How to Paint a Ceiling With a Stain

Written by stevie donald
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How to Paint a Ceiling With a Stain
Ceiling stains are usually caused by moisture. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

A brown or tan stain on your ceiling is probably caused by a leak or excess moisture above the drywall. Water stains will bleed through water-based paint, so they must first be sealed with a stain-blocking primer. Other causes of ceiling stains include mildew, grease accumulation or oil splashes in a kitchen, or smoke stains from candles or cigarettes. Before painting a stained ceiling, you may need to clean it, and you'll certainly have to prime it.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Dust sheets
  • Builder's rosin paper
  • Detergent
  • Sponge
  • Stain-blocking primer
  • Roller
  • Brush
  • Ceiling paint

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  1. 1

    Prepare the area by moving or covering furniture with plastic dust sheets. Protect the floor with painter's dust sheets or builder's rosin paper.

  2. 2

    Clean the ceiling stains with warm water and detergent. Water stains, or stains that have soaked into flat ceiling paint, will not clean off.

  3. 3

    Prime the stain with tinted shellac-based stain blocking primer. Use an aerosol spray can for smaller stains, or a brush and roller for large stains or to prime the entire ceiling. Allow it to dry. Most stain-blocking primers can be painted over in an hour.

  4. 4

    Brush around the edges of the ceiling and around ceiling fixtures with a 2- or 3-inch brush. If you're not painting the walls, apply painter's tape around the top of the wall so you have a straight line.

  5. 5

    Roll the ceiling with two coats of latex ceiling paint. Allow it to dry completely before removing the dust sheets so you can be sure you haven't missed a spot. It's easier to see missed spots when the paint is dry.

Tips and warnings

  • Locate and repair leaks before repainting the ceiling; otherwise, the stains will return.
  • Open windows or use fans to dissipate paint fumes, especially when using stain-blocking primer.

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