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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
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    MA
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    2

    Default Efflorescence on plaster bathroom wall?

    Hi all,

    I discovered some rather nasty looking white growth on the middle/bottom of one wall in my bathroom near the shower. This is an old home with plaster walls. The "growths" are hard to the touch and some appear on the surface while others appear to have burst forth from under the paint. From looking around your website (and others), it seems like this may be efflorescence. I pulled some off with my fingers and it appeared to crumble into dust (along with paint!), and it also seems to dissolve in water. I couldn't get a big enough chunk to put in a glass of water, but putting a wet Q-tip against one of the spots made it dissolve fairly easily. We have great ventilation in this bathroom, although I'm sure it still gets nice and humid in there.

    So, do you all think it is efflorescence, or could it be something else? Thanks for your help!

    bathroom wall-2.JPGbathroom wall.JPG

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Memphis TN.
    Posts
    4,311

    Default Re: Efflorescence on plaster bathroom wall?

    Quote Originally Posted by Heather View Post
    Hi all,

    I discovered some rather nasty looking white growth on the middle/bottom of one wall in my bathroom near the shower. This is an old home with plaster walls. The "growths" are hard to the touch and some appear on the surface while others appear to have burst forth from under the paint. From looking around your website (and others), it seems like this may be efflorescence. I pulled some off with my fingers and it appeared to crumble into dust (along with paint!), and it also seems to dissolve in water. I couldn't get a big enough chunk to put in a glass of water, but putting a wet Q-tip against one of the spots made it dissolve fairly easily. We have great ventilation in this bathroom, although I'm sure it still gets nice and humid in there.

    So, do you all think it is efflorescence, or could it be something else? Thanks for your help!

    bathroom wall-2.JPGbathroom wall.JPG
    Water damaged Plaster. ( Repair, Paint )

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Bennett (Denver metro), Colorado
    Posts
    1,394

    Default Re: Efflorescence on plaster bathroom wall?

    Suspicious that water has penetrated the wall. Since the area needs to be repaired anyway, I would remove some of the drywall and see what the condition of the framing is inside.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Efflorescence on plaster bathroom wall?

    Thanks to you both. I think there must be some salt, since some of the spots are clearly on the surface rather than coming from underneath the paint. I'm not really sure how water would have gotten into this wall, at least not from the outside, unless via condensation over the years. Unfortunately, this is a rental, so I have no idea what's behind that wall and it seems unlikely our landlord would be willing to fix it any time soon.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,248

    Default Re: Efflorescence on plaster bathroom wall?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    Suspicious that water has penetrated the wall. Since the area needs to be repaired anyway, I would remove some of the drywall and see what the condition of the framing is inside.
    Water (moisture from the tub/shower/etc) in the air has penetrated into the surface of the plaster.

    About all you can do is remove the damaged areas, apply bonding agent (if the area is large enough), re-plaster, let it cure, then prime and re-paint.

    Sometimes, if the damage is just at the surface, brush off the efflorescence down to good plaster, brush on some bonding agent, let dry, prime and re-paint. If the damage is not too deep, the bonding agent 'glues' it back together and makes for a better repair than doing more work on it does.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Guelph,Ontario
    Posts
    169

    Default Re: Efflorescence on plaster bathroom wall?

    This is water damage,repair the cause,then fix the plaster and paint,other wise no matter what you do,the issue will come back.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,248

    Default Re: Efflorescence on plaster bathroom wall?

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Janssen View Post
    This is water damage,repair the cause,then fix the plaster and paint,other wise no matter what you do,the issue will come back.
    "This is water damage"

    Correct, it *is* "water damage", but what caused it and where the water came from need to be known before any repair of the cause.

    Some here are assuming that "is water damage" from a leak or water intrusion, whereas it may in fact simply be from moisture in the air, it is, after all, in a bathroom and probably near a tub/shower from the tile shown in the one photo.

    Before I would go about doing any major undertaking of 'trying to find a leak', I would first do some minor investigating to determine if the moisture may simply be air-borne (such as from a tub/shower). High humidity/moisture levels can cause plaster to have efflorescence just like that shown.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Memphis TN.
    Posts
    4,311

    Default Re: Efflorescence on plaster bathroom wall?

    Looking at the pictures again looks like drywall not plaster.

    Drywall with metal edge strips.

    Metal edge strips just below the wall surface would cause condensation from warm moist air on the surface and damage the wall.

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,248

    Default Re: Efflorescence on plaster bathroom wall?

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    Looking at the pictures again looks like drywall not plaster.

    Drywall with metal edge strips.

    Metal edge strips just below the wall surface would cause condensation from warm moist air on the surface and damage the wall.
    Plaster on rock lath with metal corner bead ... or one coat plaster on plaster board with metal corner bead ...

    The metal corner bead is not just used with drywall, metal corner bead is used for plaster too, the difference is the type of metal corner bead - typically rock lath and plaster has a metal corner bead with thicker expanded flanges for the brown coat and finish coat, the metal corner bead for plaster board and one coat plaster typically has thinner expanded flanges, sometimes the plasterer would use drywall type for one coat (work quite well for one coat). The metal corner beads are actually called "plaster grounds" as that is the level the plaster is screeded/finished to.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
    Posts
    5,847

    Default Re: Efflorescence on plaster bathroom wall?

    Quote Originally Posted by Heather View Post
    Thanks to you both. I think there must be some salt, since some of the spots are clearly on the surface rather than coming from underneath the paint. I'm not really sure how water would have gotten into this wall, at least not from the outside, unless via condensation over the years. Unfortunately, this is a rental, so I have no idea what's behind that wall and it seems unlikely our landlord would be willing to fix it any time soon.
    It's a rental! Tell the owner about it and when they do not do anything put a plant in front of it! Problem solved......

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,248

    Default Re: Efflorescence on plaster bathroom wall?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    It's a rental! Tell the owner about it and when they do not do anything put a plant in front of it! Problem solved......
    I like solutions like that ... don't bother trying to figure out what it is or how to fix it ... just put a plant in front of it ... rental or not!

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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