How To Fix a Water Stained Ceiling



There are several reasons why ceilings can become water stained.  Most commonly a roof leak is to blame, however, built up condensation or a leaking pipe may also cause a yellow stain to appear on your ceiling.  Your first step should be to figure out why the water stain appeared and stop the cause of the problem.  Then you can focus on the easier task of blocking out the ceiling stain.




Tape off walls so you will not get paint or primer on them.  Be sure to use low-tack tape so it will not pull the paint off of your walls.  Use a drop cloth or tarp to cover furniture and carpeting.


Materials Needed


Stain-killing primer, paint, drop cloth, low-tack tape, paint brush & roller, paint tray.




  1. Cut in your ceiling with a brush and roll on a coat of stain-killing primer.  Be sure to use the correct primer, there are many primers that claim they are an all-purpose primer, be sure that it will block out water stains.  Most of the time you will be using an oil-based primer.
  2. Let the primer dry according to the instructions.
  3. Roll on at least one coat of finish coat paint and let dry.


The primer will eliminate the water stain from bleeding through your finish coat.  If you do not use a primer you will notice the stain bleed through almost immediately.


Another Tip


If you use Zinsser's Bullseye Odorless primer you will not have to use a finish coat paint.  Bullseye Odorless dries to a flat finish and will look just like a regular ceiling white.  Simply roll on two coats of this primer and the job is complete.  The only time this would not work is if you wanted a ceiling paint in a washable flat finish or if you wanted a ceiling with more sheen than a flat finish.


Zinsser also makes a product called Covers Up.  It is a spray paint that contains a stain sealer.  It is designed so that the spray can sprays straight up in the air.  This is great if you have a water mark on your ceiling and you do not want to paint the whole ceiling.  The product comes in a regular ceiling white color which will work for most ceiling repairs, it also matches regular ceiling tiles. 

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