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Should You Paint Over Water Damage?

Repairing water damage is not a quick fix. Rather, it takes time and effort to make sure that the water is removed, that everything has been dried up completely, and that all surfaces have been appropriately treated before any type of repainting is performed. Failure to do so may result is serious cosmetic problems with your home.

When walls or ceilings have been damaged by water, the first thing to do is shut off the source of the water. You cannot affect any repairs until there is no more water coming in, unless of course you enjoy the feeling of trying to sweep the ocean back with a broom. Once the water has been shut off, then you need to ascertain the level of the water damage. If the drywall simply needs to dry out, give it ample time to do so before attempting to repaint. If the drywall has swollen or warped as a result of the water, then more serious efforts will be required.

The damaged area may be in need of repair work. If that is the case, locate the center of the wall studs along each side of the water damaged area through the use of a stud finder.  Draw a pencil line down the center of each stud, with two parallel lines on each side of the water damaged area. By measuring 6 inches above and below the water damage, and drawing two lines perpendicular to the stud lines, you will end up with a square or rectangle shape.

Using the lines as a guide, use a tradesman’s knife to cut through the drywall and remove the damaged portion.  Cut a new piece of drywall to match the opening in the wall, and then attach it using 1 5/8” drywall nails or drywall screws (for ceilings).

Apply a mesh tape over the seams, and then use a joint compound to cover those seams.  Allow it to dry and then sand down to create a smooth finish. Repeat this procedure until the wall surface is smooth and there are no indications of visible seams.

Apply two or three coats of primer over the repair to make sure that there are no remnants of the water damage stain that are going to show through. Once you are sure that the repair has “taken”, then you can apply paint to the repair as needed. In many cases it may require the painting of the entire wall in order to make sure that the repaired area is indeed invisible.

Obviously, repairing and replacing damaged drywall is a fairly exact science. If it seems like it is beyond your abilities as a handyman to undertake, then perhaps you should call in a professional. They know how to properly treat situations like this one, making the proper repairs to your home in a manner that does no run the risk of compromising its aesthetic beauty.


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