We moved into a home where smokers previously resided. We hired a professional painter to prime with Kilz 2 throughout the entire house. In the large majority of the house the Kilz was put on very thin, to the point that the yellow color from the nicotine residue is seeping through and you can easily see the previous color paint right through the Kilz. When we began painting over it (i.e. ceilings), we are having to do 2-3 coats minimum for coverage.
The last 2 rooms of the house they rushed through. The paint is sagged and dripping where it was rollered. Where the paint was brushed, it is smooth. I contacted the painter who stated there was so much “residue” on the walls the paint would not stick and that is why it looked that way. He stated he was not surprised it sagged and the drips should easily sand out. We are ready to paint the room and tried to sand the drips and they are anything but easy to sand out.
For additional information, they painted ceiling, walls, and trim of a 2500 sq foot house, 13 rooms and 3 hallways with 10 gallons of Kilz 2.
I question his response that the paint sagged because of the nicotine as it did not sag in other rooms of the house which were more heavily smoked in. I believe it was due to the fact they were rushing and used too much paint. Is his claim that the dripping and sagging is from the nicotine residue valid? If so, would a reputable painter leave a job in that state? Lastly, how do we remedy the situation since the sanding is so difficult?
Not enough primer was applied and it would have been better to wash first then use a shellac primer instead. If sagging was a problem then they should have applied the primer as 2 thin coats.
A good painter would have used a different primer, applied it so there are no runs and applied enough so your walls and ceilings are properly sealed.
The runs need to be cut or scraped from the surface then a little spackling paste can be used to smooth out the area.
Kilz 2 is not the proper primer for the project. Smoke type damage has to be primed with an "oil based primer" which will truly seal over the top of nicotine as well as deodorize. The trouble is that oil based primers have dangerous fumes during the application process, and most customers as well as the painters themselves don't want to deal with the fumes while the primer dries. 10 gallons for 2500 sq feet doesn't sound like enough. Some of the dripping and sagging could be due to using the wrong primer and not properly sealing the nicotine, however it sounds like they were rushing through it all. A combination problem as I see it. No easy fix. Sand your heart out.
Water base primer will never work on smoke, oil will work on some but shellac primer is the only way to be sure. About 35 gal. for your sq/ft including ceilings at $40 per gallon just for primer. But without it you might as well paint everything nicotine yellow to disguise the stains that will always be there. Or start over with shellac primer and be prepared to spend at least $8000.00 for a multi-color job on a house of that footage.