St Augustine, St Johns County Real Estate & Home Staging


How to Paint a Popcorn Textured Ceiling

Karen - we've done our fair share of scraping popcorn celings.  They are never very fun to do, but are very rewarding!  Thank you for outlining some great tips on painting them without creating the hassel of having to scrape them. 

I know there are a few rooms in my current house to be painted and I would think too that the 30 yr old celings have been repainted at least once... but now thinking maybe not so... great advice!

In most cases, the easiest way to REMOVE a popcorn textured ceiling is to mix it wet paintwith water. Never attempt to paint a popcorn-textured ceiling with a WATER-based latex paint, unless you are absolutley certain it has been painted or primed at least once.

I learned this the hard way and painted a popcorn ceiling in my 30+ year old home. I thought the ceiling would have been painted at least once in all those years - but that was the wrong assumption to make! As I rolled on the ceiling paint, the textured surface stuck right to the roller. The more I rolled, the more came off. It was a nightmare.

Since I found it virtually impossible to repair it (popcorn textures are very
difficult to match) I proceeded to scrape the rest of the ceiling off by hand. It was a pretty large room so it took a long time and made a big mess. This is how I learned (the hard way) How to Remove a Popcorn-Textured Ceiling. I ended up with a nice new ceiling that I liked a lot more than the popcorn-textured one I had before, so it all worked out for the best.

So here are my guidelines for painting a popcorn textured ceiling ....

Of course my first choice would be to hire a professional, ESPECIALLY if you have an older home.  This can save a lot of time and hassle. But if that's not in your budget, then this is a project many homeowners can take on themselves if they choose.  

painterThese instructions assume the reader has had some experience with painting.  If you have never taken on a painting project before then it would be wise to consult one of the many do-it-yourself resources to learn the basics of painting before you start this project OR call a professional.  Just make sure the contractor you hire has the right credentials (i.e. license, insurance, special training see: Renovate Right - Do You Know the Law for EPA Lead Safe Practices?)

1. Test to see if the ceiling has ever been painted.  Take a wet sponge and very gently touch an inconspicuous section of the ceiling with it.  If the surface starts to come off or crumble, there's a good chance it has never been painted. 

2.  If the ceiling has never been painted, the first coat you apply must be with an oil-based product (oil-based paint, oil-based primer or all-in-one paint and primer product).  I prefer Benjamin Moore, but you can consult your local paint retailer for suggestions.

3. If the ceiling remains in tact, and/or you're pretty certain it has been painted before, then you should be able use a  [good quality] latex paint product without any problems.  Again, consult your local paint retailer for suggestions.

4. Move as much furniture out of the room as you can.    

5. Remove light fixtures from ceiling - turn off electricity first! 

6. Cover walls, floor and remaining furniture with drop cloths.

7. Vacuum loose dust and cobwebs from ceiling.

8. If the ceiling has never been painted, is dirty from grease, smoke or has stains from water leaks first apply a coat of good quality oil-based primer

9.  If the ceiling has been primed or has already been painted and is in good shape, you can start painting with a good latex paint using a 1/2" nap roller.   First cut in the edges with a brush, then roll north to west, then apply second coat going east to west.  An extention pole for your roller can be a big help.

10.  Be careful not to apply too much paint on your roller.  It might spray back on you so safety googles are a must.  I'd also recommend wearing a hat or shower cap to keep paint out of your hair. 

 I consulted my local Benjamin Moore Retailer, John Boyle Decorating Center on 550 North Main Street in Southington, Connecticut to make sure I didn't miss any steps. They are a truly wonderful resource.  They have served me well for many, many years! 

Please go here to be a part of the survey I took - What to do with a Popcorn Textured Ceiling - you're input would be greatly appreciated! 


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Karen Bernetti is a Real Estate Stager, Author, Speaker,  and the Co-Creator of Ready2Sellin30Days® an innovative, interactive, multi-media educational system designed to teach do-it-yourself homeowners EVERYTHING they need to know about preparing a home for sale during tough economic times! Visit to learn more. 

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Karen Bernetti is also the "Resident Stager" and Realtor® at North Star Real Estate, in Southington Connecticut, where every listing comes with a complimentary Home Staging consultation.  Call 860-302-0333 for more information.


 Author Bio: Melissa Marro, Home Staging Industry leader, Realtor, and entrepreneur offers a unique perspective on New Home Construction, Resale Residential Real Estate, and Home Staging

For more information on buying or selling in the Fleming Island, Orange Park, or Jacksonville, area, visit or call Melissa Marro (marro.melissa at, Keller Williams First Coast Realty, for more information (904-466-2093).


Comment balloon 4 commentsMelissa Marro • January 31 2011 02:55PM


Hey Melissa,

Thanks for the reblog.  I'm bookmarking this one.  I have removed many, but never tried to paint one.  Good tips.

Posted by Laura S. Baker, Realtor (920) 728-4118, First Weber Inc (First Weber Inc) over 9 years ago

Beside the lead factor, make sure it is tested for asbestos!

Posted by Julea Joseph, Julea Joseph House Stager - Reinventing Space (Reinventing Space) over 9 years ago

this is a great post. very informative and detailed. I pay my painter to do these things but for those that wish to tackle this job, you made it so easy to find out how.

Posted by Michelle Finnamore, Preparing your property for sale (Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket) over 9 years ago

I think painting popcorn ceilings would make them harder to eventually remove.

Posted by Dave Halpern, Louisville Short Sale Expert (Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827) about 3 years ago

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