How to Spray Paint Your Popcorn Ceiling Correctly?

Popcorn ceilings were all the rage back in the 70s and 80s, but nowadays, they can make a room feel outdated and unappealing. One way to update a popcorn ceiling is by painting it, but it’s not as easy as you might think. 

If done incorrectly, the texture of the ceiling can be ruined, and the finish can look uneven and unprofessional. Whether you’re looking to update your popcorn ceiling for aesthetic reasons or to cover up damage, it’s important to know how to spray paint it correctly.

Begin by evaluating the ceiling’s water solubility; then remove and cover the furniture, cover fixtures and walls with painter’s tape and plastic, and ensure you have the proper safety equipment. Choose the appropriate finish and color, thin the paint, use an airless, vibrator-type paint sprayer, test the tip on cardboard, and spray in a single direction.

So, stick with us to the end if you want to understand all the methods for spray painting your popcorn ceiling appropriately.

How Do You Spray Paint Popcorn Ceiling Correctly?

Spray painting your popcorn ceiling is a great way to give your room a much-needed facelift without going through the time and expense of replacing the ceiling. However, it is important to do it correctly to get the best results. To correctly spray paint your popcorn ceiling, follow these steps:

Evaluating the Ceiling’s Water Solubility

Before you begin, it is important to determine if your popcorn ceiling is water-soluble. This can be done using a spray bottle of water and lightly misting the ceiling. If the ceiling is water soluble, the popcorn will dissolve. If the ceiling is not water soluble, you will need to use a different method of painting.

Room Preparation

Before starting to paint the room, it is recommended to cover all furniture and flooring with drop cloths to avoid any paint overspray that may damage them. Additionally, painter’s tape can be used to cover the edges of the walls and trim for a cleaner finish.

Cleaning the Ceiling

To ensure a smooth application of paint on the popcorn ceiling, it is essential to clean it thoroughly. Use a soft brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner to remove any dust or debris from the ceiling. If there are stains on the ceiling, it is recommended to use a stain-blocking primer before painting to ensure that the stains do not show through the new coat of paint.

Selecting the Appropriate Paint

It is recommended to use a specialized type of paint that is intended for application on popcorn ceilings. Such paints are thicker than regular paints and have a texture that is suitable for matching the popcorn ceiling.

Mask the Ceiling

Before you begin spraying, you need to mask off the area around the ceiling. This will help protect the walls and floor from any paint that may splatter: use painter’s tape and plastic sheeting to cover the walls and floor.

Prime the Ceiling

Once the area is masked off, you can prime the ceiling. Use a high-quality primer that is designed for use on popcorn ceilings. This will help to ensure that the paint adheres properly and that it will not peel or flake off.

Employing a Spray Gun

The most effective tool for painting a popcorn ceiling is a spray gun. This will enable a smooth and uniform finish. If you do not possess a spray gun, you can rent one from a hardware store.

Use a Back and Forth Motion

When using a spray gun to paint a ceiling, it is important to maintain a professional approach. Hold the spray gun at a distance of approximately 12 inches from the ceiling and use a back and forth motion to apply the paint. Ensure that each pass overlaps to prevent any missed spots.

Work in Sections

To achieve an even finish and avoid overspray, it is advisable to divide the ceiling into small sections and focus on one section at a time. By doing so, you can ensure that the paint is applied evenly and that your work is of the highest quality.

Let the Paint Dry

Please wait for the paint to dry before removing any drop cloths or painter’s tape. This will ensure that your furniture or flooring remains free of any paint. It is advised to allow adequate time for the paint to dry completely.

Remove the Masking

You can take off the masking when the layers has dried. To ensure that no paint is left behind, remove all the tape and plastic sheeting.

Is It Better to Spray Or Roll Paint a Popcorn Ceiling?

When it comes to painting a popcorn ceiling, utilizing a spray gun is generally considered a superior method compared to using a roller. This is due to the spray gun’s ability to apply paint more uniformly and access all the intricacies of the textured surface. Furthermore, using a roller to apply paint can result in flattening out the texture, which can lead to an unappealing and uneven appearance.

Rolling paint onto a popcorn ceiling can also result in the paint accumulating in the peaks of the popcorn texture, leaving the valleys unpainted. This can lead to an uneven finish, as well as potentially causing the popcorn texture to loosen or fall off the ceiling.

Spray painting provides a more even and controlled application of paint, ensuring complete coverage of all popcorn texture areas. Additionally, this method allows for faster drying time and minimizes the risk of over-saturating the texture and causing it to peel off the ceiling.

However, spray painting requires meticulous preparation and attention to safety measures. Proper safety equipment such as a respirator mask and eye protection should be worn during the process. Despite its benefits, this technique is more time-consuming compared to other painting methods.

