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Paint failure inspection, diagnosis, and remedy case study: this document presents field and lab annotated photographs of severe paint failure on a wood sided pre-1900 building in New York.
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After a painter skim-coated old paint on the wood siding using 40 gallons of Sherwin Williams C-70 crack and hole filler (not a recommended use of this product), a rapid and extensive failure of the new painted surfaces was evident in less than 90 days.
[Click to enlarge any image]
Extensive stripping and surface preparation will be required to restore the building. The skim-coat product, a substance intended for small crack and hole filling, was used in violation of the manufacturer's instructions.
The accompanying photographs taken in our forensic lab provide examples of paint contaminants or other conditions associated with paint failures that can be of assistance to analysts investigating paints on buildings, artifacts, and works of art.
Pre-1900 wood sided building in New York's Hudson Valley, site photo providing context for the close-up photographs of exterior paint problems shown below.
Site 025 loose, alligatored paint low on walls, an insecure surface that needed to be stripped prior to painting.
Site 031 surface of wood clapboard below loose falling-off alligatored paint - this condition was not visible in most areas due to the skim-coating.>
Site 032 Demonstrating that skim coat was applied over loose failing and alligatored paint on the building exterior wall
Site 034 wall surface below failed paint. The light colored wood in lower photo has been exposed to weather following paint failure.
Site 035 shows improper use of skim coat material at clapboard butt joint -specifically advised-against by the coating manufacturer.
Site 036 shows loose falling off skim coat and paint at clapboard butt joint
Site 039 preparing an adhesion test in the painted surface near a failed butt joint
Site 043 paint adhesion test in process
Site 044 paint adhesion test in process
Site 048 paint adhesion test showing removal of new paint from old surface, varying by closeness of the razor cuts
Site 050 example of vertical crack in skim coated material; also note the pattern of paint finish indicating that a paint roller was used to apply paint.
Site 052 preparing an investigative razor cut to the right of a pre-existing vertical crack in skim coated painted building
Site 054 exploring vertical crack in skim coated painted building
Site 059 depth of skim coat plus old and new paint exceeds 2mm
Site 064 evidence of painting over dirt on siding low on building walls
Site 067 failure of edge of skim coat over old paint
Site 069 measuring depth of failed skim coat and paint on building wall
Site 070 skim coat and new paint falling off reveal adhered older paint layers, confirming that paint failure was not due to moisture push from building interior conditions
Site 071 back surface of failed paint chip can be examined for evidence of failure cause
Site 078 example of failure in skim coat painted surface
Site 079 example of failure of skim coated over clapboard butt joint
Site 081 example of horizontal cracking in coating applied over clapboards before painting
Site 083 probing multiple cracks in painted surface
Site 084 new paint adhesion failure over skim coat
Site 091 example of thick skim coat over loose old paint
Site 092 example of thick skim coat over loose old paint - detail
Site 095 measuring long horizontal crack failure in painted building exterior
Site 096 probing horizontal crack in painted skim coat on building exterior - to 10mm of loose paint
Site 097 crumbling skim coated crack filler on building exterior leads to paint failure; note dirt and debris, possibly mold growth between layers of material
Site 100 probing horizontal and vertical paint crack failure
Site 101 paint failure example on building exterior wall
Site 106 paint failure example - paint falling off of building over skim coat
Site 109 one of the paint products used - the skim coat of crack filler (Sherwin Williams C-70 not applied according to manufacturer's instructions) was the root cause of paint failure on this building, not the choice of primer nor top coat of paint.
Site 123 skim coat and paint failing over building trim
Site 124 skim coat and paint failing over building trim
Site 128 skim coat and paint failing over building trim
Site 130 probing thick skim coat failure - note older paint remaining adhered to surface - area was "touched up" after peeling paint began
Site 146 sidelight shows skim coating over irregular alligatored and cracked loose paint on clapboards - failing within 90 days of application
Site 147 sidelight shows skim coating over irregular alligatored and cracked loose paint on clapboards - failing within 90 days of application
Site 149 crumbling skim coating painted-over is failing and releasing paint from surface
Site 150 crumbling skim coating painted-over is failing and releasing paint from surface
Site 154 typical example of multiple shrinkage cracks in skim coat applied to building exterior as a shortcut where surface preparation was omitted
Site 156 skim coat and paint failure below clapboard edge
Site 157 paint failure showing older adhered paint layer below confirms that interior building moisture was not a prime cause of lost paint on this surface
Site 161 test cut to bare wood
Site 172 probing failing paint on building exterior walls
Site 177 probing failing paint on building exterior walls
Site 182 probing failing paint on building exterior walls - note mold growth on back of paint chip
Site 185 documenting thickness of skim layer
Site 189 documenting depth of skim layer on trim
Site 192 documenting condition of failing paint coating on building exterior trim
Site 195 documenting condition of failing paint coating on building exterior trim
Site 201 documenting condition of failing paint coating on building exterior trim
Site 203 documenting condition of failing paint coating on building exterior trim
Site 205 documenting condition of failing paint coating on building exterior trim
Site 208 typical horizontal crack failures in exterior paint coating on wood clapboards - paint applied over C-70 skim coat
Site 211 typical paint failures in exterior paint coating on wood clapboards - paint applied over C-70 skim coat
Site 212 mold on back of paint chip can indicate inadequate surface cleaning prior to painting but in this case it is primarily due to moisture penetration of the paint layers
Site 219 cracking exterior paint over skim coat
Site 220 cracking exterior paint on wood wall
Site 222 probing loose exterior paint
Site 242 probing loose exterior paint
Site 243 probing loose exterior paint
Site 245 probing loose exterior paint
Site 246 probing loose exterior paint
Site 281 test boards preserved from building exterior demonstrate improper surface preparation and skim coat basis of extensive paint failure
Site 282 test boards preserved from building exterior demonstrate improper surface preparation and skim coat basis of extensive paint failure
Site 288 test boards preserved from building exterior demonstrate improper surface preparation and skim coat basis of extensive paint failure
Site 289 test boards preserved from building exterior demonstrate improper surface preparation and skim coat basis of extensive paint failure
Readers should also see Paint Failure Case Photographs-SITE and then Paint Failure Case Photographs-LAB, and see PAINT & STAIN GUIDE, EXTERIOR for a guide to the selection and proper application of paints and stains on exterior wood surfaces.
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