Redo styrafoam ceilings

The people who lived here before smoked, I have tried paint and glue but both eat into the foam. Please help me.
q redo styrafoam ceilings, home maintenance repairs, painting, wall decor, This is what happens when u paint over
This is what happens when u paint over
  26 answers
  • First think is you should remove the foam altogether. Exposed EPS board, foam, is not safe to leave exposed. Should a fire break out the gasses produced will kill you in short order. With that said, you need to use a oil based paint sealer The latex water based primers do not fair real well with the nicotine as the liquid in a water based primer will soften the chemicals and cause them to still bleed through the finish. Oil base primers will prevent this. Do not use any spray type of paint which is what I assume you used because of the textured finish on the boards. There are chemicals in spray paint that will dissolve the foam. If this sounds as though its really to hard to do, I would remove the foam and drywall or install a ceiling tile system.

  • Judy LaFontaine Judy LaFontaine on Jan 24, 2015
    I had a similar situation in a house where there had previously been heavy smokers. I used a flat white primer (water based) which covered all the stains and gave me the finished look I wanted. Never even painted over it. I agree it should probably be removed but that's labor intensive and expensive. Good luck!

    • See 1 previous
    • D Malone D Malone on Jan 25, 2015
      @Sherry lancaster get some kilz.....It is just a none bleed thru primer and it works

  • Carole Carole on Jan 24, 2015
    I hope you are able to remove this foam ASAP as your life is more important and this stuff is a real fire hazard. At the very least, ensure you have good smoke alarms and test them regularly as the fumes from this stuff will kill you if you have a fire in your home. You won't even get a chance to get out of the house and escape with your lives if this stuff ignites while you are asleep. Sorry to sound dramatic but too many families perish in house fires.

  • Patty Dulski Patty Dulski on Jan 25, 2015
    try and put contact paper or wall paper over it than you can also change them if you really want to paint make an elmers glue and water mix first and than paint over that

  • Ronel Ronel on Jan 25, 2015
    Try using road marking paint.. I did that with stained ceilings and it worked . It is a matt paint and a bit thick but not expensive.

  • B B on Jan 25, 2015
    Remove and start again, this will never come up nice.

  • Carmen Carmen on Jan 25, 2015
    Understand the money situation, but the foam is dangerous. Better to do without a ceiling. Exposed beams can be decorative. Paint them with fireproof paint, the beams not the foam.

  • Esperança-Hope Melo Esperança-Hope Melo on Jan 25, 2015
    Water based paint works, I've used it! There is also a special glue for styrofoam, but it's more expensive than regular glue. I can relate to Sherry's money shortage dilemma, having no insulation in the winter can be intolerable due to the cold...

  • Sara Jane Sara Jane on Jan 25, 2015
    We had the exact same problem when we bought our home. The ceilings were so stained the the connector pieces were nearly orange! We used an exterior paint to experiment after ceiling paint and also flat wall paint+primer in one wouldn't work. The smell of the exterior paint is strong so ventilate well. Our ceilings look great! There is a little shine to them but it actually enhances the whole room look. Good luck. And on a budget ourselves, we watch for marked down paints at the home improvement stores! You'll be surprised what you catch that way!

    • Lynn5280 Lynn5280 on Jan 26, 2015
      @Sara Jane I'm a little confused(which isn't unusual) Are you saying the exterior paint worked after you had tried ceiling and wall paint?

  • Wglindner Wglindner on Jan 25, 2015
    I don't know why you mean by foam ceiling. Now I have painted in this old house what you call a drop ceiling. I used Behr paint from home depot. And I used the premixed satin bright white. And I use a paint brush. Roller would just wouldn't do it. I put alot of paint on my brush and painted that way. And it turn out great.

  • ..These panels are ' porous ", and as suggested by Woodbridge Environmental, if you cannot take them down,What they suggest is better than any other method.

  • Myrna Engle Myrna Engle on Jan 25, 2015
    The new 'office tiles' are very cheap. It would cost less to buy new tiles than to keep on experimenting. Paint is expensive and if it's not working, it just sits, and off we go to buy more. Pull them down and throw out the stale smoke odor. While they are down wash all the cross joiners. A fresh approach and odor gone. You'll feel pounds lighter. and renewed.

  • The ceiling that is being discussed from what I understand is a large sheet of Styrofoam board that is held into place using large headed nails and the wood strips you seen in photo along the edges. This is the same type of foam you would see made into packing boxes, coolers etc. Only it comes in large 4 foot by 8 foot sizes. This material is often used under drywall or wood material to provide a little extra insulation value. But has been used as in this case, as the finished product. EPS (Expanded Poly Styrene) or Styrofoam as everyone knows it by is not made to be used as a finished exposed surface material. As in the case here. It also yellows simply from being exposed to sunlight. When burnt gives of extremely toxic chemicals and can harm you really quick. It appears that they used a paint when they attempted to paint that had a solvent much like that you will find in a spray can paint that will dissolve the foam. Using paint such as latex water based types will work, only issue is there is a lot of tiny holes in the foam that can make painting it difficult. Which is why I assume they used spray paint instead of latex finish. There are several other materials that can be used to cover over this material that is not all that expensive. 1/2 inch drywall is only $12 a sheet. With a few screws and some spackle and paint could get the entire ceiling DIY completed for under a $100.

