In Ceilings, Drywall, How To, Interior House Painting, Painters Advice, Painting Tips, Repairs

Walking into a home today that has a stipple or popcorn textured ceiling is like a blast from the past and homeowners today much prefer the sophisticated and modern look of a smooth flat painted ceiling.

Stipple ceilings were popular in homes built in the 1930’s to the 1990’s and were considered to be esthetically pleasing, helped to muffle sound and create a sort of noise barrier between rooms and was it was much cheaper than painting.

These types of textured ceilings were commonly found in entrance hallways, bedrooms and basements of homes and home building contractors preferred this method of spray painting stipple or popcorn onto ceilings as it was a money saving and time saving way of getting homes finished faster.  It was also the perfect way of concealing and hiding the imperfections and flaws in the ceiling.

What Is Stipple or Popcorn Ceiling 

Stipple or Popcorn ceilings are achieved when a special mix is blended with white paint and then sprayed or sponged onto the ceiling surface. 

To get the stipple or popcorn effect it is typically applied with stipple sprayer machine or can be created by dipping a sponge into the paint and mix and then dabbed onto the ceiling surface.  The sponge method takes longer and is usually reserved to just repairing a small area of the stipple or popcorn.

Spray painting stipple is a cheaper alternative to painting a ceiling, as it is quicker and easier and very cost effective for home builders to spray several ceilings at one time, rather than the more time consuming and more laborious expense of doing the necessary pre-painting prep work such as patching the ceiling and repairing any cracks, holes and other imperfections, along with sanding the ceiling to a smooth finish and applying the right paint primer and painting with a high quality paint product. 

The Different Types of Textured Ceilings

The most common types of textured ceilings are the stipple and popcorn look.  Other types of textured ceiling looks consisted of the swirl, the half-moon or full moon look and it was thought to be very luxurious to have floral patterns and even adding sparkles to create a unique look. 

This was a more expensive technique that required specialized craftsmanship, artistry and patience by a hired professional.  It was usually sought after by the more elite homeowner who could afford the added expense of hiring a specialist to create these different patterns.

If you have any of these types of ceiling textures in your home know that there are options to update the look by connecting with stipple ceiling experts.

stipple popcorn ceilings

Why Stipple Ceilings Are Used

Home builders today continue to use a stipple mix in the ceiling paint because it is less expensive and less laborious to apply instead of the more labour and cost intensive four step process of sanding the ceiling drywall to a smooth finish, then painting with a good paint primer and applying a minimum of two coats of paint finish.

Starting around the 1930’s to late 1990’s home builders in Canada used to spray stipple onto the ceilings as this made hiding imperfections easier and saved time and money for home building contractors rather than hiring painting companies to paint the homes.

Spray painting a stipple or popcorn texture onto ceilings is a less laborious task than hiring a professional and skilled painter for the more labour and cost intensive process of sanding the ceiling drywall to a smooth finish, painting with a primer paint and minimum two coats of paint colour to finish, like professional residential painters in Ottawa would do.

The reason home builders then and now use stipple to cover ceilings is because it is inexpensive and does not require the same laborious hours as getting a flat smooth drywalled ceiling painted.  It helps them get several ceilings done faster and cheaper.

When home projects in any Ottawa neighborhood are started it is common and typical for all homes to be sprayed with stipple paint.  On average it can cost from $250.00 to $350.00 to spray stipple to a ceiling as opposed to the smooth ceiling that would cost anywhere between the $300.00 to $550.00 depending on the size of the ceiling area to be painted.


Pros and Cons To Stipple Ceilings

To paint a stipple or popcorn texture onto a ceiling it required the paint to be mixed with a drywall mixture and then sprayed or painted with a roller.  Most often times it is always sprayed on since it goes faster and allows painters to get many more ceilings done in a day.

As much of an eyesore that stipple or popcorn styled ceilings can be there are a few a advantages and disadvantages to them. 

Advantages of Stipple Ceiling

Spraying a ceiling with a textured paint hides the imperfections on the drywall, such as cracks, missed taping and mudding of any joints.  It also provides a sound barrier to any room.

Disadvantages of Stipple Ceiling

Beside it being making a home look outdated a textured style ceiling is hard to clean and difficult to repair.  It can also be an asbestos hazard especially if it was done before the 1980’s.  So if you are planning on having any stipple removed make sure you get it checked for asbestos first.

