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Making a Splash by Cynthia Challener -excerpts taken from PWC November/December 2010 issue

No room in a house gets a workout like the kitchen and bathrooms. That’s doubly true for the paint job, which takes a pounding from heavy use, moisture, grease, food, cosmetics and chemical cleaners. Still, a great-looking, durable bath and interior paints help you produce a great-looking, long-lasting finish. Prep it right, control the moisture and you’re done.

It’s not the heat….
Kitchens and bathrooms are different from other interior spaces, largely because of the chronic high humidity they experience. This is particularly true for bathrooms, which are smaller and get daily exposure to water vapor from the shower and bath. Bit kitchens can produce a lot of steam, too. Spattering grease, sauces and other food can also mark the walls, making frequent cleaning a necessity. The same is true in the bathroom, where cosmetics, hair care products, toothpaste and other materials can ed up everywhere, including the walls.

Keep it dry
There are many fine coatings designed for kitchens and baths today. But even the best doesn’t stand a chance in a room that traps moisture. “Without proper ventilation, paint will peel – no matter how much effort you put into the preparation and regardless of the paint you use,” says George Gounaris, owner of Painting Pros in Chicago. “We always try to find some way for the customer to get the room ventilated.” With ventilation ensured, prep can begin. As with any project, the prep requirements will vary with the walls. As a general rule, however, new plaster or masonry surfaces must be allowed to cure 30 days before priming. Then walls should be wiped down to remove every speck of dust. Any trace of dirt, wax grease, dust, mildew or chipped paint on the surface will impede coating adhesion later, notes Daniele Martin, marketing manager for The Muralo Company. Glossy surfaces must be properly dulled with sandpaper. Walls should be patched and sanded smooth, says Rust-Oleum Zinsser brand manager Beth Froncek. Gounaris recommends a vinyl spackle that won’t shrink when it dries.

Going for the gloss
Sheen is an issue with kitchen and bath projects, because walls are washed frequently and regularly exposed to steam. While flatter matte paints excel at hiding imperfections, higher sheens have traditionally performed better in humidity; they also had the edge for washability and scrubbability. That’s not necessarily true anymore, though. “Resin technology today has enabled the ability to offer lower sheens such as eggshell and matte that are able to exhibit good washability and resistance to chemical stains such as lipstick and shaving cream,” says Pease. Revnew agrees, calling durable flats one of the biggest advances in recent years. “These products offer washability, scrubbability and resistance to moisture – all key to a quality kitchen and bath product,” he notes.

Choosing a color
Color choice is more than an aesthetic decision for kitchen and bath paints. Water sports will show up much more easily on a dark color, especially if the home or office has hard water, says Gilbert. He also discourages deep blues or reds. “Something lighter and muted is always best for shower areas,” he advises. All of these issues hold equally true for commercial and residential projects, by the way. Commercial kitchens and baths also need washable, stain and mildew-resistant paint that holds up to regular cleaning. Here, too, better-quality paint will provide easier application, better results, and greater durability. For commercial kitchens, Spillane advises a waterborne epoxy, saying it stands better to strong commercial grade chemicals and cleaners.

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