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Old 01-10-2013, 05:43 AM   #16
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Bathroom Ceiling Woes


The fan is at least moving some air. Sometimes it can hold a piece of heavy toilet paper, other times not quite (but close).

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Old 01-10-2013, 06:36 AM   #17
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Bathroom Ceiling Woes


JM, I noticed that you're still monitoring this thread as of today. While you may have a ceiling fan issue that contributed to the failures previously, the fan has nothing to do with the issue of paint smell. Is the paint still off gassing, I don't know, and you might be overly sensitive. Should it be, probably not? But all paints are different. A cast iron rad will cook an oil base finish for quite a while during heating season. Will it hurt you? No. I'm not an health expert, nor an air quality expert, but I'd venture to say that it's more unhealthy to be outdoors than in your bathroom.
But the problem is the paint, if there is one, not the ceiling fan. That's like complaining the pain killers aren't killing the pain of you banging your thumb with a hammer. Stripping the ceiling is really not even a consideration. But you can, either, a) coat the ceiling with Zinsser BIN, it blocks smoke and cat urine odor, then coat the ceiling with a different bath paint, or satin of any flavor, b) Call the SW rep to your home, and run a hot, steamy shower just prior to his arrival (you don't have to be in it) and let him smell the paint. It's slightly possible you got a bad batch, and if you show him the batch number on the can he can look into that.

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Old 01-23-2013, 09:32 AM   #18
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Bathroom Ceiling Woes


Just a quick update on this. I still have a smelly bathroom ceiling (and it's definitely not just me being sensitive), but here's what I've found out since my last post...

I spoke to the manager of my local Sherwin-Williams store where I bought the bath paint. His best guess was that I didn't allow the paint enough time to cure before using the shower, but I'm pretty sure that's not true because I did a pretty good job of ventilating the bathroom after painting and didn't use the shower for at least a day or two (and even then was careful to do quick, cooler showers).

Regardless, the manager was pretty helpful. He took my paint can and did a check to make sure I didn't get a bad batch (it wasn't bad). He also had me bring in a sample from the ceiling (I took a utility knife and sliced out a chip of paint). He sent it to their lab, where they supposedly put it under a microscope and analyze what caused the failure. Their response was that the Sherwin Williams paint was fine, but something underneath it failed. Now of course, this is exactly the response you'd expect from SW, so who knows if it's true, but it's certainly possible that e.g. the Cover Stain coat was the problem.

I just called Zinsser. Not surprisingly, they said it's probably the topcoat. They also suggested that it (the top coat) might just require more time to cure. I doubt that though. 1.5 months, and the odor/softness doesn't seem to be getting any better.

Sherwin Williams is offering to cover the costs for any repainting supplies, which is a plus. However, I'm not sure exactly what I need to do to repair it at this point, so that only helps a little bit. jsheridan, thanks for your suggestions. I hope you're right that I don't need to scrape. Do you think Zinsser BIN will prevent moisture from softening up the paint layer(s) below it? How many coats should I use? And should I let the primer fully cure (1-3 days) before applying the top coat?
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:58 PM   #19
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Bathroom Ceiling Woes


Sorry JM, I've been out of town. Not surprising that the paint cos are playing volleyball with you. At least they'll help you with the material cost and that you're only doing a small ceiling.
To answer your question, BIN is an excellent vapor and odor barrier. Prove it to yourself. Roll a coat of BIN on the ceiling and live with it for two weeks to see if the current smell goes away. SW doesn't carry BIN, but they have their own pigmented shellac, which may even be private label made by Zinsser.
If the smell goes away then finish the ceiling with a different paint. When it comes to showering in a freshly painted bathroom, the longer you can avoid showering the better off, minimum 48 hours, longer for colors. You can shower under the BIN the next day.
Keep us posted.
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:39 PM   #20
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Bathroom Ceiling Woes


Quote:
Originally Posted by jmclanon View Post
Just a quick update on this. I still have a smelly bathroom ceiling (and it's definitely not just me being sensitive), but here's what I've found out since my last post...

