Can I Paint Over Smoke Damage

Can I Paint Over Smoke Damage?

Catastrophic events like fires can cause smoke damage. To return your property to its natural state, you may be thinking about painting over the affected areas.

Before you do so, understand that smoke damage within your home or business goes beyond it simply smelling and looking bad. It’s also uncomfortable and harmful to your health. If not addressed quickly, your walls can become permanently stained.

So, what should you do?

Your best bet is to get rid of the soot and paint over the smoke damage fast. If you’re wondering how to paint over smoke damage, read our step-by-step guide below.

1. Dry Cleaning

Cleaning soot off a wall is necessary before beginning the painting process. This process is known as dry cleaning and it is essential to neutralize the damage caused by smoke and fire.

Before you begin the dry cleaning process, you need to get all the loose dirt, soot, and debris off the walls. This will give you a smooth painting surface.

Then, you’ll need a dry cleaning sponge. These are special sponges you can purchase from home improvement stores that are made for cleaning up soot. Use the sponge to carefully wipe down all walls and ceilings that have smoke damage. You may need to change your sponge if it becomes too saturated with soot, so have several backups handy.

Once you’ve finished cleaning every wall and ceiling with the dry sponge, you may move onto the next step.

2. Wet Cleaning

You’ll immediately see the difference in the cleanliness of the walls after the dry cleaning process. For this next step, you should wear protective clothing so you don’t get cleaning liquid on your personal clothing. A mask is also necessary to prevent breathing in any cleaning products.

What cleaning product should I use? We recommend phosphate-based heavy-duty cleaners in powder form. These are the best for blocking out harsh stains so you can prime over them.

Here are the steps for the wet cleaning process:

  1. Mix the cleaning product powder with water and apply the mixture to your walls and ceilings.
  2. Using the sponge, use long strokes to wipe the smoke damage away.
  3. After you’ve finished cleaning all the smoke damaged surfaces, use a different sponge to rinse the walls and ceiling with clean water.
  4. Wait until it dries completely.

3. Priming

Even with non-smoke damaged walls, you need to put a primer down before painting. For smoke-damaged walls, you need to make sure that there are no more stains on the walls before applying primer.

Double-check to make sure your walls are completely clean, then begin priming. Priming the walls is easier than painting because although it should be completely even, it doesn’t need to be perfect. Just make sure you’re covering the stains and you’ll be good to go.

When priming, we recommend using two coats to ensure full coverage and stain blockage. You must leave two hours for the primer to dry before attempting to paint over it. Also be sure to take the following safety precautions:

  • Primers often have a very strong chemical smell, so make sure to keep your windows open so air can circulate.
  • You should also wear a mask during this step so you don’t inhale the fumes of the primer.

Couple Stood In Shorts And Jeans, Painbrush In Either Hand And A Paintroller In The Background4. Painting

We’ve arrived at the last step of the process: painting! At this point, you shouldn’t see any stains through the primer. If there are still visible stains through the primer, you may be able to see them through the paint as well.

One of the decisions you’ll have to make is whether you should paint over just the damaged section or the entire wall. Although it’s completely up to you, we recommend painting the entire wall to avoid weird overlapping streaks.

Make sure to do a few coats to ensure you’re getting the color payoff that you want from your paint. Once you’ve finished painting, you can redecorate your walls, hang up photos, or whatever else you’d like to put on your fixed walls!


Smoke damage can be devastating, but it’s not impossible to fix. With our step-by-step guide to painting over smoke damage, your walls will be looking brand new in no time.

If you find that you cannot finish this process yourself or you need help, feel free to contact All Dry USA for all your cleaning and restoration needs!

Ben Suiskind
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