Steps to repair water damage Clean the area. Before starting a project like this, thoroughly clean the area damaged by water. Clean and scrape off any peeling in the area. The application of primer (and paint) depends on the ceiling style.
If you have a smooth ceiling, apply the primer over the water stains with a paint roller with an extension and an 8-inch (2.5 cm) roller cover, and then allow the primer to dry for two hours or according to the instructions on the primer package. If you have a textured ceiling, opt for a thicker roll up cover (¾ inch to 1 ¼ inch) or spray onto the primer with a can of primer that blocks stains. Be very careful when painting over any plinth or piece of ceiling molding that has signs of water damage, as some of them may be made of a wood composite; they may need to be replaced instead of repainting them. Choose a paint that matches the color of the ceiling for a uniform appearance, then apply it to the primed area with a roller (choose an 8-inch nap cover for a smooth roof, or a ¾ inch to 1 ¼ inch layer for a textured ceiling).
Allow the first coat of paint to dry for up to four hours or according to the instructions on the package, then apply a second coat for more even coverage. That's why it's so important to find and repair the cause of the water stain as soon as possible, even if it's no longer wet. At this stage, it may be tempting to apply a coat of paint directly onto the water stain and call it a day. Cleaning the stained area of the ceiling with a mild household bleaching solvent (one cup of bleach and three cups of warm water) will discolor the stain and remove persistent mold, grease, dirt or dust that may prevent primer and paint from adhering to the ceiling.
Painting over the primed area will help match the color to the rest of the ceiling for professional quality coverage. Rinse the bleach solution off the ceiling with water from an aerosol bottle and then dry the damp area with a clean cloth. Oil-based stain-blocking primers (such as KILZ Stainblock ceiling paint, available on Amazon) are insoluble in water, so water stains cannot be filtered. When a water stain comes into contact with latex paint, the stain dissolves in the wet paint layer as the paint dries, causing the discolored mineral content of the stain to show up again through the paint to the surface of the ceiling.
The best option for applying a base coat to cover water stains on the ceiling is an oil-based primer, resistant to mildew and blocks stains, in a shade very similar to that of the existing ceiling. However, latex interior paints that are commonly applied to ceilings are a poor choice as a base coat rather than a water stain because they are water-soluble. Make the necessary repairs or seek the help of a roofer, HVAC professional, or plumber, as needed, and you can prevent future leaks and water stains on the roof. Painting the surfaces in your home after they've been damaged by water is a lot different from a standard job.
Your first priority when it comes to a water stain should be to find the source of the leak (or, in more rare cases, the flood) that caused it. The roof, the radiator upstairs, and the bathroom upstairs are good places to check. Follow the tips below to identify and repair the cause of the stains. Then, clean, print and paint over water stains to restore the ceiling's flawless finish.
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