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November 8, 2018

What Is Surfactant Leaching: Causes & Fixes

What causes stains on my bathroom wall?

Likelier than not, the stains and discoloration on your bathroom wall [...]

November 8, 2018

Why Tom Curren Companies Won’t Power Wash Your Home

     Power washing introduces one of the biggest pain points for customers to consider when trying to make [...]

November 7, 2018

Keeping Kitchens on Trend

     Great interior designers not only give you the room you’ve been dreaming of, but also inspire you [...]

November 7, 2018

Carpentry Inspections: An Investment Instead of an Estimate

     At Tom Curren Companies, we believe customers benefit from the knowledge that carpentry inspections provide through additional [...]

November 7, 2018

Painting Your Bedroom into 2018

With a new year and new beginnings often comes an itch to update your home. One of the best [...]

November 7, 2018

Can You Stain Pressure Treated Wood?

If you're using pressure-treated wood during your next project, you might be wondering, " can you stain pressure treated wood?" [...]
November 7, 2018

Natural Stained Homes

Q: How do I make my natural stained home look brand new?

     Many homes built before [...]

November 7, 2018

How renovations can affect your pets

     Home remodeling or construction can be a major stress on anyone—but just imagine being a pet. Suddenly [...]

What causes stains on my bathroom wall?

Likelier than not, the stains and discoloration on your bathroom wall are the result of something called surfactant leaching. You might know surfactant leaching by one of its many colorful alternate names: exudation (a botanical term that refers to a substance secreted by plants), streaking, or weeping. No matter what you call it, it’s unsightly. Generally, it manifests as ectoplasmic, ugly brown spots on the bathroom wall, or else as glossiness, oiliness, soapiness, stickiness, or drip-like stains.

Why does surfactant leaching happen?

Well, because latex paints contain something called surfactants—water-soluble ingredients that reduce surface tension while imparting color and stability to your paint. To put a finer point on the matter, let’s take a short, chemistry-related detour: the moisture in your bathroom concentrates and draws out the water-soluble surfactants from inside the paint; when that happens and the moisture evaporates, deposits from the surfactants float to the surface of the paint, creating the discoloration you’re seeing on your walls. Also: surfactant leaching tends to affect accent colors and dark colors more dramatically than white-painted walls. That’s because there are even more surfactants when you add a colorant to paint, thus creating more deposits when overexposed to moisture and humidity.

Is surfactant leaching a paint avoidable?

Just to be clear, though: surfactant leaching is not a paint defect. In fact, it’s a practically unavoidable byproduct of using paint, particularly if your bathroom lacks exceptional ventilation. Leaching doesn’t generally affect the integrity or durability of a paint job, but it’s definitely unattractive and you’ll probably want to get rid of it—but how?

How do you get rid of surfactant leaching?

Well, you’ll be happy to learn it isn’t too tough a job. It’s as simple as washing the area with soap and water and then rising it off. Be aware, though, that the film discoloration may come back before the surfactant is totally removed. What’s more, leaching occurs over time, so you’ll need to maintain your walls by wiping stains away as they come to your attention. If, however, your goal is to repaint entirely, make sure to let any coat of paint dry completely before using the shower, and remove any and all stains before you start. If surfactant leaching seriously gets under your skin, consider investing in a ventilation system to keep the room drier and less susceptible to weeping. Otherwise, rest assured that those unlovely stains can be removed, and—with vigilance and regular clean-ups—your walls can look practically as good as new.


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