Once popular, popcorn ceilings are inexpensive, easy to apply, reduce noise and hide imperfections. Though no longer a design favourite, these ceilings are messy, time-consuming and expensive to remove. Repainting is a simpler and easier alternative.

What is a popcorn ceiling? 

A popcorn ceiling (also called acoustic, cottage cheese, stipple or stucco ceiling) is a surface with one of a variety of spray-on or paint-on treatments. You’ll know it by its textured, bumpy look. The effect is achieved by mixing paint and drywall and applying it to the ceiling. There are a variety of options available, from smoother and more subtle applications to those that create a thick plastered appearance.

What type of paint should be used to repaint a popcorn ceiling?

Choose a latex ceiling paint in flat or matte as they are best at hiding imperfections. Opt for a product with paint and primer in one. Purchase about 15 to 20 percent more paint than you need to account for the extra surface area from the texture. Special ceiling paint is available that changes from pink or purple to white as it dries, making it easier to see your work and apply an even coat.

What type of roller should be used on a popcorn ceiling?

Choose a roller that matches the thickness of the texture on your ceiling. A ⅜ inch nap will cover a fine to medium texture while a ½ inch roller will cover a heavy texture. Choose a wide roller made of synthetic material to reduce damage to the texture of the surface. Opt for an adjustable extension pole.

How do you address stains on the ceiling?

Flat or matte white paint will not cover water, nicotine and grease stains. Spray paint stains with an oil-based primer before painting. If the entire ceiling is discoloured from nicotine, prime the whole ceiling. 

Steps for painting a popcorn ceiling:

  • Remove all items from the room. Protect hanging fixtures with plastic. Place drop cloths to protect the floors. Tape plastic sheeting around the walls. Spatter will happen!
  • Gently vacuum the ceiling to remove dust, dirt, and cobwebs or use a feather/microfiber duster.
  • Patch damaged areas with joint compound using a taping knife. Fill in bare spots with an aerosol can of popcorn texture available at home improvement stores. 
  • Spray paint stains with an oil-based primer. Let dry.
  • Don a dust mask and protective eyewear. Using a flathead screwdriver, gently scrape about 1/4 inch of the popcorn surface off the ceiling all along the edges. This ensures you’ll get a neat edge where the ceiling meets the wall. 
  • With a brush loaded with paint, gently cut in and paint along the edges of the ceiling.
  • Generously load the roller with paint and apply it to the popcorn ceiling in one direction, taking care not to saturate the ceiling with paint. Don’t roll back and forth as this will cause the popcorn to peel. Keep the pressure light. 
  • Let the paint dry completely. See the manufacturer’s recommendation on the label of the paint product.
  • If needed, apply a second coat, rolling in a direction perpendicular to the first coat. Let dry. 
  • Check for missed areas and touch-up by applying paint with a brush.
  • Clean up. 
  • Label the paint container with the room name. Seal the can and store it in a dry, cool place.

Painting a popcorn ceiling is a challenging and time-consuming project. Not up to the job? Call a reputable residential painting contractor. They have the knowledge, skills and experience to complete the job quickly and efficiently. These experts know how to handle the texture, how to preserve it and have the appropriate tools for the task. 

Need help repainting a popcorn ceiling? Looking for a reputable residential painting company? Call the Calgary painting experts, Cal Res Coatings at (403) 835-4817. We’re a residential painting contractor that strives for quality, has an eye for detail and colour, and will not rest until your job is done to your satisfaction. Request a free quote today.

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