DIY Ceiling Repair for Beginners

5 years ago we had our roof replaced, but as luck would have it, not before a leak caused damage to the ceiling in our guest bathroom.  We have been lazy and ignored the section of the ceiling because no one really goes in there anymore.  The time has come for some DIY ceiling repair.

I am sharing this with you, not as an expert at drywall repair, but as a homeowner that doesn’t want to spend the money to have a professional come out and fix that tiny little spot.  Can you relate?  How hard can it be?  Off to Lowe’s I went fully intending to have to only make one trip.

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Easy DIY ceiling repair for beginners.

The man at Lowe’s was very helpful.  After hearing that it wasn’t a very big spot he recommended I use DAP Patching Plaster and a paintbrush to make the textured pattern on the ceiling.  Easy peasy, right?

Easy DIY ceiling repair for beginners.

I came home, put some of the plaster in a mud pan, grabbed my putty knife and the paint brush and headed for the bathroom.  I scraped off the old discolored and cracked plaster and slathered on a new coat of patching plaster, then grabbed the paint brush to start adding the texture design.

EPIC FAIL.  The bristles of the paintbrush weren’t stiff enough and all it did was pull the plaster right back off the ceiling…ugh.  It was time to google how to add texture to a ceiling.  The step I seemed to have skipped was allowing the plaster to set up slightly before going in with the paintbrush.  I scraped off the plaster and started over, waiting for about 5 minutes before going back to attempt to add the texture again.  Are you sensing that this isn’t working?  You would be right and let me tell you why (or can you guess?).

The drywall was still wet.  It most likely had dried out from that first leak 5 years ago, but recently our builder had to come back to fix the flashing on our chimney from when we had our room addition put on.  Torrential rain had alerted us to the fact that there was a problem and we are certain that the rain made it’s way through the flashing, past this spot in the bathroom to it’s ultimate outlet in the family room.

A simple cosmetic repair turned into having to replace that section of drywall, but I was still game.  Back to Lowe’s I went for a second trip (I hate when that happens).

The Real DIY Ceiling Repair

There are two ways to tell if your drywall is still wet.

  1. If it is cold to the touch, it is probably still wet.
  2. If your plaster patch causes the drywall paper to peel away or bubble, it is probably still wet.

After our new roof was put on, we had 15 inches of insulation blown into the attic.  There was no way the ceiling should feel cold.  It was also only that spot that felt cold to the touch.  Drywall shouldn’t peel away or bubble when you apply mud or plaster, it is meant to be able to take the application of these products.

These are clues that the drywall is still wet and will have to be replaced.  A reasonable amount of time had past since the repair of the chimney flashing and with all of that insulation up there that drywall didn’t have a chance of drying out.

5 Steps of DIY Ceiling Repair

  1. Remove the damaged drywall.  My hubby did this part.  Make sure to use an industrial blade when cutting through the drywall, a regular box cutter will not work.  Cut out the damaged portion going about an inch outside of the damaged area.
  2. Measure the opening and cut a piece of drywall 2 inches bigger than the opening all the way around.  Then cut in 1 inch on all sides and carefully peel away the drywall to leave the paper intact.  The paper will act as an overlay onto the surrounding drywall to reduce the appearance of a seam.
  3. Put the piece of drywall in place and screw to any existing boards that are in view.  If there isn’t anything to screw it to, adhering it with drywall tape will do the trick.
  4. Apply drywall mud around the edges, placing mud under the paper overlay and on top to adhere the paper to the ceiling.  Allow to dry completely.
  5. Apply plaster to make the texture patten to match the rest of the ceiling.  Once it is dry, paint the ceiling and you are done.

Easy DIY ceiling repair for beginners.

Easy DIY ceiling repair for beginners.

Easy DIY ceiling repair for beginners.

Easy DIY ceiling repair for beginners.

Easy DIY ceiling repair for beginners.


I am quite happy with my DIY ceiling repair.

I want to say again that I am not a drywall expert, just a homeowner that didn’t want to pay a professional to do this.  What worked for me, may not work exactly like this for you.  My best advice is to watch some YouTube videos on ceiling repair before jumping in.

The motivation to get this DIY ceiling repair done is the spring One Room Challenge, you can find out all about it and see my inspiration for this little bathroom in this POST.

Until next time,



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  1. This is so helpful. We have several spots in this house that need just a little TLC. Mainly from crappy plumbing leaks.

    1. You should see my patch where the medicine cabinet use to be…neat as a pin and all ready to wallpaper over.

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