Home Improvement

I bought my first home (Condo)! Yay! What do we do about the smoke smell?

By May 27, 2019 46 Comments

It has hard wood floors in 90%, carpet in 10%. We are going to paint everything but the ceiling (vaulted and popcorn). And we eventually want to replace the carpet (stairs and a loft). What’s the best way to deal with a smoker smell? It’s not strong and I don’t see any staining, but I just wanted to know what’s the best thing to do.

Thanks everyone!

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  • Dadbodyy says:

    What you are doing is best. Coat every surface with new paint.

    Maybe take the carpet out sooner than later.

  • pwdertoastman says:

    Use an ozone machine. You cannot be in there during it. But leave it in there for a few hours it’ll help tremendously. Maybe paint afterwards, good luck!

  • klimly says:

    Use primer before you paint.

  • arizona-lad says:

    You are going to paint absolutely everything, including the vaulted ceiling. Because it stinks to high heaven. Where does the smoke go? Up to the ceiling. You can’t avoid this.

    Plus you will be removing the carpet, and the pad, because it stinks too. This step is also non-negotiable. The condo has to be stripped down to hard surfaces only.

    Then you will paint every inch of the walls and ceiling in B-I-N shellac primer:


    You may also have to paint the inside of all the HVAC ductwork. Fingers crossed on that one.

    You will have to deodorize all the cabinetry. I recommend priming the interiors, as it is easier and better for the new condo dweller. Nothing pisses off a resident more than opening up a vanity or towel storage, and everything smells like smoke. Same for the pantry, unless you like your food with a dash of nicotine.

    After everything is painted and deodorized to the best of your ability, it will still smell. That is when you use ozone:


    Hopefully, this will get you a condo you can live in.

  • [deleted] says:


  • Lilbitevil says:

    50/50 vinaiger water wash, then new paint

  • nevermindmename says:

    2 options.
    Paint, replace everything and hope the weeks of work and thousands spent takes care of the problem. . …
    Or call a restoration company and get an ozone machine in and guarantee it’s done in 24 hours.

  • GrillinGorilla says:

    Have your ductwork cleaned by a pro. Painting and replacing carpet will help, but this is a necessity.

  • tales954 says:

    Zinzer before the paint. Expensive but SO worth it

  • m3rl1nx29 says:

    Many suggestions here but also remember to have the AC evaporator cleaned.

  • nocfed says:

    Wash all the walls with tsp to start. Found it made a huge difference for low cost and effort.

  • Snookcatcher says:

    If you plan on removing popcorn ceiling later DO NOT PAINT the ceiling. The paint will seal the ceiling and it will make it a mess to take down later. Please do research on this.

  • Tasty_Thai says:

    Pick up smoking. Problem solved. 👌

  • General_Distance says:

    Borax to was the walls, if needed.

  • AbsolutelyPink says:

    Prime and paint, remove carpet and pads, clean windows including screens/tracks/frames, remove and clean window coverings, change hvac filters. Don’t paint popcorn if you’re going to remove it. Duct cleaning. Clean everything else with tsp.

    Get Zep Smoke Odor remover.

  • awhorseapples says:

    Ozone machine and Zinsser BIN primer. 40 bucks a gallon but it’s magic.

  • E1Doozit says:

    Clean the walls with TSP prior to painting, new carpet and have your ducts cleaned.

  • PharmDiddy says:

    Duct cleaning – don’t forget the hvac

  • crunkadocious says:

    Popcorn ceiling has a lot of surface area to hold in stink.

  • i_got_skrimps says:

    Buy Ozium spray and empty those cans.

  • aiaor says:

    One solution, if you don’t want to use an ozone machine, or anything like that, is to simply leave all the windows open for 10 years. After you do that, presto, the smell will be gone. And it actually saves work, because you don’t have to do the work of opening and closing the windows every time the weather changes. But you might want to wear some Eskimo clothing to save on your heat bills.

  • serjsomi says:

    You are planning on painting. I’m quite sure that will take care of it. Especially if it’s not a very strong smell and there isn’t a lot of carpet. Since your planning to paint anyway, I would wait to see if that resolves the issue before spending money on other things that may not be necessary.

    Congrats bon your new home

  • zupzupper says:

    Wash the walls with tsp (tri sodium phosphate) look it up in YouTube, and plan to replace carpet.

    When you paint, use a thick layer of killz after you do the tsp wash.

  • ajising84 says:

    dispose of carpet and sofas, paint it with antimicrobial paint ( hygiene paint).

    Get your apartment deep cleaned after all work.

  • WiseGuyTony89 says:

    We just inherited grandpas house.. they sell a special paint for smoke.. it has been a pain in the ass.. washing the walls with TSP and the crazy paint. To be honest it’s not that bad I gust hate painting. We are still chipping away at it but I sure don’t smell any smoke. We also ripped the carpets out.. we are doing lament plank.

