Acoustical Ceiling Painting

Painting an acoustical ceiling will have a dramatic affect on the roomís appearance. It is a great trick to brighten up a room with this type of ceiling. Unfortunately most people leave these alone thinking that painting an acoustical ceiling is too much work. This ceiling texture has a very rough appearance that looks like popcorn. Often referred to as a popcorn ceiling, they are everywhere.

Common in homes built in the 1970s and the early 1980ís, its primary goal was to save the builder money. With a popcorn ceiling the required drywall finish doesnít need to be as smooth or level. An acoustical ceiling.

An acoustical ceiling is very porous and will require a lot of paint to properly seal and provide an even appearance.

A flat sheen looks best, but any sheen can be used. An acoustical ceiling cannot be washed like a wall. So there is no need to use a shiny paint.

The only exception is if the ceiling is in a high humidity area. In this case a satin or semi-gloss sheen can be used.


When painting any ceiling there will be drips and splatters, but painting a popcorn ceiling will produce considerably more splatters and debris raining down.

Remove as much furniture as possible and cover everything that remains. This task will be easier if the room is empty. Cover the floors with drop cloths then any remaining furniture with plastic.

Plus remove the light fixtures or wrap completely with masking paper and tape. The masking materials needed are tape, masking paper and lightweight plastic.

You have two choices concerning masking. Spraying and rolling will need slightly different approaches. Spraying requires full tight masking where all seams are taped.

Another consideration is will the walls be painted following the acoustic ceiling painting.

After all the covering, perform any other needed repair. Small areas of the acoustic ceiling can be repaired with aerosol cans of acoustic texture.

Water stain on acoustical ceiling. These products work very well for small areas, less than 24x24 inches. For larger areas the use of a pneumatic hopper will be a better choice. Acoustic texture is available as a powder.

Water stains are easily sealed with Kilz, or a similar product. Apply 2 coats with an aerosol can to make sure the stain is fully sealed and will never return. Of course make sure whatever caused the stain is fixed first.

Painting Methods

If the acoustical ceilings in your home have never been painted you have two paint application options, using an airless sprayer and rolling.

The use of an airless sprayer is best for an acoustical ceiling. Rollers do work, but will remove some texture and are very messy.

The amount of effort you spend rolling your acoustic ceiling will convince you never to do it again. If the ceilings have been previously painted rolling will be much easier.


Using an airless sprayer isnít very hard. On an acoustical ceiling any goof-ups are not likely to show.

Plan on 2 coats of paint for the best results. Thinning the paint is needed for the best spray pattern. Thinning will depend on brand and type of paint you use.

Top quality acrylic paint can be thinned up to 20% without any problems. For this ceiling use water instead of special paint conditioners, the thinned paint needs to soak into the acoustic texture.

Choosing a spray tip depends on the type of paint, amount of thinning and size of airless spray pump. A 415 or 515 will work great with properly thinned acrylic flat paint.

The biggest consideration is the spray pattern. It needs to be complete, without breaks, and flat. If an airless spray tip is round and has "fingers" at the edges it is worn out and needs to be replaced. Test on a piece of cardboard before continuing.

The smaller airless spray pumps are perfect for this project and the use of a pole gun will make everything easier. Pole guns are available in lengths from 16 inches to 6 feet.

Spraying an acoustical ceiling is straightforward.

For the first coat begin spraying in one direction only. It doesnít matter which direction you start with, but this pattern must be maintained throughout the first coat.

The second coat is applied in the opposite direction. This is called double spraying. Allow the ceiling to dry for an hour or two before the coats of paint. This will produce an even color and sheen.


Rolling a popcorn ceiling is absolutely possible. As compared to spraying this will be more labor intensive. This is a particularly messy job. Wear protective clothing, a cap or hat and safety glasses.

The choices of roller covers are lambs wool and specialty synthetic covers made for this purpose. We have tried almost every type of synthetic cover on the market and are not impressed. Experience has taught us that using a thick, 1 inch, and high quality lambs wool cover works best.

Do not use a pan when rolling. Professional painters use a 5-gallon bucket with a roller screen. A professional roller set-up will hold more paint and make this work a little easier. Along with a bucket a good roller pole should be used. No reason to work any harder than necessary.

Thinning the paint is very important.

Thick acrylic paint will be too sticky and literally pull the texture from the ceiling.

The addition of a little less than 1 quart per gallon will allow the paint to soak into the texture and will be less likely to rip it off the acoustical ceiling.

Add Ĺ of the quart first then test by brushing, dabbing the paint on the acoustical ceiling. You want a stain like consistency, add more water if necessary.

Some popcorn texture will be removed while rolling but the surface will not pull away.

With the paint thinned and all the tools assembled itís time for some rolling. Use light pressure on the roller. Too much pressure will cause a downpour of paint and texture. Apply the paint in a straight-line pattern, same as all ceiling painting Acoustical ceiling texture. .

Begin rolling close to a corner and paint in sections. Work across the room trying not to over lap too much. On an acoustical ceiling over applying or working the paint can lift a lot of the texture off the surface.

Roll as close to the edges as possible. If the walls will be painted go ahead and push the roller into the edges. Cut-in with a brush by using a light dabbing motion after each coat has been applied.

Two coats, or even three, will be needed. This will depend on the chosen finish color and the condition of the acoustic ceiling. Wait at least 4 hours between coats.

This is an easy interior painting project for the experienced do it yourselfer and good results are attainable by the novice painter. A great looking aco airless spray ustic ceiling is as important as the walls in the overall look of the room.

After painting the acoustic ceiling now is the best time to paint the walls.