If cigarette smoke has caused the walls and ceiling in your home to yellow and smell bad, you don't have to continue to live with it. The chemicals and nicotine in the smoke can cause a lot of damage, but it is damage that can be undone. Here's how.
Start with a Good Cleaning
Before you grab a can of paint and just start painting, you'll need to clean the walls and ceilings. To do this, mix 3 cups of white vinegar with 3 gallons of hot water. Use a scrub brush to scrub the surfaces very well. Follow up with a clean towel to absorb some of the water.
For severe stains, mix a tablespoon of trisodium phosphate with a gallon of hot water. Use a sponge to scrub the walls starting at the bottom and working your way upwards. Allow the mixture to sit on the wall for fifteen or twenty minutes and rinse the wall using a sponge saturated with clean water. Dip the sponge often and change your rinse water when it becomes discolored. This will prevent streaks from forming as the walls dry.
Give the walls and ceiling a day or two to fully dry. The worst thing that you can do at this point is apply paint over the walls that are even slightly damp. Doing so will result in cracking or bubbling paint after it dries.
Apply a Coat of Primer
If the smoke damage is minimal, you'll just need a coat or two of basic latex primer. However, if the damage is extensive, you'll need to invest in a specialty primer that is used by restoration contractors to eliminate fire and smoke damage in homes. Specialty primer will be more costly, but a couple coats of it will stop the stains and odors from bleeding through the fresh paint.
Apply the Paint
If the home will be smoked in after the paint-work is complete, choose a paint type that is easy to clean – avoid flat paints. Flat paints absorb stains and odors, but if you choose semi-gloss or egg-shell finish paint, you'll be able to wipe the walls down with ease.
Keep up with Cleaning
Instead of letting the smoke odors and stains build up for several months or years, take some time each month to quickly wipe down the walls. You can accomplish this quickly using a flat-head mop with a removable terry cloth cover in a white vinegar and water mixture. If you keep up with the cleaning, another paint-job won't be needed anytime soon.
Talk with your local painting contractor, such as at Walls-N-All Painting, if you aren't comfortable with taking on this task. He or she will be able to assist you with reversing the damage that the smoking has done.