Painting over water stains: Pro tips on how to stop them and get the perfect painted finish

Painting over water stains spread across painted light blue ceiling
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Painting over water stains means you can say goodbye to those ugly, unappealing marks spoiling the look of a crisp clean wall or ceiling. But it’s not as simple as adding a new coat of emulsion. You need to use a specialist paint to stop water stains reappearing, and identify what the underlying issue is. 

Leaks in pipework, a leaking radiator and rising damp are all common causes of water stains and these need to be dealt with before you start painting a wall or ceiling. If the cause is not treated, painting over the water stain will only be a temporary solution and it won't be long before they reappear.

Here we reveal how to repair any flaking or peeling paint, what paint you’ll need and how to apply to get rid of water stains for good. 

Steve Jenkins

Steve Jenkins is a freelance content creator with over two decades of experience working in digital and print and was previously the DIY content editor for Homebuilding & Renovating. 

He is a keen DIYer with over 20 years of experience in transforming and renovating the many homes he has lived in. He specialises in painting and decorating, but has a wide range of skills gleaned from working in the building trade for around 10 years and spending time at night school learning how to plaster and plumb.

He has fitted kitchens, tiled bathrooms and kitchens, laid many floors, built partition walls, plastered walls, plumbed in bathrooms, worked on loft conversions and much more. And when he's not sure how to tackle a DIY project he has a wide network of friends – including plumbers, gas engineers, tilers, carpenters, painters and decorators, electricians and builders – in the trade to call upon.