How to Paint Popcorn Ceiling Easily Step by Step


Popcorn ceiling used to have its appeal of providing a bit of noise cancellation. Now, that is no longer the case due to the asbestos often found in the aggregates used and the fact that it is hard to clean up.

One way to deal with popcorn ceiling is to paint it. Panting the popcorn ceiling is an inexpensive way to improve your house’s overall aesthetic.

Image by Scuffles33

But, you might be hesitant to paint a popcorn ceiling due to its rough surface. Don’t worry, we’ll show you how to paint popcorn ceiling easily below.

You will need

  • Paint
  • Ladder
  • Painter’s tape
  • Masking papers
  • Drop cloths
  • Dust mask
  • Protective eyewear
  • Gloves
  • Feather or vacuum cleaner
  • For rolling: Paint roller with long extension handle and angled brush
  • For spraying: Airless and vibrate type sprayer

Prepare your room

Step 1: Remove or cover furniture and fixture

Painting an overhead surface, especially a popcorn ceiling, means there will be paint drips, so you need to protect your furniture and fixture from those paint drips.

Remove the small and easy-to-move furniture and fixtures to the outside of the room you are about to paint. If the furniture of fixtures is big or can’t be moved, you can use drop cloths or masking papers to cover them.

For the walls, use painter’s tape to cover all of the walls’ parts that touch the ceiling. You need to make sure the seal at those parts are tight enough so that the paint from the roller and from after the paint job won’t touch the walls.

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Step 2: Protect yourself

Protective gear for painting

This is to prevent paint, debris, or dust from falling in your face. Before going up to the ceiling to repair anything or paint, always wear protective eyewear and a dust mask.

We also recommend you wear a hat to protect your head. You should wear gloves and old clothing with long sleeves as well if you want extra protection and less cleaning after doing the job.

Step 3: Clean and repair the ceiling

This is important once you have fully covered everything in the room. Use the feather or the vacuum cleaner with a soft bristle to gently remove dust, dirt, or debris away from the ceiling.

Repair the ceiling if your need to. You can use spray acoustic texture for small areas and power texture mixed with water for large areas. Or you can apply water to those areas and scrape away the damage.

Painting the ceiling

From here you can either use spraying or rolling the paint to paint the ceiling


Step 1: Choose a sprayer

You should opt for the airless, vibrator type paint sprayer since it spreads the paint out in droplets for an even finish. The sprayer should also have a portable paint container to increase mobility.

You can get a paint sprayer by purchasing one or rent one from tool rental companies or hardware stores.

Step 2: Spray the paint and apply the second time

Step on the ladder so that you can hold the nozzle at the right distance. Hold the sprayer and spray in 1 direction. Try to move your hand consistently to achieve the best paint finish.

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Apply the next stripes like the first one. In the process, try to overlap 2 adjacent stripes with each other to cover every spot of the ceiling.

Let the paint dry for about 1 to 2 hours, then apply the second coating in the opposite direction to the first coating.


Step 1: Choose the roller and use a bucket to contain the paint

For the best result, choose the roller with a large nap and thick texture head, along with lambswool or synthetic materials roller cover. The extension pole should be long enough to be held comfortably.

Since you need a roller with a large nap and thick texture head, you should use a bucket to contain the paint so that you can hold more paint with the head, thus reducing the reload time and increasing efficiency.

Step 2: Roll the paint on the ceiling in a straight line

Start from a corner and roll the paint on in a straight line, and try not to apply too much pressure on the roller. You should paint in sections until you complete the first stripe.

Do not roll the paint back and forth in the same spot since it will cause the texture to loosen itself and fall off the ceiling.

Once you complete the first stripe, do the same process with the second stripe, the third, fourth, and so on. You also need to overlap 2 adjacent stripes to cover all areas.

Now, finish all the edges with the angled brush.

Apply more coats

You will have to wait for 3 to 4 hours to let the paint dry completely before applying the next coat. When doing the second coat, do the same process with the first coat but this time use a perpendicular direction to the first coat.

If you try to apply another coat while the ceiling is still wet, you may wind up pulling off some of the popcorn texture.


Should I get rid of the popcorn ceiling?

Most of the time when the ceiling isn’t badly damaged, you are relatively safe.

However, if the popcorn ceilings in your house are installed before 1978, it may contain asbestos, which is not a safe substance to inhale. If that’s the case, it’s better to leave the job to a professional.

There are many other reasons that you might want to remove the popcorn ceiling, for example, to catch less dust, debris, or dirt; to brighten the room, or to prevent discoloration.

How to know if my popcorn ceiling has asbestos?

The use of asbestos when painting popcorn ceilings was banned in 1977 by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. So if your house was built after 1977, then you are likely to be safe.

Asbestos can’t be observed with naked eyes, so if you are uncertain, hire a professional to take a sample from the ceiling and bring it to the laboratory that can identify asbestos.

It’s important to not do this on your own since asbestos can cause problems to your lungs when inhaled.

What paint can I use on a popcorn ceiling?

Generally, acrylic latex paint is ideal for most popcorn ceilings. Flat paint works best with popcorn ceilings if the ceiling you need to paint isn’t in the kitchen or the bathroom.

Flat paint hides uneven texture from the popcorn ceiling and makes the ceiling blended in with the walls. It can also hide some imperfections that can’t be repaired before painting the ceiling.

For the bathroom, where the ceiling will be subjected to moisture, you can opt for paints with satin or semi-gloss finishes.

Do I need to prime the popcorn ceiling before painting?

Yes, you will need to apply a primer to the popcorn ceiling before painting. Priming ensures the paint can stick better to a surface, this is especially important for popcorn ceilings with rough surfaces.

If your popcorn ceiling has certain areas that can’t be repaired with normal methods, a primer layer acts as an extra layer of hiding those areas.

Prime is capable of protecting the ceiling from moisture, which is necessary for bathroom ceilings. It also makes the paint more durable.

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How to paint a popcorn ceiling without making a mess?

If you have access to or you can borrow a paint sprayer, then use it since spraying comes with lots of benefits compared to rolling.

First, spraying is significantly faster since often you can cover big areas and move the sprayer faster than when using the roller. Sprayers can also work more continuously and longer due to the more efficient use of paint.

Secondly, spraying leaves a better and more even finish on the popcorn ceiling, and won’t make the texture fall off.