I have an art studio built in the back half of my garage that has been unusable ever since we painted. We built new, with drywall, the building is roughly 6 years new. We finally installed the drywall about 3 years ago. The walls were primed first since it was new drywall.

When the walls were finally painted we used a matte ceiling paint so there would be no reflections etc on the walls. The paint ended up being rancid but we did not know at the time as we were wearing masks. It smells so bad I get a headache after being in there for only ten minutes or so. I painted 4 coats of an oil based shellac primer from the many recommendations on sites as these. Still smells.

It sat for a year hoping the smell would just dissipate with the windows open. Twice,I room shocked the room with biocide room shockers, still smelled bad. I ended up writing the paint company and they recommended two different products to try, I did... room still smells awful. I let it sit all winter with 9# of activated charcoal in there while it was too cold to paint and opened the windows and had fans running all winter long. Still smells awful. The company wants me to try one more primer of theirs but I wrote them asking whats next if this doesn't work? And they have stopped responding.

Is there a way I can remove the paint down to the drywall and see if that cures the stench? I'm afraid to rip out the drywall as there is 16" of blown insulation in the ceiling, which by the way does not smell, I stuck my head up there to check. This room has sat unused for almost 3 years now because of the smell. I'm so mad at this point. What would happen if I stripped the paint and the drywall paper off with it? Can you have sheetrock without paper?

1 Answer 1


Your choices are rip out and replace or add another layer of sheetrock. I'm guessing the cause of the smell has soaked into the porous substrate (sheetrock) and will never come out. I would advide using a vapor barrier unless you fully understand vapor and moisture control in walls though. From your tale personally I would sheet over the ceilings and rip out walls if it was just blown in above.

  • I was advised not to use valor barriers as we used papered insulation and that is adhered to thr studs and if we put a vapor barrier behind the drywall on top of kraft paper itll sweat. Also, what would a vapor barrier prevent if the smell is coming from the paint coats? Does covering over drywall really get rid of smell? We also have canned lighting in the ceiling, not sure it i can make the ceiling lower as the lights would not line up?? Is there a way?
    – L lipori
    Jul 25, 2017 at 1:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.