I recently moved into a home built in 1910. My fiance and I are trying to paint find out how to repaint the nursery. The paint that was on the walls when we moved in seems to just peel off and bubble. I believe the walls are plaster. Is there anything we can do to ready the walls to be repainted or will it always be this way?
Re: 1910 Home
Given the age of your home, my guess is that one or perhaps two things are at work causing your loosening paint.
Latex paints were not available in l910 or for years after. That means that the first coat of paint was oil based. The problem is, however, if in the years since, people have been putting latex (water-based paints) over the oil, they didn't get a good bond.
Water based paints just don't stick very well to oil, as a rule.
Multiple layers of latex or acrylic are all just going to peel, eventually.
The other possibility is that you may have calcimine applied as the first decorative coat over the 1910 plaster. Old houses often had calcimine (a plaster wash type stuff) put over new plaster, while waiting for the plaster to cure. If later, any paint was put over the calcimine, it often bonded poorly.
Calcimine is a real bugger to deal with. I have had to tackle the stuff when doing plaster repair in old houses. Not fun.
I have a web page devoted to calcimine over plaster. If you check it out, it will tell you how to determine if you do have calcimine and how to work with it.
Re: 1910 Home
Dealing with calcimine paint is simple but messy to deal with. Until you get rid of it the peeling of your paint will always come back. Thankfully its easy to remove, you accelerate the symptom by using a wallpaper steamer to re-hydrate the paint and it just peels off. Then wash the ceiling with vinegar and water and rinse well. Once the plaster is cleaned use a slow curing oil based primer and you're good to go.