Paint With Confidence

Exterior Common Issues & Solutions

Surfactant Leaching

Text & image courtesy of the Rohm & Haas Paint Quality Institute

Surfactant Leaching

Concentration of water-soluble ingredients on latex paint, creating a blotchy, sometimes glossy appearance, often with a tan or brownish cast. More likely with tinted paints than with white or factory-colored paints.

Possible Cause

  • Painting in cool, humid conditions or just before they occur. The longer drying time allows the paints water-soluble ingredients—which would normally evaporate, or be leached out by rain or dew—to rise to the surface before paint thoroughly dries.
  • Mist, dew or other moisture drying on the painted surface shortly after it has dried.


Avoid painting in the late afternoon if cool, damp conditions are expected in the evening or overnight. If the problem occurs in the first day or so after the paint is applied, the water-soluble material can sometimes be rinsed off rather easily. Do not powerwash freshly applied paint. Fortunately, even more stubborn cases will generally weather off in a month or so. Surfactant leaching should not affect the ultimate durability of the coating.