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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?


Was only in the last few days have i realised that the smell we have was indeed linked to the valspar paint that we have used in several rooms.
Interestingly on a trip to B Q a few months ago we actually wanted wanted to get some more of the same mixed paint. We were told all the computer records of our past purchases had been lost due to a computer glitch.
No mention of the potential problems that they must have known about .
I will be taking the matter up with BQ. Not happy.

Take it straight to Valspar

Valspar may take action as a matter of goodwill but you have no legal rights against the manufacturer. On the other hand you do have legal rights against B&Q – the retailer that took your money.

we have had exactly the same problem as last summer we painted the whole of our victorian house in valspar

The smell comes and goes and the stench is so strong. My son has constant sore throats and I wake up every morning with blinding headaches. Should we repaint all over again and use special sealer etc for the bacteria or are we wasting our time? Do we have to strip down to the plaster and start the whole house again?

I suffered last year by the awfull cat pee ammonia smell in my bedroom caused by Valspar paint. After a long, lengthy fight they paid out for the decorator to come back, seal it in a sealer that Valspar recommended would do the job and then for it to be repainted over again.
Now nearly a year on and the smell is back 😡
I am absolutely fed up by this. Decorating is not a great process for anybody, it’s disruptive, inconvenient and messy and for me it’s even worse. I am now suffering from a dissabilty that means I can’t even move anything out of the way, put anything back or clean up after the mess the decorators leave.
Last time it left me out of pocket paying for a cleaner to clean the mess up after. I was left bed bound for months after because of a relapse brought on by all the stress physically and mentally by this.
The smell is over powering, a horrible, nasty, unpleasant smell.
I just wish a solicitor would take this on now because it is not something that can be just blocked in with a stain blocker, people are having to take plaster off the walls to rectify this.

I am dyslexic so I do not need telling my grammar and punctuation are totally bad, I know this already.

[Sorry, your comment has been edited to align with our community guidelines https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]

HI All,
I have the same problem with Valspar paint and in negotiation with costs/solution. they have stated i need to do the following

The process we recommend to rectify the odour is as follows:
Dulux Trade Stain Block Primer (available at B&Q) should be applied to affected walls, using two coats and applied as below:

– apply first coat to the affected walls and leave it for 45 minutes
– apply second coat to the affected walls and leave it for 1 week
– finally apply a top coat (of your choice).

Has anyone followed these instructions and it has worked as they will compensation in a full & final settlement and state that only this method will work, so you can already see their argument if it does not work.
really appreciate any feedback on this before i settle.

I’ve no experience but if you agree to a ‘full and final settlement’ and the problem returns you won’t be very happy, Angie. I am no legal expert but this seems like an unreasonable condition for the company to place.

Hi Angie,
We’re in the small boat. The smell in our home started six months after painting and was initiated by the warm weather. I’ve raised the issue of re-occurrence with Valspar following comments on social media that the smell comes back after treatment. They have confirmed that the smell is caused by a chemical reaction not bacteria and that sealing the walls should rectify the problem. They refused to provide evidence to substantiate this position.
Online articles report that the smell is caused by bacteria further to the removal of additives and that you should not seal the bacteria in the walls but wash it off.
So all in all not very helpful.

I have just finished having my lounge decorated in Valspar !!!! why didnt i read this first. Someone told me use this as its really good and you can wash it too. Well, I am now going through the ‘smell’ stage – I am gutted – I have all new furniture and carpet etc and I should be enjoying the ‘new smell’ where I am only getting musty horrible smell. I have spoken to Valspar and they have confirmed that the batch of paint i used is the ‘affected’ one and they hopefully will put this right for me………… I have to get them a couple of quotes and we will see what happens. – Its funny as they have recommended a product to rectify this matter – DULUX Trade Stain Block Primer – (why did I not use Dulux as always??) – I have spoken to Dulux and they have told me that they cannot confirm that this will mask the smell ! – I am waiting for Valspar to respond on this…..

Scott says:
30 July 2018

Hi could you tell me what Valspars responce was on this please

Over the past two years we have painted every room in Valspar with no problem. The final room, our bedroom, developed the smell which continues. It was painted at the start of June 2018 and the smell has progressively got worse.

I called B&Q and received an email to complete regarding a refund and for a primer voucher. I also want compensation for distress and inconvenience and in relation to the Consumers Rights Act 2015. This room has now had carpet fitted; I have heavy furniture to move out of the way, primer and repaint to do. All with no surety that this smell will stay away!

Why was the paint still available for people to purchase a year after the first incident?

I’ll update this reply when I know more. If you have any advice or experience in a positive resolution to this issue please add to the comments.

