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If you’ve ever dealt with the aftermath of smoke or fire damage in your home, you know it’s quite an overwhelming endeavor. Paint peels and chips away, thick oily residue clings to the walls like permanent marker, and there seems to be a layer of film on everything.

A few years back, my husband put a pot of water on the stove to make lunch. A few minutes later he remembered that he needed to mow the lawn and ran out the door to quickly get it done. The water evaporated. The pot burned. The house almost went up in flames, but fortunately he remembered the pot seconds before flames erupted. We lucked out. The only consequence was a house covered in smoke and soot, and a charred kitchen ceiling that seemed beyond repair.

After taking the “If I don’t look at the ceiling and acknowledge the problem, it doesn’t exist” approach, I’ve decided to take a deep breath, apply some elbow grease and get that kitchen back into shape.

Here are some helpful tips to reclaiming the walls of your home from smoke and fire damage:

Assess the Situation

First and foremost, take a good look at the walls and ceiling to see if the damage goes beyond something you can handle. Check for any underlying issues that could cause problems for you in the future.

Gather Your Supplies

Just as drastic times call for drastic measures, so goes your approach to cleaning up that pesky soot. Tri-Sodium Phosphate (TSP) is a good way to get through that tough grime on your walls and ceiling, but you will need to take some precautions as it can irritate your eyes and skin. Be sure to wear long gloves, a mask and goggles while scrubbing down. You’ll also need a large sponge.


  1. Give the walls and ceiling a quick wipe down to get rid of any surface residue that is easily removed.
  2. Next, dissolve one tablespoon of TSP per one gallon of warm water. Again, be sure you have those rubber gloves and goggles on! Then you can use the sponge to wipe down the damaged areas, small sections at a time.
  3. After you use the cleaner, you will need to go over the walls again with water to rinse it away. If you have drywall, be careful not to oversaturate with water since this can damage the wall and encourage the growth of mold.
  4. Repair damages, such as chipped and peeling paint or bubbled wallpaper, as needed. If you have wallpaper, you may need to remove it and re-paper.

Start Anew

Gone through all the above steps and still not happy with the results? No worries!

If you’re like me, you now have an excuse to do that room makeover you’ve always talked about. Your first step in this transformation will be to prime the walls with an oil-based, stain-blocking primer. You may need a couple of coats, depending on the extent of the discoloration. When the primer has dried, you can apply the paint color of your choice. Examine the walls after each coat to make sure no smoke is bleeding through. Once you have achieved the look you want, let it dry while you look around your room and bask in the glory of a job well done.

If you have any questions about assessing and repairing your home after damage from smoke or fire, contact your local professional experts.



This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Call Rainbow Restoration in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex any
    time, day or night, when you have water damage, fire damage or mold damage
    emergencies that call for a professional Dallas-Fort Worth restoration company.

  2. I would also suggest customers contact their insurance carrier and most restoration contractors offer free estimates for cleaning up smoke damage. What may start out as a DIY project could linger for months if it is not properly cleaned, using special equipment like an air scrubber to clean the air will help and personal items can be cleaned in special ozone chambers. With smoke damage their is rarely a one size fits all cleaning solution.

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