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How to Prevent Paint Leaching

Painting is a necessary part of home maintenance. Whether you're painting the exterior or interior of your home, a quality coat of paint increases your home's value and protects it from normal wear and tear and exposure to elements. A fresh coat of paint can also transform a room, giving it a whole new look and feel.

Many homeowners are relatively comfortable taking the paintbrush into their own hands. When the paint dries, they are rewarded with a sense of pride and accomplishment when they see the product of their hard work for the first time. However, not all paint jobs are an immediate success. Paint leaching rarely occurs but can create immense anxiety for a homeowner or contractor that has never incurred the problem before.

blue paint leaching and streaking on wall

What is Paint Leaching?

Water-based latex paint contains water-soluble components known as surfactants, which allow the paint to adhere to the surface being painted. As the paint dries in ideal conditions, the surfactants slowly rise to the paint's surface with no issue. Leaching occurs when a concentration of surfactants builds up on the paint's surface, leaving behind streaks or residue on the painted surface. These areas can feel glossy, soapy, oily, or sticky, and coloration can vary from tan or brown to clear.

What Causes Leaching? 

When latex paint is introduced to cold or moisture before it is fully cured, it causes the surfactants to rise to the paint's surface too quickly and leave behind those telltale streaks and staining. Paint leaching is more likely to happen when:

  • Conditions are cool and humid, such as in the early fall when frost can form overnight.
  • Condensation occurs, such as in bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other areas of high humidity where moisture can bead up.
  • The paint you are using is tinted. Tinted paint contains a higher concentration of surfactants than non-tinted paint. 

How to Fix Paint Leaching

Leaching is chiefly an aesthetic issue; brown streaks and splotches are awfully unsightly. If treated quickly, you may be able to remove the effects of leaching by cleaning the affected area just by wiping it down.

  • Interior surfaces: If leaching occurs, clean the area with soap and water, then rinse. This process may need to be repeated a couple of times before the surfactants are entirely removed. 
  • Exterior surfaces: Flush affected area with clean water and lightly scrub with a soft brush if needed. Normal weathering often naturally removes the effects of leaching over time.

Staining can occur in some cases, however, such as in areas that aren't exposed to the elements. When staining occurs, the surface will need to be repainted. The costs of repainting can easily cause a project to exceed its original budget. 

How to Prevent Paint Leaching

There are several measures you can employ to decrease your paint's chances of leaching. Some preventative measures include:

  • Give the paint ample time to fully dry before operating the bath or shower in that room to reduce moisture and humidity.
  • Use high-quality paint. Some paints are even specifically formulated for humid rooms like spas and bathrooms.
  • Paint in favorable weather conditions when possible.
  • Follow the paint manufacturer's directions.

If painting is outside your wheelhouse of expertise or you would like to have a professional do the job right the first time, Major Painting Company is happy to help. Our qualified, experienced, trusted painters have been serving the Lee's Summit and Greater Kansas City metro area for decades. We provide commercial and residential painting services and are adept in both interior and exterior projects. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.

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