We are moving into a house with yellow stained walls from the smoker who lived there for 40+ years.

On top of that, every single wall is textured.

We already plan on skim coating to cover the texture.

Should we use kilz or zinnser prior to doing the skim coat Or will the skim coat cover the stains/odor?

  • 3
    Cigarette smoke is insidious. Trying to encapsulate it will just be an exercise in frustration. Seems like it would be less work to just go ahead and pull the drywall down and start over. This will also give you access to modernize utilities. Because you know if it hasn't been modernized in 40+ years, there's tired old electrical wires, probably no grounding, 3-wire dryer and range connections, etc. Not to mention very tired old plumbing. Commented Aug 11, 2020 at 1:44

1 Answer 1


Should we use kilz or zinnser prior to doing the skim coat Or will the skim coat cover the stains/odor?

You want to seal the stains first and then skim.

In my experience cigarette stains will bleed through most primers and paints.

The most effective way to seal them is to use a shellac based primer

I would give it at least two coats of the shellac primer. (Maybe three) It is very thin but when it dries it will create a good seal.

Once your have sealed the walls you can proceed with skimming. Use a good primer on your skim coats and then paint.

AS Harper states it may be worth it to pull the old dry wall off and put up fresh. Skimming it will be as much if not more work then replacing.

  • If smoothing over the texture is a given, regardless of the cigarette smoke or not, I would sand the walls to flatten the texture a bit and give the Kilz a tooth to grab onto, not just the smoke film. 60 grit, perhaps 80 will knock it down in a hurry, but it will be a lot of work still. The coarse sanding marks will be covered by the skim coat.
    – Jack
    Commented Aug 11, 2020 at 2:23

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