Q: I started painting the textured ceiling in my living room, and as soon as
I made the first roller pass, the texture began peeling off. What’s going on, and
how do I fix the damage? Can I even finish my paint job?
Todd Riball, Victoria, Minnesota
A: Ceiling texture — commonly known as “popcorn” —is notorious for peeling off during painting projects. Reasons range from improper application or cold temperatures during the original drying process to simple aging of the texture itself. During painting, the suction created when the wet roller moves across the ceiling can pull the popcorn off ofthe drywall. If this happens, stop painting immediately. Although it is possible to make a small spot repair using one of the textured ceiling patch products available at hardware stores or home centers, large peeling areas will require more drastic measures.
If the texture has come off in a large sheet, you will have to scrape the entire ceiling for a fresh start. Because in the past some popcorn texture mixtures contained asbestos(even those applied as late as themid-1980s), removal is a job best left to professionals. The old ceiling texture will need to be tested for the presence of asbestos and, if it tests positive, abated and disposed of in an environmentally safe manner.
Once the old texture has been removed, you can choose whether to spray new popcorn texture, create a knock-down texture or skim-coat the ceiling for a clean, smooth surface. Prices vary greatly for this type of repair; new popcorn is the least expensive option. Provided it’s applied correctly, new popcorn texture will last for many years to come.