How to clean smoke / nicotine damage from a paint surface


Everybody knows smoking isn’t good for health. Well.. smoking isn’t good for painted surfaces either. Overtime the smoke leaves a residue on the surface which can feel quite tacky. The other major problem it causes is leaching of the stain through the fresh coat of paint to be visible. Whether it be smoke or water damage, nothing breaks your heart after spending time painting to see a stain creep and spread across the fresh paint.

So what to do.

  1. Protect all furniture and flooring from water with plastic. Be also sure to place some old dropcloths under where you are working because as you clean the plastic will get slippery.
  2. Obtain a paint surface friendly cleaner such as sugar soap but I prefer tricleanium. Don’t forget protective gloves and goggles. These cleaners are harsh and will irritate your skin.
  3. In a bucket make up a solution with cleaner and water to the manufactures instructions. It’s not like washing powder don’t be tempted to put a bit more in for good measure.
  4. To wash the surface you can use a brush, broom or I like to use a sponge mop. I have also found some bathroom cleaning type of scourers work great especially on a cornice.
  5. If your smoke damage is outside I would use a soft hair broom and remove with a pressure water cleaner.
  6. Once applied leave for recommended time usually 10-15 minutes before removing with fresh water with rags or once again I like the sponge mop. Change the water regularly as it looks dirty so you’re not re applying the muck.
  7. If you like reapply
  8. Don’t be surprised if all the discolouration doesn’t come away with this cleaning process the undercoat will take care of it.

The stain will activate but don’t be alarmed if you see it in the undercoat. The paint is doing it’s job and trapping the stain. You can reapply if you like.

Allow to dry, make any patching or filling, sand and spot prime again with the undercoat.

Apply two coats of ceiling flat acrylic paint unless it’s a wet area where a semi gloss finish is preferable. I even use a one coat product but put two coats on. I also recommend tinting the ceiling paint slightly to assist in blocking the old yellow staining try Dulux lexicon 1/4 or White on white.

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