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Dealing with Hidden Mold on a House Painting Project

Peeling Paint on Gables

Peeling Paint on Gables

On this exterior painting project, a quick look at the front gables does not reveal anything out of the ordinary: just peeling paint; another day in the life of a house painter, right? Not so fast. Look closer. Behind the paint that already peeled, there is the original coating. What is going on here? Is there an adhesion problem?

The top coating seems to be delaminating from the original coating. Why? How extensive is this problem? Is there an adhesion problem here? Those are questions Chicago’s Painting in Partnership needed to answer in order to give its client the best possible paint job.

In order to ascertain the answers to these questions, we did some testing. We applied strips of masking tape over what looked like a perfectly sound, painted surfaces and then yanked them off. Oh my! All the paint comes off! Behind the top layer of the paint was a mildew infestation. This is why the top layer of the paint was failing!

Sound-Looking Painted Surface

Sound-Looking Painted Surface

Mildew-Infested Original Coating

Mildew Infestation Underneath the Last Coating

How could this have happened in the first place? The house being fifteen years old, we speculate that the original trim was factory stained and then installed on the house. The house probably sat for months with that factory finish, while the house was being finished on the inside. Before tuning it over to its buyer, we think the house was given a quick coat of paint to “dress things up”, without the proper cleaning of the surfaces and killing the mildew spores. The new coating created darkness and allowed mildew to multiply between the two coatings and eventually cause the paint failure.

To properly execute this exterior house painting project, we had to remove the old paint wherever our tests revealed the mold problem. We used scrapers to remove the failed coating. After the removal process, we killed the mildew and power-washed the surfaces. We then had another round of scraping to remove any paint loosened by the power washing. Finally, we primed all bare wood with an oil primer.

This project exemplifies the care Painting in Partnership invests in every project to ensure the long-term satisfaction of our clients with all the house painting work we do.