How to prepare nicotine stained walls for paint

Applying a fresh coat of paint to walls is a quick way to give any room of the home a makeover. If your walls are stained with nicotine, however, it is important to properly prepare the walls before applying fresh paint. Yellow or brown nicotine stains will bleed right through a fresh coat of paint and can even prevent the paint from adhering properly. So prep your nicotine-stained walls properly before painting to give you the best finished product possible.

Choose the right type of paint. If the walls you are painting will be exposed to nicotine in the future, use an oil-based paint rather than water-based. Oil-based paint also will more effectively cover any nicotine stains left behind on the walls.

Fill a bucket with 1 gallon of undiluted white vinegar or undiluted lemon juice. Both products are effective at remove nicotine from the walls and are also safe, eco-friendly products.

Dip a clean, cotton rag into the cleaning product and wring it out. Use the rag to scrub the nicotine off the walls. In some spots, you might need to use a stiff scrub brush to effectively scrub away the stains. Rinse out the rag or scrub brush often.

Make a stronger solution for tough, hard-to-remove nicotine stains. Mix 1/2 cup of household ammonia with 1 gallon of warm water. For really stubborn stains, use equal parts ammonia and water. Use a rag and/or scrub brush to scrub the walls.

Rinse the walls with a rag and clean water to remove any residue. Let the walls air dry completely.

Apply an oil-based primer to the walls prior to painting. The primer will help to cover any traces of the nicotine that you might not have been able to get off the walls.

Things You'll Need

  • Oil-based paint
  • Bucket
  • White vinegar or lemon juice
  • Clean rags
  • Stiff scrub brush
  • Household ammonia
  • Oil-based primer
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About the Author

Kimbry Parker has been writing since 1998 and has published content on various websites. Parker has experience writing on a variety of topics such as health, parenting, home improvement and decorating. She is a graduate of Purdue University with a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication.