Latest Discussions : Painting


05:06PM | 04/20/03
Member Since: 04/19/03
2 lifetime posts
3 years ago I painted one room in our house with Pittsburgh ceiling paint and MAB paint on the walls and trim. The MAB paint was latex semi-gloss on the walls and high-gloss oil on the wood. Within 1 week we noticed a very strange smell in the room. It smelled like cat pee, or amonia, but only when we opened a window and the room temperature was at least 75 degress. I figured the smell would go away when the paint fully cured, but I was wrong. 3 years later it still smells as strong as when we first smelled it. It only smells when the windows are open letting fresh outside air into the room. Turning on the central air lessens the smell somewhat by cooling the room, but it usually takes a day or two for the smell to go back "underground" after fresh air has entered the room from an open window.

I just pained another room with a brand new can of MAB paint and now it also has the smell. This room definately did not smell before the painting. Unfortuantely, I painted part of the ceiling with the old Pittsburg ceiling paint, so I can't tell which paint is causing the problem.

This smell is very strange becuase I can't pinpoint its origin. It seem to be coming from everywhere with no single part of the room, wall or ceiling smelling being the main source. Sniffing the the walls does not help.

Has anyone ever had anything like this happen? Any ideas about what the smell could be? Would painting with a non-VOC paint help?

Any suggestions on how to solve this problem are appriciated. A lot of time and effort went in to these rooms and I don't want to repaint and have the same problem.

House Age: 52yrs
Plaster & Drywall Walls
Plaster ceiling
MAB Paint latex/oil
Pittsburgh Latex ceiling
New windows and wood doors and trim in both rooms.


01:21AM | 04/22/03
Member Since: 07/28/02
1356 lifetime posts
I would reccomend you prime the walls with Zinsser BIN which in some cases can block odors along with stains, and then paint with some brand new paint, and maybe you should try one of the odorless paints on the market.


08:08AM | 04/25/03
Member Since: 04/24/03
5 lifetime posts
I agree with the othe comment. BIN in the red label cans seals in all oders. Then go back over it with the brand of your choice.


11:24AM | 04/26/03
Member Since: 11/14/00
333 lifetime posts
It is possible that the outdoor air has more humidity, which "releases" the smell. However, from what you describe, it is more likely that some cat has marked his "spot" near that window, or that some other outdoor air problem filters in through the window when you open it.

You might also be smelling mold that is inside the windows (or in the walls next to the windows) and that only blows in when you open the windows.


10:49AM | 04/27/03
Member Since: 11/06/02
1278 lifetime posts
Sometimes, if a can of latex paint has been frozen or is old and has chmically separated, the ammonia is released and will behave as you suggest. Are you buying from the bargain bin or not storing paint in a warm location?


07:25AM | 06/23/03
Member Since: 04/19/03
2 lifetime posts
Thanks for the replies.

It is definitely not an animal related smell. As I said, this only happens after the room is painted. The most likely answer is something to do with Ammonia. These were not bargain paints, they were purchased from MAB over the counter and 3 years apart, but still the same smell. The ceiling paint may be the culprit though, because this is the only paint common to both rooms.


08:08PM | 07/08/03
Member Since: 07/07/03
8 lifetime posts
The oil-based paint may be the problem as well. Oil stinks from day 1.


08:08PM | 07/08/03
Member Since: 07/07/03
8 lifetime posts
The oil-based paint may be the problem as well. Oil stinks from day 1.


04:50AM | 07/11/03
Member Since: 02/26/01
35 lifetime posts
For what it's worth, I may be someting that leached into the wall or ceiling plaster that the liquid content of the latex paint released. I have a house built in the 1930s and have a similar problem in the kitchen and a bedroom although the odor is not of amonia (the bedroom is smoke from the lifelong smoking former owner and the kitchen is unidentifiable).


02:27AM | 07/12/03
Member Since: 07/28/02
1356 lifetime posts
In reply to deford about oil based and the odor it has. Once it is dry it will have no odor and not 3 years later and oil based paint does not have an amonia smell anyway.