I spoke to the manager of my local Sherwin-Williams store where I bought the bath paint. His best guess was that I didn't allow the paint enough time to cure before using the shower, but I'm pretty sure that's not true because I did a pretty good job of ventilating the bathroom after painting and didn't use the shower for at least a day or two (and even then was careful to do quick, cooler showers).

Regardless, the manager was pretty helpful. He took my paint can and did a check to make sure I didn't get a bad batch (it wasn't bad). He also had me bring in a sample from the ceiling (I took a utility knife and sliced out a chip of paint). He sent it to their lab, where they supposedly put it under a microscope and analyze what caused the failure. Their response was that the Sherwin Williams paint was fine, but something underneath it failed. Now of course, this is exactly the response you'd expect from SW, so who knows if it's true, but it's certainly possible that e.g. the Cover Stain coat was the problem.

I just called Zinsser. Not surprisingly, they said it's probably the topcoat. They also suggested that it (the top coat) might just require more time to cure. I doubt that though. 1.5 months, and the odor/softness doesn't seem to be getting any better.

Sherwin Williams is offering to cover the costs for any repainting supplies, which is a plus. However, I'm not sure exactly what I need to do to repair it at this point, so that only helps a little bit. jsheridan, thanks for your suggestions. I hope you're right that I don't need to scrape. Do you think Zinsser BIN will prevent moisture from softening up the paint layer(s) below it? How many coats should I use? And should I let the primer fully cure (1-3 days) before applying the top coat?
Hiya JM,

I've been reading your post, and responses, with interest but it seems like something hasn't been addressed. You described the smell as a "funky old paint smell"...are you absolutely certain the smell isn't actually a musty mold or mildew smell? Typically a "funky old paint smell" is the result of bacteria growing/feeding on organic paint components.

You mentioned "The previous owner had re-painted the bathroom ceiling with who-knows-what. No idea what condition the ceiling was in before that." Are you sure he/they didn't paint the ceiling to cover up an existing problem in order sell the home?

If that is a possibility, that could contribute to why the long lasting smell...and why the original app of cover stain hasn't seemed to dry hard (or softens some when exposed to steam/humidity). Matter-o-fact, if that is the case, the Cover Stain could actually be contributing to the long lasting smell - but not because of any solvent "out-gassing" - it would be more due to the fact that Cover Stain contains organic materials that bacteria/mold & mildew feed on - which, again, explain the smell and why the film hasn't cured hard (and impermeable) to date.

It doesn't surprise me that both SW and Zinsser are quick to defend their products and suggest the fault lies with the other brand. This is one of the reason many architects disallow painters to use different brands of paint and primer on jobs - when problems do occur, no one entity is there to definitively account for the problem and subsequent resolution. Both are reputable companies though, and what I've described makes a lot more sense than the very unlikely possibility of a "bad batch".

I agree that BIN primer is the ultimate problem solver (especially when trying to bind and contain stains or smells)....And BIN works great as a moisture barrier (as JSheridan mentioned)...the problem with BIN is if there is a moisture issue in the wallboard*, and that moisture cannot find an escape route**, the result may be some pretty funky crazing on surfaces coated with BIN.
* Moisture in board could be due to inadequate or improper ventillation - or inadequate sealing of the board that allows for condensation to wick up through the board. Again (to me, at least), this scenario kinda makes sense since you said there was some damage - that was repaired. Then about a year later, more damage occurred, but in different areas.
**Escape routes through board and into the attic could be thwarted by (a) colder temps in the attic than in the bathroom (as moisture, in the form of vapor, will always travel to the heat) - or (b) over-insulation in the attic (such as plastic or vinyl lined batting).

If any of what I've said makes any sense, it won't be necessary to remove all the coating that is currently on your ceiling - but it probably wouldn't hurt to install some temporary weep holes in the ceiling, get some heat in the bathroom, and take showers in a different bathroom for a couple days before continuing with the BIN solution (btw, BIN is unlike the other products you've used to date as the cure time is the same as dry time. Once your solvent evaporates, BIN is completely cured.)

