When you’re working on your house, the last thing you want is to have to re-do something because you did it wrong. Its not satisfying, at all, to re-do work because of your own stupidity. But, then again, DIY is all about learning, right? In our case, we’ll consider this another in a long series of “Things we learned because our house is old”. Remember back in our Lemon House to-do post from the beginning of this year when we said we’d share with you what was wrong in the bathroom if you looked up. Well, here’s your chance to find out the details of a DIY gone wrong.
The story starts with paint. When we bought house, summer of ’09, we bought nearly all our paint from Sherwin Williams Harmony line, in Eg-Shel finish. This included a 5 gallon bucket of our trim/ceiling color: Alabaster. Harmony paint is Zero VOC and the Eg-shel is really a lovely finish, which we prefer to semi-gloss . Also, at the time (this has since changed), SW Harmony didn’t come in a semi-gloss finish, which meant that if we wanted to stay with this line of paints (no VOC) and not go to a different store, we were out of luck in the semi-gloss arena.
After painting our bedrooms, the living room, and the kitchen, we finally got to our bathroom remodel. In addition to new fixtures and tiled shower surround, this also included new paint. Since we wanted to go with a bold accent color for the walls that was different from anything we had previously purchased, we did the “right” thing, and bought a quart of SW Duration paint in “Lakeside” for the walls. Duration is low VOC, but not NO VOC, and has additional anti-microbial properties for mildew resistence in wet locations (this is where it starts to get tricky. . . ). Its still an “Environmentally Preferable Paint”, but not quite as odor free as we would normally prefer. But, we decided this was the best paint for the job.
So, whats the problem you’re asking? Well, after painting almost every other room in the house, we were pretty smitten with the SW Harmony Alabaster in the eg-shel finish for ceilings. And we had a bunch left in our 5 gallon bucket. We trucked right along and painted the ceiling of our 1922 non-vented bathroom in a zero VOC eg-shel finish.
BAD IDEA. When its recommended that you use Semi-gloss paint in wet locations, listen. . . Also, when companies make anti-microbial paint and you have especially moist conditions because your house is too old to have a bathroom fan, listen. . . Otherwise you end up with. . .
Little spots of mildew that grow on the surface of the paint and expand with every shower you take. Not what you want in your freshly reno’d bathroom, eh? This has been a creeping problem since early 2010 and it was about time to do something about it!
So, I went back to the SW store and bought a quart of Duration Low-VOC Anti-microbial paint in Alabaster to match the ceiling and trim we’d already painted. Harmony now comes in a semi-gloss finish, but still lacks the anit-microbial properties of the Duration, which has been performing great on the walls, so I didn’t take any chances.
I gave the ceiling a wipe-down with diluted bleach (Lavender scented to make it a little more palatable). Honestly, it came off super easy, probably an earth friendly vinegar solution would have done the job just as well. I was glad to know that it hadn’t penetrated the finish of the paint, it was just living on the surface, so no damage to the plaster ceiling had been done. Phew! One coat of semi-gloss paint later, things were looking just the same as they had when we first finished the bathroom project – which albeit frustrating, is what we were going for. I also gave the mirror and window trim a quick swipe of the wipeable paint for good measure.
While I was in the bathroom in my painting clothes, I also decided to finish up some trim paint on the edge of our tiles that has been needing some attention. We had a pretty messy edge at the point where tile, drywall mud, and new paint came together. Not wanting to just run the bright turquoise to the edge of the tiles, I decided to trim it out in gray to match the dark grout we chose for tile. Lucky for me, we chose a medium/dark gray for our exterior trim last summer, and have plenty left to use for little things like this around the house. Exterior paint = GREAT for moisture, so hey, no new paint required!
I taped it up (trying out Frogtape for the 1st time), used a foam brush to quickly swipe a paint line down the side of the tile, then ran my finger down the edge with a wet rag to wipe paint off the ceramic finish for a nice clean line. Super easy, and it literally only used about 4 tbsp of paint.
So now with new ceiling paint and trimmed out tiles, our bathroom is dare I say, finally 100%!
And now, a gratuitous shot of early-spring-sun that was cascading over our lovely tile. . .