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How to get your painted walls back to perfection after smoke damage

If your walls have been damaged by smoke, you may be able to clean them to remove any soot and tar residue. However, this doesn’t always work. Sometimes the residue is stuck so fast to the wall, that the paint will come away as you attempt the clean-up. However, it’s worth knowing how to clean smoke damage from painted walls. If repainting is needed, cleaning a wall is the first step to get it looking like new again.

In this article you’ll learn how to attempt a clean, and what to do if your efforts don’t do the job right. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and get your painted walls back to perfection.

Smoke damage is like other stains

With even the most stubborn stains, you’ve got a good chance of cleaning a wall so well that you forget where the stain was. There’s even a method to get Sharpie off walls. Smoke damage is different to other stains.

Smoke is a mixture of tar and soot. When it sticks to a wall, it’s like a whole new coat of paint. It’s possible that your efforts won’t clean the wall like you’d hoped. However, if this is the case, at least your wall will be prepared for painting.

How to clean a smoke damaged wall

1.     Clean the wall with a dry chemical sponge

The first thing to do is to remove as much of the loose soot as possible. You do this with a dry chemical sponge. Whatever you do, don’t use a wet sponge yet. If you do, all that will happen is that you will spread the soot and make a bad smoke stain ten times worse.

When you’re cleaning smoke damage from walls, make sure you open a window or door to ventilate the room, and wear a dust mask to stop any soot being inhaled.

2.     Now clean with a detergent

After getting rid of all the loose stuff, you can now wash the walls with a strong detergent (trisodium phosphate (TSP) is one of the best). Mix a tablespoon of TSP in a gallon of warm water, and apply to the walls using a clean sponge. Sponge off, rubbing gently.

TSP is likely to irritate eyes and skin, so it’s important that you wear goggles and gloves. Also, protect floors, carpets and furnishings by covering with plastic.

3.     Once clean, spray your walls to beat the smoke odor

Smoke odor lingers in a house, and you’ll want to get rid of it. You don’t need to use expensive cleaners – smoke odor removal can be done using only vinegar or baking powder. In our article ‘5 easy ways to remove smoke odor from your home’, we describe simple methods to eliminate the nasty, stale smell of smoke.

What if the smoke damage is still visible?

It may be that the smoke damage hasn’t been fully removed after cleaning. If this is the case, you’ll need to repaint the wall. Fortunately, you’ve already done the hardest part of the job: cleaning and preparing the surface. There are now only two steps remaining to get your walls looking like new again:

1.     Prime the walls

If you try to paint directly over any remaining stain, the stain will eventually come through. You’ll need to prime the walls first.

We suggest using a pigmented shellac primer, which will act to cover the stain and prevent odors seeping through. This part of the process can be messy, so keep those protective coverings in place. Primer is also very smelly, so, once more, make sure you are working in a well-ventilated space.

2.     Paint

Once the primer has dried, use the paint of your choice – matte or vinyl – and paint as you would any wall. You may need two coats to complete the job perfectly.

That’s it! Your wall will now be as good as new (of course, providing you have also taken care of fixing any holes, gouges, or patches that need filling).

If you need help with getting your home back to its former glory after a fire in NJ, contact Porter’s Cleaning today – we’ll be happy to provide a no obligation quote for any clean-up and restoration work that may be needed after a fire.

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