I recently had an electrical fire in my co-op apartment. The bedroom was a total loss, and the other rooms suffered various amounts of smoke damage. I understand that the walls have to be scrubbed down, and sealed to cut down on the smoke smell. I have heard that there are special paints formulated to help alleviate the smoke smell. Can you recommend brand names or tell me what to look for in paint?
It's the primer that seals the smoke smell of the wall and ceiling surfaces. Use a shellac or oil base primer. Kilz Original (oil base) is an industry standard for sealing smoke damage. A good shellac primer is Zinsser B-I-N.
Personally, I think the shellac does a better job.
Once everything is washed and primed any good paint can be applied. Use a low or no VOC paint. It is nice not having to smell the paint after applying these smelly primers.
The shellac is certainly the best primer for holding back bleed and odor. The key will be to wash the walls with a chemical (dry) sponge. Water only moves and dilutes the smoke damage. These chemical sponges are fairly readily available and will work wonders. It's what the pro's use in the cleaning of smoke damage.
BIN is good stuff, but wow does it stink and I personally find it hard to walk never mind drive after using it. Be sure to ventilate or better yet wear a mask. Though it does dry quickly and goes on smooth.
One thing to note, watch out for drips and splatter. It's as thin as water and will run on you if you're not careful. But, I've always heard it's the best for real nasty problems.
Fire Damage and Smoke Damage surfaces
You have to determine the type of smoke damage (greasy/food or dry/paper) smoke, on the surface. Next, you have to determine, if the surface is very porous(drywall or plaster with flat paint), paneling, brick, stucco, cinderblock, or if the surface is non-porous (metal, hard solid plastic, drywall or plaster with eggshell or semi-gloss finish). The very porous surfaces, with heavy smoke damage, will most likely to be torn out and replaced with new substrates and paint. Dry cleaning with sponge, then use a sealer primer. The shellac base is best. If the surface is non porous, then use a degreasing solution to clean (dish detergent, or Simple Green). You can paint with a Latex Primer, such as Zinnser 123 latex. You need to run Air Scrubbers or Negative Air Machines, during the whole cleaning and painting process. Let me know if you have any other questions;
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