...Or I could be completely wrong. Good luck and let us know how things turn out.
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Old 01-25-2013, 05:55 AM   #21
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Bathroom Ceiling Woes


Thanks guys, I really appreciate the help here.

"Are you sure he/they didn't paint the ceiling to cover up an existing problem in order sell the home?"
No, I'm not. The only reason I'm less inclined to think this is the problem causing the smell is because prior to this last paint application in late November (Cover Stain + SW Bath Paint), I'd been living in the house for 3 years and there was no smell. Even after I attempted the first ceiling repainting last June there was no smell. BTW I now remember what I used for paints that first time: BM Calcimine Recoater (on the recommendation of some weirdo at the paint store -- no, the ceiling is not calcimine) and BM Waterborne Ceiling Paint. I'm not sure why both the original coat applied by the previous owner (ok, not really original, but first one I saw) and my first repaint (using BM products) both started peeling. I'm sure there's an underlying cause for both of those, but I was careful to scrape and re-spackle before both of my re-paints.

ric, your asterisks about moisture in the wall board make sense, but I haven't really been able to find any issues there. Still, this seems like the most likely underlying issue, so I'm not sure what to do about it. My attic is well insulated with fiberglass insulation, but there are no vapor barriers or anything like that. And I have a ceiling fan that vents to the outside. So wtf... frustrating. If anyone has any more ideas here, I'm all ears. The peeling paint in the past has mostly (not completely) been near where the ceiling meets the walls, even across the room (not a big room - 4-5' maybe) from the shower. Does that tell you anything? Is it really possible that my fan isn't moving enough air? We always leave it on a long time after we're done showering. It's one of those standard NuTone fan/light combos, not sure of the CFM (though it could be as low as 50).

I guess I'll move forward with the Zinsser BIN plan. I'll make sure the ceiling is nice and dry before starting and will let it dry for another couple days (no showers in there for 4-5 days). If it crazes, I'll be ready to just give up and sell the house.

Thanks again for all the input. It's been very helpful.
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Old 01-25-2013, 10:38 PM   #22
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Bathroom Ceiling Woes


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Originally Posted by jmclanon View Post
Thanks guys, I really appreciate the help here.

"Are you sure he/they didn't paint the ceiling to cover up an existing problem in order sell the home?"
No, I'm not. The only reason I'm less inclined to think this is the problem causing the smell is because prior to this last paint application in late November (Cover Stain + SW Bath Paint), I'd been living in the house for 3 years and there was no smell. Even after I attempted the first ceiling repainting last June there was no smell. BTW I now remember what I used for paints that first time: BM Calcimine Recoater (on the recommendation of some weirdo at the paint store -- no, the ceiling is not calcimine) and BM Waterborne Ceiling Paint. I'm not sure why both the original coat applied by the previous owner (ok, not really original, but first one I saw) and my first repaint (using BM products) both started peeling. I'm sure there's an underlying cause for both of those, but I was careful to scrape and re-spackle before both of my re-paints.

ric, your asterisks about moisture in the wall board make sense, but I haven't really been able to find any issues there. Still, this seems like the most likely underlying issue, so I'm not sure what to do about it. My attic is well insulated with fiberglass insulation, but there are no vapor barriers or anything like that. And I have a ceiling fan that vents to the outside. So wtf... frustrating. If anyone has any more ideas here, I'm all ears. The peeling paint in the past has mostly (not completely) been near where the ceiling meets the walls, even across the room (not a big room - 4-5' maybe) from the shower. Does that tell you anything? Is it really possible that my fan isn't moving enough air? We always leave it on a long time after we're done showering. It's one of those standard NuTone fan/light combos, not sure of the CFM (though it could be as low as 50).

I guess I'll move forward with the Zinsser BIN plan. I'll make sure the ceiling is nice and dry before starting and will let it dry for another couple days (no showers in there for 4-5 days). If it crazes, I'll be ready to just give up and sell the house.

Thanks again for all the input. It's been very helpful.
Just a thought, JM...you say most of the peeling takes place near where the ceiling meets the walls - was there ever wallpaper (vinyl) on the walls? ...or on the ceiling for that matter?

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