We all take care of our ceilings, painting them and fixing cracks, but what happens when a dreaded water stain forms on your ceiling? Don’t worry – you are not alone. At one point or another, we have all lived in a place where water stains started to appear on the ceiling – and that out of the blue! Thinking that you should ignore it? Certainly not – it is one of the worst possible things to do in case one appears.
If you ignore the water stain, you will be tempting fate. Not only will it get worse and ruin your ceiling, but there is also the risk of electrical or structural damage. You have to fix it and we are here to tell you how to do that in the proper way! Without further ado, let’s get started!
What causes water stains on your ceiling?
Whenever a water stain appears on the ceiling, the question which most of us ask is: how did it get there? Well, the source of the stain is most likely a leak from faulty pipes or a leaking roof right above it. The water seeps through from the leak and evaporates – leaving behind the unsightly stain.
It isn’t very hard to find out where the water is coming from. Whether it is an upstairs washroom or the roof, whatever is right above the ceiling is the most likely culprit. If the source isn’t right above the stain, then a leaky pipe is usually the cause. Also, old caulking is also a common source of water stains and seepage.
Old, crumbling shingles, as well as weak seals around the vents in the roof, allow the water from snow, rain, etc. to enter your house. If this is the case, you need to immediately make repairs. Plus, if you installed weather-proofing material on the roof, and your ceiling is getting water stains, it is likely that the weather-proofing material doesn’t work anymore.
2. Leaky shower pans
Leaky shower pans can also be the source of the problem. Usually, the plastic shower pans deteriorate early as compared to the concrete ones. To find out whether the shower pan is causing the leak, check the floor under it.
3. Faulty radiator
Depending on the type of radiator that you have in your home, the leak could be caused by faulty valves, vents, rusted joints, etc. Do check the pipes right above the stains. It is very common for the water to run along with the piping or rafters before it drops on the ceiling, thus concealing the real source of the issue. No matter what the case is, you should always fix radiator leaks before it’s too late.
How to get rid of water stains without painting the ceiling
Once you identify the cause of the leak, you need to make the repairs. You can either make the required repairs yourself or get the help of a professional plumber to take care of the issue. Only after repairing the roof leak should you go about covering the stains.
1. Find the leakage source
If you don’t fix the plumbing leak before you do the repairs, the stains will just keep coming back. Wear safety glasses, a dust mask, and gloves while you are searching for the leak. You need to do this since toxic mould might be present due to the seepage.
2. Determine the extent of damage
Determine how much damage is done. If the ceiling stain is due to a water leak that you repaired a while ago and the problem is only aesthetic, you remove it by following these DIY steps.
- Cover the floor right below the affected area with a drop cloth.
- Wear gloves as well as goggles.
- Ensure that the room is ventilated.
- Take 1 part bleach and mix it with 3 parts warm water – preferably warm. If your ceiling is coloured, use oxygen bleach. Otherwise, chlorine bleach does fine.
- Take a sponge and dip it in the bleach solution.
- Stand on a step ladder or a stool.
- Wipe the stain with the help of the dipped sponge.
- Now take another sponge and dip it in clean water.
- Rinse the stain with this sponge.
- With the help of a tea towel, dry the area.
- Repeat this three or four times.
- If the stain is still there, let it dry overnight and then you can try to cover up with paint.
3. Repair the damaged drywall
If there is damaged drywall, you have to remove it as well. Again, depending on the extent of the damage, you may have to cut only a bit while in some cases, you will have to replace it entirely.
If you have to remove a small portion only, you can do so with the help of a keyhole saw. In case of extensive damage, you might have to use a crowbar to get rid of all the damaged material in the entire ceiling.
- Make sure that you remove all the stained surface and the remaining material is dry.
- Clean the area using a regular household cleaner to prevent the formation of mould and mildew.
- Once you remove all the damaged material, you have to replace it.
- Cut it approximately to the size of the damaged area.
- Simply place the new part in the hole and fill the gap using drywall joint compound and glue. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly and then sandpaper to make sure the surface is even and flat.
Get rid of water stains by painting the ceiling
Even after having dealt with the underlying problem and cleaning the stain with bleach, this stubborn thing doesn’t seem to go away. That’s when you have to paint the ceiling.
1. Cleaning the stain
Start with a thorough cleaning. If there is flaking paint, remove it with the help of a scraper before you bleach the stain. Mix one part bleach and three parts water. Clean the stained area so that at least the lingering mildew, dust, grime, etc. is removed. After this, cover the trim of the ceiling with painter’s tape so that it is protected from paint and primer.
2. Applying the base coat of the primer
After so much work, it might be tempting to simply apply a coat of paint on the stain and call it a day. Even so, this will be a bad decision. Most of the interior latex paints are water-soluble and are thus a bad choice for usage as a base coat, especially over water stains.
If you apply paint directly, it will come into contact with the stain and the stain will dissolve into the wet paint. This will cause it to start showing through the paint again. Therefore, you need to go for a base coat that will cover the stains.
Your best choice is to go for a mould-resistant, oil-based, stain-blocking primer. The shade of the primer should closely match the ceiling paint. Oil-based primer is water-insoluble which makes sure that the stains will not be able to bleed through.
If your ceiling is smooth, apply the primer over the stains using a paint roller and let the primer dry according to the drying time given on the package. If you have a textured ceiling, it is better to get a spray bottle or spray can of the stain blocker primer. Use that instead of a roller to get an even finish.
3. Applying the paint
After it dries, you have to apply a coat of ceiling paint over the primer undercoat to make sure your ceiling looks as good as new. You can buy oil-based paint or water-based paint. Water-based paints dry quickly and produce fewer fumes from VOCs as compared to oil-based paints.
Also, you have to buy ceiling specific paint since it is generally thicker than regular paint and has a non-reflective finish that hides small stains and blemishes easily. Your paint should match the ceiling’s colour to give a uniform look.
Apply the paint over the primer with the help of a paint roller. Allow the first coat of paint to dry as per the instructions given on the package. For more coverage, you can apply a second coat. Repainting will remove the water marks completely. Voila! Your ceiling is as good as new without any stains!
Water stains can appear on the ceiling due to various reasons ranging from leaky roofs to faulty pipes. Before you try to cover the stain with paint, you need to find the cause and reason behind it so that you can repair it first. You can do this yourself, or get professional help. Once you have made the repairs, you can remove the stain by either bleaching it or covering it up with water-resistant paint and primer. No matter which option you go with, follow the steps that we have mentioned above, and you will be good to go! Next project: learn how to fix a leaking roof on your own in simple steps