A clean hallway ceiling

How to Remove Smoke from a Ceiling

Hiring someone to remove smoke from a ceiling is often the last thing on a building/property manager's mind. But a ceiling with smoke stains can be an eyesore. A smoke stained ceiling can degrade the reputation of your establishment.

Often, a business owner will ignore a dirty, sooty ceiling because of the imagined cost. He or she thinks the only way to remedy the problem is to replace the ceiling tiles. Not true! Many times it is possible to clean the smoke from the ceiling tiles and get many more years of use from them.

The basics of removing smoke from ceilings:

Clear the loose particles of the smoke stain by using a vacuum cleaner.

Use a dry sponge or soot sponge to rub the affected ceiling areas. Use a chemically treated sponge that will absorb the dirt and soot. Do not wet-clean soot covered surfaces especially ceiling tiles made of porous material. Clean the sponge at regular intervals.

Wipe the ceiling with TSP (also known as Tri-Sodium Phosphate) and water mixture. TSP is available at the larger hardware/home supply stores. Be sure to wear rubber gloves and old clothes when applying TSP as it is very caustic. The TSP will remove the tobacco stains and smell and will help eliminate the bleed through of stains.

Dissolve about 1 tbsp of TSP into 1 gallon of warm water. Rinse the ceiling to make an even solution. Remove the stains carefully.

Ceilings that are painted usually have a thinner coat of paint. In this case you are more likely to remove the paint while removing the stain. (See our article on Ceiling Maintenance for more information on why NOT to paint acoustical ceiling tiles.)

Here's more information related to removing smoke from a ceiling.

Do not attempt to hide the smoke marks by simply painting over it. The stain is likely to reappear within a few weeks of new paint application. Consider resurfacing acoustical tiles instead of painting them.

The smoke or soot stains on your ceiling may be from heavy candle use. In this case beeswax candles or soot-free candles may help.

Ceiling cleaning is not rocket science. But there are many different types of ceilings. Experience in this field can mean the difference between a good job and a great job. We cannot be responsible for any damage to your ceiling incurred as a result of reading these basic ceiling cleaning instructions.

If you are inexperienced you should probably hire someone else to clean your ceilings for you. Contact your local ceiling cleaner. Or you may want to contact us. We're in the tri-state area (NJ, PA and DE) but you may contact us if you are located anywhere in the US. We can recommend someone or possibly do it ourselves.

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