Pros and Cons To Smooth Ceilings

To get a flat finished ceiling, home builders would have to hire one or two professionals to do it.  One would be the drywall finisher, who would come in and tape and mud all drywall joints.  That process of mudding or plastering would be a 3 part process.  Then once the drywall expert was finished the painter would begin, and would have to make sure the ceiling was sanded to a smooth finish, paint a primer, then apply 2 to 3 coats paint finish and possibly more depending on the colour of the paint for the ceiling.  There could be more than two coats of paint required especially on new drywall as it tends to soak up paint much more than any drywall that already has pre existing paint.

Advantages of Smooth Ceiling

Beside it helping a room look bigger, a smooth ceiling is easier to clean, repair and paint.  It also makes any room look more modern.

Disadvantages of Smooth Ceiling

A smooth finished ceiling does not provide a sound barrier to noise compared to a textured ceiling and a smooth finished ceiling can show imperfections.

Stipple Ceiling Removal

Removing stipple or popcorn textured ceilings is very commonly requested by homeowners today when they hire professional painting companies in Ottawa.  This avoids homeowners having to put in a lot of their own time and alleviates the mess of having to do it themselves.

Before commencing any removal or repair of stippled ceiling get informed on whether it may contain asbestos as homes that were built prior to 1980’s will more than likely have asbestos as it was commonly used in the building of homes.

To ensure your home is asbestos free visit the Ontario government FAQ’s on asbestos website to gather all information and give yourself the peace of mind with an asbestos free certification.

If the idea of putting in many hours of hard labour with scraping and removing the popcorn or stipple from the ceiling in your house is overwhelming than consider hiring that have both drywall  and stipple ceiling experience.

Steps On How To Remove Stipple From Ceiling

While it is not easy, is very labour intensive and it will take up a few days of your time and energy you can remove the textured stipple or popcorn ceilings yourself by any one of these two methods.

The two most common methods used by professionals is to wet the ceiling and scrape it off or to sand it down to the drywall surface before repainting it.  Both methods will require the scraping off all the texture, sanding it to a smooth finish and applying a paint primer before the paint finish.

removal of stipple ceiling before painting by PG PAINT & DESIGN Ottawa painters

Step 1 Clear the area

Remove all furniture from the room.  If furniture cannot be removed from the room ensure they are completely well covered with plastic to protect them from any drippings and dust.  Removing the stipple from the ceiling is easier and best done if the room is free of all furniture.

Lay down drop cloths or tarps on all flooring or carpet to protect from water moisture and droppings and from all the dust that will be created from the scraping/sanding of the stipple.

Step 2  –  Soak the Stipple

Using a spray water bottle spray the ceiling starting in small sections at a time. Let the water soak and the ceiling absorb the moisture for a few minutes. (approx. 20)  Spray the water onto the ceiling a second time and let it sit again for another 20 minutes.

Step 3 –  Scrape the Stipple Off

After the water has moistened the stipple on the ceiling you can use a putty or drywall joint repairing tool or putty knife to begin removal.  Using the flat blade of this tool you can slide it carefully through the stipple and it will peel it away from the ceiling.

Do not apply too much of a heavy pressure as this may further cause damage to the drywall surface of the ceiling.  If enough water has been sprayed the stipple should peel easily if not simply spray more water until it does.

Step 4 – Sand the Ceiling

Once all the stipple from the ceilings has been removed it needs to be sanded to a smooth finish before applying any paint.  If any damage is evident to the drywall on the ceiling you may need to make a few drywall patches and repairs.

Step 5 – Painting the Ceiling

After making all the repairs to the ceiling drywall and properly sanding the entire area to a smooth finish the ceiling is now ready painting.flat ceiling with no stipple or popcornStep 6 – Clean Up

Remove all plastic coverings and drop cloths that were used to protect the furniture and floorings carefully to avoid any of the debris from settling back onto your belongs.  By removing the coverings carefully you will avoid any of the accumulated water and stipple debris from getting onto any furniture or flooring that you took such care in protecting at the beginning.

Using a shop-vac type vacuum cleaner to collect any of the fly away dust.

Get A Modern Look With A Flat Ceiling

Modernizing the look of their space is one of the reasons our clients choose to have the stipple ceilings in their homes removed.  Removing the outdated look of stipple and painting a flat ceiling also helps to increase the value of the home for resale by brightening up the space. 

If this is not a project you want to tackle on your own, connect by email or phone with us here at PG PAINT & DESIGN painters in Ottawa to help you get rid of those outdated textured ceilings and any other interior house painting services you may be needing for your next home update.

For an effective and simple way to give your home a facelift consider hiring an experienced painting company that does stipple removal and ceiling repair. 

Contact us today to get started. 


This post was originally published on Jul 16, 2017 and edited on Mar 03, 2021