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Bathroom walls "sweating" sticky stuff? What is it?

We bought a home last year and the master bath has been beautifully remodeled, however, when you take a shower the walls are sweating. The fan is rated for the sq footage of the bathroom and it is properly working. We think that when they did a faux plastering on the walls they did not take down the old wallpaper and the sticky residue is wallpaper glue. Could that be what it is? If so, do I need to pull the wallpaper under the paint and the plaster completely off or can I just seal it when it is all dry with a good sealer/primer? HE#LP!

The sticky streaks never fully dry, they are always tacky to the touch.  They are a slightly clear and yellow/amber color.  The house was never smoked in either.
  • Home on Hidden Oaks
    Home on Hidden Oaks Houston, TX
    on Apr 9, 2015

    This happens in our bathroom too! I don't think it has ever had wall paper.

  • Andrea
    Andrea John Day, OR
    on Apr 9, 2015

    This was happening in our bathroom too, I bought a fan that was bigger than suggested, plus we had a window so I made sure that it stayed open.....that helped it until someone would like to take an extremely long hot shower. Mine was an older home, maybe that's why

  • Babz
    Babz Moline, IL
    on Apr 9, 2015

    I have a hallway that is doing this too. I had my attic insulated about two years ago and that is when It began. I'm wondering if more vents need to be put in the attic.

    • Babz
      Babz Moline, IL
      on Apr 13, 2015

      Thanks Connie. Can you give me any idea where I might find out information on this problem

  • Becky Wood
    Becky Wood Castor, LA
    on Apr 9, 2015

    I will be following this post carefully. I live in a mobile home. We have the wallpaper looking wallboard stuff. A few years ago we used Kilz primer and painted two of the walls in the bathroom. Started noticing this same thing, so we never painted the other walls. I have tried leaving the window open when showering and even leaving the bathroom door and then both bathroom and bedroom doors open.

  • Cariana Cloe Szatkowski
    Cariana Cloe Szatkowski Mc Kinney, TX
    on Apr 9, 2015

    I'm going to talk to Sherwin Williams tomorrowor Saturday and see if they know why it does this? I understand if it was just humidity, but this is sticky...Yuck, and it stains the walls. I will let you all know what they say. :)

  • D & K
    D & K Rockwood, TX
    on Apr 9, 2015

    Your are correct in your assumptions. Years ago when I first attempted painting wallpaper I got the same results as you have. The problem was I'd used a latex primer/sealer on the wall paper. But here's the catch, all latex paints and primers are designed to allow moisture to penetrate regardless if the label says its also a sealer. That's just the nature of their makeup. The solution I found was switching to an oil based primer. Since switching to oil base I've done numerous wallpaper painting, texture and faux plaster and not one has demonstrated the problem. I'd go over the existing walls with an oil base primer and repaint.

    • Cariana Cloe Szatkowski
      Cariana Cloe Szatkowski Mc Kinney, TX
      on Apr 13, 2015

      @D & K Thank you so much, I think you are right! I was going to attempt to rip all the old wallpaper down but my husband said that he thinks I would do too much damage to the existing wall. The paint can that the previous owners left is from Sherwin Williams so I will get an oil based from them and let you know how it works. Thank you for your thoughts!

  • Katie Lloyd Mansfield
    Katie Lloyd Mansfield Arlington, TX
    on Apr 9, 2015

    This happened in our bathroom after I took down wallpaper. I think it was the left over glue from the wallpaper. I've painted several times and it has finally quit.

  • Adrianne C
    Adrianne C Defuniak Springs, FL
    on Apr 10, 2015

    I think it's the glue as well, and the fan isn't pulling out the moisture it should.

  • Hope Williams
    Hope Williams Thomasville, GA
    on Apr 10, 2015

    You pretty much answered your own question on cause and remedy. The wallpaper is acting like aluminum foil with paper towels on top if you will. The plaster is the "paper towels" and absorb any moisture. There is no where else for the moisture to go except back out where it came from.

