Putting a lasting paint finish on bathroom walls and ceilings is considered to be among the trickiest of painting projects because of the high moisture production in bathrooms.
Steam and water vapor from showers, baths, sinks and toilets foster such paint problems as mildew, blistering and peeling.
A traditional approach to bathroom painting is to use oil-based or alkyd primers and oil-based paints with high-gloss or semigloss finishes. The theory behind this is that the hard, shiny shell created by these finishes is more resistant to moisture, and makes the painted surface easier to clean if mildew develops.
However, with traditional painting methods continuing to fail in many bathrooms and oil-based finishes becoming generally less popular, some paint manufacturers and painters are advocating the use of water-based paints in these troublesome areas. For example, Glidden now makes a special kitchen-and-bathroom paint with a latex (water) base and semigloss finish.
William Zinsser & Co. of Somerset, N.J., has gone a step further. It recently began distributing a water-based Perma-White Bathroom Wall & Ceiling Paint that has a flat finish that can be scrubbed. The paint has a money-back guarantee to be mildew-proof for five years. Zinsser also recommends Perma-White for other high-moisture areas such as kitchens, basements and laundry rooms.
Perma-White can be custom tinted by dealers to create many different shades.
Robert Senior, president of Zinsser, said Perma-White is "permanently mildew-proof and blister-proof." He said the paint could be used over most clean existing surfaces without a primer and without sanding, and even adhered well to such hard-to-paint surfaces as glossy paint and vinyl wall coverings. Two coats are recommended.
Since Perma-White is water-based, painting tools can be cleaned with soap and water. A good system is to paint borders with a brush (called cutting in), then use a roller to apply paint to surfaces between the cut-in areas.
Zinsser also recommends an adhesion test for existing painted surfaces before using Perma-White. The test can be made before applying any new paint over old paint, and will help ensure that the old paint won't peel and take the new coating off with it.
The test: Cut an X in the old paint film with a razor blade or sharp utility knife. Apply a piece of transparent tape over the X, smooth it on, then jerk it off quickly. If paint comes off with the tape, indicating poor adhesion, the old paint should be removed.
For more information on Perma-White, write Zinsser & Co. at 39 Belmont Dr., Somerset, N.J. 08875. Perma-White is sold at some home centers and paint stores.
Painted surfaces in a bathroom or other high-moisture area will last longer and resist mildew better if there is adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans if needed, to remove excess moisture. If painted areas get wet during a shower or bath, it also helps to dry such areas with a towel or soft cloth.
Readers' questions and comments are welcome and should be sent to Gene Austin, c/o Baltimore Sun, Box 8263, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101. Questions cannot be answered personally.