Interior Paint Problems and Solutions – 4

Rust, water, smoke and other types of stains can be an eyesore. The good news is that with good preparation and good solutions to existent issues, this eyesore can be eliminated.



Reddish-brown stains on the paint surface.

Possible Causes

Steel nails that are in contact with moisture will rust. Depending on conditions, this rust can either be red or black. Nail heads exposed to air will always be red rust-colored. If the nail is extracted and the nail shank is red, then the wood is saturated with moisture. Damp wood that possesses a high amount of tannic acid may develop black discoloration if it comes in contact with steel. Nail heads that are a black color are usually under the coating surface and will ultimately cause adhesion failure of the topcoat. Once exposed, the nail head will develop red rust.


Locate and eliminate the source of moisture. Replace nails with galvanized or other non-rusting nails. Rusty nails that cannot be removed must be sanded to shiny metal, countersunk, coated with a rust-preventive primer and then caulked. Repair moisture damage by sanding weathered wood to a fresh surface.

Staining, Water, Smoke


Stains in the paint surface caused by virtually anything that would bleed, leak, or stick onto the paint film.

Possible Causes

Water stains are caused by leaks in roofs, gutters, plumbing or just about any source associated with water.

Heavy tobacco smoking leaves yellow nicotine stains that bleed through the topcoat.

Fire/smoke damage.

Moisture contacting uncoated or non-galvanized metal causing rust to occur.


The source of the water and rust must be repaired. Excessively damaged wood, plaster or drywall may need to be replaced. Peeling paint must be removed if present. The stained area must be properly sealed with a primer designed to “hold out” water and rust stains.

Tobacco smoke stains should be cleaned from the walls using Sherwin-Williams ProClean cleaner. Both fire damage and tobacco smoke stains must be sealed before topcoating.

All stains must be primed with the appropriate Sherwin-Williams primer in order to prevent bleed-through.

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