Mill Glaze

Peeling paint can be one of the more unsightly things a homeowner has to contend with.

Not only is it unsightly at first glance, but once discovered, the peeling paint has the tendency to draw the homeowner’s eyes to it like a magnet every time they pass by the portion of the home that the peeling paint may be located on.

Compounding this challenge is if the correct solution to neutralize the peeling paint is not identified at the time the homeowner decides to fix the peeling paint.

The mother of all peeling paint challenges stems from a phenomenon known as mill glaze.

Peeling paint resulting from mill glaze, although a problem with a good-sized presence amongst housing stock in certain areas of the country (New England being one such example), is a problem that VERY few know how to truly recognize and properly correct.

Mill glaze is a scenario that occurred in wood siding stock coming out of the mills in the mid-1980s through the early 2000s – primarily the most affected being bare red cedar clapboard, vertical siding, & white cedar shingles – where a thin layer of “invisible” wax became embedded in the fibers of these wood materials as they were being milled into the shape (clapboard/vertical siding/shingle) they would be going to the market with.

Mill glaze is undetectable to the naked eye.

Once a paint/stain system is placed on top of it though, it is typically only a matter of time before challenges can occur.

It is not unusual for the mill glaze issue to go undiscovered for years and years.

The mill glaze may not show its face until something – a water pocket, air bubble, etc. somehow begins to trigger the peeling process – once this occurs, usually all heck breaks loose.

As time goes by and the more paint coatings are put on the home, the greater the likelihood that the peeling challenges associated with mill glaze will show their face.

Once these mill glaze-influenced peeling issues arise, the tail chase typically begins to figure out what exactly is going on.

In my experience, folks often try to blame whoever painted the home last prior to this odd peeling challenge showing its face.

“They didn’t prep/prime it correctly!”, is what I often hear.

If a rep from a paint company comes out, as surprisingly as it may seem, the vast majority of the time, they do not know how to recognize the issue either and their default reasoning tends to be either a “moisture” issue or the “prep” logic that the homeowners often steadfastly convey.

The reality of the situation of course is that neither moisture nor any other type of traditional prep-related catalyst are the true causes of mill-glaze oriented peeling issues – which can develop into something quite severe.

Essentially when a mill glaze peeling issue arises, it does so in a fashion that may only show its face on certain sides of the home, although it obviously exists on the entire exterior wherever the like siding was used.

Basically, the coatings put on top of mill-glazed clapboards, vertical siding, and shingles “float” on top of the siding and are never allowed to truly penetrate into the wood.

The paint/stain coatings, where they are peeling, peel back to bare wood, often times in a “sheet”-like appearance, where if one was to pick at a piece of the peeling coating, they can often keep pulling and pulling and the coating would keep peeling and peeling.

Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for this.

The most drastic fix is to re-side the home entirely with new siding (whether that be with non-mill-glazed wood siding, cement board siding, or vinyl siding, etc.).

The only other option is a VERY intense prep treatment that very few paint companies know how to truly execute (it is one that we actually specialize in).

If nothing is done though, one thing is for certain, the peeling challenge will continue to get worse over time and the “finger-pointing” will often become more passionate and confusing, until someone who truly knows what to look for regarding this problem and is able to properly diagnose it comes along and is able to offer the proper guidance.

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