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How to Fix Up a Home with Cigarette Smoke Damage

calander Feb 22 , 2021 user-icon Nash Painting

The negative health outcomes associated with cigarette smoke have been understood and documented for decades. Of course, the potential harm to one’s health isn’t the only price to pay for regular smoking. Those who smoke in the privacy of their homes are well within their legal rights to do so, but over time, the chemicals inherent in cigarettes can do damage to one’s interior, penetrating porous surfaces (i.e. fabric furniture, drapes, carpeting, etc.) and lingering on walls and ceilings. At the very least, accumulated cigarette smoke generates a powerful odor that outsiders will notice immediately when entering -- at worst, smoke damage can turn walls and ceilings yellow or brown, deteriorating surfaces and their paint jobs. Additionally, the occasional toppled ashtray or forgotten cigarette can leave scorch marks that may permanently damage a given surface.

If you don’t smoke indoors or at all, these various forms of interior damage might not seem relevant to you. However, as you look for homes to purchase, you might come across a place that’s mostly perfect for you, save for one issue: the previous owner was a regular indoor smoker. While this fact might turn you away at first, it might ultimately reel you in -- indeed, the presence of smoke damage can diminish a property’s resale value by much as 30%, which is nothing to scoff at if you’re on a strict budget. The caveat here, though, is that should you buy a home that harbors cigarette smoke damage, you’ll be responsible for covering the costs of restoring its interior.

In most cases, the significant discount you receive from purchasing a home with smoke damage will be greater than what you’ll have to dish out to renovate the place. Still, it can take a long time and significant resources to snuff out severe smoke damage. If the smoke damage isn’t too noticeable, you might consider leaving things as they are and/or simply coating your walls and ceilings with fresh interior house paint to seal away any smoke-stained surfaces. Unfortunately, this half-measure will only prolong the problem and retain the health hazard of third-hand smoke (THS) inside your home. As such, it’s imperative to do whatever you can do to rid your place of smoke damage wherever it may be, regardless of severity.

How to Fix a Home with Cigarette Damage

Fling Any Furniture from Before

As previously mentioned, tobacco smoke easily enters soft, porous surfaces and isn’t easily removed. In fact, by the time you purchase a home that’s been infested with smoke damage, there’s a good chance that most of the furniture, curtains, carpeting, and other fabric features are beyond saving. Keeping these items as-is or around at all will only serve to strengthen the smoke odor inside your home. It’s also worth noting that the cost to restore these items is often on par, if not greater than the cost to simply replace them. So, if the place you’re purchasing is already furnished, it’s often best to start fresh and get rid of these items. Coordinate with your local junk removal service to ensure that these damaged objects are properly and safely disposed of.

Clear Your Schedule for Considerable Cleaning

Once you’ve rid your home of any moveable smoke-damaged items, you must contend with the portions of your home that won’t be going anywhere, such as your floors, walls, ceilings, and other fixed surfaces. These surfaces must be thoroughly cleaned to mitigate their pungent scent, remove stains, and prepare them for repairs and fresh coats of paint. The best way to clean walls and ceilings before painting your smoke-damaged surfaces will depend on the severity of the damage and the material in question. Still, there are certain tried-and-true cleaning methods that apply to most of these situations. For instance, a mix of equal parts warm water and vinegar is often a suitable chemical-free cleaning solution for removing nicotine stains from walls and ceilings. For a stronger (and chemical-based) solution, most professionals go with trisodium phosphate (TSP), a powerful all-purpose cleaner that’s easy to come by.

Regardless of the particular products you use to clean your interior, make sure you place drop cloths around the room to minimize messes. From there, dip a scrub brush or sponge in the solution and wipe the areas in question until the stains have been removed or drastically reduced. It may take a while to complete the cleaning process, especially if the majority of your surfaces have been stained or otherwise affected by cigarette smoke over time.

Purify the Inside Air

The more you can do to bring in fresh air during the cleaning process, the better. Otherwise, your home will end up smelling like an unpleasant amalgam of tobacco, vinegar, TSP, and/or whatever other cleaning solutions you may use. Ideally, you should tackle this project on a pleasant day that allows you to open up doors and windows. If this isn’t possible, install air purifiers in key areas of your home to keep the air inside your home from getting stale. You can further cleanse the air in your home and reduce odors by placing bowls of coffee, white vinegar, charcoal, pineapple slices, and/or orange around your house, bringing in plant life to absorb indoor pollutants, lighting candles throughout the day, and/or sprinkling baking soda on carpets overnight and vacuuming them the day after. These quick-fix solutions won’t solve all your odor problems on their own, but they can help reduce and absorb the unwanted scents that come to the surface from thoroughly cleaning your interior.

Seal the Deal

Finally, after you’ve scrubbed your surfaces and eliminated as much of the smoke scent as possible, it’s time to seal them with fresh coatings to lock away any remaining odors and provide your surfaces with a fresh and durable layer of protection. Experienced interior painting services can inform you that not just any paint will do in this case. Unlike painting new walls and ceilings, you’ll need to first use a specialized sealant to keep what’s left of the smoke residue from poking through again. There are many products that serve this purpose on the market -- ask your residential interior painting contractor about their preferred product to learn more about how it works and why it’s right for your needs. After this smoke-sealing primer is properly applied and cured, your surfaces are ready to receive a fresh coat of interior paint. If all prior steps have been carefully followed, you should end up with an interior that looks good as new and leaves no trace of smoke stains or odors behind.

Fixing up a home with cigarette smoke damage is often an exhausting effort, but one that may be worthwhile if you’re seeking a significant real estate deal and willing to invest in its restoration. Of course, going it alone can be overwhelming. If you need a helping hand restoring your smoke-damaged home in Nashville, Brentwood, or Franklin, TN, you can count on Nash Painting to provide the expertise, equipment, and execution you need. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!