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Around Our Town...Ask the Decorator

03/01/2005 - Popcorn Woes.

How many of us have or have had popcorn ceilings and were at an absolute loss as to what to do with them? One reader asked, how do you repair, clean, or even just remove it?

Well the answer sounds easy but in reality, popcorn ceilings are a nightmare for any homeowner.

While patching and cleaning can be done, your best bet is to just remove the texture and then start over.

To begin the removal, move as much as of your furniture as you can out of the room and cover everything else with plastic drop clothes including the floor. Also you will want to invest in a face mask. Inhaling the dust from the texture is bad enough, but some of the older homes used asbestos for the popcorn and as we all know inhaling this can be very bad for your health. The other tools you will need are a pump sprayer and a drywall finishing knife. Using a ladder which allows you to easily reach the ceiling, wet a small area and wait approximately 10 minutes. This will help loosen the popcorn material and thus make it easier to scrap off. You may want to wet the area 2-3 times as you scrape but be sure not to use an excess of water as this may saturate the drywall itself. If you can, use a small bucket to catch the texture as it falls, or if you prefer, tape the finishing knife to a roller pole or broom handle and scrape from the floor allowing the texture to fall onto the plastic.

Once you have removed all the popcorn texture, allow the ceiling to dry thoroughly and then lightly sand it with a sanding pole and screen cloth. Screen cloth is an open mesh material which creates a smooth finish without affecting the drywall it self. With this step completed you can then prime the ceiling with an oil base primer and then cover with a latex finish paint.

If removal of the popcorn is not something you wish to undertake, painting is another option. When done correctly, painting will change the entire look of a whole room.

To begin you will need a " 1 " nap roller, an extension pole, latex primer, and a latex paint. In order to get good bonding of your paint, you will want to thin the primer. Thinning the primer gives better penetration as well as stops the suction of paint allowing you to use a lot less over all. Do small areas at a time and go quickly. Cover your roller well with primer, making sure to roll it a few times in your tray before putting it on the ceiling. Using a light touch with the roller, roll away from you at first and then back towards you quickly. Refill your roller with each pass. This helps keep paint on the roller and it is less likely to stick to the popcorn. Doing a continual back and forth motion as is typical may also cause the popcorn to fall. Do not worry about perfect coverage at this point. All you are accomplishing with the primer is a sealer for the paint. Once the primer has dried overnight, you can then apply your paint, which will go on much smoother since it is now sealed.

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