The definitive guide to painting over nicotine stained walls and ceilings.

As a painter and decorator you would have come across rooms that have been occupied by a smoker. One of the biggest challenges of painting a room is covering the yellow stains caused by nicotine. They can be extremely difficult to eliminate as they spend years seeping into the walls and leave greasy stains, becoming harder to remove if it has been left for a long time.

We’ve put together the definitive guide to getting rid of those nicotine stains. Here are the things you’ll need:

Surface Prep



To get started you’ll need to make sure all surfaces are clean and dry from anything that will interfere with the adhesion of paints. Improper surface preparation can cause stains to bleed into fresh coats and affect the finish of the job.

You’ll need to start by putting some elbow grease into scrubbing the surfaces with sugar soap to make sure all the stains have been eliminated. You may want sand the woodwork down at this stage in preparation for later (wear your dust mask for safety).

Lay down the dust sheeting and place masking tape around any fixtures you’re not painting.


Once you have scrubbed the stains off as much as you can and wiped the surfaces dry, it will need a layer of primer. This is a necessary step to fully ensure all stains are removed, leaving you with a smooth gloss like finish to lay the emulsion on.

Ensure you start with the ceiling and work your way down (a perfect time for a roller with an extension pole). The same primer can be used on both the ceiling and wall and with a quality quick dry primer, it will be ready for the emulsion within 4 hours.


Once you have cleaned the rollers and brushes from the priming stage, start applying your chosen emulsion. With the walls being heavily stained, it is better to use higher quality paint (Crown Trade Clean Extreme Scrubbable Matt is perfect for stain resistance) to ensure that all presence of stains has disappeared.  

Once you have applied the matt emulsion, it should be touch dry within 1-2 hours and completely dry within 4 hours.


You’ll then be finally ready to start the gloss work. Before you begin, you will need to remove the masking tape and apply this to the edges of the walls to ensure you do not get any gloss on the freshly painted wall.

As you will have already sanded the woodwork down during the prep stage, you will be able to start applying the Fastflow Quick Dry Primer Undercoat.

Finally, you can apply the final coat of Crown Trade Fastflow Quick Dry Gloss to finish the job to a professional standard.

Following this guide will leave you with fresh and stain-free surfaces so that you can leave your customers happy with the transformation. If you’re ready to get started, click here to find your nearest Crown Decorating Centre.