Painting & Wallpapering Painting Bathroom ceiling, loose paint, paint dust

Painting & Wallpapering Painting Bathroom ceiling, loose paint, paint dust

Painting & Wallpapering /Painting Bathroom ceiling


Expert: Dr. Christopher James — 10/18/2007


The old paint in many places is very flake and has peeled off back to bare material. Does the whole ceiling have to be scraped off and if so what is the best method to use. Then what needs to be done to water seal the ceiling surface prior to repainting.


Before I get to the painting advice, you need to address the root of the problem. Why is your paint failing? Is there a leaky pipe in the ceiling? A bad roof? Maybe your attic needs to be ventilated. Or is the paint just old? Moisture can be a problem in many bathrooms, try to minimize this by keeping a window open, installing an exhaust fan, or just leave the door open after showering.

If the paint is just old and you are certain there are no other problems, a good paint job is the ticket.

Start by scraping or sanding all the loose paint off the ceiling. You don’t have to remove all the paint, just the loose stuff.

A good way to test the paint to see if it’s sound is to apply a piece of masking tape to the surface, press down on the tape very firmly, then rip it off. If paint comes off with the tape, then that area needs to be scraped or sanded.

I like to use a pole sander and medium-fine grit paper for this type of job. Always wear eye protection and a particle mask! You never want to breathe paint dust.

Also, if the paint is glossy at all, you’ll need to lightly sand those areas as well. Paints don’t adhere well to glossy surfaces. A light sanding will give the new paint something to bite to.

Next, wash the entire area to be painted, even if it looks clean. I’d use a solution of a detergent that contains bleach and hot water. Clorox Clean-Up is a good one. The bleach will kill any mildew that you may have growing up there. NEVER mix bleach with any other household cleaner! Rinse twice with clean water.

Next, patch any areas that you gouged or (deeply)scratched while sanding or scraping. You’ll be a lot happier with the paint job if you start with a smooth surface. Use a vinyl spackling paste. Avoid the lightweight spackle or oil-based putty. You can skip this step if the surface is smooth enough for your taste.

Painting & Wallpapering Painting Bathroom ceiling, loose paint, paint dust

Here is where painters and paint store guys will tell you to use a primer. A primer wouldn’t hurt, but as long as you follow all the other steps to the letter, you can skip the primer. Sounds crazy? Not really. In this case, a primer won’t really do you much good, as long as you use two coats of a high quality semi-gloss paint.

I could explain the chemical differences between primers and paints here, but it’s boring and it wouldn’t change the bottom line. If you do decide to use a primer, use an acrylic-latex.

Choose a premium acrylic latex semi-gloss paint in an off-white color. Avoid pure white or medium to dark tints. Let your first coat dry at least 4 hours before the second coat. Two coats minumum. Done!

In some parts of the country, oil-based paints are often used in high-moisture areas like bathrooms and kitchens. At first, this sounds like a common sense solution: oil and water don’t mix, so oil-based paint must be more resistant to water, right? Not really, water-based paints are made of synthetic rubber called acrylic latex. Rubber is pretty water resistant too, right? Latex paints are also more flexible than oil-based, and you’ll need that flexibility as your walls expand and contract with temperature and moisture fluctuations. And they dry a lot faster, too.

If you do decide to use an oil-based paint, make sure to use an oil-based primer, too. It’s not a must, but it will work better.

Hope I’ve answered your questions, feel free to contact me if you need clarification. Happy painting!

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