Popcorn ceilings are statement pieces that hide imperfections and add visual interest. The style is not for everyone, and many who move into homes with the textured ceilings have them removed. Others, however, find them appealing, leading to many questions about painting popcorn ceilings to update them. Let’s take a closer look.
What is a Popcorn Ceiling?
Popcorn ceilings are a textured approach to making ceilings more visually interesting. They used to be highly popular, especially in 20th century homes. The effect is created by incorporating loose particulate materials into paint and plaster when applying them to a surface. They are usually applied using a sprayer. The trend’s popularity fell off when the health hazards of their traditional construction came to light.
The Pros and Cons of Popcorn Ceilings
Popcorn ceilings are better than smooth ceilings at absorbing sound. The texture can make them very tricky to paint and to clean. On the other hand, popcorn ceilings readily mask imperfections. The biggest drawback to the style is the ever-present possibility that asbestos is lurking in the textured surface.
Before 1978, asbestos was used to give popcorn ceilings their texture. It was favored for its flexibility, strength, and heat-resistant qualities. In the late 1970s, the carcinogenic properties of asbestos were discovered, and the material was banned by federal law. Asbestos has been proven to cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. Be mindful that asbestos may lurk in the popcorn ceilings of older homes, but if the material remains undisturbed (which can happen when you’re careful when painting popcorn ceilings), it is not harmful.
How do you modernize a popcorn ceiling?
If you have a popcorn ceiling, you have four primary options for modernizing it: scraping, drywall, plaster, and paint.
Removing the popcorn texture coating is messy and takes more time and money. You can do so with a scraper and a tub of warm water. This ensures that all traces of asbestos are removed. Be careful during the process. It is time-consuming and presents a health hazard (from either asbestos or lead paint).
You also have the option of covering over the ceiling with drywall of ¼–½ inch thickness. While this augments the soundproofing of the room and covers any texturing, it can also weigh down the ceiling and is the most expensive option.
For a less heavy and expensive way to coat plaster, you can skim coat it with plaster to create a new, less textured, textured ceiling.
Painting popcorn ceilings is the modernizing technique that preserves the texture completely. If you like the popcorn effect, you can give your ceiling new life by giving it a fresh coat of paint. Keep in mind that painting is a temporary fix if you are concerned about asbestos.
When painting a popcorn ceiling, be sure to wear the proper protective gear, including a dust mask and protective eyewear. You will also need to remove dust from between the ridges. Do so with a feather duster or a microfiber cloth.
Do I Need to Prime Before Painting Popcorn Ceilings?
Popcorn ceilings need to be primed before they are painted to ensure that the paint adheres properly. If the ceiling is stained, which is a particular problem for older homes, a stain-blocking primer can help prevent old stains from bleeding through. Make sure your primer is oil-based so it doesn’t absorb water, weigh down the ceiling, and pull the paint off the wall.
What Kind of Paint Do You Use on a Popcorn Ceiling?
Interior acrylic-latex paint is the best type of paint to use for popcorn ceilings. Even so, the paint will likely need to be thinned down for best efficacy. This is because thick paints put too much weight on the stipple, which results in peeling.
Before painting popcorn ceilings, be aware that, because of the texture, they require more paint than flat ceilings, nigh on twice as much. As for choosing a finish, flatter finishes work better so that light is not scattered as much when it hits the ceiling’s texture.
Is It Better to Roll or Spray Paint a Popcorn Ceiling?
Because of the texture, painting popcorn ceilings is much easier with a paint sprayer. The process goes more quickly and smoothly and applies a finer finish. It can get in between the grooves and has less risk of damaging the textured ridges.
That being said, if the ceiling has been painted in the past, rolling the paint on with a brush will be more successful. Painting popcorn ceilings with a brush can also give a better and more complete look. If you do not own a paint sprayer, they are commercially available for rental. If, however, you want to avoid the hassle altogether, let a professional manage the job.