This paint stinks!!!!

Postby thedoctor » Tue May 18, 2010 4:47 pm

Hi people,

We were just about to publish the same information ! Click on the link below to see the sealer and find your nearest stockist. ... rimer.aspx

This is the primer sealer needed to seal the wall. Then you can safely paint with the same paint without worrying about the smell. The sealer however, being solvent based, has a very strong smell of it's own so be prepared.

Read the fact sheets available.
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Postby Rodders17 » Thu May 20, 2010 11:26 am


I had a number of rooms in my house painted laste year and ran into "Smelly paint" problems in 2 of them. The paint that was causing the problem was Crown Breatheasy.

I reckon that it took about 3-4 months for the smell to go away however once in a while I still notice it slightly.

I note that Crown mentioned that the problem occurs when the paint is used on previously-painted surfaces. Well it also occurs when there is spillage on the outside of the tin! In my case this is how I tracked down the cause.
Crown also did a test brushout from some paint I sent back to them. I presume that this was not on a previously-painted surface yet they did report an odour.
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Postby merielmunro » Thu May 20, 2010 2:35 pm


What a relief to find that my son has NOT peed in a corner of his recently decorated bedroom!! I thought it was unlikely as he's almost 8 and has never done such a thing before, but to my husband and me that's exactly what it smells like... and yes, we've been on our hands and knees sniffing the carpet for evidence too!

Around 10 weeks ago we painted two walls of his room with Crown "A Whisper of Powder Blue" vinyl silk and the other two walls with Crown "Dramatic" silk emulsion. "Dramatic" is almost navy blue, and we've also stuck on literally hundreds of glow-in-the-dark stars and planets (even in real constellations!) to make a fabulous night sky. I am SO not looking forward to trying to peel them all off in order to prime then repaint the walls...

Just called my local Crown trade shop who denied all knowledge of the problem, so I suggested that they should tune in to Watchdog next week. They do sell the Alkali Resisting Primer, but I'm going to wait and watch the programme first... just in case they're going to hand it out free to their "victims"!

Thank goodness for sites like this, well done DIY Doctor!
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Postby MarkHol » Thu May 20, 2010 4:09 pm

We have the same experience as others on this thread. The part of the house decorated is over 50 years old. We decorated three bedrooms with some minor plasterboard and plaster repair in all the rooms. The new plasterboard was primed with Dulux white emulsion. Top coats of Dulux were applied in two rooms but because we could not find the right shade (a mat beige) we used Crown in the third. All was well for a couple of months and then we had the 'cat pee' smell. I lifted carpets, searched the loft and kicked the cats. By crawling around the floor we thought we had found the furniture sprayed by the cats and washed it down with vinegar getting a couple of days relief. The smell is worse when the sun is out and the windows open - this is not just because the draught spreads the smell - the smell is definitely worse in the room when the windows are open. A bowl of vinegar in the room does seem to help (which is why washing the furniture with vinegar gave some relief). I have read one post about spraying with vinegar - has anybody else tried this?
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Postby canecreek » Fri May 21, 2010 10:28 am

We moved into our brand new house just over 3 years ago, about 15 months ago we painted the downstairs toilet with “crown breath easy box tree”.
Ever since we got a horrible smell however we never guessed it was the paint instead we blamed the toilet.
We had visitors a few weeks ago how had to leave the house as the smelly was making them sick they described it as a “Death” smell
So as you can see by the picture below I ripped out the toilet pipe boxing thinking I might find a dead rat but there was nothing there so I ripped out the toilet sealed off the sewer however the room still stunk, some days the smell gets through the gaps in the door and drifts all over the house.
On Thursday 13th may I was watching BBC watchdog and at the end of the program they mentioned the problem with crown paints to the aired the following week, that moment the penny dropped I put my nose to the wall and the wall stinks, it’s the crown paint we used I googled “crown smelly paint” and found this forum, we are just glad we found out it was the paint as I had made arrangements dig up the concrete floor to see what was going on down there.
Imagine digging up the concrete floor in your new house only to find it was the paint.

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Postby JVC » Fri May 21, 2010 6:22 pm

I have been going demented wondering what has been causing the "cat wee" smell in my daughters room - and having read many other stories I now think I know!
My husband and I have been found smelling the carpet, the walls etc and couldn't pin point the smell. My husband cleaned the carpets twice just in case - but it still remains and is much worse on a warm day / sun shining and with the window open (a day like today)
We re decorated about 9 months ago, turning my daughters room into an "underea theme" We had Crown suede paint on previously.(Henna & Golden Suede) We painted over it with an emulsion and then applied Crown suede paint - golden at the bottom of the walls (sand effect) and then Dulux blue babe (as the sea - middle of walls) and Crown Breatheasy whisper of powder blue on the top 3rd of the walls (as sky).
The suede paint has been used again in another room to re decorate what was the nursery and there is no smell in there at all - suggesting it's either the Dulux Blue babe (which we have elsewhere in the house with no problem) or the Crown Breatheasy whisper of powder blue, which I can see from various other threads has been a problem for others to date
On a warm day like today the stench is unbearably strong and my 3 year old daughter is meant to sleep in the room (however don't think I can subject her to this smell) - On that point do you know if the smell / fumes are toxic?? - Should I be letting her sleep in this room and what else can I do about it?
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Postby cw » Tue May 25, 2010 9:17 am

After searching the internet for information on smells in rooms, we found your forum on Crown paints and think we may have identified our own problem.

