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Water Stains & Blemishes: Ceiling Remedies Before Painting 

November 3, 2021

Ceilings are often a neglected surface of a home as they are hard to reach and serve a functional purpose, not usually an aesthetic one. That is, until a water stain or blemish appears that can make an entire room look unkempt. 

Unsightly stains can indicate a larger problem other than an ugly ring on your ceiling. The telltale rings and markings are evidence that there is a water issue in your house that needs remediation before repair and repainting of the ceiling can take place. 

As a professional painting company, we suggest four steps to remedying your water stain or blemish: repair, clean, prime, and paint

Let’s take a deeper dive into each of these so you can quickly eliminate the conspicuous stain before it becomes an eyesore. 


Determine & Repair the Root Cause of the Stain 

Before you can remove the stain or markings from your ceiling, it is in your best interest to determine what caused the stain in the first place. 

Sadly, there are any number of issues that could be causing the stain from appearing (and possibly reappearing). One of the most common issues, that requires a visit from a roofing inspector and roofing professional, is a leaky roof or associated issues such as compromised shingles, flashing, or sealing around roof exhaust vents. 

Second to roofing issues comes the plumbing factor. Leaky pipes below second floor bathrooms could be an issue that will require a visit from a plumber. A plumber could determine if the stain is caused by leaky pipes, a leaky radiator, or even an HVAC system that is malfunctioning. 

No matter what the root cause, you will need to resolve the issue so your ceilings can remain dry and free of blemishes and possibly mold that could result from moisture issues. 


Clean The Area Thoroughly 

Once a water stain has made its mark on your ceiling, you will want to remove the mark as soon as possible to reduce the risk of mold or mildew from forming around the mark. 

To do this, you will need a mixture of ⅓ bleach, ⅔ water in a spray bottle. Begin by laying a tarp on the floor below the blemish and cover all furnishings and items that you don’t want to accidentally bleach. 

Spray a fine mist of the mixture on the ceiling and blot away the excess. Let it dry. Do this several times until the stain is removed. You may want to use a hair dryer to speed drying or, if you are patient, spend a few hours spraying and drying. Be sure not to rub or scrape at the ceiling as you may wipe off parts of the texture, especially if you have a popcorn or textured ceiling pattern. 

Use Stain Blocking Primer 

Choose a primer that is not water soluble, but rather water blocking that will not allow the stain to show through should the bleach remedy not work as well as you had hoped. High-quality stain-blocking primers are readily available at Benjamin Moore dealers. Check out the many options and tinted selections as well. 

Final Coat 

Now that you have remedied the root cause, treated the stain, and primed the area, you are ready for a final coat of your ceiling paint. Be sure to clean the area of the ceiling that you will be painting to be sure there are no cobwebs or dirt that could mess up your paint project. 

For more tips on things you should and shouldn’t do to remedy your ceiling blemishes check out our recent blog on “Ceiling Dos and Don’ts.” 


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