Can you Paint Popcorn Ceilings (Stucco in Toronto)

Stucco - popcorn ceiling. Is it paintable

Can it be done? Yes!

‘You can paint stucco ceilings?’ Was a question a customer asked when we were painting a condo at Yonge and Eglington in Toronto. I was quite surprised, and she said she had read that you can’t paint these ceilings because the stucco falls off. So to set the matter straight I figured I would research and write a blog about it. You certainly can paint “stucco” ceilings. Sure they aren’t easy, but it can be done. Another surface to decorate in your home! What we call stucco ceilings here in Toronto are also called popcorn ceilings, textured ceilings, cottage cheese ceilings, and stipple ceilings.   Old European texture and troweled exteriors of homes are done with ‘Stucco’.  To keep things simple and as straightforward as possible I’ll use the term stucco for this blog.

White painted stucco ceiling
Previously painted textured ceiling

Has it been previously painted?

Painting stucco ceilings is more difficult than painting regular ceilings. The stucco ends up flinging paint everywhere (much more than painting a regular ceiling) and some of the stucco itself does fall off the ceiling too. Just like painting any surface, putting paint on a stucco ceiling has some tricks to it.  Spraying the stucco is probably the easier way to do it, but sometimes that’s not practical (like if there is furniture in the room). Considering most homeowners paint their home after thy move in, painting the ceiling with a roller is the only option available.

Step one to paint stucco ceilings:

The first thing you need to do to paint stucco ceilings is to find out if it had been painted before. When painting this Pickering home shown here, we knew that the ceiling was previously painted. If it hasn’t or you don’t know, you’ll need to prime it first and prime it with an alkyd (oil based) primer. We usually use “Odorless” by Zinsser. It’s an oil based primer that will stop the ceiling from crumbling too much. And by the way, it is not odourless, it just has less odour than some other primers. You’ll need to use a big fluffy roller sleeve that holds a lot of paint to paint the stucco with. It would take forever to paint stucco ceilings if you just used a 15 mm roller sleeve, so use a 20mm or 28mm one.

Before painting, make sure everything is covered.

Step two is to COVER EVERYTHING! When you’re priming, if the stucco ceiling hasn’t been painted before there will be some pieces that fall off the ceiling. Don’t worry though, it won’t be enough to notice a difference in the texture, but you will want to make sure that the area is completely covered under the stucco you’re painting. If you’re not planning on painting the walls after the ceiling, you’ll need to tape plastic to the walls as well because otherwise you’ll have primer and paint splashes all over.

Paint ceiling and let it dry

Step three is to paint the primer and let it dry. If there are stains on the stucco ceiling, you might want to paint over those stains with the primer, let it dry, then prime the whole ceiling.  Be aware that it will take longer for the stucco to dry than it does walls. It takes longer because there is so much more paint on the stucco than what gets put on the walls and because there is crevices that the paint goes into and needs longer to dry. If you’re painting the walls it’s not a bad idea to cut in the first coat of the walls while you’re waiting for the stucco to dry.

Paint the final coats

Step four is to paint the stucco with the ceiling paint. Often when you paint textured ceilings you only need one coat of paint because the stucco easily hides the roller lines. You just have to make sure you put enough paint on of the ceiling paint. If you find the paint didn’t cover well enough, put another coat of paint on the stucco ceiling. And Voila! When you’re finished you will have nice, freshly painted stucco ceilings.

After reading our tips if you don’t want to paint it yourself, give ECOPAINTING a call at 416 733-7767 and we’ll do it for you!

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