I am redoing the bathroom in my 1958 house. This should be a fairly simple task, as I am not doing any major renovations– just replacing toilet, vanity, floor covering, and paint. However because the guy who owned this house was a heavy smoker and probably smoked in it for the whole nearly 50 years that he lived here, my task is well-complicated. When you smoke in the house, the nicotine builds up and seeps into the walls. It oozes out slowly over time, creating an oily surface. When the bathroom walls get damp, the nicotine runs down in brown streaks. In the picture below, I am removing wallpaper remnants with nothing but water.
Even after the walls have been cleaned, the nicotine continues to seep through, as shown below. This is a section of wall from which I had previously removed wallpaper and cleaned thoroughly. Steam from the shower has brought the brown goo out in sticky thick streaks.
Now I know why I could not get the paint to stick to the kitchen walls when I painted it. I was ignorant of the challenges of serious nicotine contamination. As a result, my paint job was awful and I have to repair that one day too.
To prep the bathroom walls for painting, I am cleaning them with a TSP substitute, filling holes, sanding, and cleaning again cleaning again with TSP sub before I even get to repairs to damage cause by the removal of hideous 1950s pink glue-on plastic tiles (lesson for another day). Home improvement advice says to use TSP (trisodium phosphate) cleaner, however, I discovered that most of the primers say NOT to use TSP before painting, so I opted for the substitute. Hopefully it will work well enough.
So, the take away message is this: DON”T SMOKE IN THE HOUSE!