Yellow Stain Coming Through White Paint

When you recently painted your room and covered both the walls and ceiling with white emulsion paint, you might have noticed that the paint job looked flawless at first. However, after some time, you have noticed a yellow stain coming through white paint. This stain could be particularly noticeable where there used to be an old partition and along the seams where the wall had been replastered.

Perhaps you have tried applying additional coats of paint, but the yellow stains persistently bleed through to the surface. Or, you even tried applying sealant paint. A sealant may seem to do the trick in terms of locking in the stain. However, the area where the sealant was applied could still be visible. This creates a new aesthetic issue.

White paint can be tricky. It’s good to start with, and it makes things look clean and modern. But you have to be careful when you use it to make sure the color doesn’t change. Sometimes, white paint can turn yellow. This can happen in two ways: yellow spots might show up randomly, or the whole thing could look yellow. Fortunately, every problem has a reason, and you can either fix it or stop it from happening in the first place.

Yellow Stain Coming Through White Paint?

Yellow Stain Coming Through White Paint

What Causes It?

When you see small round spots or lots of tiny yellow marks on painted wood, it’s called bleed through. This often happens when you paint things like cabinets, stools, or refurbished furniture with white paint.

The reason for yellow stains under white paint is tannins in the wood. These are in most woods and change when they touch water.

Sometimes, a water line could be loose somewhere behind the wall. You need to treat the spot properly to prevent it from getting bigger. Also, expect mold, or maybe just bad paint.

If necessary, investigate the spot if the yellow is loud. You can cut out the patch and look behind it to save yourself money from making a bad decision and leaving it to get worse. It could be a dampness problem coming through from the other side. This is a worse problem. It is cheap to patch up if you see nothing. The yellow stain is just a symptom. So, it is a good idea to fix the symptom only after addressing the underlying cause.

How to Fix

You can stop the yellow stain coming through white paint. First, seal the wood, and second, use an oil-based primer. You can block tannins from coming through the wood using a Shellac-based or Synthetic Shellac primer as a sealant.

Usually, BIN Zinsser Primer is a decent choice for a high budget. You can use it for large jobs, such as cabinets. If you are doing smaller things like furniture or frames, Zinsser Bullseye Seal Coat is a good, cheaper option.

Shellac-based primers can give off strong fumes. Always use them in a place with lots of fresh air, such as on the exterior. Make sure to wait a while for the fumes to go away and the primer to dry before you start painting.

Use oil-based paint, not water-based, to prevent yellow stains on wood due to tannins reacting with water. I recommend Rust-Oleum’s Protective Enamel Paint; it dries nicely and is easy to apply.

If you already painted without using a sealant and see yellow stain coming through white paint, you can fix them by spot-priming with a sealant and then painting over them. But if you used water-based paint instead of oil-based, it’s better to strip the item and start over again.

Comprehensive Yellow Tint

Yellow coloring can sometimes show up evenly on wooden objects, even if you did the priming correctly. However, it’s more usual to notice this happening on all the walls in a room. This usually happens because of something in the environment rather than the material itself.

Why It Happens


If people in the house smoke a lot, the nicotine and tar in the cigarette smoke can stick to the walls. This will cause yellow stain coming through white paint as time goes on.

How to Fix

You need to remove leftover cigarette smoke stains using a strong cleaner and some hard scrubbing. Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) is a powerful cleaner that works well to get rid of deep smoke stains.

Oil-based Paint

Although it’s good for wood, when you use oil-based paint on walls, it tends to turn yellow as it gets older. Water-based paint can also do this, but it’s not as likely, and it usually happens when there isn’t enough light.

How to Fix

If your oil-based paint turns yellow over time, you can either apply a new coat to freshen it up or switch to water-based paint to avoid yellowing in the future.


Many paint colors become lighter as time goes by. This isn’t a problem for white walls because they should stay white. However, if they don’t get enough light, you will notice brown or yellow stain coming through white paint over time.

How to Fix

When there is not enough light, it does not have to be sunlight. Even artificial lights can make your paint look better. So, if the yellow tint is hard to see, consider using brighter bulbs in the room to fix the yellow stain coming through white paint.


You can easily figure out why your white paint has turned yellow. Just remember what you painted and when you did it; that’ll give you clues. Make sure to prepare things properly before painting to avoid redoing your work later. Investing a bit more in the right products from the start will help you do the job right.

Read alsoNeighbors put garbage cans in front of my house! What to do

SHARE this update with others

Leave a Reply