Repairing A Textured “Popcorn Ceiling”

by Darwin Hall

texture rolling the ceiling

Today and yesterday, I spent time repairing a textured ceiling at a local church.

The roof had many leaks, which damaged the ceiling inside the building.

The shingles were way past their life, and raccoons were getting inside by tearing out the sheathing, making the church their home!

I covered the roof with a temporary blue tarp not that long ago, and boarded up a few holes the vermin made.  Now, the roof is completely redone.

The church hired a local roofing company that tore the old roof off, fixed the sheathing, and replaced the deck with new shingles — IN A DAY!!  Thanks to the heavens… 🙂

So my job is to repair the ceiling.  I will need to blend the old texture with the patched area — which is really going to be challenging, because the texture was sprayed onto the ceiling and has a distinct “ball pattern” reminiscent of popped kernels of corn — popcorn.

See also:  Different Ways To Repair Drywall

My first order of business is to repair the ceiling’s drywall.  Water was basically pouring into the building at one point and weakened the drywall so much that a portion fell and will need to be fixed.

I determined that the best way to fix it is to apply an aluminum drywall patch.  These patches come in several sizes, from 4 x 4 inches, and all the way to 8 x 8 inches.

hole in ceiling leak

I like to repair ceilings with these patches because they are lightweight, and they have an adhesive backing on them to hold them to the ceiling.  You will need to remove some of the popcorn, maybe an inch around the area to make the patch adhere and lay flat on the ceiling.

It is also important to note that when you apply joint compound, it should be done in very thin layers over the patch because of gravity.  You don’t want the patch to drop and disconnect from the surface of the ceiling.

The drywall compound I use is the regular, slow-drying type.  It is low-dust and lightweight.  I don’t mind coming back the next day; it gives me time to do other repairs in the building.

There are many water spots scattered throughout the ceiling from the old leaks.  Some are really dark-brown colored, then others are so faint that you need a light to see them.  I’ll attempt to prime and paint those areas.

On the other side of the building, water leaking from the roof made drywall tape drop from the seams in between sheets.  Those will need to be fixed.

You can also see a long crack running along the top in the photo below, which I assume is caused by changes in humidity, the building settling, or that faint water spot — smack in the middle of the crack that had a leak.

drywall tape hanging from leak

I fixed the drywall tape issue by cutting the hanging piece off, then putting a new piece up, cut to the size of the seam.  I then covered it with a layer of joint compound and let it dry.

hanging drywall tape from leakThe hole at the other side of the building is very small and very visible.  It’s about 7 inches long and 3 inches wide.  So I took an 8 x 8 inch patch, and cut it to size with a pair of tin snips.

I prepared the surface around the patch and installed it, sticking it to the ceiling.  I then covered the patch with joint compound and let it dry completely.

While I was up on the ladder, I scraped some old compound and paint that had separated from the edge of the ceiling’s soffit, which has the heating and cooling duct work inside of it.

I then gave the whole area a skim coat of compound, without sanding anything.  You won’t need to sand the area, because the texture you apply will cover most imperfections.

repaired hole in ceiling

The next day, I primed the repaired ceiling areas with regular water-based primer.  I also primed nearby water spots with a brush.  The technique I used was blotting, similar to dipping the edge of the brush in paint, then “blot” the existing texture to reach all of it’s nooks and crannies.

And why not use a regular paint roller?  Answer:  The old textured ceiling will come off if you tried to use a roller.  The roller will pull the texture off, and next thing you know, you’re repairing the whole ceiling!  Extra care should be given when applying primer over water spots and the surrounding areas.

Blotting the primer is time-consuming, even for small water spots.  It is the only way to ensure the popcorn won’t separate from the ceiling.

Paint primer soaks deep into the surface and strengthens the joint compound.  I then let the primer dry for a full day before moving on to the next step.

Applying texture with a roller

The following day, I came in and was set to add texture to the ceiling.  Using a textured roller is the next best thing to actually using a texturing spray gun.

It won’t match the popcorn ceiling exactly; but it will look good enough to be acceptable.  You can find these rollers in the painting section of your local home store.

I began by mixing joint compound with water.  You can use a metal putty knife to mix it in a paint tray.  Take several globs of compound and place in the tray.  Then, use a water bottle to carefully add a little water at a time, mixing it thoroughly into the compound.  Add a little more water (if needed) to get a perfect mix.

compound and water mixed for textureIt should have a mayonnaise consistency; not too runny, or not too thick.  It should resemble creamy peanut butter when mixed correctly.

Start applying it to the ceiling slowly with the roller, because it may still be easy to remove old texture — which you don’t want to do.  In fact, the roller full of compound will pull the old texture off if you don’t prime the area beforehand.

textured ceiling application repair

I also covered those damaged seams I repaired earlier with texture, using the roller.  The compound will lighten to a dull, off-white color when it’s ready for primer.

textured ceiling joint tapeI then let it all dry for another day, then primed and painted it just like any other painting project.  The object is to blend the repair in with the surrounding popcorn ceiling.

You should just discard the texture roller after finishing the job, because it will be really hard to remove compound from it.  Not impossible, but difficult!

Published on November 2nd 2016 by Darwin, in DIY Diaries.

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