Painting & Wallpapering/Painting bathroom


We are planning on repainting our main bathroom, but before we do, we have a couple of concerns. The existing painting was done prior to our buying the house and we are not sure what type of paint was used. It appears to be semi-gloss and has a tendency to "blister" when it gets steamy in the room. Small bubbles around the size of a dime or quarter. Is there anything we need to do prior to painting over this? It also has developed mildew which we keep cleaned off, so do we need to do anything about that as well?

Thank you for your help!

This question is difficult to answer, since neither of us will know why those bubbles & blisters keep coming back until you find the initial source of the problem.  The steam from the bathroom is just a catalyst, but you have bigger problems.  Bubbles & blisters are caused when excess moisture tries to vent from a surface, (in your case, a wall).  When the moisture cannot escape naturally, or when you have an ongoing problem which is making the moisture worse behind the wall with nowhere to escape, it picks the path of least resistance, and that's when you get the bubbles & blisters.  

Before you even consider painting, I'd strongly suggest you or a plumber check for leaks anywhere close to the bathroom.  If the bubbles & blisters are forming closer to the ceiling than the floor, check above your bathroom, rather than below.  You need to find where that moisture is coming from.  A normal bathroom can handle steam without the paint on the walls blistering, so, again, the steam is not the problem.  Do you have a bathroom exhaust fan?  Does that fan exhaust pipe run all of the way outside the home and not in the attic?  Is that exhaust pipe, fan & baffle in-tact and working correctly?  If you don't have one, get one.  If you already see mildew, there's a good chance you could have mold which can't always be seen on the surface.  

The best-case scenario is that the previous painter painted right over some raw, un-primed drywall or plaster.  This could cause those bubbles and blisters, and you can find out if this is the case by looking at the surface of the wall when a bubble pops.  What do you see?  Do you see raw sheet-rock or plaster?  If so, you MIGHT be able to fix it by feather-sanding all areas where the bubbles & blisters have formed, prime, then paint.  The problem with this fix is, if you don't remove all of the paint in the areas where the wall underneath wasn't primed, then you'll just get brand new bubbles & blisters that will form next to the areas where you DID fix.

If you see previous coats of paint when bubbles & blisters pop, then your problem is the more serious issue of trying to determine the source of the moisture intrusion.  If you have a fan, run it before starting the shower.  If you have a window, crack it open after the shower.  If you have neither in your bathroom, use a dehumidifier to minimize the amount of moisture.  

I'm sorry this isn't just a cut-and-dry answer.  It'd be easier on both of us, but I want to be sure I'm giving you the best advice to insure that your paint-job will last a long time.  Don't be in a hurry to do the painting.  Remember, a good paint-job starts with great preparation, and the prep usually takes twice as long as painting, so find out what you need to know about your moisture issue first.  It will save time & money in the long-run.  Good luck.

Troy Stevens, Stelzer Painting Inc.  

Painting & Wallpapering

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


troy stevens


Questions I could answer would be anything related to the preparation and painting of a house or building. This would include both interior and exterior painting for residential and commercial structures. I'm well-versed in all painting and staining applications, products and methods. Questions I couldn't answer would be primarily those related to automotive, industrial or marine painting.


I've been painting professionally for over 26 years and I've owned my own business, Stelzer Painting Inc., for more than 16 years now. We specialize in interior & exterior painting for residential & commercial clients, re-paints, remodels & new construction. I'm fully licensed, bonded and insured. I have hundreds of referrals from past customers, an A+ rating through the BBB, and an A rating on Angie's List.

-Better Business Bureau, A+ Rating -Angie's List, A Rating -Construction Contractor's Board Member, (#202027). -PDX Advisory Group Member. -Licensed General Contractor -Licensed RRP Firm

Publications -Blogger -Hubspot -Various social platforms.

-High School Diploma -Studied at Mt. Hood Community College, Lane Community College and University of Oregon. -Recently completed continuing education requirements for licensing through the Construction Contractor's Board. -RRP Certified for lead-based paint removal through the state of Oregon. -Although my Real Estate License has lapsed, I was a licensed Realtor for several years as well.

Awards and Honors
I've managed to maintain a perfect service record since beginning my business in 1998, with over 1,000 satisfied customers and no complaints. Professionally speaking, this is my proudest achievement.

Past/Present Clients
Richard Swails: (503) 636-7377 Mr. & Mrs. Scott: (360) 718-8676 Lonnie Tongate: (971) 645-7285 On my website,, I also have a link to my referral list, which contains several hundreds more.

©2017 All rights reserved.