White paint rubbing off as powder?

30 Jan 2012
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United Kingdom
I recently moved into a new flat and accidentally made a small mark on the wall from a chair in my living room. When I rubbed the mark to see if it would come off, my finger had white powder on it. I did this on another section of the wall with the same result.

The paint has, I think, been applied on plasterboard and the property has been done up very recently.

Just wondered if anyone knew what this could be? E.g. is it typical of some paints and if so, will it subside over time?

I like to keep a clean home and am a bit concerned I might take the paint off the wall if I have to remove marks or stains!

Thanks in advance for any advice!
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It is quite common with matt emulsions, especially the cheaper ones and Contract Matts (little/no vinyl).

As the property has been recently done up, my guess would be that it is one of these types of emulsion that has been used, although some of the more expensive brands do suffer the same problem. It doesn't usually stop so you can expect the same thing to be happening when you clean it in 2 years time. :(

You could use a decorators varnish over it but I would prefer to redecorate using a trade quality vinyl matt emulsion if it causes you problems.

(Obviously, this is assuming you have a matt finish. ;) )
Thanks for the quick reply!

It is a matt finish - zero reflection from the spotlights in the ceiling. It looks much the same as the paint in the halls of our offices at work which have a similar powdery finish which comes off slightly when rubbing your finger over it.

Usually if I need to clean walls I use a hot water/vinegar solution - would this be ok on matt emulsion? The flat has been decorated to a very high standard but I wouldn't want to cause any paint to strip off if it was a cheaper paint. Perhaps I'll try a small section in an out-of-view area.
As misterhelpful says it will be a contract matt that has no vinyl in it. The best thing is a decent vinyl matt emulsion on top. To clean just use mild detergent on a cloth. I wouldnt use the vinegar to be honest.
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As to cleaning with a detergent - Sugar soap solution and rinse with water . Tried and tested stuff , get the powder it`s cheaper than the liquid ;)

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