Don't get down about those darkened water stains above you - it only takes a few hours to handle them. And you don't need a pro

Water stains are a daunting site, and unless you live in Colorado with our crazy hail storms it most likely means that you have a leak somewhere. But, that's doesn't mean you have to panic and pay a small fortune to a handyman to take care of it, fixing a water stain is actually fairly straightforward. If you follow this simple guide, you'll be prepared to handle any discoloration yourself.

Now, because we are in Colorado we are going to focus a little more on water stains that are in the ceiling, 2018 has been aptly nicknamed the hailpocalypse year due to two severe storms where entire towns were decimated by hail. We were delayed in closings and Joel's home was hit heavily. 

Find the Source

Easy as pie if you know you have baseball sized holes in your roof, but if that's not the case you most likely have a leak in a pipe which can become a slightly more difficult fix. It's extremely important that if the leak is actively dripping that you cover your floors or catch the water in the bucket. If water is allowed to sit on wood it will cause it to buckle and warp. 

ceiling water stain

Stop the Leak

A no brainer - stop the leak. If it's a pipe use a valve nearby to shut the water to the line, or locate your home's water shut off valve and close it so that repairs can be made to the line. If you were a victim of the hail and you have a leak you need to have your roof "dried in". Any local roofer (we can recommend some) will be happy to help tarp your roof so that water doesn't enter anymore. If you allow water to keep coming in you will be allowing the chance for mold to grow. If you notice mold - look on the joists because mold grows best in damp dark places - stop and it's time to call the professionals. On to the fun part:

Fix the Stain

The important part, first check to see if the ceiling is wet or just stained. This will affect the repairs needed. 

If the ceiling is wet:

  1. See if you can push your finger through the drywall, if you can make sure you have a bucket ready to catch any sitting water. If you can't grab something stiff to push through the damp drywall. 
  2. Check for mold (be careful)
  3. If there is a leak from a pipe call a professional or fix it yourself (I can teach you how later).
  4. Either dry the drywall or tear it out and replace. In Colorado I always suggest replacing it, why run the risk?
  5. Once you've replaced the drywall apply the texture if there is one, then two coats of drywall primer, then two coats of the paint you used on your ceiling. Pro tip:In bathrooms make sure you use semi-gloss as it resists moisture when compared to flat paint. 

If the ceiling is dry:

  1. I recommend cutting a small hole in the center of the stain to make sure that the insulation isn't damp and you can't see any leaking. If you are certain it's an old stain and there is no leak you don't need to cut into the ceiling.
  2.  If you didn't patch anything you'll need a blocking primer first and then your matching ceiling colors and gloss. Pro tip: oil based paints will hide the stain significantly better, but they are much harder to work with and clean up - you'll also need an oil based paint brush to go along with it.  

Bottom line is that ceiling stains are unsightly and will make potential Buyers wonder if there is an underlying issue. It's better to evaluate and repair issues rather than letting them go to be flagged by a home inspector.