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Old 11-05-2008, 07:22 PM   #1
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soot covered walls


i had a tenant that used kerosene inside for heat. that was approx. 7 months ago. i cant scrub it off to paint. have tried t.s.p., clorox, windex, multi surface cleaner. what do i use to be able to paint this apt.?

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Old 11-05-2008, 07:39 PM   #2
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You'll need to go for the big guns and prime with a shellac-based sealer such as Zinsser's BIN (white pigmented shellac)

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Old 11-05-2008, 09:21 PM   #3
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You can also try an oil base primer, like zinzer.

I had a similar issue with heavy tabacco smoke stains.

If you used the alcohol based primer, don't wait too long to paint the finish coat of paint. After a couple days, it a while it dries hard and is hard to cover with latex.

Which ever method you use, make sure you have proper ventilation and use a mask.
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Old 11-05-2008, 09:30 PM   #4
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soot covered walls


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Originally Posted by gusco1 View Post
i had a tenant that used kerosene inside for heat. that was approx. 7 months ago. i cant scrub it off to paint. have tried t.s.p., clorox, windex, multi surface cleaner. what do i use to be able to paint this apt.?
Before you paint over anything, thereby sealing the soot into the wall, try using a damp Magic Eraser. I expect that will remove the soot better than anything you've tried so far.

You should be able to find Mr. Clean "Magic Erasers" at most grocery and hardware stores. I find that the No-Name Brand equivalents called "Magic Cleaning Pad" are just as good, but lower in cost.

The problem is that you're dealing with particulate matter that is on a rough surface, and the different cleaners you used simply won't dissolve "soot". Nothing will dissolve soot. It has to be removed mechanically, and sponges and rags have fibers far too large to get into the tiny crevices on the surface of paint. Magic Erasers are made from a foam with excess blowing gas to that the structure formed consists of extremely fine branches which can get into the surface roughness of the paint.

Buy quite a few Magic Erasers. The foam they're made of is very hard and it tends to break as you use the Magic Eraser. The result will be that the Eraser tends to gradually get thinner and then starts to disintegrate as you use it.
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Old 11-05-2008, 10:55 PM   #5
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Companies that do smoke damage cleanup will do two things if the walls are not going to get ripped down. Wipe off any loose soot and the seal it with BIN.
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Old 11-06-2008, 08:02 AM   #6
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Yes, they do. But there it's a question of speed, manpower, customer satisfaction, the surface area involved and the fact that the insurance companies may be footing the bill. It may also be a localised soiling, in a small apartment with only a homeowner involved...different circumstances IMO.

It makes sense to remove the wall in many cases, but not everywhere. But if this tenant has been using kerosene, you might consider that the soot is in a pretty large area. It may only be visible in some areas too but it's probably the size of a whole wall, a whole room - or something of that nature. Now how much time have you got?

Considering the average situation, I'd go for dry-vacuuming with HEPA and sealing the wall/room with the shellac-based product, available in gallons or spray-cans.
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Old 11-06-2008, 03:10 PM   #7
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soot covered walls


the apartment is a 2 bedroom with living, dining, and bathroom. every wall and ceiling is covered with soot. dry erase is not affordable.complete removal and replacement is not affordable. what do i use to clean "loose" debris before primer and painting. also thanks for info. im kinda stuck on this one!
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Old 11-06-2008, 03:45 PM   #8
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OK, so then you're "average"; you should have removed most of the soot using DRY means (do not soak with any liquid, but use a vac) preferably a HEPA vac you can rent for a day, with a brush. Brush every square foot.

Then seal and paint.

If you've already soaked, then seal and paint better.
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Old 11-07-2008, 11:33 AM   #9
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Yep, a HEPA vac will keep the dust down. Removing the loose soot just makes the primer's job a lot easier.
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Old 07-04-2010, 12:55 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by gusco1 View Post
i had a tenant that used kerosene inside for heat. that was approx. 7 months ago. i cant scrub it off to paint. have tried t.s.p., clorox, windex, multi surface cleaner. what do i use to be able to paint this apt.?
I realize this message id old, but I found it with Google. Perhaps someone else will too.

We had an RV fire that left soot everywhere -- on the ceilings, on and in the cabinets, and in the carpet. Simple green removed it all. Fortunately for us, it's all paneling, stained wood, and upholstered trim. Yes, it even removed the soot from the upholstery.

Get the concentrated bottle and test diluted solutions of various strength on inconspicuous spots until you find the desired strength.

Since these are painted surfaces, after removing most of the soot, you will need to prime with one of the primers already mentioned here or with Kilz. Then repaint. In my six years of experience in rental real estate, Kilz covered just about anything -- including soot residue, tobacco smoke stains, mold and mildew stains, etc.

Link to Kilz Web Site

Last edited by bearded_oneder; 07-04-2010 at 01:03 PM. Reason: Add link to Kilz Web Site
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Old 06-04-2013, 04:29 PM   #11
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Bumping this up just in case there are other options. I noticed that the white crown in the den was looking kinda gray but didn't give it much thought. We pulled down the curtains to wash them and BAZINGA, there is soot all over the ceiling, trim, and walls near the back of our den. From the kerosene heater that we used two winters ago.

Other than the Magic Eraser, are there other suggestions? I'll try the Simple Green to see if that works. The areas are painted and I worry about stripping off the paint.
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Old 06-04-2013, 05:06 PM   #12
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Bumping this up just in case there are other options. I noticed that the white crown in the den was looking kinda gray but didn't give it much thought. We pulled down the curtains to wash them and BAZINGA, there is soot all over the ceiling, trim, and walls near the back of our den. From the kerosene heater that we used two winters ago.

Other than the Magic Eraser, are there other suggestions? I'll try the Simple Green to see if that works. The areas are painted and I worry about stripping off the paint.

If they were painted properly with any quality paint, you do not need to worry about it coming off. Properly being the key word.

Last edited by beenthere; 06-04-2013 at 06:37 PM. Reason: Fixed quote marks
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Old 06-05-2013, 09:54 AM   #13
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If they were painted properly with any quality paint, you do not need to worry about it coming off. Properly being the key word.
When I've used the magic eraser in the kitchen on our oil based paint cabinets (getting grease off the cabinets near the stove), you can definitely see the where the paint has lost it's sheen because it's dull in those areas. Which makes me nervous to use it on the high-gloss trim or the walls of the den. I'll just give it a try and see how it turns out. Can't be any worse than what it looks like now.
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Old 06-05-2013, 05:51 PM   #14
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I would use Dirtex or Krud Cutter rather than one of those "magic" erasers

Last edited by chrisn; 06-06-2013 at 04:20 AM.
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Old 06-05-2013, 07:57 PM   #15
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Companies that do smoke damage cleanup will do two things if the walls are not going to get ripped down. Wipe off any loose soot and the seal it with BIN.
Right. I did that for aliving in the 70's. Expert Fire damage Repair/resto. Thats exactly right. No other way. Used dirtex (a mixture of sodium carbonate , EDTA chelator, and sodium metasilicate), solution, then dry, then BIN alcohol based, sometimes 2 coats.

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