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LeviDIY 05-26-2009 02:25 PM

Smoke permeating walls
Afternoon ladies and gents... saw a thread in the HVAC section about a poor homeowner and issues with neighbors smoking indoors that reminded me about a question I've been meaning to post here...

We bought our condo from a chain smoker, who smoked a pack a day inside. Before moving in, we ripped the carpet, floors, appliances, etc out and put in new flooring, scrubbed kitchen and cabinets down, new appliances, and painted every surface twice.

I'm doing a bathroom remodel now (will post once done :laughing: :whistling2:in project section), and was using Zinsser 1-2-3 to seal some old fireboard I left in there away from the wet areas. I loved it. Great coverage, great to paint on. Then it hit me...

We are in the place over a year now. Every surface has been covered or replaced. All the walls and ceilings have recieved 2-3 coats of paint. We don't notice it, but friends who visit can detect a hint of smoke still at first. I was chatting with the association manager, and he said smoke permeates drywall (especially after 10 years of constant chain smoking indoors in a 2 BR condo) and the only way besides ripping out the drywall would be to **SEAL** the existing drywall and repaint from there.

So, 2 questions:
1) We painted the entire place before moving in... took a long time, but worth it. Please tell me there is another way.. some "magic" coating that can go over the paint? :thumbup:

2) Assuming that #1 is wishful thinking, and I just accept the fact that major priming and painting needs to be done (deeeeeeep breaths...:eek:), what would be a good "sealer"? That Zinsser 1-2-3? And, would this "lock out" the smoke smell? Or do I really need to consider full demo, rebuilding of the drywall?

mazzonetv 05-26-2009 04:46 PM

I'm afraid the only solution - that I know of - is to prime everything again with Zinsser's BIN (alcohol based) primer. This is the best primer that I know of for sealing in smoke odor. The primer stinks to high heaven, but it dries fast and you can top coat in about an hour.

chrisn 05-27-2009 05:08 AM

mazzonetvI'm afraid the only solution - that I know of - is to prime everything again with Zinsser's BIN (alcohol based) primer. This is the best primer that I know of for sealing in smoke odor. The primer stinks to high heaven, but it dries fast and you can top coat in about an hour.

This is true( except for the alcohol base) and is probably the ONLY way to go fo sealing up smoke.You WILL need a respirator, fans, open windows,removal of roof if possible.:laughing:

RegeSullivan 05-27-2009 08:16 AM

I second the Zinsser's BIN (alcohol based) primer suggestion. It is the only primer I have used to successfully used to seal in odors. If it was organic like pet urine, vomit, feces or dead animal you could use an enzyme like simple solution but smoke just never goes away. You have to seal it in or remove the offending material.

When I use BIN I do try to ventilate with a open windows and I will run the furnace fan. The alcohol smell goes away quickly, much faster the the odor from latex paints.

LeviDIY 05-27-2009 02:41 PM

Thanks all for the advice... looks like I'll go get me some Zinsser BIN... and also block off the next several weekends :) But from what you all say, sounds like a must do to get rid of this smell for good!

sirwired 05-27-2009 04:10 PM

By the way, by "respirator" we mean the scary-looking kind with removable cartridges rated for the filtering of VOC's. We do NOT mean cheap paper masks meant for sanding dust.


LeviDIY 05-27-2009 05:28 PM

Maybe some of us like that buzz feeling :)

slickshift 05-27-2009 05:58 PM

Ayup, short of removing the wall board, Zinsser's BIN (or other shellac/alcohol-based sealer) is pretty much the only thing that will hold that stink back

Ayup, it does mean one of those "fume" rated masks (or open outside-like conditions), a "dust" mask won't cut the mustard if the air currents are restricted

Ayup, at least it dries fast and the offending odor goes away quickly

Ayup...some people do like the "buzz" from BIN, but like most other types of "buzz", it does does mean gray matter is being depleted
And for most a Roomful Of BIN Buzz often means a Whale Of A Headache is coming soon

ccarlisle 05-28-2009 06:26 AM

Seeing as how you have already attempted to seal it and have had incomplete results, it makes sense to point out that smoke has such a fine particle size that it can easily permeate wallboard, studs, previous layers of paint, trim, baseboards, flooring and I'll include insulation and air ducts (if you have them) too for good measure. Higher concentration gradient inside, therefore it pushes its way outside...

The only time we were involved with a smoke problem, we ripped out the walls and sprayed the ceiling joists, studs, underlayment, replaced the insulation and then put up new wallboard.

Also, unless your house is 100% airtight, air will infiltrate through the walls in a number of areas, passing around the outer membrane, then the insulation, then the wallboard, then the paint, picking up small odours along the way.

RegeSullivan 05-28-2009 08:45 AM

I have never experienced the buzz or headache while using BIN. Maybe all the gin martinis celebrating the end of a long day have made me immune. The next time I use BIN I will have to snack on blue cheese stuffed green olives???

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