Painting Pop Corn Ceilings: In-Law Refresh Take 2

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Today I want to talk about the first step I took in refreshing my in-law’s home. Painting the popcorn ceiling. I thought it was the logical first step of a big project because I didn’t want to splatter paint all over freshly painted walls or newly installed wood floors. But before I get into the details, here is the list of items I decided to tackle in this project. No doubt many of these things will be posts to come.

  • Paint front room ceiling
  • Paint walls of front room
  • Paint baseboards and window trim in front room
  • Whitewash brick fireplace
  • Decorate front room with new furniture and some new decor
  • Remove wallpaper in dining room
  • Paint dining room walls
  • Decorate dining room with some new decor

Now that you have the plan, here’s what actually went down. See all those white spots on the cream ceiling? Those are touch up spots from over the years. Along with those were a smattering of stains as you’d typically see in an older house. That is why it was a must to paint the ceiling. No amount of “prettying” up the rest of the room would help if the ceiling was still all out of whack.

inlaw refresh

So there are several steps to this process. Here we go.

  1. Buy your paint. Yes, I know this is pretty obvious. But the kind of paint you get will make a difference. I bought Zinsser Alkyd Enamel Ceiling Bright White Flat Water-Based Enamel Interior Paint and Primer in One. And no, I am not being paid to promote this product. Though, I wouldn’t refuse it if they offered! But this paint really was awesome. It made a huge difference after the first coat so I could actually see where I needed to paint vs. where I already had since it goes on pink and dries white.
  2. Gather your supplies. A good large nap roller with an extender pole is a must. That way you can paint from the floor instead of moving a ladder around. Plus, your neck with thank you. You will also need a brush for edging and the paint tray/liner combo.
  3. Cover all of your pretties. Paint WILL SPLATTER. So make sure you are good and protected from it on anything you don’t want to ruin.
  4. Grab a hat and protective eye gear so you don’t have white hair and blind eyes after the job is done. You’re welcome.

Once you have everything on hand, get to painting! Here is where my experience took a turn for the worse. (For some reason I chose to roll first instead of trimming. I had thought that I might not need to trim since I was going to paint the walls later. However, the roller just didn’t get close enough to the edge. So I ended up having to trim it out after the first coat. My recommendation would be to trim first. That is how I usually do it and I just find it easier because it helps guide the roller so you are aware of your boundaries.)

So I started rolling on the paint after first cleaning off the ceiling cobwebs in the corners with a broom. At first I was excited. I thought it just might cover in one coat. Then I started to notice that what I had at first thought was paint speckles hitting my glasses became much larger chunks. Not chunks of paint. Chunks of the popcorn. I took off my glasses so I could see more clearly and noticed large gaps in the popcorn “pattern” where I had rolled. Then I inspected my roller to find those pesky little popcorn pieces embedded in the roller.

AHHHHH! Apparently the moisture from the paint was causing the old popcorn texture to release from the drywall. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of this catastrophe because I was so distraught over my dilemma. Instead of snapping a picture, I texted my husband an S.O.S. The popcorn was coming off in chunks….and I was certainly not planning to de-popcorn said ceiling. That would add a whole other level of difficulty and time to my project. The hubby sympathized but had little advice. So, I did what I always do. I just kept going.

After the first coat I waited a day and prayed to the Good Lord that a second coat would hide the flaws in the ceiling and wouldn’t result in more popcorn falling from the sky. After the first pass of the roller I heaved a sigh of relief. The first coat of paint seemed to have sealed in the texture. This is where having that pink paint made a world of difference. The first coat going from cream to white was pretty easy to see where I needed to paint. But going from white to white was much harder to tell where I was missing spots. Pink paint to the rescue. I only had to do one more coat and voila. It was a think of beauty. Crisp white, clean, and fresh.


Completed ceiling close up

The moral of the story? When all else fails, just keep going. Up next, the process for whitewashing this beauty peeking out above!

{Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait.- Ralph Waldo Emerson}

Popcorn ceilings tips and tricks

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