Episode 336

What Bathroom Paint to Use; Historic Ceiling Design; and 2023's Christmas Contest

On Today's Episode

  • There is a common paint problem that happens in high moisture areas… a slimy orange substance oozes from the wall! We will explain what is happening and how you avoid this problem in your bathroom. 
  • Historic ceilings were often decorated with ceiling medallions but why did this trend start? Turns out there is a lot of debate around the subject! We will dig into the surprising history and propose a theory of our own!
  • Every story needs an ending…but how does this apply to design? We will finish our ceiling conversation AND tell you everything you need to know to get entered into our Christmas Giveaway!

What Bathroom Paint to Use [00:00 - 12:37]

Surfactant Leaching is a common problem in high moisture areas. Surfactants are necessary ingredients in paint and usually they just work their way out over time with no issues. However, when a newly painted wall is exposed to high humidity, surfactants can rise prematurely. They show up on your painted surface looking like orange, brown or even silvery areas that seem soapy or oily in nature. Not pretty . . . but it's not damaging your paint!  


  • Start by wiping them off with a soft sponge and mild soapy water. It may take a few times but it will eventually disappear. 
  • Running the bathroom fan or installing a bathroom fan is crucial. Leave it running for about 10-20 minutes after the shower to remove all the moisture. 
  • Opening doors to the bathroom can also help. 
  • Don't Have a Fan? Get one! And get the right size for your space. Fans are rated by cubic feet per minute (CFM's). This tells you how much air they can move per minute.
  • get a fan that moves 1 CFM per square foot.
  • So, an 80 SF bathroom . . . you'll need a fan with an 80 CFM rating to be effective


Use the RIGHT Paint.

Aura Bath and Spa from Benjamin Moore is an ideal bathroom paint. It is made for high moisture areas and is available in a matte finish! It keeps steam from gathering on the walls and almost always resists surfactant leaching. It’s been a silver bullet! …usually…

Hailey had a month of being sick recently and the only relief she could find was running the shower and stemming up the bathroom multiple times a day. Basically turned her bathroom into a sauna (we do not recommend this).  On top of that her bathroom fan is BROKEN. So there was no way to quickly remove the moisture. 

VERY EXTREME situation. Walls are painted with Aura Bath and spa and for weeks there were no issues. However, every product has its limitations and eventually surfactant leaching did occur. 

Moral of the story, use the right paint in the right environment! Ventilation is always needed!

Historic Ceiling Design [12:37 - 31:30]

Ceiling medallions have a long history of creating a sophisticated ceiling design.  Very popular in homes during the Victorian Times. They look like carved plaster disks that are affixed to the center of the ceiling typically were a chandelier is hanging. Now we use them almost exclusively for decorative purposes…But was that always the case? Many Historians have practical theories as to why they existed… 


  • With candles being used to light homes and and then eventually . . . gas lighting. The constant open flames caused soot to collect on the ceiling above the chandelier. SO, according to proponents of THEORY #1: To hide this unsightly soot. Medallions were installed, however, many people have pointed out that soot will still show on the medallion and now it is harder to clean off. 


  • Another group of people really like the soot angle but they see the limitation we just talked about. So they've proposed the following: The soot will continue to collect up there . . .BUT, it actually just hides in the grooves of the carving providing more depth and contrast…making the medallion even more beautiful.


  • Theory 3 is an interesting idea: The circular, plaster design provided an extra layer of fire resistance directly above the light. However, while many medallions in the Victorian era were made of plaster or cast iron, they were also very commonly made of paper mache . . . .


  • Another great explanation! Comes from a very practical, very relatable experience for most of us: We go to replace a light fixture and find out the hole in the ceiling is larger than the current fixture will cover up… instead of patching the drywall we could just cover it up with a ceiling medallion! 


  • All of those others explanations are looking for a practical reason. But maybe there wasn't one for the Victorians...Maybe they just looked good!


Decorative elements on ceilings go all the way back to ancient cultures like the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans. They all made use of the medallions decoratively. They were installed in palaces, temples and public buildings and they were there to add beauty and tell a story. They included religious narratives, classic mythology and added a sense of grandeur to the architecture. 

The Victorian era was a significant milestone in the history of ceiling medallions because of advancements in technology ceiling medallions became more accessible and affordable. But some of the popularity can also be attributed  to the Victorian fascination with embellishment and ornamentation

To the Victorians good design meant:

  • No surface is left out! 
  • Everything is connected
  • Two surfaces meeting was seen as a relationship forming
  • and that meant extra attention was needed!

Thus they made use of things like corner braces, corner molding, and corner fans. All with the intent of softening a hard transition. Here's a quote:

  • "Victorians imposed order on their interiors, seeing them as a complete story with a beginning (floor), middle (walls), and ending (ceiling). They were boxes with a bottom, sides, and top, all united by colors and patterns."

So in the end the purpose of ceiling medallions comes back to the idea of creating a story with interior design! 

Now the question becomes how can we apply this concept in our own homes today?

Don't Forget Your Ceiling AND our Christmas Contest Hint [31:30 - 39:23]

If the ceiling is the end of a story then many of us are looking at a room where the writer just decided to stop writing! A white ceiling leaves the end completely open with no resolution. 

With that in mind… What can we do in our homes to write that great ending for our space?

  • Painting the ceiling a color other than white is always an option and creates a lot of impact!
  • Benjamin Moore's Premium Waterborne Ceiling Paint is unique in that it can be tinted to any color and remains a flat ceiling finish. 
  • Adding a paint sheen such as gloss is another way to add impact but be warned this project is not DIY friendly… 
  • Wallpaper can say so much and bring all the elements in a room together! 
  • Stenciling is another great option for adding patterns if wallpaper is not possible! 
  • Embossed ceiling tiles are easy to install now and come in inexpensive plastic options. 
  • Medallions of course are a simple cherry on top! So many affordable and easy to install options exist. 

Ceiling Height Poses Some Limitations. For a balanced space a good rule of thumb exists… the higher the ceiling the more ornamentation a ceiling can handle. 


Time for the next Christmas Contest Question

And to recap the contest, here's the deal: 

  • One winner will get a $500 Gift Card to RepcoLite
  • AND give a $500 Gift Card to a friend
  • AND pick a charity and RepcoLite will donate $500 in the winner's name

To enter the contest:

  • go to repcolite.com
  • click the banner on the home page
  • Rules are there along with an entry form
  • All you need to do is answer the questions on the entry form
  • Every right answer is an entry into the contest
  • and we'll draw the winner on December 26

BUT, there's a bit of a trick: 

  • The questions are kind of difficult this year
  • And the only way you'll know them is to figure out the clue
  • Every week, we have a clue on the web page with the rules 
  • But it's not a dead giveaway.
  • However here on the show . . . we're giving away a much better version of the clue

This week, the question is this: "What is Hailey's Favorite Type of Christmas Cookie?"

Make sure you're tuning in next week for more AND Invite your friends to listen. The more people you bring to the contest . . . the more chance one of them picks you to be the winner of their Bonus Gift Card if they win!

About the Podcast

Show artwork for The RepcoLite Home Improvement Show
The RepcoLite Home Improvement Show
RepcoLite's weekly radio show focusing on color, design, paint, and projects...as well as plumbing, roofing, yard care, flooring and more!

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