Streaks in bathroom paint

dkf228January 2, 2011

Hi all. A couple of years ago I painted my bathroom with BM bathroom paint after priming with Zinsser 1-2-3. Each time someone took a shower you could see streaks in the paint. I'm painting the room over now. So far I've primed with the Zinsser but what concerns me is that I've had to put the primer on a little thicker than I usually do to get rid of the streaks. Does this mean that the streaks will reappear after it is painted? How long should I let the paint cure before using the shower? I'm using SW interior Duration this time. Thanks.

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I get those nasty streaks in my bathroom too. I painted with Aura and let it sit a month before using the shower again. Hate them. I believe it might happen because I do not have a fan in that bathroom since there is a window.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 10:00PM
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Well, there's no window in this bathroom either but I do run a fan and sometimes leave the door cracked open a bit. The paint in the MBR bathroom has the same problem and it is a much more open space. I primed and used a satin paint in the MBR bath. I think I used Valspar that time, so I guess it's not the paint brand that's the problem. The only common denominator is me. LOL.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 6:06AM
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I left the door open a crack too and I then had those streaks on the master bedroom wall. I guess there's no way around it.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 8:38PM
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Wow, this isn't encouraging. I was planning on painting our master bathroom soon and was going to use Zinsser's 123 with BM's bathroom paint thinking it would be the best but it doesn't sound like it's worth the extra money for the BM paint now.

Sounds like the streaks don't wipe off?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 8:59AM
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Say there OP...

As Shee says, do your streaks wipe off!?!?

Unless you used Duration FLAT, temporary streaks are nothing to be even remotely concerned about. Higher-end paints like that aren't affected by temporary water contact.

Let ANY paint dry for ~ 24 hrs. b4 a load of steam hits the surface. FULL cure of the total paint-job can take a month however.

If streaks wipe off...NO concerns whatsoever.


    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 10:27AM
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Lori A. Sawaya

"Water-whitening" can sometimes happen with latex-based coatings. Enough moisture makes its way into the coating film to swell the polymer particles, which normally are not 100% fused even though the pant has dried, resulting in micro-gaps which scatter light, thus causing the whiteness. It of course is not noticeable with white paints, but it can be with clear latex films, and with medium and dark colors. Tinted paints are generally made with more surfactants (soaps) than are white paints, which increases the tendency, because the surfactants increase water absorbancy by the dried paint. When the streaks dry out, the light scattering drops off, and may disappear altogether. As the shower is used over time, and condensation extracts the surfactants from the paint, whitening tendency will decrease." -John Stauffer, Technical Director, Rohm and Hass Paint Quality Institute

Water Whitening is a form of leaching but it's not the same thing as typical surfacant leaching that can look brownish, or like syrup. This leaching is completely clear and dries out and disappears within hours of it occurring.

I have noticed cheaper paints can let go of color along with moisture and surfacants. The better grades/brands recover from the water whitening quicker and they have a better chance of releasing the surfacants to the point of the problem completely going away with time.

It can look like the walls are bleeding in white streaks and people's first inclination is to wipe the walls. I kinda think the best thing to do is leave it alone. Make sure the bathroom is well ventilated, let it dry out naturally each time and just wait it out til one day it just quits happening.

Couple things I believe people don't understand about water whitening is it CAN HAPPEN WITH ANY PAINT or combination of primer and paint. Bathroom paint or 'regular' paint - it still happens. Oil primer under - it still happens, etc., etc. etc.

As I understand it - and have seen happen - if your top coat is prone to "normal" water whitening, it's going to happen regardless. Just have to wait for the surfacants to work out of the film.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 10:31AM
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I hate to admit it but I didn't try to wash off the streaks. I just assumed that it was condensation due to either poor paint or faulty application. I usually use flat paint, but I hadn't painted bathrooms until I did these two. The builder had used flat paint in the bathrooms previously and they didn't have the streaking problem then. I think he had someone spray it on - it was applied awfully thin and you could see parts of the drywall in some of the other rooms in the house.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 5:13PM
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I agree this is a condition of using cheaper paints, but I have done some experimenting in my own bathroom with high end paints over the years and have found that C2 fails, Benjamin Moore fails and Muralo fails...all high end paints. The only paint that has worked for me is Grahams Satin. Go figure.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 5:35PM
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Oh we just recently purchased a home,and this is happening in our spare bathroom. We've completely gone over every inch of the wall with baking soda and vinegar,and a week later,the streaks are back. They do wipe off,but these are brownish streaks look like nicotine on the walls,which are a darker shade of green,like moss green. Is there NO way to stop this? We do have a vent fan in there,just no window. I was thinking to clean it all down,let iti dry completely,paint it with Kilz,let that dry,then repaint the room. Does anyone know if this would help any? And would a lighter flat color be better?

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 11:13PM
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Lori A. Sawaya

They do wipe off,but these are brownish streaks look like nicotine on the walls,which are a darker shade of green,like moss green.

That's not water-whitening. Sounds like typical leaching, but I've only seen that one time and it was exterior not interior, so, I don't know. Hopefully others will chime in with info.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 1:07AM
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Yea if it's brown that mean surfactant leaching. Is it possible that the bathroom was painted recently and isn't completely cured? The leaching should eventually stop and will certainly help if the paint is totally dry.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 7:31AM
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Brushworks Spectacular Finishes

I don't recommend this but I painted my bathrooms with Duration Exterior and no surfactant leaching for over a year.

I built a new house in Powell last year and this is what I did.

Primed new wallboard with GARDZ. Applied two coats of Duration Exterior in Thunder Gray.

Try GARDZ on your next bathroom project, followed by two full coats of Acrylic Enamel paint.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 1:36PM
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