Smoothing popcorn textured ceilings

janralixMay 16, 2012

We live in a 40 year old house that back in the day would have been considered higher-than-average quality. It has the original popcorn textured ceilings that were popular back then. Some of the ceilings have a bit of a "wave" to them here and there, as if some of the drywall has sagged a little over the years due to the house settling or whatever. This is NOT what I would call major sagging such as might be due to water leakage...just enough so you can see it when the light hits it right.

A few years ago we had about half the popcorn ceilings redone - the popcorn scraped off, some re-mudding (for lack of a better word or technical term), smoothing, etc., and painted. While I was relatively pleased with the work and outcome, I can still see some "waving" in the re-done smooth ceilings.

Now we're going to have the other half of the popcorn ceilings changed to a smooth finish. We will not be using the same contractor (not because of the ceilings, just because this job involves a whole lot of other work besides the ceilings).

Anyway, the point of my post, or question, is: In a 40 year old house with 40 year old drywall ceilings, how much "perfection" should I expect in a smoothed ceiling finish? I realize a totally level ceiling (short of new drywall, and even then...) is practically impossible, much should "perfection" should I expect?

I'm hoping to hear from some of you folks that have had this done, how your's turned out, and how satisfied you are with the results?


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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

"perfection" is rarely ,if ever achieved in construction or anything else for that matter

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 5:37AM
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I had mine done before I moved in. I hate to bring this up, but if your house is 40 years old, did you have the popcorn tested for asbestos first? Mine was full of asbestos and I chose to have it professionally abated.

OK, back to the topic. I have not observed any waviness in my ceilings - my painter did the skim coating repairs because the ceiling drywall was pretty gouged up after the asbestos people finished with it. Did you use a flat ceiling paint? If you use anything other than flat, imperfections will show up more.

I am very happy with the results, and even my contractor was impressed with the work.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 12:17PM
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Fori is not pleased

Are you sure it's drywall? Sometimes plaster can have that waviness.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 4:05PM
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Since you asked, I just completed an exhaustive renovation of my dining room ceiling where I removed the popcorn texture and added faux beams and custom crown molding (see the link).

So, as to your question, "how much 'perfection' should I expect in a smoothed ceiling finish?" Remember you are talking about the ceiling and few people really notice/view/stare at what is going on with a ceiling. In my renovation, there are many areas where I did not sand the ceiling perfectly smooth after I scraped it. Flat paint works wonders for hinding all of them. What I would expect is that any imperfections not be noticable to the average guest who visits your home.

How much wave is present? Fixing that would likely involve removing the sheetrock and sistering framing to the existing rafters to make them straight, then replacement of the sheetrock, etc. - a significant job in my mind.

It just depends on what makes you happy and how much trouble you want to go to fix the concern you have.

Here is a link that might be useful: Custom Crown/Faux Beams

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 10:16AM
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Texascatherder: Sometimes I feel like preparing to remodel is like herding cats, and I've yet to start any physical work! Anyway, I'll have to check about the asbestos. No painting done yet, but flat paint will be used. Needless to say, I hope my ceiling guys do a top-notch job like your's apparently did.

Foxi: Yep, I'm sure it's drywall and not plaster. I believe the waviness (very slight and barely noticeable) is just a natural result of age and settling of the house (I hope).

jeffobranch: You're right about the appearance of the ceiling to those besides myself. Like I said just above, I just hope my ceiling guys are "good" and take pains to minimize any imperfections...and flat paint will be used. Nice job you did there on your ceilings!

I guess I'll just keep an eye on the work, point out any areas I think might be improved with a little more attention, and hope for the best. That seems to be about all I can do since I won't be doing the work myself.

Thanks to all of you.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 5:44PM
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