Paint keep cracking and peeling in bathroom

May 6, 2019
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United Kingdom
I feel like I've written about this a million times, but here goes....

When I moved in my property 8 years ago, I had tha bathroom retiled and the bathroom wall replastered. It's an exterior brick wall in a victorian house.

It then transpired the tiles were fixed directly to the plaster, with no membrane or waterproofing (it's a bath shower), so the tiles were leaking water.

I've since had the wall tiled again, with a water proof membrane (sheet, not painted), and that problem is now fixed.

However, over the past few years, I've had a persistent problem with the wall next to tthe shower, not holding paint, and bubbling/cracking shortly after it's painted. It just peels off with a scraper.

Nothing seem to adhere to it. I've had a tile removed and the tiling checked to to make sure its not letting water through, and it's been checked for damp. I've redone and redone and redone the paint work over and over again, filled it, primed it, and painted it. I was using Matt emulsion, but even with bathroom paint, the same thing happens.

Someone said to me it could be the salt in the plaster.

There are no pipes in the wall, the shower comes from the bath taps which come up from the floor, I've had it damp checked, I've had the tiles installed with a membrane and rechecked. It's bone dry underneath the bath. I've left it days and days before repainting again. Each time the paint cracks and buddles, and just chips off with a scraper.

The silicon is sound both sides of the screen. This is also the 3rd different screen I’ve had, and the problem has remained the same.

I’ve tried a few different things when repairing... I’ve filled it first (so it looks smooth, as there’s several layers of paint), then primed with with Zinsser stain block primer, then painted it.

I’ve also tried putting the Zinsser onto the wall first, then filled it, then painted it. Leaving over a day in between each stage. The cracking starts around the edges of filled area/where there’s no paint.

If you look at the image of the wall with the plaster showing, where I’ve scraped the paint off, once I’ve repaired it one of the above methods, the cracking follows that outline each time.

So, it’s not the tiles leaking, it’s not the shower screen, there’s no pipes in the wall. The outside is sound....

I'm at a lost, but need a solution. The only thing I haven't checked are waster pipes from the flat upstairs, that go through that wall at the top (pictured)

Any ideas?




Nov 13, 2018
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Warrenton, North Carolina USA
I am going to make a guess and you can go from there. Back when I painted my own cars I had one recurring nemesis. Silicone. If there was ANY silicon on the surface I had adhesion problems. At that time there were many waxes containing silicone. Today silicone caulk is super popular. Is there any chance that someone tried to seal the shower door with caulk and might have cleaned up and spread it over the surface? As I say, this is just a guess.

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