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Question DetailsAsked on 8/3/2014

Why is the paint primer smells very strong and awful?

My painter painted my laundry room wth ZINSSER cover stain oil base primer and let it dry for 2 hrs. and then painted over it with latex paint. It's been a week now and the smell is awful and makes my eyes burn. I have tp keep the laundry room door closed all the time. Also, running the fan and HPA filter in that little room all day and keep the other door open to the garage with the garage door half open and side door open. I need to know if that smell will ever go away and when? what do do to make it go away?. Also, did my painter do something wrong that it made it smell very strong and not getting any better? such as added mineral spirit to it.

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1 Answer


Ohhh - bad news - the oil based primer should have been allowed to dry for at least 24 hours and up to 7 days, and in a few cases 30 days before topcoating depending on manufacturer and brand - more if in high humidity area. The manufactuer instructions say 1 hour - don't believe that with ANY normal paint - only acetone and xylene and similar highly-volatile solvent-based paints can be safely recoated in that time. Plus in a probably moist laundry room, should have had active ventilation with a strong fan during the curing time. There are a lot of comments onthe web about your type problem with that product being recoated in less than a day.

By covering with latex in 2 hours he trapped the solvents under the latex, plus latex over wet oil can cause an alkalyd / latex chemical reaction that can be VERY noxious - as you have noted - commonly smells like burning latex - just ask Wilmington DE what THAT smells like. Bad news - while it might outgas in a few weeks down to the barely noticeable stage, I have seen cases where many months later it was still highly objectionable, not to mention would you want to be breathing that stuff in all that time ?

What you can do about it - you could require he remove it all (or remove drywall and start over in usual case, because taking the paint off the wall usually costs more than starting from scratch), or you could bide your time and hope it will be OK. If you do that, I would get a written letter from him agreeing that for X months you have the right to free removal on demand - but that assumes he will abide by his promise, be in business at that time, etc. Personally, I would require immediate full removal to bare drywall/drywall replacement at his discretion (and if chemically stripped, require positive evacuation of work area to outside during the process and for as long afterward as necessary to remove the solvent/stripper odor, let dry, then wall drywallcompound touchup as necessary, proper priming, then repainting. If he refuses that, I would call his bond and have them get another painter, because this one clearly does not know what he is doing in recoating oil in that short a timeframe.

Oh - and BTW - besure he does not dump any removal waste down any tub ro floor drain into the sewer, or it could be blocked or the pipes damaged (plus illegal), plus you could be getting the smell from THERE in the future.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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