The rainy season is nearly over, and you might be worse for the wear. You’ve seen them in all sorts of buildings. Big, blotchy, colorful spots on the ceiling that seem to grow and develop a life of their own. This causes the paint to sag and tear after a long enough time. The last place you want to see water damage is in your home! But let’s say it’s already happened, and you’re wondering what you can do to cover up or remove that stain. After all, can you fix water stains? There are some pitfalls to this tricky question, but luckily there is hope!

What’s the Problem?

Figuring out where the water came from is the most important step in solving the water stains. The water damage could be from a leaky roof, a loose pipe, a dripping radiator – It might be a one-time issue or a recurring problem that requires professional help. Whatever the cause, follow the stain to its source and fix that problem first. If you try to repair your ceiling before you fix the root problem, you’re just going to have to repeat the process and may wind up inviting more structural and electrical damage into the situation. If it’s your roof, find and fix the broken shingles, and don’t be afraid to bring in a pro. That goes for bathroom and heater problems, too. Sometimes you can fix a leaky radiator on your own by tightening a pipe or joint, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, hire somebody who will be able to prevent further leaks. Then you can start to fix the damage.

Fix the Damage

When you’re sure that you won’t be running into any more leaks, you’re ready to fix the unsightly stain left behind. Don’t dillydally when it comes to this step, either! Water damage is a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and even insects that can cause structural damage. If it’s just a stain, the risk isn’t as severe, but if you need to replace any structural parts, do that first. Next comes a good old deep clean!

Mix it Up

You’ll want to mix up some diluted bleach, with one part bleach to three cups warm water, and then set a cloth or scrap towel to catch any drips and prevent damage to your floor. Put on gloves and don’t forget eye protection – You don’t want bleach solution in your eyes! Cleaning goggles should be in every inventory. Climb your ladder and use a sponge to work in the bleach solution, and rinse it off with water from a spray bottle, and then wipe it down immediately with a dry cloth.


Next, cover your ceiling trim with painter’s tape, and then wait to paint. You need a stain-resistant primer first, and most latex paints for household use are water-soluble. That means that if more water stains develop, the paint will liquefy and allow the discoloring mineral deposits to show again. Using an oil-based stain-blocking primer will repel water and contain many binding agents that keep it fixed firmly to your ceiling.

Depending on your ceiling, you’ll prime and paint with a roller or a sprayer. Smooth ceilings can be primed with a thinner nap-covered roller, while textured ceilings will need a thicker nap or even a sprayer. Once your ceiling is primed, you’ll want to paint over the primer. Primer will usually be darker or lighter than the paint you’ll be applying on top of it, so painting over it with a paint that’s color-matched to the rest of your ceiling will make those unsightly stains history.

Of course, if you have a panel ceiling, there’s no cleaning those – Toss em out and install a replacement! How do you repair water damage? Now you know.