How Popcorn Ceilings Are Installed

popcorn ceiling header

Textured ceilings come in many different forms, but no texture has created as lasting an impression as the popcorn ceiling. You see them in homes everywhere, but have you ever wondered how they are installed? 

While many homeowners choose to painstakingly scrape their ceilings smooth, popcorn texture still has some demand. Unlike some ceiling plaster styles, popcorn ceilings aren’t textured by hand. They require a specific bit of gear. 

Preparing The Ceiling And Room 

Before applying the textured effect, it’s important that the ceiling is properly prepared. It should be smooth, free of debris or other textured plaster, and clean. After cleaning, the painter’s tape is applied where the ceiling meets the wall. A coat of primer is then painted on to help with the application of the plaster. The room also has to be cleared and the furniture covered because gravity and plaster can make the job quite messy. 

Preparing The Product

Textured ceilings are often made with simple drywall mud, but textured ceiling paint has made more subtle looks affordable. However, the paint products might not give the desired effect, especially if the homeowner wants a deeper look. It’s a lot easier to apply though, as it rolls on the ceiling as any paint would. 

If you want more depth to the texture – more “pop” in your popcorn –  the paint and the drywall mud are mixed at a ratio of one part drywall mud to 10 parts paint. The paint is poured into a bucket, then the drywall mud is added, and the two are blended. When the consistency of this mixture is like a pancake batter, it is ready for application.

Applying The Product

Once it is properly blended, we can begin applying the mixture of paint and mud in small sections. Different tools are needed for different ceiling effects. For example, we can create a stucco effect after the mixture is applied to the ceiling with a compound knife or trowel and dabbing it with a damp sponge or cloth. This can create the look and direction the homeowner desires.

Popcorn ceilings, on the other hand, require a drywall texture sprayer. This specialized piece of equipment has nozzle and air pressure settings that can create different effects on the ceiling. The sprayer is then moved across the ceiling in a way that creates as random a look as possible. While uniformity is necessary for stucco, popcorn is a free-for-all. Before the machine is turned on, plastic sheeting is put up along the walls, all the way to the floor, to protect them from flying particles.

Be Careful Of Asbestos On Older Ceilings

popcorn ceiling asbestos

If you like the look of the popcorn ceiling, know that if it was installed before the ’90s, the plaster could contain asbestos. This silicate material was used in popcorn ceilings until manufacturing materials containing it were banned in 1979. However, existing inventories of products were exempt, and asbestos continued to find its way into construction projects until the early ’90s. 

Not all popcorn ceilings were made with this carcinogenic product, but it’s better to be safe and have a small piece of the plaster tested. Removal of this material should be done by a proper asbestos remediation company. Contact your local waste disposal company to properly dispose of any materials containing asbestos.