What Kind of Paint Covers Nicotine-Stained Ceilings?

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Man using a roller to paint a ceiling.
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Most coatings don't do a good job of covering nicotine or other smoke stains on your ceilings. If you apply a coat of ordinary white ceiling paint, the stain will continue to bleed through -- and even a second coat may not hide it. For best results, start your painting job like the pros do -- with a stain-killing primer.


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Comparing Primers

Stain-killing primers are available in latex, oil-based and shellac formulas. To cover smoke stains, the primer must not only cover, but also seal, the nicotine stain. Unless the stain is relatively light, most latex primers show some bleed-through after a single coat, while primers that are specially formulated to hide stains do slightly better. The best choice for covering nicotine stains in a single coat is a white-pigmented shellac primer.



Mike Matthews

Mike Matthews is editor of Green Building Product News, a national publication that covers sustainable innovations in building and remodeling, and he has spoken at national conferences on green building. He has also served as founding editor of "Paint Dealer" magazine.