Wall paint smells after more than a week!

Questions & AnswersCategory: Enviromental Painting Questions and ConcernsWall paint smells after more than a week!
Lily Warren Staff asked 4 years ago

I just had my bedroom and bathroom painted two Saturdays ago by house painters. I was trying to be good to the environment and my family so I bought good products: Bullseye Low Oder primer and Olympics No VOC paint.

Now my rooms have this overwhelming odor that won’t go away. I don’t know how to describe the smell. I’ve conducted some tests on plain paper with the products to see what is making that odor.

* Test 1 – With just the paint, resulted with no smell.
* Test 2 – With just primer, resulted with no smell.
* Test 3 – Paint added to fully dried primer and allowed to dry, resulted with no smell.
* Test 4 – Paint added to half dried primer and allowed to dry, resulted with no smell.
* Test 5 – Wet paint added to wet primer, resulted with no smell.

The painter also painted a living room wall for me with a low VOC paint and that wall doesn’t smell. It’s not the drywall, because all my walls are the same and they never smelled before. So I don’t know what else it could be. I thought maybe the painters put something in the paint or used very stinky old rollers that still contain old paint. They did wash their equipment in my bath tub. Maybe they accidentally produced a chemical reaction when they pored paint thinner down my bathtub pipes? How can I get rid of the odor and more importantly, is it producing lots of VOC? Should I just put up new drywall if the VOC is very high and the paint odor is still there after one month? Please help!

4 Answers
crowderpainting Staff answered 6 years ago

Don't really know the cause but any smell should dissipate as the paint cures. Assuming the odor is coming from the walls.

It's strange that only one room/area is affected. I wonder if there was something on those walls that isn't on the other rooms walls and this is a chemical reaction. One possibility is air freshener or hair spray. Anything in an aerosol can will travel around and stick to the walls.

Can you describe the smell? This might help. Is it a musty, moist dirt, type of odor?

It is possible that the tool washing is causing the odor. Is the smell stronger in the bathroom or tub? If you think it is coming from the tub pour white vinegar down the drain, wait for 15-30 minutes then rinse with plenty of water.

No need to replace the drywall. This would be a very big job. If the odor persists you might need to repaint the affected rooms. Using a tinted shellac primer would seal up the walls allowing for a new coat of paint.

Before doing anything drastic try to narrow down where the odor is coming from. Is is one wall or the tub?

Anonymous Staff answered 6 years ago

Thanks for replying. The smell is definitely coming from the walls. It's hard to describe. It smells kinda like paint thinner and an oil based paint mixed together. But my paint and primer were both water-based.

I'm guessing it doesn't smell in the living room because there's 5 windows and the ceiling is really high for ventilation. Also the painter didn't prime the living room wall. But from my own tests, it's not the primer.
At this point the smell is overwhelming and we are staying in the guest room. If the smell doesn't go away by next month, I'll take your advice on the tinted shellac primer. Thanks again.

crowderpainting Staff answered 6 years ago

This is strange. You described dirty mineral spirits. It is common practice to allow dirty mineral spirits to settle and reuse the clear portion for cleaning up after using oil base paint, typically used for the first rinse when cleaning brushes. Now I'm starting to wonder if dirty tools were used.

Forcibly ventilate the bedroom and bathroom. Use window fans if you have any. If the smell is still around in 2 weeks contact the retailer and manufactures, starting with the paint manufacture. Let them know that there is a strange smell coming from using their products. Hopefully they will have a better idea of cause.

The shellac primer is alcohol based so it has a very strong smell but dissipates quickly.

Anonymous Staff answered 6 years ago

Hmmm…Maybe they did use dirty tools. I'll try to use a window fan and see if that helps. Hopefully the smell will go away soon. Thanks for your advice!

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