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Reno right: Ceiling fixes

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When it comes to plaster or false ceilings, problems are bound to happen. Tackle them as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

Brown stains

Coffee-coloured stains are often the first sign that water is leaking through your ceiling. Locate the source of the leak – it could be from a damaged pipe upstairs or a roof hole.

Before cutting and replacing the damaged area, drill a hole in the centre of the stained area to drain any standing water. If the damage is minimal, you may be able to remove flaking with a putty knife before patching. Then, apply a stain sealer before repainting.

If the ceiling is more severely damaged, you will need to cut away the damage to the point where the ceiling material is sound. Replace it with a new piece of drywall. Seal joints with drywall compound, sand it down, and repaint.

If in doubt, get a professional to do the repairs.

Minor cracks

Establish that these minor ceiling cracks are not the sign of roof or foundational damage – when a house or building starts to settle, ceilings can shift slightly and cause minor hairline cracks.

With a razor or utility knife, cut into the sides of the cracks to create a smooth and even V shape. Then, spread joint compound directly inside the crack and fill it evenly. Let it dry for at least 24 hours.

Once dried, scrape over it with a putty knife to remove any bumps, before taping over the crack with fibreglass mesh tape. Apply a second thin layer of compound over the tape and leave the area to dry. After it has dried, sandpaper the area, but avoid sanding it down to the taped area. Then, prime and paint it in a colour that matches the ceiling.

Sagging and warping

Years of dirt, dust, gravity, and movement in the structure can cause ceilings to weaken and sag. See if the sagging part can still be nailed or screwed back in place.

If the ceiling is too warped, loose, or cracked, it is best to fix it before it falls off and causes an accident.