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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

for the latex paint googlers

I was looking at my site referrals, and I wanted to answer a question that a lot of searchers seem to be finding my blog by asking. After all, if Google's going to direct you here, I might as well answer your question, right?

Right. The reason the latex paint on your bathroom wall is peeling is because you have used a paint with the wrong sheen. Latex paint comes in several sheens or finishes -- think of them as 'levels of shininess' -- which you can check out in your paint swatch booklet or your hardware store. Or both. Whatever makes you happy. Basically, the shinier the paint, the better suited to bathrooms -- and kitchens, incidentally -- it is. The names of the basic levels differ from company to company, but your paint sales associate should be able to tell at a glance which one you've got and which one you want. My favorite company, Behr, makes interior latex paint in six different sheens: flat, flat enamel, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss. Most other companies have similar products.

In any bathroom, you need either satin or semi-gloss. Which one you pick depends both on your personal preference and the level of use you expect the bathroom to get. In bathrooms with heavy use -- four kids, one bathroom sorts of use -- choose semi-gloss. In bathrooms which don't see as much use -- guest baths, for instance -- it's fine to go with the less-shiny satin finish.

Any finish above flat (don't ever use flat -- it sucks) has some kind of sealant built into it, but the satin and semi-gloss finishes have a great deal more. In addition to the sealant, they're less absorbent; the water will just bead up on the shininess rather than absorbing. This is why they're best for damp places like bathrooms (if we're talking half-baths and powder rooms, by the way, it really doesn't matter; this discussion is only true for bathrooms with showers and bathtubs... which I really hope you have somewhere in your house).

Before you paint, though, you should always prime. This is particularly true in places like bathrooms and kitchens; a primer protects the walls underneath your paint at a level that your paint can't. It also prevents any alarming things which might be hidden in the surface of your walls -- cigarette smoke stains, water damage remnants, bloodstains -- from showing through to the surface of the nice new paint color you've just picked. There's a good variety of amazingly effective primers on the market today. For a bathroom, make sure to choose one that's got some sort of mold and mildew resistance built in. Choose a water-based primer; that will interact most effectively with the water-based paint you're putting up next, and it has the added bonus of not being toxic. Hooray!

If you do have peeling paint in your bathroom, the primer is even more important. Clearly, you've got enough humidity going on in your bathroom to affect paint; yes, the higher-sheen paint will take care of it, but you're going to need to seal the damage that's already been done. Scrape as much of the peeling paint as you can and prime, then go ahead with the satin or semi-gloss finish. It'll fix it, I promise.


Anonymous said...

Thanks.. That helps a bunch.

Let me add. I was researching and doing faux finishes. You can just add joint compound to latex paint to create an awesome venetian plaster to trowel on the walls. aka a Bellagio finish.

I did this and it was awesome. I did not do a top color to accent, as shown on you tube Bellagio.

A "top color". might be a little brick red in a "tan" wall base.
If you do, you may need to glaze it in (like sponge painting) ..or work fast to blend.

If you want to do any sponge painting or rag rolling...they do NOT recommend the sponge roller. When sponge painting if you need to get in corners cut up a tiny chunk of sea sponge. AND to do this faux finish or color wash they recommend a glaze which dries more slowly..like one hour..which is used four parts glaze to one part latex paint. Although you can just use water it is not recommended. You can use propylene glycol (PPG)..if you happen to have some but experts say once you tried glaze you will love it.

in reading free patients.. in addition to the PPG which is sometimes sold as alternative antifreeze...they experiment with Mule team Borax.

NOTE I have never done the sponge painting with PPG nor the Mule team Borax. This is just included as an FYI. The Borax make the sponge paint easier to remove. But again I've never done this..I HIGHLY recommend you do a practice board...for sponge technique first.
This way you get your rhythm. And can hold up and see if you like it.

A second liquid is added to the first liquid. The second liquid preferably includes water and a small amount of the muriate of potash or boric acid product sold under the trademarks 20 MULE TEAM® or U.S. BORAX®. This second liquid is referred to as an activator.

The activator is, preferably, composed of a mixture of one gallon of water and approximately 0.5 to approximately 10 ounces by volume of Sodium tetra borate decahydrate dry powder to each gallon of water.

When the activator is added to the "sponze paint mixture of glaze or PPG and paint", there is a separating incompatibility reaction making the material workable but not easy to stick to a painted substrate when brushed or toweled thereon. As the mixture is allowed to dry, however, it bonds to the painted substrate and becomes a permanent decorative finish to the substrate on which it is placed. It is important to note that if the specific application is not desired, then the applied material can be easily removed—for at least fifteen minutes to 1 hour after application—merely by using a dry absorbent cloth (i.e., paper towel) or can be easily moved into decorative patterns without mess or smudges wherever the applying artisan desires.

Anonymous said...

The Borax, may change the complexity of sponge paint..to puffy and grainy. Here are the patent notes...

"it would be desirable to provide a faux finish that, when applied, provides a puffed and grainy structure that is very easy to cleanly and sharply remove from the substrate on which it is applied. After applying the faux finish to a surface it would be desirable for the faux finish to be cleanly removed by simply touching the applied faux finish. It would further be desirable for the applied mixture to remain workable in this cleanly removable fashion for up to one hour. When fully dry, it would be desirable if the faux finish becomes well bonded to the underlying base coat, metal, or other bondable substrate..


Anonymous said...

The Borax is used for faux marbling and stone-like finishes.

"Another method of producing a decorative finish is to color tint one or two or more separate volumes of the base material. Then, larger amounts of activator are added. The resulting mixture is a very grainy, thick, and chunky mixture that is unable to hold together and that will separate naturally when applied by brush or trowel to a substrate. The resulting application will be broken color patterns with only light clean touch-up removal needed, if desired.

The new system may be applied in more than one layer. When one layer of the base material and activator mixture is applied and randomly removed and allowed to dry, a new layer of the same or a different color of the mixture can be applied over and, again, randomly removed, resulting in a more dimensional finish.

Faux marbling is much easier to accomplish using the method according to the invention. The ability to color tint and to cleanly and sharply remove the material where desired makes marbling easy to achieve. First, the artisan rough paints in the basic marble patterns. Then, the artisan cleanly removes the material into a more refined marble creation. Any mistakes in the removal of the material can be repaired by simply painting in more of the mixture and, again, cleanly removing the mixture where needed, without any risk of smearing or messing up the marble patterns.

Another advantage of the present invention can be seen clearly when producing stone-like finishes over a textured substrate. The mixture of the invention is easily and cleanly removed exposing the textured substrate below. Normal paints and glazes are entirely unable to be removed cleanly with sharp edge material patterns over any substrates and, especially, when applied over a textured substrate."

Anonymous said...

I did not mean to Hijack your blog...I have been doing painting and research. I wanted to paint the bath and needed to know if Satin was ok or I needed semi-gloss (or in my case I just buy white semi and blend it for a lighter color.

It is amazing how much surface imperfection shows if you use a satin versus an eggshell...and "color" versus a cream or beige.

In the bath I've been adding some "microban" to the paint for mildew resistance.

I was also amazed at how much water drippage under the towels we do. I painted a (former cream) wall green and the drip lines show up and remain...

I'm going to have to repaint the wall...or maybe add a white picket fence stencil and the the dip lines be "grass" ha ha..

I think I read where doing anything to semi-gloss may destroy its non-permeable finish.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line..thanks for letting me know the difference between satin or semi latex for the bath. Great blog!!!