Ask Matt: ‘Popcorn’ on Ceiling Is Gone; Now What?

Matt PlaskoffQuestion: We recently removed “popcorn” textured ceilings in the house we’re remodeling. Now we need to do something with the bare ceilings, starting with the vaulted ceiling in the living room. One contractor says we can just paint over the ceiling (it’s been sanded since the popcorn was removed). Another says we need to plaster first or use textured paint. Who’s right? Plastering looks like it will add several hundred dollars to the budget, which we’d like to save for future projects. But we don’t want to paint it just to find we need to plaster and repaint. Thanks for the help. — Stephanie B.

Answer: The question is: How smooth is the ceiling? Did the removal company leave it in a “paint-ready” condition? If it is smooth and there are no divots or check marks in it from the scraping tools, I would recommend a very good primer and just go ahead and paint. The purpose of a plaster skim coat is simply to smooth out the surface and remove any imperfections. Hope that helps, and good luck with your efforts!

Matt Plaskoff, a veteran Los Angeles contractor (license No. 660059), is CEO and founder of Plaskoff Construction and One Week Bath. He is a frequent expert on home improvement TV shows and former lead construction consultant of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

2 Comments on Ask Matt: ‘Popcorn’ on Ceiling Is Gone; Now What?

  1. Sarah Callahan

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks for the advice about bathroom ceilings. I have a question about another remnant of the popcorn ceiling era: my dyrwall is not smooth and dated to 1978. I’m trying to figure out if I’m better off replacing the drywall altogether or just resmoothing it. Do you think the drywall holds smells?

  2. Inland Empire

    You can also buy a hopper and texture the ceiling yourself. Its a lot of work, takes some practice on a sheet of plywood or something beforehand and is messy (mask everything off carefully).