In a bathroom or laundry room, high moisture content and heavy water vapor can take a toll on paint. In the past, the traditional paint for humid environments was a semi-gloss finish. The shiny, durable surface of a semi-gloss paint prevents water from absorbing. Sure, the water beads and streaks, and the semi-gloss finish shows every little imperfection in the wall. But the alternative—mold and mildew spores thriving in a porous, less durable flat or matte paint—outweighed the semi-gloss coating’s aesthetic shortcomings.
Today, satin or semi-gloss isn’t the only option for a bathroom. A product like Benjamin Moore’s Aura Bath and Spa (532) has a chemistry optimized for humid environments, even in a Matte finish. First, this low-VOC, low-odor blend of Aura is mildew-resistant enough to discourage the growth of stachybotrys chartarum, aka black mold. Second, it uses Color Lock Technology, a proprietary resin formulation designed to prevent colors from rubbing away if condensation on the paint is wiped off. Last, while conventional paints can be sensitive to moisture, Bath and Spa has been tested and designed specifically for these conditions.
For hospitals, schools, spas, and other environments where mold and mildew control can be a matter of public safety, Benjamin Moore makes a product called Eco Spec Silver. This formula contains elemental silver. In the presence of water, silver ions rise to the paint’s surface and attach themselves to mold microbes to inhibit their growth. The zero-VOC formula, is available in flat, eggshell and semi-gloss finishes.
Does your own bathroom seem muggy enough to need a silver bullet? It’s more likely that a mechanical solution to the room’s ventilation could help solve a chronic moisture problem. All bathrooms need an exhaust fan, and sometimes a little work on an existing fan can improve its performance. Take a few minutes to remove the cover, clean it off, unclog any blockages and give it a chance to move some air. If a fan is over ten years old, consider replacing it—they don’t last forever. Once a fan is running properly, two coats of Aura Bath and Spa should provide a satisfying finish. And with the walls taken care of, you can redirect your cleaning efforts into scouring the scum off those hazy old tiles.