Water stains on the ceiling can dramatically reduce the resale value of your home and be a sight to behold. Whether you're planning to move, making repairs, or just looking to spruce up your home, removing water stains can be a relatively simple, inexpensive and do-it-yourself task.
Method 1 of 3: Treating Water Stains on Gypsum Ceiling
Step 1. Find the source of the moisture
You may see an open leak in a pipe or a damaged above-ceiling installation, but this is more difficult to identify.
- If you don't identify the source of the moisture before making repairs, the problem won't go away.
- Wear gloves, protective eyewear and a dust mask when locating the source of the leak and repairing it. You may notice mold, depending on how long the leak has been going on.
- If you find mold in large quantities, contact a professional to handle it safely.
Step 2. Determine the level of damage
If the water stain is from a leak that has been repaired long ago and the damage is purely aesthetic, you can remove the stain by lightly scrubbing it.
- Use a mixture of water and bleach in equal proportions to remove stains. Make sure you wear protective eyewear and gloves when using this mixture.
- If this method doesn't work, wait for the gypsum to dry completely, then apply a coat of primer and cover with paint that is the same color as the ceiling. As long as the gypsum is intact and the leak is fixed, your job is done!
Step 3. Remove the damaged gypsum
You may only need to cut some of the gypsum or remove the entire piece, depending on the extent of the damage.
- If you need to cut a small part of the gypsum, use a keyhole saw or similar tool to cut the damaged part.
- If the damage is large enough, you may have to use a goat hammer or a crowbar to remove the damaged part.
- Make sure all the stains on the gypsum are cleaned and the rest is dry and does not sag.
- Clean the stain with a household cleaner to prevent further mold growth.
Step 4. Fix the holes in the gypsum
Now that the damaged parts have been removed, you can replace them with new gypsum.
- Cut the gypsum to the same size as the removed ceiling.
- If the hole being patched is small, you can simply place a new piece of gypsum in the hole, then use joint compound to hold it in place. Then, use a putty knife to ensure a smooth and even joint.
- If the hole is larger, you may need a tool to hold the replacement gypsum in place while you use the joint compound to fill the gap and dry.
- Let the joint compound dry completely, then use fine sandpaper to make sure the joint is smooth and even.
Step 5. Repaint the newly repaired area
You must use a primer first, then you can paint the gypsum with a color that matches the color of the ceiling.
- Many home supply stores sell paint in the color you need if you show a sample.
- Repainting the entire ceiling will produce a uniform color in each section.
- Adding a coat of shellac before applying the primer can help complete the repair.
Method 2 of 3: Removing Water Stains on Popcorn Ceiling
Step 1. Locate and fix the source of moisture
As with the gypsum ceiling, you have to fix the leak first. If not, you will have to do the repair over and over again.
- Make sure you wear protective gear when carrying out repairs just in case mold has developed from moisture.
- If a popcorn textured ceiling was installed before 1979, it may contain asbestos. If so, you should contact a professional service to handle the repair.
Step 2. Determine the extent of improvement required
If the water stain is due to a leak that has been repaired for a long time, you may simply use bleach or paint the ceiling to cover the stain.
- Try using a balanced ratio of water and bleach to treat light stains. Do not forget to wear protective glasses and gloves when applying the mixture.
- To deal with darker, distracting blemishes, you can simply apply a base coat of the same color.
Step 3. Use a paring knife to remove the damaged popcorn texture
You should be able to scrape it off fairly easily because of the moisture it builds up.
- Scrape the popcorn texture from the problem area to a few inches on each side.
- Scrape until you get an even gypsum. Gypsum may also suffer from water damage
- Wear protective eyewear and a dust mask to protect yourself from falling material.
Step 4. Perform evaluation and repair on damaged gypsum
You may not need to cut or repair water damaged gypsum.
- If the gypsum is only stained, you can treat it with a product like KILZ paint which will prevent the damage from spreading and serve as a protective layer.
- The damaged gypsum will not be visible after you apply the new popcorn texture.
- If the damage to the gypsum is severe enough, follow the steps to repair the gypsum ceiling outlined above.
Step 5. Create a new popcorn texture on the ceiling
Once you're sure the gypsum is completely dry and solid, you can simply create a new popcorn texture on the problem areas.
- When repairing gypsum, make sure it is completely dry, sanded and clean so that the material to make the popcorn texture adheres well to the surface.
- Use ready-made popcorn textured ingredients in tubes. Spray packs will be more difficult to control for small area applications.
- Try to make the thickness and texture the same as the one already on the ceiling.
Step 6. Apply primer and paint to the repaired surface
Once the popcorn texture is completely dry, you can paint the area the same color. You can also repaint the entire ceiling to ensure a uniform color.
Method 3 of 3: Removing Water Stains on Wooden Ceiling
Step 1. Fix the leak and check if the wood is rotten
Wooden ceilings are more difficult to repair once they have been stained with water. Unlike gypsum and popcorn ceilings, you can't simply cut out a portion of the ceiling and replace it without leaving visible repair marks.
- Make sure you have identified and corrected the source of the moisture. If not, you may have to make other repairs.
- Wear gloves, protective eyewear, and a dust mask to protect yourself from possible mold.
- Weathered wood must be replaced.
Step 2. Sand the top coat on the damaged wood
If the leak doesn't penetrate all the way through the wood, but is just dripping from a crack or crevice in the wood, you may be able to sand the damaged area.
- Do not forget to wear protective equipment when using power tools.
- Sand carefully and evenly so that it doesn't create streaks or different textures on the wood.
- Once the damaged area has been sanded down, apply a protective coat or dye to the wood.
Step 3. Apply the dye to the wood
If sanding alone can't handle the stain, you can use a darker dye to match the overall ceiling color.
- If the water stain is black, this method may not be suitable. However, darker colors tend to make people pay less attention to the damaged parts.
- Some types of wood cannot be repaired due to discoloration and you will need to replace wood that is completely wet.
Step 4. Use bleach on the wood
For lighter woods such as pine, you can use a wood bleach that contains oxalate to remove black spots from water.
- Wear eye protection as you will be applying liquid bleach to a wooden surface overhead.
- Use a sponge or washcloth dipped in clean water to gently remove the bleach mixture from the ceiling.
- Once the bleaching process is complete, mix 1:2 white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, then spray the solution onto the treated surface to neutralize any remaining bleach.
- Make an X-shaped cut in the lid of the margarine container and slide the brush handle through the hole. This trick will prevent the paint from dripping and hitting you when you paint over your head.
- Make sure the stained area is completely dry before you try to cover it with paint.
- Wear a dust mask and protective goggles to protect your eyes and nose from paint debris or droplets.
- If any paint is peeling and needs to be cleaned before applying KILZ, make sure the paint is not lead-based. Purchase a paint test kit at a hardware store. Lead is very very dangerous for children. So, if you find paint that contains lead, contact a specialist. Lead has not been used for almost 50 years and when it is found it is usually found in wood and decoration. There is almost no lead in wall and ceiling paint and paint only poses a risk if sanding produces dust.
- If you have a popcorn textured ceiling, it might be a good idea to contact a specialist in this area. Such ceilings may contain asbestos and you should not try to risk handling them. In fact, asbestos only causes problems if you destroy it. Painting asbestos won't be as much of a problem as if you lived around it.