paint roller

Painting over Smoke or nicotine stained walls

Written by David | May 15, 2024

Are looking at a house or have a house with cigarette or nicotine stained walls? Are you trying to figure out how to get rid of the cigarattes smoke smell or stains? Then be warned- it is not an easy quick or cheap fix. People ask us can I fix the issue by Painting over Smoke or Nicotine stained walls? I wish the answer was yes, but it is no.

Hello Everyone, David Cook with Dfranco Painting and Wallpaper here in Huntley, IL. Today we talk about cigarrette smoke damge in homes because of a phone call we receivd yesterday from a realtor looking to help his client. Specifically, painting over nocotine stains. I thought we had something in our learning center about this, but see we do not, so here you go! We have helped home owners in Elgin, Pingree Grove, Geneva, and St. Charles with this issues before, so we can ehlp you as well. We can tell you wahat has worked for us and our customers to fix this problem.

Can you clean nicotine stains?

Great and loaded questions. This is a yes and no because it does depend on what your cleaning.

HArd surfaces such as glass or tile can be cleaned esy enough, well not easy, but can be cleaned. There are tow thoughts on this- TSP or Vinegar. We have used both and both will work. USE GLOVES!!!! the nicotine stains and irritates your skin, so be careful. When the Nocotine does not ittitate your skin, cleaning products can. Items you can clean nicotine from:

  • glass
  • tile (not the grout)
  • sealed surface counters (laminates, quartz, corian)
  • solid surfaces of cabinets- not pourous wood types such as oak/cherry/maple

You cannot get rid of nicotine from surfaces that absorb such as:

  • drywall
  • wood
  • grout
  • carpet
  • drapes/curtains
  • fabrics

Do I need to clean the walls of nicotine before painting?

You should try and clean stains if possible. It can take forever. Your looking to get rid of heavy runs, drips etc. You cannot remove stains or smoke smell from the pours of an itesm, but youcan get rid of the slime or heavy residue build up. We have seen nicotine so thick it was like cooking oil. That is an exception.

Using the same TSP or Vinegar will get rid of build up so you can then paint walls.

What primer should I use over smoke or nicotine stains?

You will need an oil or solvent based primer.

oil stain blocking primer
oil stain blocking primer

Zinsser oil based low odor is our go to for problem surfaces. We like it becasue not only will it work over cigaratte smoke, but for fire smoke, and then other items such as cedar to block tannins from wood. The low odor quality is great!! Plus it dries fast.

What kind of paint to use over oil primer?

If you have primed any surface with oil, you are open to any type of paint to use. The opposte is not true. Oil paint over water based will peel

Dont go cheap on paint!! Sherwin Williams and Benjamin moore are work hourses for contractors for a reason. – They work and have been around for over 100 years! They spend multi millions to test produts to make sure that what they sell works- and they stand by their products.

Before painting final colors- make sure the surface is dry- and not dry to the touch- but dry accourding to the label. Each primer will say how long to ait before applying second coat of primer or top coat of paint.

How can I get rid of smoke or nicotine from wood surfaces?

This comes from a house with oak trim- you can’t. A house I owned in Gilberts had oak and smoke stains. We cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. The smell did go away, but every and any time we took a rag with cleaner to the oak trim, orange brown nicotine would be on the rag. It does not ever go away from purous surfaces.

Do we help with your painting question?

If you have questions about paintinng the interior of your home, need a paint contractor for the exterior of your home, looking for a cabinet painter or wallpaper installer, we can can help! Let us know and we can answer your question as well.

Get Your Free Estimate

Our team will provide a free virtual estimate during a time that is convenient for you.

Book Today

Refer a Friend

Do you know a friend that is in need of painting, wallpaper or cabinet refinishing? Earn D'franco Dollars for each referral

Learn More
Book Your FREE Estimate
MM slash DD slash YYYY
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Your Free Estimate

To help home and businesses owners during this challenging time, we are offering free virtual estimates.

Fill out the form below and we will schedule a time for a free video call estimate.