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handsforasl 03-05-2013 01:56 PM

Nicotine bleeding through previous owners' ceiling job
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The remodeling project is coming along (slowly but surely). I attached a picture of that problem wall. I am working on more lotus flowers, but in different colors I haven't chosen yet.

As I've been steaming down the wallpaper, small pools of nicotine stains are forming in areas of the ceiling. It seems that the previous owners used some sort of latex paint. If you catch the edge of the paint where the ceiling meets the wall, you can peel the layer right off.

I read through some other threads on this problem. Our house does not have a lot of moisture so I don't anticipate the nicotine bleeding through under other circumstances, but what would be the preferred way to address this?

Should we wash the ceiling with a bleach or TSP solution, reprime, and then paint? Or just prime/paint? I have been using First Coat as the primer (Sheetrock) for the walls. Can I use that for the ceiling too?

Thanks :)

Mr. Paint 03-05-2013 03:43 PM

Nicotine is an insidious, water-extractible stain that paints alone cannot handle. I recommend removing as much of the loos paint as you can and use a pole sander with pre-cut sanding screens to smooth out the ceiling. Prime with Zinsser BIN. This is a shellac-based primer that is the industry standard for fire-damage and nicotine staining.

TarheelTerp 03-05-2013 05:23 PM


Originally Posted by handsforasl (Post 1130467)
Should we wash the ceiling with a bleach or TSP solution...

Yes. ALL walls should be washed before painting. Nicotine stained walls and ceilings deserve extra attention and effort before doing anything else to them.

ltd 03-05-2013 05:32 PM

For nicotine stains I like Zinsser cover stain about 22bucks vs 40bucks for bin at the big boxes. imho its much easer to use, hide is better. Get a old brush or a 5 dollar brush, a 1/2 nap roller cover and pitch when done .Bin will do a good job also.

jsheridan 03-05-2013 05:35 PM

I agree with Ltd, Cover Stain is the way to go. Cheaper, easier to use, and a better undercoat for a flat painted ceiling. Drying time of the first coat of flat will also be much shorter over CS than shellac.

<*(((>< 03-05-2013 05:55 PM

I bought a foreclosed home that had been smoked in pretty heavily by the previous owners. Our actions which worked great were as follows:

1. Wash all trim, walls and ceilings with a Tri-Sodium Phosphate (TSP) Solution
2. Rinse all walls with water after the TSP
3. Primer using Zinnser BIN (man is the smell of this stuff potent)
4. Top coat with whatever paint you choose.

We have zero bleed through, and zero smell, even new people to our house I always ask, can you smell any smoke and they can't. Granted we removed and replaced all the carpet and washed every other surface in the house (air registers, appliances, cabinets, shelves, outlet/light switch covers, light fixtures, blinds etc.). I even went as far as cleaning the return air ducts as far back as I could reach and replacing the air filters and placing crushed charcoal on top of the air filters and ran the fan for a few weeks, heard this would help pull any smoke particles in the air out. It was very tedious but well worth the effort, for what we paid for the house.

handsforasl 03-07-2013 12:38 PM

Great! Thank you all very much for the suggestions and advice. :-)

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