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Tip to paint a popcorn ceiling
Popcorn ceilings have nothing to do with popcorns, other than the fact that they have a texture which looks like popcorns stuck on the ceiling. Also known as acoustic ceilings, they are a feature of almost all buildings, built in the 70s or 80s. They were a result of cost cutting techniques, used by builders of those times. With this ceiling, they saved the smoothing cost. Fortunately, these ceilings also turned out to be a hit with buyers. Painted popcorn ceilings look great if painted in a typical way with the right color combinations.
Preparation
Protect floor and furniture
Painting a popcorn ceiling is a huge paint drip, splash and splatter experience. Paint is going to rain down in all directions. So first thing you need to do is remove, as much furniture as you can, from the room being painted. If removing furniture is not possible, cover the furniture with plastic sheets or cloth. Spread sheets on the floor to avoid a floor scrubbing project later! Use masking paper, masking tape and plastic to cover the walls and furniture. To prevent them from getting painted, remove all the light fixtures from the room or pack them thoroughly. Also, before you start off, cleaning the ceiling is important. Do not clean it roughly. Take care not to dislodge the texture. You may use a feather duster for the purpose.

There is one more consideration before you go ahead. How do you paint a wall with a popcorn ceiling? You have to decide whether you are going to paint the walls, along with the ceiling or not. If you paint the walls, along with the ceiling, which is recommended, you won't have to engage in a lot of masking. Of course, it is recommended that you paint the walls after painting the ceiling. That way, you can choose a matching color combination for the walls and ceiling. However, if you are happy with your wall color, then you have a huge wall masking task ahead. Use a lot of masking paper, plastic and tape. Make sure all of it is covered properly. Plan the entire project well and your work will be simpler.
Choosing Paint For Popcorn Ceilings
Flat sheen color for popcorn ceiling
You can choose the color of paint, according to your choice and liking. One thing to be remembered is that the quality of paint will be inversely proportional to the number of coatings and the hard work you put in. That is, better the quality of paint you use, lesser will be the number of coats needed and lesser the effort. Even one lesser coat applied will save you a lot of money and valuable time. A flat sheen color is recommended. It is not necessary that you use a shiny paint unless you live in a high humidity area. If you do live in a high humidity coastal area, then use semigloss.
Thinning Paint
Thinning the paint
One should not apply dense acrylic paint directly to the ceiling. Chances are that it will rip the popcorn texture off the ceiling. So it's better to dilute or thin the acrylic paint up to 20%. The thinning liquid used can be water. It's absolutely necessary that the ceiling texture soaks in the acrylic paint. Experiment with the amount of water needed, to make the paint sufficiently thin. Apply and see if it's the right proportion. Approximately half a quarter of water for every gallon, is a reasonably good ratio and serves the purpose. Refer to the paint guide, that's usually provided by the manufacturers for more details. You may also find information about mixing ratios on the manufacturer's website.
Painting Methods
There are two ways in which you could paint this type of a ceiling. One is by spraying and the other is by rolling paint. Let us look in detail at both these methods.
Spray Painting
Spraying is the more enjoyable of the two methods. Here are some tips and techniques, for painting your popcorn ceiling. Buy an airless sprayer, specially designed for spray painting. Generally, two thick paints will produce excellent results. Two things should be taken into consideration. The thinning will vary with brand type of the paint. Choosing the right spray tip is very important, as that will decide your spraying pattern.
It is important that you spray the paint without breaks and it looks continuous. For this to happen, you will have to adjust the spray tip diameter, till you get it right. Before you start spraying paint on the wall, test spray on paper or cardboard.
Once you start spraying in one direction, maintain that direction. The next coat must be applied in the reverse direction. Take a break of an hour or two, between two coatings, so that the stuff dries. Doing this will ensure that an evenly spread color is painted and sheen is achieved. The entire project will cost you a few hundred dollars or more.
Rolling method of painting a popcorn ceiling
Alternatively, if you are willing to do more labor intensive work, go for painting the ceiling by rolling. This can get really messy. Don't forget to use protective clothing, as there is going to be a lot of dripping. Also wear a headgear and safety glasses, to protect yourself from all the splashing.
Buy a lambswool roller cover or synthetic covers for the roller. Use a bucket and a roller setup to do the job. Rolling paint on this type of a ceiling is a simple job. The only problem that lies with it, is covering the edges of the ceiling. Use a separate paintbrush for that purpose. Do not apply too much pressure while rolling, as that may cause the texture to come off it. You will require three to four coats for good effect.