03:38PM | 07/04/14
I know this is an old thread but I wanted to chime in anyway. We had the EXACT same experience with Pittsburgh Paints in our brand new house. 4 rooms in different corners of the house, not connected by any plumbing, all sharing the same color had the same mysterious odor. Funky, musky, animal odor. Our house is brand new, our dog has never soiled a thing. We even brought out a black light. Our builder and painters acted like they didn't believe us and even after having them over several times on days in which we had the windows open they refused to fix it. I talked to Sherwin Williams and they told me that the paint must be bad and was most likely frozen at some point. Essentially were sold old, aged paint and had to correct the mistake at our own expense. I would never recommend Pittsburgh Paints as they too, denied responsibility.


12:32AM | 07/07/14
Member Since: 07/06/14
1 lifetime posts
Maybe you can put some plant in the room which can clear the air.


11:12AM | 09/15/14
Member Since: 09/15/14
1 lifetime posts
I am having the same issue with a home built 5 years ago. I only get the odor when the windows are open. I have air quality people, plumbers etc....and no one has an answer. Could it be the paint? Small house did you ever solve your issue?


06:32AM | 02/28/15


08:34PM | 05/05/15
Wow! I am going through this right now! We painted our closet this past December. It was a quick job and I grabbed a can of clearance paint from our local hardware store. About a month ago, when the weather turned warmer and I started opening the windows, I thought a cat in the neighborhood must have sprayed somewhere in our yard. But as the weather has been improving, the smell is getting stronger. I just had a pest control specialist in today because I was afraid we must have some kind of animal in our attic above the room. Well he did a full inspection, inside and outside of my home with no sign of animal. He also smelled the urine smell and pinpointed it to the closet. He told me to double check to see if my daughter might have thrown a peed in pair of underwear or pants into the closet. I cleaned the whole thing out and finally smelled the wall. It is the paint!! I thought I was going crazy until I read your post. Off tomorrow to buy the primer!


09:37AM | 07/27/15
I have the same problem with a bathroom ceiling paint that I used 3 years ago. The smell started as a cat pee smell and is now more of a human pee smell and it is really strong, but intermittent. I bought a very expensive primer/sealer and covered the ceiling but within weeks the smell came back. When I googled this before I read that it's a bacteria in the paint and measures to combat it are exhaustive. I'm thinking of removing the ceiling drywall and starting fresh with a brand new primer and paint. Painful experience for sure. The other suggestions here are from people that have never experienced the problem.


07:17PM | 08/08/15
Wow.....this has happened to us exactly as you describe.....we painted ceiling and walls in summer of 2012 and still have the strange smell in 2015 when outside air is allowed to freely drift in from open windows....the smell will completely disappear after a few hours when windows are closed and air conditioning is turned's been driving us nuts!!!!....did you ever find a solution???....Jim and Kay Marquette Michigan 906-250-4454.......we used Benjamin Moore Paint but I don't think the brand of paint is part of the problem.


12:14PM | 10/23/15
I too have been trying to fix a similar problem for 2 years. We tried successive layers of BIN shellac over several months. When we finally painted the room over that primer, the smell came back as bad as ever. We too had tried cleaning with bleach, alcohol, etc. We finally removed the drywall. Our paint was Manufactured by the Company PPG and the brand was ICON paint and primer in one - supposed to be zero VOC.

I would suggest that anyone reading this post the exact kind of paint you used. This is happening to a lot of people and seems to have to do with zero VOC paints, which perhaps the manufacturers havent'gotten quite right yet. Perhaps colorants too. Always keep paint cans and receipts. The companies seem to rely on the fact that no one ever suspects the paint and that the smell develops AFTER the walls are dry so that they can say it's not their paint. But when all your walls are the same, and you use the same kind of paint in two different colors, and one room stinks and the other doesn't - what do YOU think is happening?

People need to start getting together on this because each one of us individually is too small to hold the manufacturer or retailer responsible. Good luck!


