Paint Not Adhering to Wall

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


I am working this week in an expensive new home in the Museum District of Houston. The whole house was built with Green Board, which is supposed to be more resistant to water and moisture than the traditional grey drywall. It was then painted with one, or maybe two, coats of builder’s flat – which is an industry code word for pretty cheap paint, not to mention that no primer was used.

The homeowner used blue painter’s tape to post wallpaper samples. Well, when the samples and tape were removed, look at how the paint came right away with it! The problem for me is that I fear the surface may be unstable, and once the wallpaper is up, as the paper dries, it shrinks and puts tension (“torque”) on the surface below, and if the surface is unstable, it could cause the paint to lift away from the walls at the point of torque, which means all along the seams.

To try to prevent this by stabilizing the surface, instead of my usual wallpaper primer, I am priming the walls with two coats of Gardz, made by Zinsser. Gardz is cool stuff. It is thin and watery and takes some getting used to while applying it, because it wants to run and drip and slop all over the place. But that thinness is what is so good about it – it is designed to soak into porous surfaces, and then it dries quite hard and actually binds things together, and also is pretty impenetrable to water.

What I am hoping is that it will soak through the flat paint and bind it to the Green Board below, while at the same time creating a hard, intact surface for the wallpaper to adhere to. Because water can’t pass through it, I shouldn’t have to worry about moisture from the paste causing any swelling or reactivating of the paint or Green Board. Another benefit of Gardz is that it does all this while still being water-based, so it’s easy to clean up once you’re finished.

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