  • Jessie Jessie on Jan 25, 2015
    You could consider covering it with beadboard, corrugated metal or pallet ceiling (pallets are often free and pretty popular right now).

  • Melissa Melissa on Jan 25, 2015
    Spray it with the "KEILS" spray

  • Jeanette Reynolds Jeanette Reynolds on Jan 25, 2015
    I moped with water and a little bleach, took a new sponge, looked like new

  • Kelly S Kelly S on Jan 25, 2015
    Contact the owner, if this is a rental. They are required by law in most states to repaint because of this. I would cover the ceiling with bead board and paint it if this is a house you have purchased.

  • Muriel Muriel on Jan 26, 2015
    @Sherry Lancaster Talk to someone at a mobile home sales lot. They use a special paint when there is smoke smell in a used unit they are getting ready to sell.

  • Cindy tustin Cindy tustin on Jan 26, 2015
    Foam ceiling tiles are a hazard and I thought they were banned in all states. You can paint them with an inexpensive water base paint. I did it years ago. Good Luck

  • Kristina Ponath-Graham Kristina Ponath-Graham on Jan 26, 2015
    Try wallpaper that looks like wall texture I did this in my beauty salon where the ceiling tile were proably 50 yrs old with tons of hairspray and smoke on them I did use extra wall paper paste to make sure it stuck I just used flour and water for my paste it's been 6 yrs and it still looks great

  • Veronica Ronnie Taylor Veronica Ronnie Taylor on Jan 27, 2015
    They are drop ceiling tiles which can be replaced. You can get them at Home Depot or Lowes they are cheap. Also, Kils make a spray paint with a nozzle that will shoot on the ceiling. Kils covers anything.

    • @Veronica Ronnie Taylor The ceiling in question on this post is not a drop ceiling. Also the spray paint that Kilz makes that shoots up for priming, has a chemical in it that will dissolve the foam in question even though its oil based. Its not a water based spray.

  • Veronica Ronnie Taylor Veronica Ronnie Taylor on Jan 27, 2015
    I have never seen paint paint eat up foam before. If you don't want to use Kils spray paint then use another brand. You can't use paint with a paint brush. Another fix take joint compond the one already made in a tub spread it lightly with a trowel so it will not weight down the foam then paint it.( I have tested it and does work? This will also fills in the holes. In the long run you will have to knock it down and start from scratch

    • @Veronica Ronnie Taylor not all sprays eat foam, but its important to know what the makeup of the spray paint is. Most have chemicals that liquefy the paint that will eat at the foam. Kilz spray depending upon the one your using contains these chemicals.

  • Liz Liz on Jan 27, 2015
    I think the best answer is to get rid of it. In a house fire, the chemical reaction will KILL you. Some way, some how, get it out of there and replace with proper building materials and insulation to keep out the cold. If the area isn't large, you can even look for free materials like leftover drywall and insulation on Craig's list and jigsaw puzzle it together. There is no reason to risk your life or the lives of your family to not take it down. I know how hard it is when you don't have any money, but most of us came from that spot and that's how we learned to turn junk into something worth having. You can even put a craigslist post asking for anyone who has leftover drywall to contact you. Good luck. If I were there, I'd come and help you do it.

  • Jan Munroe Jan Munroe on Jan 28, 2015
    You need to use a water based paint. Spray paint will eat the foam, try it on a fast food container and you will see. I purchased foam tile that resembles tin panels and they warn you not to use spray paint. You could use a home sprayer with water based Kilz and then a water based paint.

  • Just another tidbit on this. Styrofoam will yellow much like walls and ceilings in which heavy smokers are in. Even without the smokers being present. Any water based paint and or primer will bleed though any nicotine that is on the surface. Only oil based primers should be used. The water in the paint softens the nicotine causing to bleed through. I learned this the hard way when I purchased my first home in the early 80s. Primed and painted everything, next day when I returned every ceiling was yellow. I primed again only to return to the same thing. One coat of oil based primer it went away. Also always if possible, clean all surfaces with TSP or any cleaning solution. The better the prep, the better the outcome of the job.

  • Mnapers Mnapers on Jun 20, 2016
    Try BIN primer in the waterbased formula. It generally does a nice job and should not eat the styrofoam. Alternatively, if you don't mind a textured ceiling, you could paint a section of the ceiling, spread on a sheet of tissue paper (wrapping) that was crumpled up first, and then coat it with the same paint, same roller, and do one sheet after another across the ceiling. I prefer to rip off the edges first, so they are raggedy because they blend together better than the straight cut edges the paper starts with. This will not be the process you want if you like smooth ceilings, but it will definitely cover the styro, seal the smoke, and give you a nice textured ceiling and the paint won't peel off. Looks nice if you go over it after with a transparent glaze so you emphasize the texture.