Problem Solving Overview


Root Causes of Paint Failure

While a fresh coat of paint will temporarily hide a multitude of problems, at Catchlight, we strive to address rather than simply cover over their root cause. Correcting adverse surface conditions is what distinguishes the professional craftsman from the economy painter.

Paint Failure

Peeling, chipping and blistering are all manifestations of the same basic phenomenon, namely, a lack of successful adhesion between an underlying surface and the paint applied to it. Poor adhesion may be the result of moisture transpiration, inadequate preparation or insufficient drying time between coats. Determining which factors are in play is essential to a successful solution.

Moisture-related failure is typically accompanied by staining. Migrating moisture, be it liquid or vapor, tends to transport tannins to the surface where they appear yellow to dark brown in color. Water that migrates through a plaster or masonry surface tends to transport salts that appear as efflorescence, a powdery white residue. Once the source of moisture is identified and the surface properly sealed, staining should not reappear.

Sometimes a plaster or wood substrate may need to be replaced. Catchlight Painting has a full-time carpenter on staff as well as several foremen with extensive experience capable of repairing damaged substrates, inside and out.

Plaster Restoration

Flat plaster shows its age in a number of ways from sagging ceilings to hairline cracks. Fortunately, these problems are easily remedied and the inherent sound absorbing qualities of original plaster can be retained. Where the plaster ‘key’ has broken (the key is the part of the original coat that is forced between the gaps in the lath and so hold the plaster to the ceiling or wall) plaster buttons are used to secure sagging plaster through the lathe to the studs and joists. Calcimine failures, the bane of many a homeowner, are easily rectified with proper knowledge.

Natural Finishes

Over the years, repeated application of varnish or shellac coatings to original woodwork tends to produce a dark alligatored finish, opaque enough to hide the beauty of the wood grain beneath. At Catchlight we take great care in our handling of original woodwork and employ a variety of non-toxic materials to restore or remove clear finishes.

Wood Restoration

Specialty resins designed to expand and contract with wood as temperatures fluctuate make possible the repair of rotted wood, sometimes eliminating the need to replace damaged sections of trim. Don’t mistake automotive epoxy fillers, red in color, with a cellulosic-specific epoxy!
View a sample of a Catchlight wood restoration project.


Mildew is a fungus that produces superficial discoloration under damp conditions. In bathrooms, mildew can be removed using environmentally safe mildewcide – bleach alone is not enough. Mildew also has a tendency to grow on shaded exterior walls. Removal is best accomplished through pressure or hand washing with a solution of bleach and detergent. If mildew is not properly removed before applying fresh paint it will reappear quickly – guaranteed!

Catchlight estimates are provided free of charge.
All Catchlight work is guaranteed for three years, inside and out.
Catchlight Painting is fully licensed and insured. HIC license #151854