Patch a Hole in a Popcorn Ceiling
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Lynn in Georgia who’s got a question about patching a hole in drywall. Is there a good story that goes along with this?
LYNN: .(chuckling) Well, yes ma’am. Actually it’s my ceiling in the corner of my bathroom shower. (dog barks)
LYNN: I put in a tension rod for my shower to hold the shampoos and things …
LYNN: … and when I did that, over a period of weeks I looked up and realized that my ceiling was coming apart. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Oh, too much tension on that ceiling.
LYNN: And now I can see up into the attic. (Leslie gasps)
TOM: (chuckling) Alright.
LYNN: So I’m not sure what to do about it. We took down the tension rod obviously but the ceiling stayed up.
LYNN: The roof did.
LYNN: And I don’t know. Do I have to go up from the ceiling to fix it? What’s the best way to repair that? And it’s a popcorn ceiling.
TOM: Oh no, on top of that.
LESLIE: Ooh, a popcorn ceiling in the bathroom?
TOM: Is there a physical hole in the ceiling now, where it was?
LYNN: It came apart in the corners and so it just lifted up that whole corner and the tape that’s there.
TOM: Hmm. OK, well what you’re going to have to do in this case is, first of all, spray the ceiling and the popcorn with some water. Put it in a spray bottle; start scraping it off. Because you have to get that area smooth. And then this next step is you’re going to get some fiberglass drywall tape, which is kind of meshy and sticky, and lay it into the corner where the crack is and the third step is to spackle above that. You’ll probably need two to three coats. Do it very, very small; very thin. And then after it’s done sand it. There is some popcorn sort of ceiling repair textured stuff that comes like in a can …
LYNN: I’ve seen that.
TOM: … and you can squirt it on there to put the texture back. And then the last thing you’re probably going to have to do is paint the whole thing because the color won’t match but you can paint it. Use one of the big, slit rollers that hold a lot of paint and works well around the popcorn.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, you want the slit roller because the slots on it will open up around each sort of popcorn texture and not pull it off as you’re painting it. Because if you use a basic roller it’s going to pull all of it off. It’s going to be a giant mess.
LYNN: I had thought about taking the popcorn off of that bathroom. I did in my other bathroom.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
LYNN: And I listened to your show and I also heard how you were telling someone to first put on KILZ or something to treat – to lock in so the moisture doesn’t get down and then paint with a ceiling paint and – with a regular paint; a good paint. Well, I did that and it still – it’s lumpy, number one. I didn’t do a very good job. After I put the paint on, then I could see all the blemishes on my nice, flat, not-flat ceiling. (chuckles) And …
LESLIE: Did you use a paint with a sheen?
LYNN: I did not. I tried to use just a flat paint. Well, actually it has a little, tiny bit. It’s probably the next one up.
LESLIE: OK, like an eggshell or a sateen.
LYNN: Yes, I used an eggshell. That’s what I used.
LESLIE: Yeah, well the eggshell sometimes gives a texture of it’s own because that’s why they call it eggshell because it sort of has that texture-y type surface to it. You really want to make sure that once you get that popcorn off, if you’ve got any odd spots sand them down; make sure you really pay attention to it and again, use that primer and use the ceiling paint and go with a flat finish and it should do the trick. I mean you’re never going to get it perfect because of all that texture that was there unless you put up new drywall.
LYNN: Oh. So is there a product that I could have kind of a wavy ceiling that wouldn’t attract all the dirt; that I could just paint over?
LESLIE: Hmm, a wavy ceiling. Something with another type of texture?
LYNN: Correct. That wouldn’t – yes, that would be easier to wash but give it some texture so it would camouflage the mistake.
TOM: Well, there are texture additives to paint that you could add in there but I do think they are difficult to clean.
LESLIE: Well, but also if you put a whole, entire coat of spackle on the ceiling and get those texturing tools – you know, just like the sponge or that round brush – you can make little swirls. Like you can make a texture out of …
TOM: Out of spackle?
LESLIE: Out of spackle.
TOM: Yeah, I actually did that in my dining room and it still looks good many years later. But it’s hard to clean.
LYNN: It can’t be worse than popcorn. (chuckling)
LESLIE: No, nothing is.
TOM: (chuckling) No. Lynn, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
I actually answered this question on my AOL blog a couple of weeks ago …
LESLIE: Oh, yeah?
TOM: … about removing a popcorn ceiling. So go to the AOL real estate section, click on my picture and you can find the answer right there.
LYNN: Thank you.