Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

September, 2008

Paint Smells Like Pot

Q: My wife and I recently painted some outdoor wood chairs using Valpar white exterior paint. After drying we were sitting outside and thought for sure the neighbors were smoking pot. We kept getting this odor come across our patio that we knew was pot. Finally one day my wife said come here and smell this. I smelled the chair and it was the pot smell coming from the chairs we painted! I didn't think much of it and then painted the front door (on the outside thankfully) but every time you open it you get that same stinky pot smell. Have you ever heard of this? Was the paint bad? I am not kidding, it smells like pot and no I have never ever tried pot but have been around it. I know ... weird question.

A: It sounds to me as if the paint might have built up some mold or bacteria. Do you know if the paint you purchased was formulated with a mildewcide, bacteriostat, fungistat or similar? Was this a brand new can of paint, or had been in storage for weeks or months before you started using it?

Unfortunately, water base paints are prone to producing such odors. The following web site provides some useful hints for getting rid of the smell. I haven't followed any of these methods, but you might like to try them.


Ron Joseph

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