For those interested, here are the questions I need to respond back to:
We need:
* Batch number of the paint this is the long number on the paint tin lid and a picture of the white lable on the tin if there is one
* The blend of paint, V300, V500 or V700 we need the the barcode to enable confirmation of this
* What product was used for your surface preparation
* A scan of your receipt, if available
* Store purchased from
* Date of purchase
* Permission to pass over to Valspar

As advised below is the information we need to enable a receipt search to be carried out or if you have the receipt available can you please attach a clear picture of the recipt as an attachment within your reply email
* Reason for request: Warranty
* Email to send the receipt to:
* Date of transaction:
* Store Name: 4 digit code after B&Q on card issuers statement
* Exact amount of transaction:
* Last 4 digits on card, if card payment:
* Products purchased

I gave a link in to a You & Yours programme earlier: https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/valspar-paint-smell-redecorating/#comment-1499017

The comments made by the expert are very encouraging and I do think you have a good chance of obtaining compensation. Assuming the paint was bought recently, it is very surprising that the problem still exists. Best of luck and please let us know how you get on.

p cuming says:
2 August 2018

We had the same problem last year and Valspar did pay for the rooms to be redecorated . 2 coats of Dulux stain block were applied followed a week later by dulux silk. All was well during the winter but as soon as the sunny weather arrived this year the smell returned. We are now once again resealing with the other product recommended in the hope this will cure the problem once and for all. Failing this I guess the only solution is to remove all paint from walls and replaster!

We’re in a similar position as Angie Clement in her May 2018 comment. We’ve just applied the first recommended block primer, Zinsser BIN, which we got in 2017, but managed to bear the smell in our bathroom through this summer, ‘cos we were busy, and finally applied it at end of August 2018 with a double layer. We were stupid enough to use the same so-called ‘remedied’ Valspar paint. The smell returned, and now we don’t know if the Zinsser didn’t work, not unusual with this problem apparently, or the Valspar paint has not really been remedied!
Anyway we’ve been offered a generous full and final settlement before we reapply the recently recommended Dulux Trade Stain Block Primer as per the instructions above but are reluctant having read other people’s comments to accept the deal. Should Valspar or or B&Q be paying for replastering?

We purchased paint in April 2018 and have the horrid smell. According to Valspar, as my purchase was this year if should be affected but they are offering me two paint vouchers as a gesture of goodwill. I’ve asked if the bacth number is one of those affected but they’ve not answered my question but only referred to when purchased.

I’m not sure what to do. I have a small sample of paint. Could I get it tested?

I am currently going through this same dreadful odour saga caused by valspar paint purchased from b&q.
Why are they still selling it and why wasn’t I warned in-store?
My purchase of two valspar paint products (Vinyl Matt Brilliant White & State Secret V700) was on 25 August 2018. These products were used on my new home (1 bed flat) and now the bedroom is out of bounds as the stench is dreadful and also causes eye irritation.
I contacted both b&q + valspar and answered the same questions as mentioned above.
I received the template email from valspar claiming that my batch is not one of the problem paints and that this is an odour phenomenon known as ‘Ghost Odour’ that occurs when paint is applied to walls.
Well this is utter nonsense as you can smell the foul odour emitting directly from the remaining paint in the tin that hasn’t been used.
Not only can I not use my only bedroom but financially I am at a loss due to paying for a decorator along with these damaged products.
I do not know the guaranteed solution but valspar expect me to pay even more money to purchase the dulux stain blocker and spend another fortnight on re-doing the room. It’s now also difficult to find an available decorator at short notice and I have had to suspend the delivery of new flooring and a bed.
The whole incident has been stressful and ridiculously inconvenient.
Do any of these products such as Zinsser bin blocker, Dulux stain blocker etc work and eradicate the foul smell?

Hi Mark. We experienced the very same. Pos stink…it’s the second time we’ve had this issue, foolishly going back to Valspar thinking the problem was resolved. Our pots were numbered; 81289 51816674 TM1 1125 & 81289 51816674 TM1 11258. I wonder what your batch number is?

I cant seem to find the answer to getting rid of the smell .Did the 2 coats of stainblock work or not ,and are there any other alternatives .Help please.

Have you thought of getting a civet as a pet? It might revise your opinion on the smell. After spending some time with the creature your Valspar will seem like the fragrance of the gods and you will be happy.

I saw some folk hereabouts with a pet racoon in tow.

I was disappointed that they didn’t take it with them into the supermarket I was visiting at the time.

As far as I could see, local signage only specified “no dogs”.

