Stipple ceilings (also known as popcorn, textured, cottage cheese or stucco ceilings) are made of loose particulate materials mixed into paint and applied using a sprayer. They were popular from the 1950s through to the 1980s. Do you have a stipple ceiling that needs refreshing? It can be painted, but it isn’t easy! You have to approach the task differently than painting a flat surface. The following are some tips and advice for painting a stipple ceiling.


The Paint: The best paint for a stipple ceiling is a high quality flat or matte, latex product. You will need to thin it up to 20 percent by adding water gradually and testing the consistency. As this process can be taxing, consider a paint specially formulated for ceilings. Some of these products change from an initial pink/purple to white as they dry, making it easier to apply an even coat. Check to ensure that the paint you choose is mildew and mould resistant.


The Colour: The most common colour for stipple ceilings is a shade of white as it makes the room feel larger, taller and brighter and adapts well to a variety of light sources. Light gray or yellow are great at covering flaws while dark colours are good for a tall and bright room. Use warm tones for a comfortable feel.


The Quantity: A flat surface requires one gallon of paint to cover approximately 300 to 400 square feet. Because of the texture, a stipple ceiling will require 15 to 25% more per square foot. If you use a sprayer, add 30 to 40% more product as you will experience paint loss onto other surfaces (tarps, tape, clothing).


Painting with a Spray Gun: A spray gun will give you the best adhesion and optimal delivery but may require two coats. You can rent one at most hardware stores. Cover floors and furniture with plastic. Attach plastic sheeting to the tops of the walls and cover ceiling light fixtures. Add the bell-shaped attachment to the spray gun to control the spray pattern. Hold the spray gun about 8 inches from the ceiling’s surface.  Move the gun back and forth slowly. Get closer in the corners and where the ceiling meets the walls. Let the first coat dry before applying a second. Layer the first coat in a consistent pattern and direction, then the second in the opposite direction.


Painting with a Roller: Use a thick ( ¾ to 1 ¼ inch), high-quality roller attached to an extendable pole. Cover walls, floors and furniture with tarps or heavy-duty plastic. Expect drips and splatters. Soak the roller with paint. Work off any drips by rolling it back and forth in the tray. Use light pressure during application and make long smooth strokes. Don’t over saturate the area.


Painting with a Brush: Though a brush can be used for the edges, it’s not recommended for painting an entire stipple ceiling.


Common Problems:

  • To minimize Drips and Splatters use high-quality paint, a thick-napped roller and cover everything you don’t plan to paint. Wear protective glasses and a dust mask.
  • Some Peeling of stipple is expected. To reduce the occurrence, be careful not to oversaturate an area. Use gentle pressure, long strokes and lap edges.
  • Lap over the edges as you go to prevent Streaks. Keep your roller wet as you work.

Removing a stipple ceiling is messy and costly. Instead, refresh it with paint. Use the correct tools and techniques and you will have a lighter and brighter ceiling. If you are unsure of which paint and tools to use, talk to your local paint provider. They’ll have the knowledge and experience to help you successfully paint your stipple ceiling.


Looking for advice on how to paint a stipple ceiling? Call Calgary’s independent paint and blinds store West Hillhurst Paint + Design at (403) 270-9696 or email at kyle@westhillhurstpaint.com Our knowledgeable professional design associates provide high-quality paint, a wide selection of blinds and expert advice for home projects. We offer excellent service and a variety of products to match any budget. Call for a consultation today!

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