Exhibit A: the ceiling of a parlor in one of JFK’s childhood homes in Brookline. A well-loved room, filled with books, comfortable chairs and a working fireplace – this is my idea of nirvana. The clients obviously enjoy the fireplace, as evinced by the accumulated soot visible on the painted surfaces. Notice the darker areas where soot has collected around the steel fasteners used to attach the overlaid sheetrock panels to the ceiling. We see this frequently, in new homes and old. The conductivity of the steel fastener attracts ambient soot and dust – even steel studs used in new construction can attract a stripe of dust, especially where a fireplace is in use or metal finned baseboard radiators give off metal fume.
The solution involves cleaning though this is usually ineffectual as the dirt embeds in the paint film. Once cleaned, a coat of high quality primer seals the surface in advance of the finish coats. The problem will recur though, unless better air cleaning is introduced, via a more efficient HVAC filter or portable air cleaner, preferably of the HEPA level.