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How to Paint Popcorn Ceilings

Updated: Oct. 16, 2019

Renew that old acoustical ceiling with a coat of paint

painting-popcorn-ceilingFamily Handyman
Is your popcorn ceiling showing its age? Here's a hassle-free way to refresh it. Painting acoustical ceilings is easy—just use this approach.

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Step 1: Test the water solubility of the ceiling

Paint unpainted textured ceilings with a vibrator-type paint sprayer

Test the water solubility of your popcorn ceiling. If the texture becomes soft, the best way to paint it is with a vibrator-type spray gun. Find the right paint sprayer after reading our buying guide.

What’s the best way to paint an acoustical ceiling? That depends on whether it’s ever been painted before. Without paint, it tends to be very water-soluble. This means that painting it with a roller can be very tricky because the acoustical material will absorb the water from the paint and start coming off on the roller. To test the water solubility, spray a small amount of water on an inconspicuous area. If the texture becomes soft, the best way to paint it is with a spray gun.

Step 2: Painting popcorn ceiling

If that’s the case with your acoustical ceiling, use a good, vibrator-type paint sprayer (available at home centers). Since you’ll be working overhead, you’ll need a suction set and portable paint reservoir for the sprayer instead of the usual paint jar. The one we used has a backpack type of setup. To ensure a uniform coat, it’s wise to apply the paint in at least three directions.

Required Tools for this Painting Popcorn Ceiling Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Dust mask
  • Extension cord
  • Safety glasses
  • Stepladder
  • Vibrator-type paint spray gun

Required Materials for this Painting Popcorn Ceiling Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Paint