I see that my previous comment above about civets has not gone down well [rightly so with hindsight].

Perhaps it’s a good job the pet raccoon did not go into the supermarket: it would have opened all the jars and packets. A single raccoon pet would get lonely; it’s owners should get another one.

Well,Dulux are in the mixer for supplying pee smelling paint too. I have just finished painting my bedroom the paint has left a foul smell.
I contacted Bq but they would not discuss the issue. Told me to contact Dulux, I have asked Dulux for them to supply sealer, new paint and £100 for redecorating.
But reading all these issue I am wondering if I should re skim the walls.
Will keep this post updated.

I had not heard of a problem with Dulux paint but they too may have changed their formulation to remove a questionable preservative. If there is a problem it’s highly likely that other cases will be reported.

Whatever B&Q and other retailers claim, customers have rights against the retailer and not the manufacturer. Contacting Citizens Advice may be useful. It may help to mention your rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. It’s worth being polite, persistent and stating what remedy which you are seeking – as you have done in your post above.

Manufacturers have no direct legal responsibility for unsatisfactory products even if the problem has been caused by them, though it is not uncommon for them to offer help, if only to protect their reputation.

We experienced issues in January with cat urine and rotting flesh smells with Valspar and it’s the second time this has happened; the first time was in 2018…both times the problem related to Valspar paint. Valspar are unwilling to offer anything other than a refund for the paint on the basis of “a gesture of goodwill”. This second experience will cost us about £1,000.00 to rectify in new materials and labour. I’m not happy! Any advice would be appreciated.

Given the past problems with Valspar, may I ask why you chose to use the brand again?

Viv says:
26 May 2019

We painted our second bedroom in January 2018 using half a pot of trade matte given by a friend and the rest Johnson’s which we have used for years. In July the cat pee smell appeared so we cleared the room again, washed and bleached the walls and repainted with a free tin of Johnson’s from our local paint shop. Now we are experiencing the smell again May 2019. 😩 has anyone found a lasting solution

Flo says:
30 May 2019

Fixed it! – Use Little Knights paint. It will seal the Valspar in and leave absolutely no smell (it’s odourless). Saved us when we were having this nasty Valspar problem!

Evening, I’ve been in contact with B and Q customer service today as 4 rooms were painted in that last month, yes June 2019! And this is still and issue. I was not aware of it as last year used Valspar to paint my main bedroom with no issues. The first agent in the phone was appalling and denied there was an issue anymore. The second agent was far more helpful but how can this product still be on the market if this is a problem?!
I have demanded compensation for the paint, the initial cost of work and the rectification work required

Liz Carnell says:
7 July 2019

We used Valspar paint on a baby’s nursery in January 2018 (before she was born) and she hasn’t been able to use it since due to the disgusting stench. She is now 16-months-old. Valspar told us to use Dulux Trade Stain Block, which has made no difference. They claimed our V700 was not an affected batch but from what other people say, this problem persists. We put in a new window to create more ventilation so our costs are now very large. We are pressing B&Q to fund replastering the walls and repapering. I will be contacting trading standards later today. I’d like to contact the MD/CEO at Valspar but their complaints manager refuses to give me his/her name. He also demanded that I send a letter from a legal representative or insurer with three quotes for replastering, despite both my insurer and legal advice line telling me there was no basis for this in consumer law.

Emma B says:
9 July 2019

I’m so glad to find this thread- thought I was going mad! For weeks I have been looking for an old apple core which I thought may be the cause of the smell, but when guests with cats visited and said it smelled like cat pee, I started to wonder if it was the paint. The smell has got worse as the weather has warmed up. I only painted my study in February 2019 and now I can’t use it.

Jessika Robinson says:
23 July 2019

Hi Flo

Please can you confirm if this is still the case? We have already attempted remedial works (alkaline sealer) which has failed and we are utterly desperate.

Have you read through the previous posts including the previous page Jessika?

I don’t recall anyone saying they have tried this, but as a last resort I think I would try a chemical paint stripper to try and get rid of it rather than sealing it in.

Always try on a small hidden area first, there is some good advice on using it here:

Ronnie says:
24 August 2019

I purchased Valspar paint from B&Q June 2019 now my walls smell like cat pee too. The problem continues and both Valspar and B&Q deny the problem continues !!

Claire says:
28 August 2019

I too have this problem. Paint was bought in January 2019 so Valspar claim it’s not from the faulty batch but will pay the cost of paint and primer. The work was done by a decorator so currently trying to see if B&Q will cover his costs too. However, posts on here suggest it doesn’t fix the problem anyway. Has anyone found a way to fix it?