Homeowner's DIY Guide to Removing Water Stains With Paint

ECOS 08/06/2018
water stains

Water stains are a homeowner's absolute worst nightmare.

...That may be a bit extreme, but they're at least unsightly and can easily cause further damage if the cause is not addressed and resolved. Unfortunately, many homeowners just don't know what to do when a water stain makes its way across their ceiling and continues to spread. However, a few simple steps is all it takes to get your ceiling looking as good as new. Here's our homeowner's DIY guide to removing water stains from ceilings and walls with paint.

Gather Materials Once you've resolved the cause of the problem and are sure that the water stain is dry and won't get worse, it's time to gather the materials you'll need. It's also important to mention that this process involves the use of wall primers and paints, and we understand better than anyone that quality makes a major difference when it comes to the results as well as your personal health. Traditional painting materials contain high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and according to a report by CBC Marketplace, VOC levels over 500 ppb could cause problems for people with chemical sensitivities. For this reason, it's always worth it to invest in low VOC paint and wall primer.

The other materials you'll need to complete this project include bleach, a drop cloth to prevent spills, protective gloves, goggles, a sponge, a spray bottle, a sponge, painter's tape, and potentially, a ladder. As with any home improvement project, it's generally easiest to gather your materials first.

Apply Bleach Solution Before you actually do any painting or priming, you need to clean the area thoroughly, just as you would with other painting projects. But don't just spray bleach on the stain itself -- it's best to create a solvent made with one cup of bleach and three cups of warm water. This helps the stain to start fading and also removes mildew, dirt, dust, and other debris. After spraying the solution onto the stain, make sure to wipe the area gently with a clean sponge. Then, spray some warm water and gently rinse the area. Finally, let the ceiling dry and cover the trim with painter's tape to prepare it for the next steps of priming and painting.

Apply Wall Primer As we discussed above, it's always ideal to use low VOC painting materials, including wall primers. Studies have shown that levels of several VOCs average two to five times higher indoors than outdoors, and when inhaled they can contribute to several health problems. But regardless of the types of wall primer you've chosen, it's essential to carefully consider the proper application process as well as the fact that latex primer isn't right for this specific job.

"Your best option for a base coat to cover water stains on the ceiling is an oil-based, mold-resistant, stain-blocking primer in a shade closely matching that of the existing ceiling. Oil-based stain-blocking primers are water-insoluble, therefore, water stains cannot bleed through. Unlike latex paint, these stain-blocking primers also contain a high volume of binders (polymers that bind paint pigments), so that the primer can effectively adhere to the surface over the long run," writes Manasa Reddigari on BobVila.

Before you apply the primer, look at your ceiling type. If it's smooth, a roller is generally easiest. If it's textured, consider a sprayable primer for easy application.

Start Painting Once the layer of primer is completely dry, the painting fun can begin. Many homeowners wonder why painting is necessary to cover water stains after primer has been applied. The truth is that primers typically turn the ceiling several shades darker or lighter than the rest of your ceiling, which easily attracts attention and looks odd. That's where paint comes in -- it matches the color and covers up the discolored area perfectly.

Ceiling type doesn't matter as much with paints. You're free to use either latex paints, which are water based, or alkyd paints, which are oil-based. Just remember that latex paints typically dry quicker and don't emit as many fumes from VOCs.

We hope this guide helps you to bring your ceiling back to life and cover up those unsightly water stains! Come to Ecos Paints for all of your eco-friendly and low VOC paint and primer needs.