Easily Get Rid of Brown Water Stains on Your Ceiling!

Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray

Get Rid of Brown Water Stains on Ceiling

Brown stains on your ceiling must be one of the most unappealing things to look at. The stain could be due to one of many reasons but it’s most commonly a water stain. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be hard getting rid of brown water stains on your ceiling!

To get rid of brown water stains on your ceiling, you will need to use a mixture of 1-part bleach and 3-parts water to fade the ceiling stain. After it has dried completely, use mold-resistant primer and mildew-blocking paint to cover the affected area.

Taking care of the stains can be a pretty simple task, and you can do it yourself without the help of a professional. Save yourself some money, roll up your sleeves, and follow these few easy steps to get rid of that brown water stain for good.

1. Find the Root Cause First

Before tackling the cleanup, you’ll need to check the possible root causes that created the ceiling stain. Ensure that there are no other underlying water leaks before handling the brown stain to ensure the problem will not reoccur. If you have a persistent leaky pipe or roof, your brown water stain will return.

Small brown water stains can be due to several factors that may not be severe enough for a professional to handle.

  • These stains can appear around the areas of skylights or roof vents in your home. Having a proper seal can be challenging, so this is a common area where you may find brown water stains.
  • HVAC units in the home may also cause some brown water stains. These air conditioning units remove humidity from a house, and condensation can build up around pipes. If they are not installed or sealed correctly, your ceiling could show brown water stains after prolonged use.
  • Older pipes or plumbing fittings can cause slow leaks, which will result in a ceiling stain. If you suspect a plumbing issue, you can check pipes and fittings yourself or call a professional to examine the area above the ceiling where you found a brown water stain.
  • Roof issues can be one of the causes that you have a brown ceiling stain. With roof flashing material that’s not performing correctly or a damaged waterproofing membrane, environmental water can leak through your roof and into your home, causing ceiling stains.

You need to ensure you identify and rectify the root cause of your brown ceiling stain before you decide to clean up. If you just clean the stain without fixing the cause, then the stain will certainly make a return!

I also wrote an article about the 3 most common ceiling stains that you might want to check out, in case the brown stains are not the only problem you’re dealing with!

2. Check the Area for Swelling or Other Damage

The drywall or building material in your ceiling should not have any substantial water damage on top of a brown water stain. If there is significant swelling, separating, or other severe damage due to a saturation of water, you will unfortunately need to replace the affected area entirely.

Touch the brown stain to see if the material is wet or saturated at all. If the area is wet, but there is no visible swelling or separation, you can completely dry out the affected area before applying the treatment.

It is essential that you completely dry the ceiling before treatment to avoid any mold or mildew issues that could occur from saturated building materials. Using a fan or heater can help dry out the area quickly so you can treat the brown ceiling stain sooner.

3. Use a Bleach Mixture to Treat the Area

An easy way to get rid of brown water stains on your ceiling is with common household bleach and water. Always remember to use protective gloves, a drop cloth in the space you are working, and eye protection to ensure you protect yourself and the surroundings where you are.

Mix a solution of 1-part household bleach with 3-parts water. You can use a sponge to carefully wipe or blot the ceiling stain with the solution, to help fade the visible presence of the stain.

Once the stain is removed or faded enough to cover, you will need to use a spray bottle of clean water to rinse the treated area to remove any bleach residue. Finish by wiping or dabbing with a dry cloth. Let the area stand to dry completely.

4. Apply Stain-Blocking Primer to the Affected Ceiling

Once the brown water stain is removed, or significantly faded from your ceiling, you’ll need to prime and repaint the area. An oil-based primer is designed for blocking stains, and it’s essential because it’s water-insoluble, which means it prevents any water stains from bleeding through.

Oil-based primers are commonly used in areas with high humidity or increased moisture to fend off any mold or mildew problems. A stain-blocking primer is the best route to ensure that the brown stain will not reappear after painting.

5. Repaint the Treated Area with Mold-Resistant Paint

Regular latex paint won’t do the trick when it comes to covering brown water stains, especially if the bleach didn’t completely remove the stain. Latex paints are water-soluble, which will cause the stain to melt into the layer of paint during the drying process.

The brown water stain will once again appear in the near future, even after treatment and painting. This is a common mistake that many homeowners have found, even after applying many coats of latex paint.

Water-insoluble paints that are oil-based are key factors in covering up any brown water stains on your ceiling. Some homeowners opt for oil-based primers, but then choose latex paint to cover the ceiling area. That MIGHT work for covering small or mild brown water stains, but for large or significant areas, opting for oil-based primer and paint is your best bet.

Check out the pricing at Amazon for oil-based primers and oil-based paint.

There are many paints with additives in them that will help fend off any mold or mildew when treating water damaged ceilings. Choosing paint with added mildewcide, for example, can keep any mold or mildew from growing once you have treated and covered up the brown water stain.

You can even purchase these additives and combine them into paint yourself instead of purchasing a paint with the additives already mixed in. This is a cheaper alternative for homeowners, but you’ll need to ensure that the additives are mixed thoroughly before use to have the maximum amount of protection against mold or mildew.


Getting rid of brown water stains on your ceiling is not that hard. Many homeowners are quite successful in treating and ridding their ceilings of these unsightly stains. Doing this yourself beneficial and cost-effective, especially if you’re on a budget.

Whether you’re selling your home or just removing an eyesore, treating brown water stains can be completed quickly and easily without the need for a professional service. Save money and get to work on taking care of those brown ceiling stains yourself.

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.