipe on poly, work in and wipe off, scuff sand in between all 2-3 coats. Paint is so tough it adds strength to the laminate. Your problem is likely demonstrated b/w the coat that peeled and the coat that is still sticking.
  • Suzanne Lawson Suzanne Lawson on May 28, 2015
    The BIN primer is fine; the paint is the problem. Although water based paints dry to the touch quickly, they need time to cure-- usually several weeks. The curing time varies by manufacturer and product. You need to call the manufacturer or check the back of the can to see what the curing time is. Sometimes they give you a "window of opportunity" for the second coat. If you go over the recommended time for applying a second coat, you have to wait for the next window. Putting a tarp over the piece may have interfered with the curing process. If the paint hasn't properly cured, it is easily marred
  • John John on May 28, 2015
    i do some of this for a living- when painting any laminate surface the first step is to clean it. next scuff it with 180-220 grit sandpaper. clean it with a microfiber or a tack clothe to get it where no dust remains. make sure the primer is a BONDING primer, i prefer glidden gripper or a oil base primer. first coat needs to be light and dry at least 4 times longer than recomended. i hope this helps.
  • Monique Stokes Monique Stokes on Jan 03, 2018

    Good Morning I sanded some painted and laminated cabinets for my hair salon.Then proceeded to paint them with a Marquee Behr paint in black.The paint started peeling.What can I do to fix the problem?Do I have to sand all of paint off and start all over?Can I sand the cabinets lightly and apply BIN PRIMER and then apply the paint over it?Please help me Thanks