Perhaps the color of your popcorn ceiling isn’t to your liking, or the surface is damaged and requires repair. You’ve probably contemplated removing the cottage cheese-like texture from your ceiling, but you’d rather avoid the work.
As long as you know, your popcorn ceiling was installed in the late 1980s, as they contained asbestos before that. Painting popcorn ceiling texture is a cheaper and easier option to removal if you’re ready, and you can do it without the help of a professional painter.
A brush and a thick roller, an extension pole, or an airless sprayer can all be used to paint textured ceilings. However, your ceiling may need cleaning, priming, or repair before painting, depending on its condition.
In our guide, you can learn more about the right popcorn ceiling paint and prep the area. By the end, you’ll know all you need on how to paint a popcorn ceiling. (Learn How To Paint Over Stained Wood)
What Kind of Paint Do You Use On a Popcorn Ceiling?
You can paint popcorn ceilings using acrylic latex paint. Flat paint is best unless the ceiling is in a kitchen or bathroom. Uneven texture and other flaws can be hidden using flat paint. If you’re spraying the ceiling, Sherwin Williams’ CHB and Eminence ceiling paints are both fairly priced and dry, completely flat.
Choosing a high-quality paint like Duration Home from Sherwin-Williams is a good idea if the ceiling will be exposed to moisture.
What Is The Best Way To Paint Popcorn Ceiling?
Here are the steps you need for painting a popcorn ceiling to get the best paint job possible.
First, you need to determine if your textured ceiling is safe and your popcorn texture doesn’t contain asbestos.
The rough material on your ceiling was made of a fibrous material sponged or sprayed onto the ceiling for texture to act as acoustic ceilings and dampen noise.
From the 1950s to the start of the 80s, when asbestos was outlawed, it was a popular way to conceal ceiling flaws. The acoustic texture could be used till stocks ran out of this hazardous material.
If they built your home before 1980, you should have your ceiling tested for asbestos before doing any work on it. (Learn How To Remove Paint From Concrete)
What You Need to Paint a Popcorn Ceiling
You can find all your materials for your DIY project in your local hardware store, so here are the basics you need to get you going.
- Dust mask or respirator
- Eye protection
- Drop cloths or plastic sheets
- Painter’s tape
- 2” angle sash paintbrush
- Small paint pail
- Paint roller handle
- Paint rollers made from synthetic material (¾” nap for rough or textured surfaces)
- Paint roller tray or pan
- Extension pole
- Stick to stir your paint
- Flat ceiling paint
Steps to Paint a Popcorn Ceiling
1. Prepare Your Space
Start by de-cluttering the entire room. Drips and splatters from the paint can get on furniture, light fixtures, floors, walls, and moldings, covering anything that can’t move with drip cloths.
Remove light fixtures when possible, as it makes it easier to paint popcorn ceilings.
To avoid stumbling, ensure you cover the entire floor and tape down the cloth near doorways.
Mask off the tops of the walls around the entire room with painter’s tape. Consider using pre-taped painter’s plastic that hangs down and covers the wall’s top foot.
2. Clean Your Ceiling
Painting over the dust and cobwebs will only make it stick to the ceiling and make it look unkempt. Get a feather duster and clean up as much dust as you can. Don’t be hesitant to use a cleaning eraser or a little soapy water and a rag for stubborn filth.
If you have water stains or nicotine stains, don’t wash these away; rather, use an oil-based primer. To hide imperfections or stains, an oil-based primer is the only option. Even two coats of latex could still show your water stain rings.
For the final coat, don’t use oil-based paint as these are glossy, and it will make the rough surfaces reflect light in all directions rather than a flat surface paint.
3. Cut In the Ceiling Edges
Cutting in the paint where the ceiling meets the walls helps keep paint off the walls. Dip the paintbrush into a smaller container, then use it to gently cut in the ceiling as you paint the entire circumference of the ceiling with a 2” Angle Sash Brush.
Hand-paint a couple of inches in so you don’t feel tempted to use the roller too close to the edges.
4. Paint the Entire Ceiling
When painting the whole ceiling, use an extension pole instead of climbing up and down the ladder every time you need more paint.
The 3/4″ thick nap roller cover can retain a lot more paint than you’d use on the walls. You’ll need it to get a decent layer of heavy texture coverage.
For painting a ceiling, the approach is a little different. Start in the center of the room and work your way to the wall’s edge. Avoid walking back and forth over the popcorn; there isn’t much holding it in place, and if you get it too moist, it will start to fall apart.
Allow the first coat to dry completely before applying the second coat of new paint at a 90-degree angle to the first. (Learn How to Hang Plants From Ceiling)
5. Clean Up
Wait for the second coat to dry once you’ve finished painting to ensure you won’t need to touch up.
Steps For Painting Popcorn Ceilings with a Spray Gun
- Painter’s tape
- Angled brush attachment
- Canvas drop cloths
- Paint spray respirator
- Eye goggles
- Bucket or portable paint reservoir
- Plastic sheeting
Use a vibrator-type paint sprayer, so make sure you tape plastic sheeting on your floors.
An airless paint sprayer is excellent when painting a ceiling since it distributes the paint in droplets to coat the surface evenly. Instead of the traditional jar, use a model with a suction set and a portable paint reservoir while working on an overhead surface such as a ceiling.
The most convenient sprayer is one that comes with a backpack setup.
There’s no need to get a paint sprayer if you don’t paint regularly. Hardware stores, home improvement centers, and tool rental firms commonly hire them out.
Make sure to carefully read the directions for filling the sprayer with paint or ask at your paint store where that can make it suitable before you begin painting. They may use paint thinners to ensure the paint passes through the spray nozzle. (Find the Best Water Proof Paint for Basements)
- On a piece of cardboard, test the tip. A good paint application requires the use of the correct tip on your paint sprayer.
- A 415 or 515 tip works best with diluted acrylic paint. To ensure that the tip you’ve picked is acceptable, spray a piece of cardboard with it and observe the paint pattern.
- When spraying the cardboard, make sure the spray pattern is complete and free of breaks. Look at the actual tip, and if worn out and should be changed, you’ll see it is rounded or has grooves along the edge.
- To determine the best way to paint a popcorn ceiling, you must first determine whether it has already been painted. Water is frequently soluble in popcorn ceilings that haven’t been painted before.
- If you use a roller to paint it, the texture will come off on the roller, and the ceiling will absorb moisture from the paint. Spray a small, unnoticeable area of your ceiling with water to test its water solubility. Your ceiling hasn’t been painted before if the area turns soft.
- A spray gun is the best way to paint your ceiling if it hasn’t been painted before. Spray in one direction with your paint sprayer. Climb your ladder to a height where you can comfortably hold the nozzle 1 foot from the ceiling.
- Apply paint with flat finishes onto the ceiling in one direction, moving in a steady motion for the first coat. Make sure the sprayer is perpendicular to the ceiling while using it.
- When you’ve finished painting one strip of the ceiling, overlap the painted piece with your next pass over the surface for the best coverage.
- Using the opposite direction, apply a second coat. One coat won’t be enough, and you’ll want to apply a top coat after you’ve done spraying the entire ceiling in the first direction.
- Move the spray in the opposite direction of the initial coat over the ceiling this time, so you don’t keep painting the same spot.
- Allow one to two hours between coats for the paint to dry completely.
- If the ceiling still seems spotty after two coats, apply a third coat of ceiling paint in a third direction for better coverage.