Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Popcorn Ceilings


After I finished up the kitchen project, I moved onto the main upstairs bathroom and quickly hammered out that project. There wasn't a lot to do there to fix it up. I patched holes in the drywall, gave it a coat of paint and because I like the painted kitchen cabinets so much, I painted the vanity in the bathroom as well. What once was a dark windowless room is a much brighter and still windowless room. I choose my battles.

Skipping the master bathroom for now, the last upstairs room left to be touched, I turned my sights on the downstairs. The downstairs makes the upstairs before I started look like a ritzy joint. The downstairs is really rough and is going to need a lot of work. First on my list was to fix up perhaps the best room of all of them downstairs for guests. It was rough but it was also a bedroom so there isn't a lot that you can do besides fix the holes in the drywall and paint them. So I carefully laid down plastic and began to paint the ceiling which the previous painter had done a piss poor job of doing. I could see the color of the previous two coats of paint.

I made it clear across the room and was just painting the last few feet when a chunk of the popcorn ceiling delaminated and fell to the floor. All my life I have lived in houses with popcorn ceilings and though I would never do one by choice, I have come to accept them. Because they catch cobwebs easily, you are forever sweeping them with brooms. If you every have to do a repair to an area, it is impossible to match up the pattern of the popcorn so it will forever look like you have a patched ceiling. Finally, if you get a little carried away and say touch the ceiling with a football being casually passed around, you can knock off pieces of the popcorn which not only make a mess of the floor but leave specs of unpainted surface beneath showing like a huge zit.

Because only a tiny chunk has fallen out of the ceiling, I gingerly tried to paint over it with the roller but every time the roller passed over, more and more popcorn just peeled off the ceiling until there was at least a square foot missing. Disgusted I quit and decided to mull things over. I suspect that the entire ceiling in that area is just clinging on due to a poor adhesion problem during the initial spraying. Any attempts to patch it will just result in future misery. Another plan could involve just scraping all the popcorn off the ceiling. If there is poor adhesion to begin with, this might be easier than expected. The bad part is that I already applied a gallon of paint and starting over means a gallon of primer and then another gallon of paint. My worry is that if the popcorn is adhered tightly on most of the ceiling, I may end up destroying the ceiling to the point where I have to start over completely and well... that would suck. So right now I'm taking a break and mulling things over a bit.


9 comments:

Vince said...

Is that that wood chip wall paper so popular in teh 70-80s

Ed said...

Vince - No. It is just 1/2" drywall on the ceiling. I ended up scraping the popcorn off the ceiling... well I'm in the process of that. I have to wet down an area with a mist of water and scrape it. It isn't too bad but I'm sure it would have been a lot easier had I not painted it first. I'll do an update here soon when I get it finished scraping. Fortunately, the installers didn't do the usual shortcut and all the joints and screw holes have been mudded and sanded underneath.

warren said...

I had the exact same problems at our place in TN. I hate the stuff. It has so many issues as you mention and patching it is impossible. I tried scraping and it was a mess. I ended up trying to spray some more from one of those patch cans...big mistake. Tear it down to framing sometime and re-do...that's my vote!

Ed said...

Warren - I briefly toyed with the idea of tearing it down to the framing and in the end, it was plan B if the scraping didn't work out. But the scraping and cleaning up of the mess is way less work than hauling all the drywall down there, putting it up, mudding and sanding. I figure by the time I finish scraping and patching up some of my scraper gouges I left behind, I will only have maybe four hours into getting it back to a surface ready for paint, much less and much cheaper than going back to framing. Had it been the walls, I might have done it anyway just to have the chance to reinsulate and rewire to modern standards.

Vince said...

You should hire one of those steamer things. Do 2^ft at a time. You'd whip it off in jig-time.

sage said...

popcorn ceilings, a fad that thankfully has passed (at least I hope)

Linda said...

Good riddance!

Vince said...

This is the stuff we put up http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artex

I was reading up on that stuff you are dealing with. You really need to take care. Some of the stuff has asbestos in it.

Ed said...

Vince - Our last home had a form of Artex on the ceilings. To me, it is the same thing in principle as the popcorn ceilings. It just creates places for spiderwebs to anchor too and is impossible to match when doing repairs. Also like popcorn ceilings, the older stuff contains asbestos. Fortunately, my house was built after asbestos was banned from use here in the states.