We had a bedroom painted for our new baby in January, which she has been in since March. We used Crown Trade Matt Vinyl Emulsion in Snowdrop. (Tin bought on 11th Jan 2010). The paint was applied directly to the old paint which was in turn on lining paper. We live in an old house (100yrs +) and have no idea what is under the lining paper as this is the first time we have decorated that room.

No problems until last Friday (21st May) when we noticed a horrible chemical/metallic smell in her room in the afternoon (I can actually 'taste' the metallic in my mouth when I'm in there). It subsided later that evening. It came again midday Saturday and again subsided in the late evening (after 9pm). Same pattern on Sunday and yesterday but worse. I can only assume the hot weather is an issue here otherwise we would have smelt it sooner.

We have now taken our daughter out of that room and I appreciate we have now got to do something about it urgently, as it is obviously not going away and I am concerned to put my daughter in that room again (she is only 11 wks old and I'm already worried that the odors have not been good for her).

I have spoken to my decorator who has said he has not heard of any such problem. I will try calling Crown today. I have read DIY Doctors report on your communications/visit with Crown, but any reassurance on the health aspect of this or the general 'problem' would be appreciated.
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Postby JVC » Tue May 25, 2010 10:18 am

I have been in touch with Crown and they have been extremely helpful. They are going to uplift the offending can of Breatheasy whisper of powder blue to take away for testing. They say this is currently an industry wide issue but no one knows what is causing it.
They are also sending me vouchers for the sealant to cover the area already painted and also vouchers for new crown scrubbable paint to re paint the room, and being very generous in their quantities.
In the meantime, having read through the threads I have kept the blinds down in the room and kept the windows shut and this has helped keep the strength of the smell down so thanks for those tips!
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Postby CrownPaints » Tue May 25, 2010 5:15 pm

The issue being discussed here is known as ‘wall odour phenomenon’, which has existed in the global paint industry for a number of years. In the UK, it is accepted by both independent industry bodies – the PRA (Paint Research Association) and BCF (British Coatings Federation) – that instances of ‘wall odour phenomenon’ is an industry-wide issue that affects a very small number of customers purchasing paint from a range of different manufacturers.

‘Wall odour phenomenon’ typically presents itself as an unusual smell, and is caused by bacteria or chemicals present on the surface of walls before painting. In exceptional circumstances, odour issues can arise when affected walls are painted, and particularly when there is direct sunlight on the wall and a draught in the room. Independent tests show that this is not in any way related to the quality or formulation of any manufacturer’s paint products, and that there has been no evidence of any health and safety side effects.

Customers should not be alarmed by this, as ‘wall odour phenomenon’ is easily resolved by applying an alkali resistant sealer to walls before repainting. Alkali resistant sealers are not commonly available due to the rarity of this phenomenon, so customers should visit a trade decorating centre or ask their painter or decorator for advice.

In the meantime, should anyone have a concern over their walls, in the first instance, we recommend they visit the PRA website, where they will find information and advice about ‘wall odour phenomenon’. ( There, they will also find links to the customer service departments of each of the major paint manufacturers.

Above all, we would encourage any Crown customers with queries about ‘wall odour phenomenon’ to please get in touch with us directly on our helpline 0845 521 2499.

Kind regards,

Geraldine Huxley
Customer Services Director, Crown Paints
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Postby KM » Tue May 25, 2010 7:03 pm

Just to update anyone that may be interested. Crown have been very helpful to date in trying to resolve our issue. We had two differing smells in separate rooms in our house. Upstairs we used Crown English Fire Emulsion and after a few days there was a sour milk type smell coming from the walls. Downstairs we used Crown Antique Cream Emulsion and after a few days we had a gassy type smell coming from the walls. In both rooms the smell became considerably worse when the sun heated the room and/or the windows were open.

We have since had both rooms re-decorated using the Alkali resistant primer and fresh coats of paint in the same colors.

However we still have the problem in the downstairs room . Upstairs everything is fine. The Alkali resistant primer has not worked downstairs.

Can anyone who has used the primer let me know if it hasn't worked as this is starting to cause me great concern now as we are unsure of how to resolve the smelly paint problem downstairs.

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Postby bigchris » Tue May 25, 2010 10:18 pm

Hi all,

Just done the cupboard under the stairs today and it stinks!!! It's an old house built around 1890 and I'm painting on top of lath and plaster. My first thought was that the paint had released some damp somehow....? Made sense to me at the time. Upon closer sniffing of the walls I realised it was the paint.

I used some left over Focus own brand Magnolia emulsion which I'd used before in a room with no problems, about a year ago.

