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How to Paint a Popcorn Ceiling

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Popcorn ceilings are notoriously difficult to paint. The rough texture seems resistant to traditional painting methods. Even worse, some popcorn ceilings are so fragile that painting them improperly will cause the texture to peel away. But with a little care and planning, painting the ceiling yourself is doable. Here are some tips and techniques that will help you tackle this DIY job with relative ease.

Prepping the Popcorn Ceiling

Start by covering your floors, walls, and furniture with plastic to protect them from paint splatter. Wear eye protection, a dust mask, and cover your hair. Dust the ceiling with a feather duster. The rough texture of a popcorn ceiling can collect a lot of dust.

Using a Roller to Paint the Popcorn Ceiling

Choose the right paint roller for the job. You’ll want a frame with a threaded handle so you can screw in an extension pole. You’ll also need a segmented foam sleeve to distribute the paint evenly over the popcorn texture.

When you dip the roller into the paint tray, roll it back and forth over the ridges in the tray to squeeze out any extra paint. Make sure you have a layer of paint distributed evenly on the roller sleeve.

When you paint your popcorn ceiling, move the roller in just one direction. Do NOT go back and forth, as this will cause the popcorn texture to peel away as it gets wet. If you discover that rolling in one direction is not adequately covering the popcorn ceiling, wait for that first layer of paint to dry, and then roll over it again in another direction.

Using an Airless Sprayer to Paint the Popcorn Ceiling

If you have access to an airless sprayer, you may find that it’s better suited than a roller for painting your popcorn ceiling. A small airless spray pump and a pole gun will make your task that much easier.

Apply the first coat in one direction only. Start at one side of the room and gradually work your way over to the other. Give that coat a few hours to dry. Apply the second coat in the opposite direction, gradually moving back across the room. When you’re done, you should have a smooth, even layer of paint on your popcorn ceiling.

Whether you decide to use a roller or a sprayer on your popcorn ceiling, proper preparation and careful execution are key. Don’t be afraid to let the layer of paint dry and then go over it one or more times to get the finish you want. Taking the time to do the job right is essential if you want to achieve a professional result.

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