The decision regarding whether to spray paint or roll paint on a popcorn ceiling will depend on several factors, including personal preference, the room’s size, and available equipment. Nonetheless, if you seek a uniform and aesthetically pleasing outcome, spray painting is usually the superior option.

What Type of Spray Paint Do You Need to Use for Popcorn Ceiling?

When painting a popcorn ceiling using a spray gun, it is essential to use the appropriate paint to achieve optimal results. To ensure proper adherence to the ceiling, it is recommended to use a paint designed specifically for popcorn ceilings. These paints possess the required consistency and texture for the job at hand.

The ideal type of spray paint to use for a popcorn ceiling is water-based latex. This type of paint is convenient to clean and has a low odor, making it a suitable option for indoor use. Furthermore, water-based latex paints dry quicker than oil-based paints, which could prevent the texture from becoming oversaturated and eventually falling off the ceiling.

When considering paint for your popcorn ceiling, it is recommended to select a product labeled as “ceiling paint” or “popcorn ceiling paint”. These types of paints are specially formulated to match the texture of popcorn ceilings and are thicker than standard wall paint.

Choosing the appropriate color is also essential to achieve the desired look and complement your existing decor. While white or off-white hues are commonly used for popcorn ceilings, you may also select a color that matches or contrasts with your walls or furnishings. It’s crucial to carefully consider your options to ensure the best possible outcome.

For optimal results when spray painting a popcorn ceiling, use a water-based latex paint that is specifically formulated for ceilings. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and adhere to proper safety measures, such as wearing a respirator mask and eye protection, when using a spray gun.

Can the Same Process for Spray Painting the Popcorn Ceiling be Applied to Cabinet Hinges in the Kitchen?

When it comes to revamping your kitchen, spray painting cabinet hinges can give them a brand-new look. However, the process of spray painting the popcorn ceiling may not be directly applicable. While both require thorough prep work and a steady hand, the materials and techniques used for these two tasks differ. It is advisable to consult professionals or research specific tips and guides for spray painting cabinet hinges to ensure a successful outcome.

Common Problems When Spray Painting Popcorn Ceilings & Their Solutions

Spray painting a popcorn ceiling can present certain difficulties, and there are various typical issues that may arise during the process. Here are some of the most frequent problems that you may encounter when spray painting a popcorn ceiling and their solutions :


Overspray results when the spray gun is not held at the appropriate distance from the ceiling or when the spray gun is not adjusted correctly. This can cause paint to land on adjacent surfaces, such as walls, furniture, or floors. When painting a popcorn ceiling, it is essential to follow paint sprayer overspray prevention tips

Maintain the appropriate distance and adjust the nozzle of the spray gun to avoid this issue. You can also apply masking tape and plastic sheeting to safeguard adjacent surfaces.

Uneven Coverage

Inconsistent movement or a lack of consistent distance between the spray gun and the ceiling can result in uneven coverage. This can lead to areas with excessive paint and others with insufficient coverage.

In order to achieve uniform paint coverage, move the spray gun in a consistent pattern and maintain a consistent distance from the surface. Applying multiple thin coats of paint is also advised for optimal results.

Dripping or Running

Excess paint applied in one area can cause dripping or running down the ceiling. This is often due to the spray gun being held too close to the ceiling or too much paint being applied in a single pass.

In order to prevent dripping or running of the paint, use a gentle touch and avoid holding the spray gun too close to the surface. If you observe paint starting to drip or run, it is recommended to stop spraying immediately.

Texture Loss

Texture loss is a common issue that can occur when the popcorn texture of a ceiling is flattened out by the weight of the paint or the spray gun. This can result in an unappealing or uneven finish that is less than optimal.

To avoid texture loss, use a spray gun with a low-pressure setting and a wide nozzle. Prior to painting the entire ceiling, it is recommended to practice on a small section.


Clogging is another common issue that may occur when the spray gun nozzle becomes obstructed with paint. This can lead to uneven spray patterns or prevent the spray gun from functioning properly.

Avoid clogging by straining the paint before transferring it to the spray gun. During application, clean the nozzle periodically to maintain optimal performance. If blockages occur, use a pin or paper clip to clear the nozzle.

Repainting Popcorn Ceilings With No Crumbling or Peeling


Spray painting your popcorn ceiling can be an affordable and effective way to update the look of your home. With the right tools, techniques, and safety precautions, you can achieve a smooth, even finish that will give your room a fresh new look. 

Remember to take your time, work in small sections, and protect your floors and furniture from overspray. 

With a little patience and practice, you can achieve professional-looking results and enjoy a beautiful, updated popcorn ceiling for years to come.

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