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How to Paint a Textured Ceiling

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Painting a textured ceiling is not too hard with the proper tools.

When it comes time to give your room a fresh coat of paint, you may wonder how to paint a textured ceiling. If the home is older and you are considering removing the texture from your ceiling, you may want to have a sample of the texture tested at a lab to be analyzed for asbestos. If it tests positive for asbestos, it is recommended not to remove the fibers, but to paint over them.

Painting a Textured Ceiling

Painters hold varied opinions about what method is best for painting a textured ceiling. But among these opinions, spray painting a textured ceiling seems to be the most popular view. However, a good number of handymen still say rolling the paint on is the best way. So with these varied expert opinions, it takes some research to learn how to paint a textured ceiling in the way that works best for your circumstances.

Spray Painting

Spraying your textured ceiling is the easiest way to paint with even coverage, even if some areas of your texture have become loose. The advantage is that you don't have to touch the ceiling, but you will need to cover everything in the room. The best way is to move all your furniture to the center of the room (and at least 3 feet from the walls) and then to cover it with a tarp or lightweight plastic.

Another factor to consider is that you'll need to use a spray unit. These can be purchased or rented from your local home improvement store like Home Depot, Ace Hardware or Lowe's. An advantage to using a spray unit to apply your ceiling paint is that you can ask for or purchase an extension for the spray unit that eliminates the need for ladders.

If you've never used a spay gun to apply paint, read the instructions before you start work. Whatever spay unit you choose, be sure that all the fittings fit tightly to avoid drips. Test the spray to get a feel of how the gun works and what spread it covers. You'll want to develop a standard technique every time the trigger is pulled to give you even coverage. Pay attention to the way the paint fans out. If a thick stream forms at the edge, you'll need to increase pressure. Do this a quarter turn at a time until you get the right coverage.

Where to Start

When using a spray gun to paint your textured ceiling, it's best to start with the most difficult areas first. Give yourself enough distance from the ceiling, because if you stand too close paint coverage will be too thick and if you stand too far away more spray drifts to the floor, which is a waste. If you do apply too much paint, you can use a brush to fan it out. It won't take long to find the right mix of distance and pressure. Once you've painted along the edges you'll want to work toward the center of the ceiling.

Another factor in spraying your textured ceiling is the matter of cleanup. It's important to clean you spray gun completely. If you rent a spray unit and return it without cleaning it properly, most stores will charge a cleaning fee.

Rolling Paint on Textured Ceilings

Using a paint roller to apply paint to a textured ceiling has advantages and disadvantages when compared to using the spray gun. Unlike flat ceilings, when painting a textured ceiling with a roller, paint is applied first to the main area. You start by rolling paint about six inches from the wall and then work toward the wall, coming as close as you can without touching the wall. If paint creates an edge or a blob, smooth it out with a brush.

To avoid roller marks, always work with a wet edge, rolling back over it to blend a smooth coat without lines. After painting the main area of the ceiling, a brush should be used to paint the edges.

Textured Paint

If you currently have a smooth ceiling and are interested in adding texture, one option is textured paint. It combines small particles in thick paint and provides a plaster or stucco effect when applied. Textured paint comes in three different textures:

  • Smooth - stucco-like effect
  • Sand - look and feel of sandpaper
  • Ceiling - "popcorn" effect

These textured paints are made for interior use only. An advantage to using textured paint is that you can have the color customized or apply it in the foundational white color, which can be painted after application.

Ask For Help

No matter which painting technique you choose to paint your textured ceilings, don't hesitate to ask for help. The paint department clerk at your favorite home improvement store will be happy to help you figure out how much paint you need depending on the method you select. They will also help to stock you with items like goggles and masks if you choose to spray rather than roll.

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How to Paint a Textured Ceiling