    • Hope Williams
      Hope Williams Thomasville, GA
      on Apr 10, 2015

      A new fan is only putting a bandaid on a gushing wound. You will continue to have a moisture problem regardless of fan size. Mold and mildew will surely follow. It might be between the wall paper and plaster, but it WILL be there. Fix the problem right the first time and you won't have mold remediation costs later and quadruple the total if fixed now.

  • Belinda Elliott
    Belinda Elliott South Africa
    on Apr 10, 2015

    @ Cariana, you will have to take down the wallpaper and get rid of the glue properly. Then paint with enamel paint. Always keep the windows open even if it is cold!!

  • Horsebutt
    Horsebutt Royston, GA
    on Apr 10, 2015

    Well I read this because I kinda have the same type issue, the above reasons do not make sense for me though, mine is a spare bathroom not used therefore has nothing to do with showers and fans, and has not had wallpaper. Disappointed no solution for me.. Good luck everybody but obviously there could be another reason since none of those apply in my situation.

    • Anny Palanzi
      Anny Palanzi Mashpee, MA
      on Apr 28, 2015

      @Horsebutt here's a shot in the dark: Does the room, or the walls for that matter, have any lingering odor of tobacco? The dripping stuff could be tobacco residue dripping down the walls, especially if there is any humidity at all. And it's very sticky to the touch. Clean with white vinegar, then light an incense stick to get rid of any odor. It's like fighting smoke with smoke............or I could be totally wrong.

  • Denys
    Denys Willoughby, OH
    on Apr 10, 2015

    I noticed this same problem in our main bathroom a couple of years ago after a remodel including fresh paint on the upper half of the walls. What you're seeing is actually material that is leaching out of the paint supposedly caused by poor ventilation. This is the answer I found online from a Benjamin Moore rep: "What you are experiencing is not uncommon when a latex paint is used in a bathroom that does not have adequate ventilation installed. Film discoloration due to a concentration of water-soluble ingredients on the painted surface, typically found on ceiling surfaces in rooms that have high humidity, for example, bathrooms and kitchens. The discoloration may appear as a light tan or brown spots showing a glossy, soapy appearance.Latex paints will exhibit this tendency if the coating is applied under very humid and cool temperature conditions. Dark colors made with large quantities of colorant are more susceptible.Remedies: Wash the affected area with soap and water using a soft cotton cloth and then rinse with cool, clean, water. This problem may occur once or twice again before leachable material is completely removed. When paint is applied in a bathroom, it is important to have it dry thoroughly before using the shower/bath. A more permanent solution would be to invest in suitable ventilation-the best choice being an exhaust fan that directly vents to the exterior of your home. Best regards,Mark Lamborn Benjamin Moore & Co." Let me add that we have an exhaust fan that works well (and is used during every shower) but still ran into this problem. Our walls are a deep cinnamon color, satin finish. This method worked for me but I did have to repeat it several times over the course of about a year. We've been streak-free for close to a year now and it's a much simpler solution than stripping or repainting. Give it a try. P.S. Just an FYI, according to home repair experts I familiar with, they recommend that you always leave your exhaust fan running 15-20 minutes after you've finished showering. We do not do this but I believe our problem with streaks has been solved. We've experienced no other dampness issues in our bathroom.

    • Dianne
      Dianne Canada
      on Apr 15, 2015

      @Denys Thank you, that makes the most sense to me. In the winter, when the window is closed, I notice this much more. Our bathroom, to my knowledge, has never been wallpapered, so the glue idea doesn't make sense.

  • Candy
    Candy White Marsh, MD
    on Apr 10, 2015

    I too have this same problem but I don't have nor ever had wallpaper on these walls and we built the house 34 yrs ago so I know for sure it has never had wallpaper. So it does seem that there are other reasons behind it but not sure why. I am constantly wiping the walls down because it is sticky. We use exhaust fan with every shower too.

  • Mary Heyden
    Mary Heyden Uniontown, OH
    on Apr 10, 2015

    Probably need new exhaust fan.