  • BrackJims says:


  • mccoypauley says:

    So one thing to note here: I once moved into an apartment that had been smoked in for 30 years. I washed literally every surface with TSP to remove buckets of tar. The landlord removed the carpet and all linens. The place was repainted with odor blocking paint, and then all the cabinets were sealed with an odor blocking clear sealant. It took weeks to clean the place and was a total nightmare. I then used an ozone machine for about 6 hours across several days. I spoke to a friend of mine about it after the fact: she used to work for the EPA and specializes in safety for hazardous chemicals in labs. She did some academic reading about ozone machines on my behalf. What she found was that what ozone machines really do is shred the particulate that’s causing the odor into such fine particulate that while you might be “disabling” the odor, you’re also spreading the source of the odor into even tinier crevices of your space, into places you’ll never be able to clean it out of. Which means you’ll be ingesting the nicotine third hand forever, because it’s been shred into ultrafine particulate, and in some causes converted into even more hazardous particulate. Anyway, something to think about before resorting to an ozone machine, especially since the science is sketchy at best.

  • meg4fierce says:

    If there is any carpet in it, sprinkle lots of baking soda over it and leave it for a few days. While you do that, cut a few onions in half and put each half in a bucket of water and leave one in each room. If you can, leave some windows open. After 3-4 days, remove the buckets and vacuum the floors with a powerful vac. I found this worked in a 3 bedroom house I rented. As I didn’t own, I was limited in what I could do and it really got rid of the smell.

  • bstix says:

    Wooden surfaces can be wiped with alcohol and/or vinegar to get the nicotine out of the wood. If you only paint, the nicotine in the wood may come through the paint. Sealing with a primer can only do so much.

    Obviously ventilate well while working with it.

  • zoltarSpeaks_ says:

    The simple and cheap solution for me was just washing the walls with hot water and soap. Thralls were greasy as a result of the smoke but the water tore right through it and got rid of the smell.

  • jpm01609 says:

    i usually like heavily scented candles toos

  • jpm01609 says:

    paint, candles,

  • Suz_E says:

    Put out bowls of vinegar overnight to avoid smoke smell. Dump them out in the morning, open windows to get rid of vinegar smell

  • ZeikCallaway says:

    I’ve never used ozone, but I’d say if you can and have time, scrape the ceilings and replace the carpet. Those 2 places are going to harbor a lot of the residue adding to the smell.

  • gGKaustic says:

    Light it on fire

  • Zindel1 says:

    Clean all the walls with hot water mixed with TSP. A garden sprayer works wonders for this. Spray it on, give it a few seconds then wipe off. Then paint the walls. Replace the carpet. You can try to clean them but I don’t think it would be worth it. Then you can do an ozone if it still smells though I haven’t had to go that far before.

  • Iamfunboy says:

    Start smoking to acclimate yourself

  • GrandeBlu says:

    I bought a house from a smoker.

    Rip the carpet out. Clean all HVAC professionally. Wash surfaces with TSP. Repaint with stain blocking primer + paint.

    I also replaced all electrical covers. Clean fridge coils or replace if bad.

  • TechnTogether says:

    Have you been in there when it’s moist? After a rain or after running the shower? The humidity can bring back more of the smell.

    When I bought my house I had to deal with smoke as well.

    I started by ripping out the carpet that was only in the living room. Then I used TriSodium Phosphate (mix with water) to scrub the walls and ceilings. This helps remove nicotine / tar from the surface. Otherwise if you go to paint, it can slide right off if it’s bad enough. Scrub with the TSP until you can scrub and your rinse water is no longer turning a dirty color Finally, I used Killz primer which is also a sealer. I didn’t use the TSP in my bathroom and we get these greasy steaks that come through the primer / paint. I’m assuming the humidity from the showers is doing that.

    Anyway, throw out anything you can like window blinds and just start over wherever possible.

  • lane_2015 says:

    Add febreze paint additive to your paint before you repaint everything.


  • TSTOplaying311fan says:

    When you paint go to Sherwin Williams and get the paint called Harmony. Harmony is a paint that reduces smells in the room it’s applied in.

  • primeight says:

    I’d prioritize the carpet too. Also you will get used to it after while so when you’re getting towards the end of your efforts have a nonsmoker friend over to confirm.

  • ear2theshell says:

    Replace all the drywall

  • Big_Ole_TDs says:

    Paint and get rid of any fabric, i.e. carpet. You might also buy a high MERV filter for your hvac system

  • FChoice2dB says:

    A couple of open containers of activated charcoal/carbon. It is porous and sucks in any organic odor permanently. Also, white vinegar used to clean the house (walls, windows, flooring). You can add an essential oil to a vinegar and water mixture to help dilute the strong smell.

  • aliensweater says:

    Ew condo.

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