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August 2009
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Painting Popcorn Ceilings

Painting ceilings is an unnatural act. Gravity is fighting you, unless you are on the extreme end of the height curve, your size is fighting you, and if you try to get by with cheap paint, it will fight you too. If those items are daunting, painting ‘popcorn’ ceilings is a whole  ‘nother level of nasty. However, there are times where it must be done.

Acoustic  Textured Ceilings aka Popcorn Ceilings were quite the thing for some time. They are still used because they are cheap to do. Basically popcorn texture is vermiculite, drywall mud and water based
white paint. Some folks never primed, but just sprayed it on extra

The drywall is primed and the texture is sprayed on.  It collects dust and gets dull and dingy. Here is an example.

It gets dull and dark over time. You can remove it, and skim coat it, which is almost as messy as
having a flood stop by, or you can paint it. This post is about painting it.

Your mission is to paint these ceilings. You will need a crap load of ‘ceiling’ paint. Flat is best. You will also need:

Painters Tape

Masking Tape

Wide Plastic sheeting

A 4” corner roller

A 9” ‘rough surface’ roller.(3/4” nap)

An extension pole

One gallon plastic Ziplock bags for keeping the roller moist in between episodes.

I am painting the ceilings with Behr Ultra White Interior Flat. I am
using it for two reasons. One, it is really, really White. Two. It is a
thick bodied paint allowing me to use a 3/4” nap roller to get it up
without painting the floor. Painting your ceiling white pays off in being able to use lower wattage lights for lighting your rooms.

Remove the furniture, because you need to bag the entire floor.  If you cannot remove the furniture, you will have to move it to cover the floor, move the stuff and cover the rest of the floor, and move it again to keep it out of your way while you are trying to get paint on the ceiling.  Trust me, you really want to remove the furniture.

You will need to get a roll of wide plastic sheeting for ‘bagging’ the floor and or the walls if you are leaving the walls alone. (If you are not doing the walls at the same time you are doing the
ceilings, you will need to bag the walls as well. You will need a
couple of friends to help you do the walls)The orange and blue stores sell it in big boxes. You will need blue painters tape and regular masking tape. 1 1/2 or 2” wide.

The first thing that you will need to do is to ‘bag’ the floor. Vacuum the floor, especially the corners so that the painters tape will stick well. Wall to Wall, cover it with Plastic. I recommend .7 to 1 mil thick plastic. It is thick enough to walk on and catch the crap that will fall.

First, tape the perimeter of the room with the painters tape, tucking it on the edge of the carpet. Painters tape is more expensive, but sticks to carpet very well and doesn’t leave glue residue like regular masking tape. Next, roll out your plastic and with the regular masking tape, tape the edges of the plastic to the painters tape you have laid down. The edges of your room should look like this. If you do not do the entire floor, paint and popcorn will find its way into the exposed areas, and cause to you to re-arrange your furniture strangely or add new carpeting to your list of things to buy.

The rest of the room will look like this. These photos show you the stuff that will fall down while you are painting. Use masking tape for the seams because it is cheaper than painters tape.

Wear a long sleeve shirt that you are not fond of when doing this or your arms will look like this.

You will need two rollers and an extension pole. The pole will allow you to paint from the floor.  A regular 9” with a ‘rough surface’ roller, and a 4” ‘corner’ roller. The corner roller will give you a nice line for the big one later.

Here is your corner. See dull and dingy. You probably the top photo was just a bad photo.

Painting popcorn uses a lot of paint. This project was 1100 sq.ft. of ceiling and I used 18 gallons. Around 60 sq.ft. a gallon. Figure 50-60 sq. ft. per gallon. Buy it in 5 gal. buckets. You will need to load your roller and work carefully to cover the ceiling. You need enough pressure to get the paint on, covering and sealing the texture, yet not so hard that you pull the texture down, causing you more problems.

At the end however, it will look nice.