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What paint works best for damp areas?

Newlywed, new mom and first-time home buyer, Sarah is currently playing out her exciting life in Phoenix, Arizona. She recently gave up her job in finance to stay at home with her baby girl, who between bath time and feeding time, keeps ...

The 411 on damp walls

Do you have a damp wall in need of some TLC? Though it's not recommended to paint damp walls, there are some things you should know if you have no other option.
Man painting damp wall

We spoke with painting specialist John Brooks and found out everything there is to know regarding painting damp walls. Here's the low down.

Disclaimer: Always determine what is causing the wall to be damp before moving forward with painting. If it's a leak from a pipe, for example, the leak and drywall need to be repaired before painting. Ignoring the issue and covering it up with paint will not fix it, and you may wind up with a more serious problem down the road, such as mold.

SheKnows: What are some factors or issues that could cause a damp wall?

Professional painter: Humidity, water damage, condensation or rain could all be possible causes of damp walls. It can also be from a mixture of these things. Make sure to determine the cause before painting the wall.

SK: Do you recommend painting a wall that's damp?

Professional painter: Ideally, no. It's best to dry out the wall as much as possible first, but understandably it may not be able to be dried out completely, in which case you would just have to paint the wall.

SK: What are some methods to go about drying the wall?

Professional painter: You can turn a floor fan on high for a few hours and aim it at the wall. If the wetness is caused by humidity, put a dehumidifier in the room to help suck out some of the moisture. You can also turn on your AC unit and run it for a few hours. AC units were designed to remove humidity from the air in the home.

If the damp wall is in a bathroom, you can turn on the exhaust vent fan to remove humidity and discharge it outside the home.

SK: What's the best type of paint to use to help seal in the moisture?

Professional painter: Always use a high-quality primer first, such as KILZ Premium Interior Primer or Bulls Eye 1-2-3 by Zinsser. For paint, you'll want to use a high-quality, 100 percent acrylic interior paint, such as Behr or Benjamin Moore. Both of those paints go on smoothly, are ranked high on consumer reports and stand up to scrubbing and cleaning. I also recommend using a satin or semi-gloss sheen because those finishes repel moisture, preventing the paint from adding to the problem.

SK: How many coats do you recommend? Dry time between coats?

Professional painter: At least two coats to seal in the moisture. In moist environments, you want four to six hours of dry time between coats.

SK: Will the moisture come back once the paint's dry?

Professional painter: If the problem is humidity, using both a primer and at least two coats of paint should prevent the moisture from returning. If, on the other hand, the problem is caused by a leak, the moisture will return unless the leak is fixed, which is of course recommended.

SK: Do you recommend repainting the wall once every few years to help keep it dry?

Professional painter: It shouldn't be an issue so long as the problem was fixed first and the wall was dried to the best of your ability. I do recommend keeping the leftovers (or a gallon) on hand in case you need to touch up an area from damage or general wear and tear on the home.

SK: Any other final tips?

Professional painter: If you ever have any loose paint from moisture, first scrape away the paint and then sand and prime the affected area. You may not need to repaint the entire wall if only a small area is affected by moisture.

More painting tips

What does this paint gadget do?
Top 10 paint colors for bathrooms
Lowe's expert Q&A: Paint edition

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