Ceiling Stains – How to Repair without causing more damage

Mobile Home Ceiling Stains

Ugly, brown stains are a common feature of mobile home ceilings. They develop when roof leaks or condensation cause water to drip onto the ceiling tiles from above. They persist because because removal is not as simple as painting over the stain. The stain “bleeds” through paint leaving it as ugly as before. In addition, many mobile home ceilings are made with a sprayed on acoustical texture which is VERY fragile. Painting it with a roller or brushing on a heavy latex paint is a good way to pull off some of the texture, leaving a bare, untextured area. Fortunately, stains are easy to cover if you have the right materials.

There is no point in doing the repair until you are sure the leak is fixed and your ceiling has dried completely! Then go to your local paint store or home improvement center paint dept. and look for an aerosol can labeled “Stain sealing ceiling paint” or something close to that. Two brands I know of are “Kilz” and “Zinsser”.

It will be made to spray straight up and only comes in one color. Hopefully, the color will be a good match for your ceiling tiles.
While you are shopping you may also want to buy some of the blue masking tape. It costs more than standard masking tape, but comes off when you are done, without leaving adhesive behind or pulling anything off when it peels away.

At home, mask the area you plan to spray and put an old sheet or plastic drop-cloth on the floor. Then follow the directions on the can to do the actual spraying. Two light coats with adequate drying time between them is better than one heavy coat.

In most cases the color of the new area will be close enough to the old that no additional topcoat is needed. The fact is, people seldom look up. With the really obvious stain gone there will be nothing to draw the eye to what is probably a very subtle difference in color.

The repair described here will cover water stains on ceiling tiles or wallboard anywhere, not just in mobile homes.

You will of course make sure whatever caused the leak has been fixed before you spend the time fixing the stain, right?

{ 3 comments… read them below }
The problem is not a leak, woundering what would be the best thing to use to clean nicotine stained ceilings, without using any heavy chemicals ?
I don’t think you are going to be able to really clean it. If is the fiber based ceiling tile I am thinking it is, any solvent that would break down the nicotine is going to soak in and scrubbing will damage the surface.
I think you will need to seal it with a stain blocker like Kilz and then paint it.

tsp (tri sodium-phosphate) or 409 used both. I have cleaned and painted rentals for 25+ years. TSP is the best. 409 spray it on let it sit you will see it coming of the walls.

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  • I need help to fix my condensation problem, the spots occurre when the weather changes.
    The warm weather causes the condensation & I just would like to know what I should do to fix it.

  • Hi Theresa,

    That kind of condensation isn’t a big problem in NM where I did all my work. Think 100 degrees and 5% humidity.

    I think you will need to find some way to get more air flow through the problem spaces. I would need more information to be more exact.