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How To Repair a Water Stain On a Popcorn Ceiling

I have a popcorn ceiling and there is a dark water stain in the center. I have found the source of the water leak and it has been fixed. Now I need to fix the area to blend in with the rest of the ceiling. The popcorn texture/stucco/cottage cheese material in the water damaged area does not look the same as the rest of the ceiling. Do I need to fix the area by patching it before I try and paint over it? How do I make it match before I paint it? Is it better to scrape it off and refinish, or use a paint sprayer to cover up the stain? Please help.

How To Repair Water Stain Popcorn Ceiling

The easiest way to fix this would be to scrape, patch, and paint.
(Everything you ever wanted to know about popcorn ceilings here)

To begin a quick repair: Wear a protective breathing mask. Get a scraper tool and completely remove the stained popcorn material going about an inch on all sides around the stain. Scrape it off until you have just the flat drywall visible. The drywall will probably have a water stain in it also. You can use a product called KILZ to paint over the water stained drywall area if you desire. If you are completely sure you fixed the water leak then you can just apply the popcorn ceiling patch material. Apply the popcorn patch material trying to match the thickness and texture of your existing ceiling. Once the product dries you can paint it with the same color as the rest of your ceiling. This will make the patch job match and blend in. For full procedure, see below…

scrape off damaged popcorn ceilingScrape off the damaged or water stained popcorn texture

The best way to patch your (small area) stained water damaged popcorn ceiling is:

  1. Put plastic sheeting under the area you will be working.
  2. Use a protective breathing mask to protect yourself from harmful dust and fumes.
  3. Use a sturdy ladder to gain access to the ceiling.
  4. Scrape off all the water damaged popcorn material until it is all removed and the stained ceiling is visible.
  5. Vacuum or dust the ceiling to remove any left over dust.
  6. Use a paint brush and prime the water damaged ceiling with a product called KILZ ceiling paint. This product is the only thing that will seal in the stains and prevent any stains from showing through.
  7. Buy a Ready Mix Popcorn Ceiling Patch in a tub, not the spray type. The can spray popcorn patch gets everywhere and makes a huge mess, we do not recommend it. (You could also use a premixed Spray Texture Touch Up Kit that may be the easiest solution)
  8. Use a wide putty knife (joint knife) or paint brush and apply the patch material to the damaged ceiling following the directions on the can.
  9. Apply it to match the rest of the ceiling so it will blend in. Let dry.
  10. Paint with the exact same latex, white, or flat finish as the rest of your ceiling. It is recommended to use a paint sprayer to apply the matching paint to the patch. If you use a brush, it usually pulls the popcorn texture from the ceiling therefore defeating the purpose. You can find small paint can sprayers that you add your choice of paint to, pressurize it, and use that to spray the paint on the patch.

popcorn ceiling patchUse a “ready mix” Popcorn Ceiling Patch material to repair your ceiling

It may be difficult to match the texture and it may be very noticeable. Do your best to make it match. Have someone let you know if it looks like it matches the rest of the ceiling while you are applying it. If your ceiling has different color shades from popcorn texture patching, you can use a paint sprayer and respray the complete ceiling to make it all match.

If you have a HUGE area that needs to be repaired, consider doing it this way:

  • Scrape off everything in the damaged area.
  • Prime the large area and let it dry.
  • Rent a ceiling texture sprayer and use it to apply the popcorn texture to match the rest of the ceiling.
  • A ceiling texture sprayer is easy to use.
  • You will need to adjust the amount of texture to match the existing ceiling.
  • You can adjust the mix (more or less texture) and test spray on sheets of cardboard.
  • Once you’ve got it tuned in correctly, spray the damaged area.

Easy Fix – Popcorn Ceiling Patch Repair with Brush

NOTE: If the ceiling has never been painted before, the entire area must be primed with an oil based product. The reason being that water based products will just saturate the texture and cause it to fall off. Popcorn texture is basically a paper additive and cannot take water based paint. It must be sealed, then painted.

Another option if you are interested in making your home look more modern and cleaner is to completely remove ALL of the popcorn texture. We have a DIY popcorn ceiling removal article that will help you to do this if you desire.

If you have another method to repair a damaged popcorn ceiling, please leave a comment below to help our other readers.

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2 thoughts on “How To Repair a Water Stain On a Popcorn Ceiling”

  1. My handyman sprayed my popcorn ceiling to remove the yellow look, he used bleach & water… Now when it is humid or hot outside, it falls off the ceiling, but only in the summer season. WHY? And what can I do to stop the mess?

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