Why you have a stained ceiling, and how to fix it

Wednesday October 21 2020

Water may leak into the ceiling and with time, a patch will develop. PHOTO/net

By Desire Mbabaali

A stained ceiling is an unpleasant sight in any place around the house.

These brown/greenish spots and patches, especially associated with cardboard ceilings can be annoying especially when they continue eating up your beautiful ceiling. This is because boards are more sensitive to water and moisture than concrete ceilings. On the other hand, although concrete ceilings tend to be a bit more resilient to browning, consistent water or moisture on them is also likely to cause the problem or mold growth on the ceiling.

Causes of ceiling stains

Robert Kimuli, a roofing contractor says that the major cause of spotting and patches on the ceiling is water/moisture. These are also the major cause of mold growth.

He reveals the different reasons why water may leak into the ceiling.

The most probable cause of leaks may be in the joints of the iron sheets; when roofing, one iron sheet is put on top of the other by slightly overlapping them. The same goes for roofing tiles. Sometimes, especially where the roofer is inexperienced, they might not do it well, so when it rains, water might flow between the iron sheets from the joint. 


Additionally, nail holes often cause leaks. This can happen when the nail was knocked offside the roofing timbers, or when over time, it creates a bigger hole around itself, especially if the roof is old. This can get the roof leaking around that area, and water might end up on the ceiling.

The other reason is usually a rusty roof which might be getting water into the ceiling. This problem is also associated with old roofs that might have holes in them that let in the water when it rains. Another cause of rusting is dumping things over the roof that may speed up the rusting process. These could be things such as used battery cells, metallic tins that may rust.

For tiled roofs, it can be a slight movement, removal or damage in tiles and or damage on the underlayment that was used when roofing. For houses that have plumbing pipes going through the ceiling, it could be a leak in the pipe causing patches on the ceiling.

“Some stains are caused by mold. These are usually greenish, although they may take another color. Moist or high humidity environments make mold thrive,” Kimuli concludes.

Fixing this

Timothy Katabi, a roofer says that fixing the problem can only be handled case by case after observing what and where the problem is coming from. However, Katabi shares three solutions that can be employed. He however, emphasises that pin pointing to the exact affected area is crucial in solving leakage problems. 

Use bond

This seems to be the quickest way to fix these kinds of problems. Bond is a type of glue that comes in a tin, which is used to bond up holes/openings or spaces in the roof. This has to be applied to the very area where the problem is to stop water from leaking onto the ceiling.

“However, bond doesn’t solve every leaking problem. Some handymen don’t want to do the hard work, so they might promise that bond will help, and the problem persists. Getting an experienced person is thus important, because they will suggest the suitable course of action,” he adds.

Replacing the iron sheet/ tile

In the event that the iron sheet or tile is damaged, replacing it is the best option to eradicate the leaks. This might be a bit more costly, but worth it. If the roof has many leaking problems and is too old to repair, the owner might want to consider investing into an entirely new roof.


In some instances, the roof just needs to be reinforced. Again, depending on what the problem is, this could be adding more nails into the roof, or tightening the screws.

Getting a fresh new look

To get your ceiling back as good as new, Katabi says that depending on the damage, some ceilings might just need a new layer of paint to get the shine back again, while others, especially where the boards are bent and damaged beyond repair, replacing them after the problem is fixed is the best idea.