How to Repair Ceiling Water Damage

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Repairing a ceiling because of water damage can sometimes mean the need to remove a section of drywall. The drywall needs to be replaced if the damaged section is bowing or sagging or if you place a drywall screw to the damaged section and the screw goes right through when you try to insert it.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Straight edge
  • Safety glasses
  • Dust mask
  • Step ladder
  • Drywall knife
  • box knife
  • Scrap piece of 1-inch-by-2-inch board
  • Handsaw
  • Section of drywall
  • Mesh drywall tape
  • 1 1/2 inch drywall screws
  • Variable speed drill
  • Philips head drill bit
  • Drywall compound
  • Drywall compound tray
  • 12-inch drywall knife
  • Drywall sandpaper

Remove Damaged Drywall

Measure the length and the width of the section of damaged drywall. Use the straight edge and pencil to make an even square around the damaged area. The sides and ends of your square should all be the same length and width. This will make it easier to fit a new section.

Put on your safety glasses and dust mask. When you cut out the old drywall, it creates a lot of dust and falling particles. Use the drywall knife to cut out the square that you drew around the damaged area of ceiling. Place the pointed end of the knife to the ceiling and push it into the drywall or tap the end of the handle with a hammer.

Use your handsaw to cut four 4-inch sections off of the 1-inch-by-2 inch board. It is possible that the damaged section of drywall is not attached to a stud. You will need these blocks of wood to secure the new drywall to. Place a block in each corner of the hole that you cut in the ceiling. The blocks are laid flat on the back side of the hole with 2 inches sticking into view.

Use the drill and drill bit to secure the blocks of wood into place. Insert the screw through the ceiling drywall and into the wood. Complete this step in each corner. Measure the length and width of the hole to be sure that the new piece you cut will fit.

Install New Section of Drywall

Mark the measurements of the hole in the ceiling on the new section of drywall. Use the straightedge as a guide for your box knife. Use your box knife to score the drywall. Break off the scored edges. It is easier to cut one side at a time on the front side of the drywall. Lift the drywall and hit the back side close to where you cut it. The drywall will bend where it was cut. Use your box knife to cut through the paper. Complete this procedure for all four sides.

Set your ladder under the hole. Lay your drill and four drywall screws on top of the ladder. Place the new drywall section into the hole in the ceiling. Each corner of the drywall should fit up to the blocks of wood. With one hand hold the drywall section in place, With the other hand, put a screw on the tip of the drill bit. Insert a screw into each corner.

Cut a section of drywall tape to fit the length of one side of the drywall patch. Complete this step for each side. Make sure that the tape covers the seams where the two sections of drywall come together. The mesh tape is sticky on one side and will stick to the ceiling.

Fill the drywall compound tray with drywall compound. Use the 12-inch drywall knife to spread compound over the tape. Make sure to spread the compound thin and do not leave any edges. Allow the compound to dry overnight.

Reapply drywall compound over the entire patch smoothly and evenly. Allow to dry. When the compound is dry, you can sand it with drywall sandpaper. Texture if necessary, allow to dry and paint to match the rest of the ceiling.

Tips & Warnings

  • There is no need to paint the entire ceiling. Take a clean sample if possible from the section that you cut out. The sample can be matched at a paint supply store If there is water staining beyond where you made the repair, use an oil based Zinser primer to seal the stain.

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