There is nothing uglier than a discolored stain on the ceiling and even uglier to know that it is water stains because there may be different variables that are causing it and it is a matter of time before it turns into a major problem.

Are water stains on ceiling serious?

Water stains on ceiling

The answer is yes! When a moisture stain is covered without fixing the main problem, there is a risk of further damage including structural and electrical damage. That is why it is important to look at the footprint and see its trace until the cause is found, repair it as soon as possible, and cover the damp spot.

Why do I see water stains on my ceiling?

The change of color in the ceiling can be a warning of a leak either by moisture if it is in a bathroom, or a leak of water that has been leaking and evaporating leaves the footprint.

Why does a ceiling water stain turn brown?

Moisture stains on ceilings and walls in general the evaporation of water, the water contains minerals that oxidize when they dry and leave that discolored trace, depending on the minerals can be yellow-coppery or look dirty, gray, or a black selvage.

How to fix water stains on the ceiling

There are some easy solutions to fix water stains on ceilings and others that require some major repairs, however, they are resolvable.

Observe and identify the root cause

water stain in ceiling

The priority here is to check the stain and the trace it has left to its source. These are usually found in the bathroom, near an upstairs radiator, on the ceiling, or in an upstairs bathroom. It is a good idea to start with these locations.

If the damage is to the roof, you should check to see if it is waterproofed properly or if any shingles have split. Fixing this is simple, you should buy primer, asphalt mantle, and shingles. Another cause of roof damage is rainwater drainage pipes, which can break and leak water into the walls. These types of leaks are more difficult to fix and may require major repairs.

If it is from a radiator, you may want to check the piping, valves, or bleed point.

If it is coming from an upstairs bathroom, check the pipes, stopcocks, and hoses and replace them as soon as possible. In case of flooding, check drains, center floor, sinks, and toilets. Unclog them with hoses if necessary or apply special chemicals to unclog pipes. All this will prevent flooding and possible leaks.

If you can’t do these repairs yourself, contact a roofer or plumber who can do a guaranteed job.

How to cover water stains on the ceiling

By following these tips you can locate and repair the cause.

Clean the stain

Once you have solved the main problem, you can repair the water stain, starting with a thorough cleaning. A simple solution is to clean the stain with bleach and hot water in a 1:3 ratio of 1 cup of bleach to 3 cups of hot water. This solution will remove all traces of mineral stains, residue, grease, mildew, and dirt and prevent them from spreading, without damaging the paint and primer on the wall. 

  • Start by placing newspaper around the damaged area to protect the floor from dust and stains, it is also easier to clean.
  • Set up a ladder, put on safety glasses (prevents dust from getting in your eyes), climb the ladder together with the bleach solution, or ask for help to pass it to you.
  • With a sponge clean the area.
  • Use a spray to seal with the same solution and then dry the wet area with a clean cloth. Use a little paint again if the stain is deeper than usual.

Apply a coat of stain-resistant primer

apply primer to ceiling

Normally this is the step that most people forget and paint directly on the wall, forgetting to apply a protective layer, which is the primer or prime coat. You should only scrape the wall a little bit to remove the old paint, apply the primer, and then a satin paint. It is not a good recommendation to use latex paints because they are soluble and non-soluble paints (which use without problem) are more expensive.

When latex paint encounters water it starts to spray and creates a dusting of paint causing the stain to reappear.

The best choice for a base coat to cover water stains on the ceiling is an oil-based, mildew-resistant, stain-blocking primer in a shade that matches the existing ceiling. These primers are water resistant and contain polymer binders that will adhere to the surface for the long term.

The way you apply the primer (and paint) depends on the design of your ceiling. If your ceiling is smooth, use a paint roller with an extension and a 3/8-inch roller cover to apply the primer over the water spots. Then, wait for the primer to dry for two hours or as directed on the primer container. Choose a roller with a thicker nap (3/4 to 1-1/4 inch) if your texture ceiling, or spray the primer with a can of stain-resistant primer.

Now paint the ceiling

Painting is the last phase, the most aesthetic and the one that may require a few coats. The stain, as we told you earlier, is discolored by the minerals present in the water that evaporate leaving a yellowish-coppery or coppery-black color. Matching this color to the original color of the ceiling is essential to not fix the eye on that patch.

Here you can opt for latex or satin paint, depending on what the wall is like in general. You have the option of buying special paint for ceilings, which is usually thicker than the average paint and is less reflective which helps to hide small imperfections.

Choose a paint that matches the color of your ceiling for a uniform look, and apply it over the primed area with a roller (choose a ⅜-inch coat for a smooth ceiling, or a ¾-inch to 1-¼-inch coat for a textured ceiling).

Allow the first coat of paint to dry for up to four hours or according to package directions, then apply a second coat for more uniform coverage.

After the second coat has dried, the ceiling should look as if there were never any water spots, if you notice that it does not match the original color, apply as many coats as necessary.

Water stains on ceiling. A prehistoric footprint was last modified: December 6th, 2022 by Vanessa Gallanti
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