How to Paint Over Smoke Damaged Walls

Smoke image by peter Hires Images from

Smoke-damaged walls can result from an event as dramatic as a fire or as insignificant as burning a cheap candle. The smoke causes unattractive black marks and discolouration to the walls and ceiling. Simply painting over it without properly cleaning and preparing the walls only fixes the problem temporarily.

Eventually, the discolouration seeps through and marks up the newly painted walls. Painting the smoke-damaged walls requires a twofold process that you can complete with basic cleaning and paint supplies found in a home improvement store.

Examine the walls to see how bad the smoke damage is and to ensure that you do not have underlying problems from the fire damage.

Dissolve a tablespoon of TSP in one gallon of warm water. Wear rubber gloves and goggles during this step, because the TSP can irritate the skin and eyes.

Use a large sponge to clean the area of smoke damage. Clean the area in sections to ensure you will cover all of it. Do not get too much water on the walls. If you have drywall this could damage it and excess water could encourage the growth of mould. If your walls are covered in wallpaper, you will need to remove it. Porous surfaces such as stucco may also need to be removed.

Prime the walls with an oil-based stain-blocking primer .The primer will seal the smell of the smoke and provide a clean base to apply fresh paint.

Examine the walls to see if smoke shows through the primer. If so, apply a second coat of primer.

Allow four hours for the last coat of primer to dry. Then apply paint to a small area to test for bleeding. If the smoke damage bleeds through, apply another coat of primer and allow it to dry overnight before trying again to apply a topcoat of paint. Paint two or three thin layers of paint so they will dry easily and give a professional-looking finish.