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Does your Valspar paint smell of cat urine?

Painting and redecorating

Fresh paint has a very distinct smell. For me, it’s far too clinical. In fact, I hate the smell. But what would you do if your freshly painted home suddenly started to smell of cat urine, or even rotting animals…

When I was decorating my home last year I did my very best to get rid of the paint smell by opening all the windows and getting my hands on every scented candle/reed diffuser possible to try and get those freshly painted rooms to smell of anything but paint. It still smelt too clinical to me.

But I know of other people who like that smell – my other half, for example, thought our freshly painted house smelt ‘fresh’ and ‘clean’.

This, however, has certainly not been the case for the unlucky purchasers of certain batches of Valspar paint from B&Q.

Valspar paint

Those who’ve had the misfortune of decorating with Valspar paint purchased from B&Q earlier this year didn’t find their home smelling clinical, fresh or even clean.

No, their homes started to ooze a lovely waft of what some have described as a cat urine-like smell or even rotting animals – one person even described the smell as like a ‘dead soggy mouse’.

In a bid to source the culprit of the bad odour some resorted to gutting the newly decorated rooms, bleaching carpets, washing everything and even paying a trader to take a look before realising it was the paint.

It transpired that the manufacturers of Valspar had removed a preservative from the paint, which had left the paint emitting an ‘ammonia-type odour’. Experts have noted that the culprit is likely to be a bacterial contamination.

Interestingly, recent changes in EU law, which restricts the types of preservatives that paint manufacturers can use, mean we could see this happen again.

Paint problems

But what would you do if this happened to you? What if a redecoration project left your home smelling of Eau de dead mouse?

A number of Which? members have contacted Which? Legal about this smelly paint problem. Our Legal team have explained that:

‘When a consumer purchases a product such as a tin of paint from a business seller the consumer can rely upon the rights outlined in the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This legislation applies to contracts entered into on or after 1st October 2015. Paint, such as Valspar, must be of a satisfactory quality which means that, amongst other things, it must be fit for purpose. Even though Valspar may cover a surface as paint should do, it is unsatisfactory if it is foul-smelling. This would allow the buyer to seek a full refund and claim consequential loss, such as a decorator’s labour charge if the paint has been applied to a wall.’

So, what would you do? Have you bought some of this bad-smelling paint? Has something similar happened to you?

Comments
Amanda says:
29 October 2020

I’m having trouble with the valspar furniture paint. Bought about 6 tins as I use it for my job.
It’s terrible, stinks like it never used to and seems to be thin and bubbly after its stirred. Bnq said they will not change it or refund me . They say theres nothing wrong with it. Anyone else have same problem. Wasted loads of money and ruined furniture with it.

Samantha Miles says:
15 November 2020

Having had a recurrence of the smell after a couple of years, having followed the standard Valspar advice to fix it which worked, but it recurred) I contacted Valspar.
They were not at all helpful, insisting that their solution works and implying I had not had it done correctly.

After I contacted Radio 4 You and Yours, Valspar did contact me, and they continued not to acknowledge that their previous advice might not be permanently effective. Radio Four advisors stated that from a legal perspective offering compensation was a reasonable solution.

Valspar offered to pay to have the same solution completed again, that was their only offer.
We didn’t really want that as that may mean doing that every couple of years, and the battle with Valspar every two years.

To access this compensation, they required us to get a quote from a decorator to carry that work out. I had two visit, but never get back to me, and one other just never get back to me, then Valspar arranged someone to come and visit and quote, who never turned up.

Finally, I did get a quote from a decorator, and Valspar paid me that amount.

Decorators variously suggested:
– use a different stain block (Zinnser Bin)
– bleach the walls

We didn’t choose either. Instead, we chose to sand, scrape, strip off the paint until it was all removed. We did not remove the skirting so there is a bit still behind there, and we could not replace the wallpaper with the same one so we left the paint that is behind the edges of that too.

We then bleached the plaster twice with neat bleach. The aired the room for two weeks.

We then repaired the damaged plaster, and re decorated.

At present, the smell is gone, but we will have to wait until the next period of hot wether to know for sure.

Sam

Thanks for your helpful post, Sam. Since the problem arose because Valspar had removed a potentially harmful biocide from their formulation we might see the same problem with paints produced by other brands.

Stepehn Vyse says:
11 December 2020

Please somebody help, I had re decorated my bedroom at the beginning of the year using Valspar emulsion brought from B & Q in Bedford, after a while my wife and myself started to smell a cat urine odour, because we were now into the summer months we thought it could be the plants from the front garden we continued to remove them, removing plants that we thought would give off the odour ,it did not cure it. Over the next few months and the summer sun coming through the bedroom window the odour was getting worse.
We tried every thing, checked under the floor had the soffits replaced thinking something had died behind the soffit or under the floor to no avail. Then after a hot day I was looking out the window and could smell the cat urine odour was strong, I smelt the wall that I was next to (it was the paint giving off the strong odour.)
I went to B & Q, the young lady manageress was helpful and said “she had experience of other customers complaining of the same thing” , she said I need to get in touch with VALSPAR PAINTS and gave me the telephone number to contact them.
Contacted Valspar Paints they gave me an email address, emailed customer services the lady was very helpful to start with but then it started to get all a bit silly, she asked for the receipt for the purchase of the paint I said I am a DIY`er and do not keep receipts for a tin of paint that I had brought a few months ago.
I requested that one of their paint representatives visits my property and carry out a report and test the paint
The customer services lady ( I do have her name) also emailed me the procedure to cure the smell, I would need to purchase a speciality DULUX paint and apply it to the walls and within a certain time apply another coat, at my expense!!
My communications are still on going, I am now being fobbed off, what happens when the warm weather returns.
Can any one advise me on my next move please.