I would add that I had to stir the paint before I used it as it had separated to the point that there was about a pint of water on the top of the paint. A little Googling suggested that the smell can be caused by the water content of the paint going stagnant. This would support the suggested theory that the issue is bacterial.

Also, the smell I have is more of a bad feet/decaying rat smell, less chemical and more bacterial to my nose.

Whilst I appreciate many people seem to have similar problems with Crown paint, I would ask people to check the age of the paint they've used as my experience suggests the paint I used had simply gone bad over time.

Did anyone else have similar experiences with the separation of the paint before using it?

I would also point out that it's not when you buy the paint, it's how long it has spent on the shelf or in the warehouse beforehand. Maybe Crown paint (as the main culprit on these posts) takes longer to get from factory to your walls...? Made abroad perhaps? Maybe someone else can supply some info that may support or rule out these ideas?

Off to buy some primer tomorrow and will report back on success.

All the best guys,

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Postby Nic Mac » Wed May 26, 2010 9:24 am

We have the same problem with the Crown Smelly Paint! We decorated my sons bedroom in November last year!! When we put my son into his bedroom, every morning he woke, he was violently sick! We moved him out and has now been sleeping on the floor in his brothers room since December!! Been through the same process as all you other guys out there! Have applied alkaline sealer, then emulsioned on top, still smelly! Crown picked up the paint to get tested, after a lot of phone calls about a month later, surprise surprise their test showed nothing wrong with the paint, but "will give us as solution to our problem!" They gave us Crown Trade Clean Extreme to apply to the walls after yet another coat of alkaline sealer, two coats of the clean extreme and still we have a smell! We have now contacted crown again and they are sending someone to inspect the room next week! My only fear is I know lots of you have had someone out for inspection and they say they cant smell anything! I would very much like an independent person there also while the crown rep comes! Has anyone got any ideas as this is the 5th month my sons has slept on the floor, we need him back in his bedroom!!
Nic Mac
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Postby CrownPaints » Wed May 26, 2010 4:03 pm

Independent tests conducted on a range of paint samples across the industry confirm there are no health and safety side effects arising from ‘wall odour phenomenon’.

Independent tests also confirm that ‘wall odour phenomenon’ is in no way caused by or related to the quality or formulation of any manufacturer’s paint products.

The application of an alkali resistant sealer has solved the problem in all of the extensive tests we have conducted. The following link provides a demonstration of its correct application ( If you are still experiencing issues after following this advice we recommend you contact the manufacturer directly.

Crown Paints is the UK’s only major independent manufacturer of paint and all of our product is produced at our manufacturing plants in Darwen and Hull. At Crown we have led the way in tackling and researching this issue on behalf of customers and the paint industry as a whole. External environmental and microbiological specialists from across Europe are currently conducting extensive tests. As soon as we have further information on this, we will share it with both our customers and the industry, so that we can get to the bottom of the cause.

In the meantime the Paint Research Association has further information relating to the issue on its website (

If you are a Crown customer and think you may have experienced ‘wall odour phenomenon’, please call us directly on 0845 521 2499 so that we can deal with your query.

Kind regards,

Geraldine Huxley.
Customer Services Director
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Postby Sweet Sue » Wed May 26, 2010 9:51 pm

I posted earlier in this thread.
Having had smelly paint courtesy of Tesco I followed their instructions and repainted with new emulsion.
It wasn't too bad for the first few weeks but the cat wee (grapefruit) aroma is returning in both rooms.
I have bought the alkali resistant paint and no doubt will spend the bank holiday painting the two affected rooms. Oh joy!

I am struggling to understand the reason for this issue if I am honest. My smelly paints are from Tesco and Dulux. The Tesco one could have been old stock as they don't appear to stock it any more. The Dulux paint came via B and Q and I have read is one of Dulux's best selling (but not best smelling!) varieties. I washed my walls and rinsed them before I painted and I think I had new paint pads for both rooms so where does the bacteria come from? The guy who sold me the alkali resistant paint had not encountered the roblem recently and said in his experience it was using stagnant water.
Sweet Sue
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Postby emmal781 » Thu May 27, 2010 1:49 pm

I've previously posted on this forum about the problem of smelly Crown paint in my house. This is currently being looked into by Crown.
However, I've noticed over the past week that my son's newly decorated bedroom also has a smell. At first I again blamed the cat, then the smell drifting in from the Crown paint in my 'smelly room' but I've just sniffed the wall and it STINKS!!!!
This time Crown cannot be blamed. I applied B & Q Easy Clean Super Tough Matt (2 years old but fine) to the bottom half of the wall and a mixture of this paint and Homebase Home of Colour Pure Brilliant Matt White (brand new) to the top half (I did this to lighten a darker paint). The surface that I painted over was all the origional 2 year old B & Q paint which we hadn't had a problem with previously.
Prior to this the wall was wallpapered by the previous owner and had a matt magnolia emulsion underneath.
I cannot believe that this problem is happening to us again and just don't know how we're going to cope with all the redecorating that is going to have to be done.....makes me want to cry!
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