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Why Are There Yellow Stains on Your Ceiling?

April 27th, 2024 | 4 min read

By Kaylea Kuhlman

White ceiling with yellow, orangish stains around the outside.

Have you noticed those unappealing yellow stains on your ceiling? They can be quite the eyesore... but why are they there in the first place? How can you get rid of them?

At Brush & Roll Painting, we understand the frustration these stains can cause. With our 25+ years of experience and expertise in residential painting services, we're well-equipped to help you tackle this issue effectively.

In this article, we'll delve into the common reasons behind yellow stains on ceilings and outline the steps you can take to address them. By reading this article, you will be aware of what caused the yellow stains and what you can do to have a clean, fresh ceiling. 

What Causes Yellow Stains on Ceilings?

Water Damage

White ceiling with water damage.

One of the most common reasons for yellow stains on ceilings is water damage. If you've had a leaky roof, burst pipe, or even just excessive moisture in your home, it can seep into the ceiling material, causing discoloration over time.

It’s important to regularly inspect your roof for leaks and repair any damaged or missing shingles promptly. You should also check for any plumbing leaks in your home and fix them immediately.

Ensure proper drainage around your home's foundation to prevent water from seeping into the structure. You could also consider installing a dehumidifier in areas prone to moisture buildup.


If you or a previous occupant of your home smoked indoors, the smoke can leave behind residue that accumulates on the ceiling, leading to yellow stains.

If the yellow stains are from smoking indoors, consider designating a smoking area outside the home.

You can also clean walls and ceilings regularly to remove smoke residue. Use a solution of water and vinegar or a specialized smoke residue cleaner.

Humidity and Condensation

Ceiling with humidity and condensation damage.

High humidity levels in your home can cause condensation to form on the ceiling, especially in areas like bathrooms and kitchens. Over time, this moisture can lead to yellowing.

To avoid more yellow stains in the future from humidity and condensation, use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to remove moisture from the air while cooking or showering.

You can also open windows or use a dehumidifier to reduce humidity levels in your home. Be sure pipes are insulated to prevent condensation buildup and potential leaks.

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew thrive in damp environments, and if your ceiling has been exposed to moisture for an extended period, it can provide the perfect breeding ground for these fungi, resulting in yellow stains.

To get rid of mold and mildew, clean mold and mildew with a mixture of water and detergent or a commercial mold remover. You can also improve ventilation in areas prone to mold growth, such as bathrooms and basements.

For a fresh coat of ceiling paint, consider using mold-resistant paint on ceilings and walls to prevent future growth.

Poor Ventilation

Ceiling vent being installed with a drill.

Inadequate ventilation in your home can create issues with humidity and moisture, making it more likely for yellow stains to develop on your ceiling.

Ensure vents or exhaust fans are installed and used properly in areas with high humidity, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. You can also keep doors open between rooms to promote air circulation. Consider adding or turning on ceiling fans to improve air movement and ventilation.

Keeping vents and air ducts clean and free of obstructions will ensure proper airflow throughout your home.

New Homes

Some stains in newly built homes are often caused by overspray during the construction of the home. The overspray can settle on the ceiling. Over time the overspray left on the ceiling will develop an unsightly yellow discoloration that is difficult to remove. 

This product is usually a lacquer in a clear finish that goes over stained woodwork.

Not only are these yellow ceiling stains unattractive, but they can also be a sign of poor construction practices. If you notice yellow stains on your ceiling, it may be time to consider repainting the affected areas to freshen up the look of your home and address any underlying issues with the construction. 

How Can You Fix Yellow Stains on Your Ceiling?

When it comes to fixing yellow stains on your ceiling, hiring a professional painting company is often the best course of action.

Here are 5 steps that you can expect during the process of hiring a painter to fix your ceiling:

1. Initial Assessment & Cost of Painting of Your Ceiling

The first step is for the painting company to assess the extent of the damage and determine the underlying cause of the stains. This may involve inspecting for water damage, mold, or other issues that need to be addressed before painting can begin.

2. Preparation to Paint Your Ceiling

Before painting, the area will need to be properly prepared. This may involve cleaning the ceiling to remove any dirt, grime, or mold that has accumulated. In cases of water damage, the affected area may need to be dried out completely to prevent further issues down the line.

Marlane During 1-13. Priming Your Ceiling

Once the ceiling is clean and dry, the painting company will apply a primer to ensure proper adhesion of the paint and to block any remaining stains from bleeding through.

4. Painting Your Ceiling

Finally, the painting process can begin. Your painter should use ceiling paint that is specifically formulated to cover stains, resist future stains, and provide a uniform finish. Multiple coats may be necessary to achieve the desired result, especially if the stains are bold.

Painting ceilings is typically done with a roller with an extended handle. If you are having your walls painted as well, your painter might spray your ceilings to apply the paint.

5. Cleanup and Inspection

Once the painting is complete, your painter will clean up any mess and inspect the work to ensure that the stains have been adequately covered and that the ceiling looks its best.

By hiring a professional painting company to fix the yellow stains on your ceiling, you can rest assured that the job will be done correctly and efficiently, leaving your home looking fresh and clean once again.

Remember, addressing the underlying cause of the stains is crucial to prevent them from reoccurring in the future. Whether it's repairing a leaky roof, improving ventilation, or addressing mold issues, taking proactive steps to maintain your home can help prevent yellow stains and other problems down the line.

Yellow Stains on Your Ceiling

Yellow stains can be unappealing and frustrating. By taking proactive steps such as repainting your ceilings and implementing measures to address the underlying issues such as water damage, smoke residue, humidity, mold, poor construction, or poor ventilation, you can effectively eliminate these stains and restore the beauty of your ceilings.

At Brush & Roll Painting in Omaha, we understand the challenges homeowners face when dealing with painting projects and maintenance issues. Our team of experienced painters is here to assist you in achieving the results you desire for your home.

You deserve to feel confident in every step of an interior painting project. Click the button below to download your interior painting project checklist, to ensure that you are prepared for each phase of your ceiling painting project.

Get Your Interior Project Checklist

Kaylea Kuhlman

Kaylea is the Brush & Roll Painting Content Manager.