02:54AM | 12/07/15
I moved into a condo on Sept 24, 2015 and the bedroom smelled like urine. I thought it was the previous owner's dog. I smelled the carpet but never could locate the problem. I noticed that it was always stronger near the walls so I smelled them and sure enough it is the paint. Now two months later the smell is a real strong ammonia smell. It doesn't matter what the temperature is or if windows are open or closed. Not sure what to do about it.


12:53AM | 01/21/16
Behr zero Voc primer and paint in one. 2 weeks after painting smells so bad we can't sleep in our room. Went back to Home Depot they said we will give u another can to paint over with. Wow. Great thanks. Have read that the smells come through after people have repainted.


12:35AM | 09/17/16
Painted two walls in our living room 6 months ago. we used Valspar. in the last month i keep smelling ammonia in that end of the house. glad i googled this. so do i have to tear out walls and rebuild or is there an easier way to get rid of the smell?


10:29PM | 04/08/17
Member Since: 04/08/17
1 lifetime posts
We had our upstairs professionally painted two months ago. Now that it's spring we are opening windows and the smell is horrible. It is definitely the walls as the two rooms we did not have painted are fine. It is not a cat outside and a plant won't take care of it. It is a problem with the paint.The painters used Porter Paints and the smell is ammonia-like-a cross between pee and B.O. Husband hired the painters and now he won't contact them about this. I'm very frustrated and not sure what to do about it. We had it professionally done because of the high ceilings and the last thing I want to do is try to re-paint it myself. Any ideas?


07:35PM | 11/11/18
i have a similar issue painted walls with Benjamin Moore Natura paint which has zero VOC, 2 or 3 days after there is a moisture smell coming out of walls. i dont eben know what to do now, any idea,? has anyone solved their issue? please help here as waiting for a baby , please reply or feel free to email me at thanking you in advance


10:06AM | 12/25/18
I just painted an entire master bedroom with Valspar Signature paint, and about a week later the chemical paint smell went away and it is full blown cat urine & dead rodent smell. The paint store says it’s the paint curing. Three weeks later it is as strong as ever. Warm air definitely makes it worse. I have a large bedroom that I can’t even use! From what I’m reading the smell may never go away. Has anyone had luck with a good primer over it? Did you have to replace the walls?


09:58PM | 03/16/19
It has happened to me also! We used some old paint in the kitchen and there's now a horrible urine smell on the cabinets where we painted. I'm hoping it will subside and disappear.


02:58PM | 06/19/19
2019: Same issue. Painted late summer last year and while initial paint smell quickly went away, walls smell DISGUSTING after we open doors or windows to the outside. No smell with doors and windows closed and absolutely no odors from outside or other sources. Definitely the paint which almost make me gag when putting nose near.

We have now sprayed the wall down with a mixture of vinegar, water and tea tree oil. The smell has dissipated enough that we are comfortable in the room with doors open. It has been a couple of days and we are still good. Hopefully, it will last. Just wanted to share as not many solutions seem to be posted online to resolve this issue.


06:01PM | 06/26/19
You all mention brands of paint used, but someone thinks it is the combination paint with primer in a can. Does anyone get a smell from using a separate primer paint and then using a latex paint over the primer? Trying to figure if it is the combo paint in a can?


11:58AM | 08/30/19
I am wondering if certain colors have a bad smell. I painted a room with a sand color which smelled horrible. Thinking it may been that the paint was old, l used a shellac to seal it than painted over with a different brand in the same color. Same horrible smell. It has been months so l am getting ready to paint it again. I will use the brand l painted two other rooms with as l have had no problem. This was Pittsburgh Platinum. Thinking of trying a different color as well. Any idea if the color could be the problem?


08:29PM | 09/26/19
Anyone solve this issue?


12:47AM | 12/26/19
Try washing your walls with neat white vinegar. Vinegar is well known for neutralizing ammonia because it’s acidic. I have just saturated my ammonia smelling walls and so far so good. I’ll do it again in another few days. Hopefully it will kill whatever is causing the revolting smell. Dulux Professional Flat for Walls, 4 liter tin bought brand new at a Dulux Retail Store.

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