Popcorn ceilings, acoustic ceilings, knockdown ceilings .. whatever you want to call them painting these textured ceilings can be a real hassle. Here area a few tips to help you make your textured ceiling painting experience a little less of a nightmare. Before you go near this stuff get it tested for asbestos which was used in older construction, contact your local municipality on how to go about that.
Got the go ahead? The absolute best method of painting this is with an airless sprayer, but considering most people don’t have one of those kicking around let’s talk about the conventional (and inexpensive) methods. Occasionally this stuff has already been painting/sealed/blessed, to test this in an inconspicuous spot rub your finger on the ceiling, if it doesn’t crumble off consider yourself lucky and paint it like any ordinary textured surface!
The biggest problem people have painting this kind of surface is over painting, the less time you spend mucking with the surface the less you’ll dislodge the plaster chunks, so the key is get the paint on in a couple of passes and keep moving.
Painting the ceiling will go faster and smoother if you’re not dealing with flying melted-plaster-mixed-with-paint chunks covering your body, it’s safer and a better practice. Wear protective glasses or goggles, a long sleeve shirt, and a brimmed hat.
The eye protection is crucial, beside the obvious benefit of not getting paint/plaster lodged in your eye, eye protection will allow you to focus your attention on where you’re painting resulting in better results and a speedier finish. A standard dust mask (n95 particulate filter) can keep you even cleaner.
Painting the edges
Assuming you’re painting the walls after the ceiling, paint the edges of the ceiling with a 3” foam roller. The 3” foam roller will get the paint into the rough textured surface with the minimum amount of work. Make sure you load the roller up with a generous amount of paint and coat 1 ½” foot sections at a time, try to do three back & forth passes to get the surface fully paint then don’t re-roll or it’ll start pulling the texture off.
Your foam roller is going to get mangled but it should hold up for awhile. Have a brush with you to spread any excess ceiling paint/plaster chunks that gets on the wall, a quick feather pass will do the job. Later on if you find dried plaster chunks on the wall you can easily knock these off.
If you’re not painting the walls at all you can use some painters tape to tape them off and still use the 3” foam roller. If you absolutely have to cut-in with a brush, around light fixtures for instance, paint only whats absolutely necessary (1″ or so) with the brush in a stabbing/vibrating painting style and fill the rest of the cut-in/edge with the foam roller. You’ll get a fatter cut-in/edge area but it’ll look better and save you the work.
Rolling the ceiling
Use a high quality 1” nap roller sleeve on a standard 9” roller cage attached to a pole of your liking, 6 foot is good for me on most typical ceilings. Super saturate your roller with paint, load it up heavy. Roll the ceiling in small patches, 3’-4’ feet at a time, try to get the paint into the texture on two or three passes then stop rolling. Don’t push the roller into the ceiling too hard as this’ll also dislodge the texture.
Work your way across the ceiling in small patches, and minimize on rolling what you’ve previously painted. If your ceiling needs two coats and wait at least 12 hours for all the paint to dry, the suggested dry-time printed on paint cans is under ‘ideal conditions’, I wouldn’t describe this situation ideal. When doing the second coat roll it in the opposite direction as you rolled the first coat to minimize visible roll marks.
The best way to deal with the rolling is to use 18” roller cage, but a roller this size loaded with paint can be not only hard to find but laborious to use. Good luck on your ceiling painting, just staring at the ceiling for a couple of hours can be tough work. One more tip, a good massage can work wonders after a day of ceiling painting!
Paint that house!