  • Patrick Smith
    Patrick Smith Thousand Oaks, CA
    on Apr 10, 2015

    I have this problem as well, more prevalent in my wifes bathroom where she obviously uses more personal care products i.e. perfumes, hair sprays, and makeup. Fans are only as good as is the ability to circulate your air. In other words, the fan is exhausting the air to the outside, but what is it being replaced with? Is there adequate "flow" INTO the bathroom? If your seal around your door is so tight (Bottom air gap) that it cannot enter while its being exhausted, the room becomes stagnant. The steam from the bath/shower interacts with all those hair care and make up products, and makes the wall feel sticky. You have to have not only an adequate fan to exhaust the air, but you need adequate draw INTO the bathroom to help circulate air and steam.

    • Denys
      Denys Willoughby, OH
      on Apr 10, 2015

      @Patrick Smith Please read my answer posted above. I think you might find it's a paint issue (and probably ventilation issue) but not a "product" issue and it has a very simple solution.

  • Antcp3
    Antcp3 Lake Charles, LA
    on Apr 10, 2015

    iF IT IS DIRECTLY BEHIND A MIRROR IT MIGHT BE HAIRSR\PRAY RESIDUE. TRY CLEANING IT WITH HOT WATER AND AMONIA. PLEASE WEAR A MASK AND OPEN THE WINDOW.

  • Carol Burkhardt Rask
    Carol Burkhardt Rask La Crosse, WI
    on Apr 10, 2015

    Thanks Dennis. : )

  • Linda
    Linda Syracuse, NY
    on Apr 11, 2015

    Good old hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle might be just what you need. Buy your own bottle, make sure it's opaque so no light can get thru. It can't possibly hurt, and it's a really cheap cleaner. Spray, and wipe with a dry cloth. It won't bleach out color, and it has little to no odor. I can't even begin to say the things we use it on, besides cleaning wedding gowns and the church's altar linens.

  • Connie Carroll
    Connie Carroll Brandon, VT
    on Apr 13, 2015

    Good morning to everyone. I own a paint and decorating store. While it is possible that this is related to wallpaper glue, it is not likely. It is more likely that you are dealing with a paint "surfactant" issue. If paint did not get a chance to cure properly before it was exposed to moisture, these soaps can leach out. Quite often, one would paint a bathroom and take a shower the next morning causing this issue. It can usually be washed off but tends to come back. It can also happen in an exterior application where someone painted late in the day and the temperature dropped before the paint was cured. The best solution is to clean the walls thoroughly, repaint with a 100% acrylic paint and give the area up to 10 days to cure before showering. There should always be a good fan, of course but it is the curing time that is critical.

  • Rachael Provost
    Rachael Provost Spicewood, TX
    on Apr 14, 2015

    I would have guessed it was nicotine.... My parents bathroom would sweat nictonie (both were heavy smokers) and it was an amber color and sticky... If the previous owner didn't smoke maybe the owner prior to them did?

  • Kat Hammers
    Kat Hammers Imperial, MO
    on Apr 14, 2015

    It's from not being vented enough. I have the same problem in my master bath. My master bath was an addition that I had done so I know none of those things that you think it might be has happened in my bath. My painter told me it's from not being vented good enough every time you shower.

  • Lynn Whinery
    Lynn Whinery San Diego, CA
    on Apr 18, 2015

    The apartment we lived in when we first got married did this, and there had never b een wallpaper. It also did to a degree in the hallway right outside the bathroom door. It turned out that earlier tenants had smoked. Apparently the tar was bleeding through.

  • Ann Thompson
    Ann Thompson Lexington, KY
    on May 10, 2015

    I had this problem in a house in Memphis. It looked like little droplets of paint. It was bug poop. We got a contract for treatment and it didn't happen again, before someone goes after me for using chemicals, to me it is less dangerous than bugs and poop.

  • Tanya
    Tanya Petal, MS
    on Oct 8, 2015

    We had the same problem...not enough ventilation...visitors not using the exhaust fan while showering. We painted with Benjamin Moore Bath and Spa paint...Aura I think was the name. No more sweating streaks. Best paint ever.

  • Debbie Barbee Lehman
    Debbie Barbee Lehman
    on Sep 29, 2016

    Have you checked to see if vent goes outside properly and not just into the Attic?

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