Have you ever taken a picture off someone’s wall (perhaps even your own?) and there was an outline of where the picture stood which almost made it look like the picture was still on the wall?
Although this scenario could be stemming from a variety of different reasonings, one very challenging situation to correct is if the staining around the picture was caused by nicotine.
Other ways that this type of thing could have happened would be prolonged burning of certain types of candles, a “puff back” from the heating system, or even soot related to a fireplace somehow making its way through the living space.
Nicotine, however, may just be the most stubborn of them all.
Regardless of how one feels about someone smoking in the house, this type of nicotine staining is quite the problem.
What often happens is comparable to the morbid myth which is heard on occasion of boiling a frog by placing it on a stove in a cooler pot of water, turning up the heat, and bringing the water to a boil and having the frog’s goose cooked before they had a chance to realize it.
As grotesque an analogy that this may be, the principal holds VERY true for those who allow smoking in their home where, over time, the nicotine staining builds up on the walls undetected, until one day someone takes that picture off the wall, and it hits them as to what the condition of their walls have transpired to.
Once the nicotine staining is recognized, the question of how to fix the situation may soon follow.
If the nicotine staining is not properly addressed, it will bleed through the coats of paint that are put on top of it and one will be chasing their tail infinitely attempting to stop the staining from bleeding through.
The funny thing about this situation is someone may live for decades without discovering this that is occurring all around them, but then once they are aware of it, getting rid of the nicotine staining could all of a sudden become an obsession.
Nicotine will seep into the walls and its omnipresence (once identified) may seem like an immovable object unless it is properly addressed.
Once the nicotine staining has been revealed and assuming the person finding it wants to actually get rid of it, what is the correct approach?
Over the years, we have worked through quite a number of these types of circumstances, and we do have a methodology we utilize which I believe works best.
It is important when aiming at neutralizing the nicotine that ALL painted surfaces are properly hit, otherwise it is going to be obvious as to the existence of nicotine staining on the painted surfaces that were not treated abutting any surfaces that were treated.
Coating everything being painted with at least one coat (possibly two in the most severe situations) of an alcohol-based shellac (our “go-to” is a product called ‘BIN”) is the critical component.
If things are simply gone over with what promises to be a stain-blocking oil or latex-based primer, you may be setting yourself up for some grave disappointment.
Once the proper coating(s) of alcohol-based shellac is applied, then you can hit the areas with a coat of latex primer and then your desired finished coat product(s).
This will assure that nasty nicotine stains to not push their way through fresh paint coatings and add to an already frustrating situation.
Again, the key is the alcohol-based shellac.
Once this treatment is properly executed, you will be rid of the nicotine staining forever…unless, of course, you believe allowing smoking in the house moving forward is something you are ok with, then the fresh paint job will be simply a “reset” until the nicotine staining builds up again, is discovered, and the cycle starts from scratch and repeats itself.
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