Scrape and prep the ceiling, then texture
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Buy a hopper gun like this
and connect it to any 2.5-cfm or larger
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Photo 1: Mask the ceiling
Speed up and simplify your masking job by applying the tape
along the ceiling first. Leave the lower edge of the tape loose.
Then roll out a length of lightweight poly along the floor, pull one
edge up to the ceiling, and stick it to the tape.
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Photo 2: Scrape the ceiling
Suit up with goggles, a dust mask and a hat before you start
the messy job of scraping texture. Popcorn spray texture
comes off easily if it hasn't been painted.
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Photo 3: Prime
Paint the ceiling with a fast-drying primer/sealer. Let it dry
before applying the spray texture.
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Photo 4: Mix the texture
Mix the powdered spray texture and water thoroughly. Lumps
will clog the spray tip and could mess up your spray job. Let it
rest 15 minutes and remix, adding water if necessary.
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Mix slowly, adding water as needed. The mix should be like thick paint.
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Photo 5: Practice first
Practice on cardboard or a piece of drywall to get a feel for
spraying. Adjust the gun's tip and trigger until you get a consistent
spray pattern that's easy to control.
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Photo 6: Start at the edges
Start by spraying the perimeter, then fill in the middle. Avoid
heavy buildup—you can always add more.
If your spray-textured ceiling is just
dingy or stained, you can renew it
with a coat each of sealer and paint.
But if the texture is falling off or missing
in spots, you'll have to reapply texture
to fix the problem. For small
areas, say less than a foot in diameter,
you could try using an aerosol can of
repair texture. But the patch is bound
to stick out like a sore thumb. For the
best results, you're better off respraying
the entire ceiling. It's a messy job,
but it's not hard to do. In fact, after you
spray one room, you'll probably want
to keep going. You can spray-texture
unsightly plaster or smooth drywall
ceilings too. As with most jobs, the key
is in the prep work, which is the time-consuming
part too. Once the room is
masked off, the ceiling prepped and
the texture mixed, it'll only take you
about 15 minutes to spray the ceiling.
If any of the paper drywall tape is
loose or the drywall is soft or damaged,
you'll have to repair and sand these
areas first. In addition to the putty
knives and drywall joint compound for
the repairs, you'll need a wide putty or taping knife for scraping, a roll of 1-1/2-in. or wider masking
tape, enough painter's plastic to cover the walls, a gallon
or two of primer/sealer, a bag of spray texture (enough to
cover 300 to 400 sq. ft.), and a compressor and hopper gun.
You can buy coarse, medium or fine texture. If you're matching
existing ceilings, take
a sample of the material
with you when you buy
the texture and ask for
help matching it. Medium
is usually the best choice
and will match most ceilings.
You can rent a compressor
and hopper gun
for a half
day or buy a hopper gun
it to any average-size or
larger compressor. If you
use a small compressor,
you may occasionally have
to stop spraying to let the pressure build up. Minimize
rental costs by getting all the prep work done before you
pick up the compressor and hopper gun.
Start by removing everything you can from the room. If
you must leave large furniture in the room, stack it in the
center and cover it with plastic. Cover the floor with sheets
or a canvas drop cloth. Then cover the walls with thin (1-mil
or less) poly sheeting (Photo 1). Painter's plastic is very thin
and works great. Leave an opening with overlapping poly at
the doorway so you can get in and out. Turn off the power to
the lights and remove any ceiling fixtures. Don't forget to
cap the bare wires with wire connectors. Stuff newspaper
into the electrical box to keep out the spray texture.
The next step is to scrape off the old texture (Photo 2), but
not before you've had it tested for asbestos. If it hasn't been painted, it'll usually come off easily. So try just
scraping it first. If that doesn't work (you'll
know right away), try wetting the texture
with a pump-up garden sprayer. That
might make it easier to scrape, but
it'll leave a sticky mess on the floor.
If you use this method, cover your
drop cloths with 4-mil plastic so you
can wad it up and dispose of the wet
texture and not track it all over the
house. Texture that's been painted over
can be a lot harder to remove. Just do the
best you can. Try to knock off the high spots
and flatten it as much as possible. The ceiling doesn't
have to be smooth, but it's easier to get a nice-looking job if
most of the old texture has been removed.
When you're done scraping, paint the ceiling with stain-sealing
primer (Photo 3). BIN and KILZ are two popular
brands. Use an aerosol can of solvent-based sealer such as
BIN white shellac to spot-prime severe stains. Then paint
the entire ceiling with a water-based primer/sealer.
The key to a successful spray-texture job is mixing the texture
to the right consistency. Don't mix it too thick. Use the
amount of water recommended on the bag as a starting
point. Then adjust the thickness by adding more water or
powder. Mix slowly using a mixing paddle mounted in a 1/2-in. drill (Photo 4). Mix thoroughly,
adding water until the material
reaches the consistency of runny
yogurt—or thick paint—with tiny
lumps in it. Let the texture sit for 15
minutes, then remix, adding more
water if necessary.
There are a few different versions of
hopper guns, but they all have a
mechanism at the nose that controls
the diameter of the pattern, and a trigger
control that helps govern the volume
of spray. Start by setting both
controls to the middle position. Then
load the hopper about half full with
texture material and practice on a
piece of cardboard or drywall scrap
(Photo 5). Adjust the spray pattern and
trigger until you can get a nice, even
pattern without runs or excess
buildup. When you're comfortable
with the spraying technique, start on
Start by spraying the perimeter
(Photo 6). Hold the gun about 18 to 24
in. from the ceiling and aim so that
about two-thirds of the spray hits the
ceiling and the rest hits the wall.
Move quickly around the room, paying
special attention to the inside
corners where walls meet. Remember,
you can make another pass if it's
too light. The goal is to cover the ceiling
with an even layer of texture.
Don't worry if it looks too smooth.
The texture will become more pronounced
as it dries. Be careful to
avoid puddles. If you mess up and
get a puddle or just a thick buildup,
stop and scrape off all the texture
with a wide putty knife. Then try
again. Move the gun back and forth
while backing up across the room.
After you've covered the ceiling, turn
90 degrees and apply another light
coat at a right angle to the first.
Concentrate on filling in light spots
to create an even texture.
When you're satisfied with the
consistency of the texture, you can
clean up the gun, hopper and hose
with water and pull down the poly. If
your masking job was a little off and
there's texture on the wall or flooring,
wait for it to dry. Then carefully
scrape it off and remove the white
residue with a wet sponge.
If you have ceiling texture
applied before 1980, it may contain
asbestos. Before you
remove any ceiling texture,
contact your state's department
of environmental protection,
department of health or a
regional asbestos coordinator
for information on asbestos
testing and removal. For a list
of contacts, go to
For general information on
asbestos, go to epa.gov/aspestos