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What are those blotchy discolorations on my new paint?

By Kevin Dressel  -  February 1st, 2013

Surfactant Leaching

Why do I have ugly discolorations on areas of my new paint job?  Dew, fog, or rain can cause these discolorations.  All latex paints contain detergent like materials called surfactants which are necessary for the stability of the paint formulation.  Surfactants are not part of the paint film, and their coming out of the paint film does no harm to it whatsoever.  In most cases these materials come out of the paint film slowly and are washed from the surface undetected. Under certain curing conditions such as low temperatures, fog, rain, condensing moisture, etc... this leaching process can occur rapidly and results in a surfactant build-up on the surface of new paint.  On occasion it may assume a while crystalline form. Surfactant leaching is not limited to exterior coatings, it may appear in bathrooms or other areas where moisture condenses on walls.  In these instances, a clear amber glossy rundown will be visible.

What needs to be done to solve and remove surfactant buildup?  Most often the natural process of weathering removes the visible film of surfactant from surfaces.  The sheen and the color are then restored.  However, most accumulations of surfactant are observed in areas protected from natural weathering.  In these instances, it can be removed with a fine mist from a garden hose or by rubbing with a wet cloth but only after the coating has completely cured and well before condensation in the evening can occur.  The best solution is to be patient and do nothing, allowing nature to take its course.  The surfactant will do no harm and time will correct the problem.

We would love to be the professional paint contractor in your future!  Please contact Tualatin Valley Painting today for an estimate and consultation.  Call (503) 579-8201 or complete our Estimate Request Form.