Painting popcorn ceilings for the first time can be tricky. As soon as the paint is absorbed into the texture it becomes soft and is easily smudged or removed. It is difficult to paint with a brush because of the uneven surface and a roller can, and often will, pull the softened texture from the ceiling if you roll back over a painted area before it is dry. Spraying is an option but because of over spray and paint drift it is often not practical except on new construction projects.
Although painting popcorn ceilings is not as simple as painting walls or a smooth ceiling with a little instruction it is easy enough to achieve great results. As with any paint job every thing in the room should either be moved out of the way or covered to prevent drips or spatters. If you don’t have a steady hand use painters tape to mask off the walls where they meet the ceiling.
Using a foam or nap roller, apply an even coat of a good quality oil base stain sealing paint
such as Kilz or Zinsser. Due to it’s thicker consistency it is not recommended to use a water based (latex) product for this step. Start near one wall and work steadily and quickly across the room. Roll to within one half to three quarters of an inch to the walls, the remaining area near the walls can be cut in with a brush after all the rolling is completed.
Use care to minimize drips and avoid seam marks at the edge of the roller. It is critical that you proceed across the ceiling in a uniform and timely manner. It only takes the paint a few seconds to soften the texture. If you roll back over an area once the paint has soaked in the roller can lift the texture off the ceiling. The goal at this stage is not to achieve a perfect paint job but apply enough sealer to wet and consequently “seal” the popcorn ceiling. Once the sealer has dried the popcorn ceiling will no longer absorb paint and the problem of it softening up is permanently eliminated.
Once the newly painted popcorn ceilings have completely dried (usually in about an hour) go back over any areas you missed with the oil base sealer and let these areas dry also. If there were any stains on the ceiling an additional coat of sealer in these areas is advisable.
If the ceiling color is now uniform it is not imperative that a top coat of paint be applied However applying a top coat is the norm and since every thing is already taped out and covered up it will only take a short time to apply an additional coat.
For the top coat use a new roller and any good quality latex ceiling or wall paint. If the sealer coat was applied properly you no longer have to worry about the popcorn ceilings coming off so you don’t have to rush. Concentrate on applying a thicker uniform top coat with no skips or roller seams. As with the first coat roll as close to the walls as practical without getting paint on them and cut the remaining edge in with a brush after the rolling is complete.
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