You have probably seen popcorn ceilings in homes, especially homes built in the mid 1900s. These ceilings became popular for the similar appearance to popcorn and the newfound benefits.
One of the biggest reasons why popcorn ceilings are not as common now is because they contain asbestos. Asbestos has properties that make it resistant to heat and strengthen the material, which is why many homes used popcorn ceilings with asbestos in them. It was actually discovered that asbestos leads to serious health issues like lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis, and it was banned for use in the U.S. in 1978.
For homes that still have products that contain asbestos, homeowners shouldn’t have to worry too much. If asbestos remains undisturbed, it is not harmful. Asbestos becomes harmful when it is disturbed and exposed to the air around it.
There are many mixed opinions on popcorn ceilings because of the many pros and cons associated with them.
The Positives of Popcorn Ceilings
Popcorn ceilings absorb sound better than smooth ceilings because popcorn ceilings have a textured surface that scatters sound waves in various directions when they hit the surface. This scattering effect helps to break up and disperse sound energy, which reduces the overall sound intensity in the room. Smooth ceilings tend to make sounds echo from the bounce back and forth between the ceiling, floors, and walls.
Popcorn ceilings have a bumpy, uneven appearance that can conceal minor imperfections in the ceilings. Some of these imperfections may be small cracks, dents, or uneven seams in the drywall. When light hits the textured surface, it scatters in various directions, making it difficult for the eye to pick up on any irregularities.
The irregular pattern of popcorn texture also distracts the viewer’s eye from focusing on any single spot on the ceiling. This can be especially useful in rooms with less-than-perfectly flat or level ceilings. The texture creates a sort of visual “noise” that makes it harder to notice subtle flaws.
Popcorn ceilings come in various textures and styles, allowing for customization to suit a room’s decor and aesthetics. You can pair the ceiling with light fixtures of your choice that fit the style you are looking for, and it can set the mood of the room.
The Negatives of Popcorn Ceilings
Now that we have explored the positives, let’s talk about the negatives when it comes to popcorn ceilings.
Reduced Ceiling Height Perception
The textured surface of popcorn ceilings can make a room appear smaller and lower in height, which may not be desirable for small spaces. The texture can also reduce the reflection of light, potentially making a room darker, even if there are windows letting in natural light. These two factors can make a room less aesthetically pleasing, along with the fact that many people see popcorn ceilings as outdated and unattractive.
Difficult to Clean
These ceilings are notoriously difficult to clean due to their textured surface, making them less suitable for rooms prone to dirt and grime. The texture contains nooks and crannies where dust and dirt can become trapped. The surface is also more delicate and can be easily damaged, which makes it difficult to apply the right amount of pressure to clean but not break off some of the texture. In addition to this, maintaining and repairing the ceiling is more complex and may even require a professional to match the existing texture.
Hard to Paint
For similar reasons as to why popcorn ceilings are difficult to clean, they are also difficult to paint. The uneven surface takes more time and delicacy than a flat ceiling to ensure every area gets covered with paint. Many people choose to have professionals paint their ceiling for them since it can be so challenging, but if you choose to do it yourself, here are some tips to encourage the best finish.
What is the Easiest Way to Paint a Popcorn Ceiling?
- The best paint for popcorn ceilings is usually interior acrylic-latex paint. Find some in the color you want, keeping in mind that you will probably need more than you think. A textured ceiling needs about double the amount of paint you would use on a flat surface like a wall. This is because the paint has to cover more area and reach all the nooks and crannies.
- Prep the room well. Make sure all possible items are removed to create space, and cover any remaining items with plastic sheeting. If you can, remove any light fixtures to avoid getting paint on them. If you can’t remove them, try to cover them as best you can.
- Next, you will need to ensure the ceiling is clean. You can vacuum the ceiling as long as you are gentle enough and don’t press too firmly on the ceiling. Pressing too hard can cause pieces of the ceiling to fall off. Remove any dust and cobwebs, along with anything else that may be on the ceiling. If you don’t have a vacuum to clean with, you can use a clean rag.
- If needed, apply primer to the ceiling. You can tell if your ceiling needs primed if you take water and touch it and the water is absorbed easily. If the ceiling has been painted before, it usually does not need to be primed. If your ceiling does need primed and you skip this step, problems will arise. The water in the paint can break down the adhesive bond between the texture and the substrate, allowing the weight of the texture to pull the material off the ceiling.
- Once the primer has thoroughly dried, you will have to paint the edges of the ceiling with a 2-inch brush. You can get clean and straight lines by taping along the edges so paint doesn’t get on the wall. You should also use this time to paint around any light fixtures and fans.
- Now you will need to prepare the paint roller. Make sure you have good lighting in the room and pour your paint into a roller screen. The paint process will go much smoother for a ceiling if you have an extension pole to attach to the roller. Dip the roller in the paint and remove any excess paint by rolling it on the roller screen.
- Finally, roll out the paint. Start on one edge of the ceiling and do a small area, usually a 4 by 4 foot section. Apply the paint in an M or W pattern to get an even coating. Once you’ve done this, move onto the next section until the entire space is painted. Make sure the area is fully covered but not dripping.
- Allow the paint to dry and then assess if a second coat is needed. You can also do any touch up needed to get your desired look and finish.
Removing these types of ceilings can be a messy, expensive, and time consuming project. You will have to scrape off the entire ceiling with a scraper and warm water. This should ensure that traces of asbestos are removed. It is important that you wear protective gear to protect you from any asbestos and paint lead that is exposed when you are clearing the ceiling.
If you would prefer to avoid the scraping, you can cover the ceiling with drywall of ¼ -½ inch thickness. This is an option if you want to cover the texture of popcorn ceilings, but it can also weigh down the ceiling. Covering is also more expensive than removing the ceiling, which may be a deal breaker.
Use Wilson’s Paint and Floor Coverings
At Wilson’s Paint and Floor Coverings, we offer all the painting services you could possibly need, including popcorn ceilings. A fresh coat of paint can add value and overall appearance to your home and give it a new and fresh look. Contact us today to give your home a little love and attention.