How to Repair a Popcorn Ceiling in 6 Easy Steps

Even the most well-cared-for homes can take a beating. It’s just part of living in them.

While patching a damaged wall or even floor is relatively simple, repairing something like a popcorn ceiling can be intimidating for amateur DIYers.

No matter your feelings on popcorn ceilings as a whole, the last thing you want is an unsightly hole, stain, or crack impacting your home’s appearance.

Fortunately, learning how to repair a popcorn ceiling might just be easier than you think!

Before You Get Started

To get a better idea of what a popcorn ceiling is and what you need to consider when dealing with any design, repair or removal read our guide: What Is a Popcorn Ceiling? 4 Pros And Cons Of Popcorn Ceilings.

Whether or not your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos is something you’ll want to determine before any repairs.

Asbestos is present in many popcorn ceilings installed in the 1980s and earlier. While it is fairly harmless when left undisturbed, patching a damaged ceiling is sure to release particles into the air.

Testing for asbestos is relatively simple and 100% worth it for additional peace of mind. If your ceiling tests positive for asbestos, we recommend consulting a professional.

They will guide you through removal, containment, or another solution. If not, you’re free to continue with repairing the ceiling yourself!

What You’ll Need to Begin

  • Putty knife
  • Spray bottle
  • Sandpaper
  • Drywall joint compound
  • Popcorn ceiling patch
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Vacuum with brush attachment
  • Plastic drop cloth
  • Protective gear
  • Ladder

How to Repair a Popcorn Ceiling in 6 Easy Steps

1. Prep the Room

prep the room

You’ll want to prepare the rest of the room before things get messy. The scope of the repair will impact how much prep work needs to happen beforehand.

Patching an area of only a few inches may require little more than a small drop cloth. Meanwhile, you will want to protect the entire room before tackling larger repairs.

Remove any items — furniture, appliances, light fixtures, etc. — under or near the area you’ll be repairing. Cover objects that cannot be moved with plastic.

This is also the time to don your own protective gear. At a minimum, anyone helping with the repair should wear safety goggles and a dust mask.

2. Clean the Ceiling

clean the ceiling

Clear away all dust, cobwebs, and buildup using a soft-bristled brush attached to a vacuum. Technically, you only need to clean the area that you’ll be working on.

But this is a good time to give your entire ceiling a once-over!

3. Remove Damaged Material

remove damaged material

Use a putty knife to scrape away the affected popcorn texture currently on the ceiling. If the textured layer is not already loose, spraying the surface with a bit of water will help soften it.

It’s best to err on the side of caution when removing damage from the ceiling. Remove the original popcorn texture from the affected area as well as a few inches past it on all sides.

Scraping away a larger area will ensure all of the damage is taken care of. If you are too conservative during removal, it’s possible to miss some of the compromised material.

4. Repair the Drywall

repair the drywall

There’s a good chance that more than just the popcorn texture needs replacing. The drywall underneath must also be repaired before moving on.

Using a putty knife and drywall joint compound, fill any holes, cracks, or divots in the ceiling. Allow to dry.

Sand the area smooth, blending the patched drywall into the surface around it.

5. Apply New Texture

Now, it’s finally time to replace the popcorn texture you scraped off earlier:

Popcorn Ceiling Repair Spray

Thoroughly shake the can before starting. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for spraying the texture onto the ceiling.

As you go, overlap the new texture with the old ceiling. And, if possible, apply the spray texture from multiple angles.

These techniques will better disguise the patched area once all is said and done.

Brush-On Popcorn Texture

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You’ll need a clean brush handy to apply a brush-on popcorn ceiling texture.

Using the brush, apply the popcorn texture to the exposed drywall. You can use a combination of strokes and dabs to build the product to the desired thickness.

Apply a thin coat of the popcorn texture around the perimeter of the repair, blending the new surface into the old one.

Self-Adhesive Popcorn Ceiling Patch

Measure the size and shape of the area and trim the self-adhesive patch to fit. Creating a scalloped edge will help the patch blend into the surrounding ceiling.

Starting from one edge or corner, press the patch onto the exposed drywall.

In some cases, a self-adhesive patch may be all you need. If the patch stands out from the rest of the ceiling, however, you can use another popcorn texture product to blend the edges.

6. Finish

Once the new popcorn texture is fully dry (if applicable), you can continue finishing the ceiling.

Prime and paint the repaired area to match the rest of the ceiling. Applying a fresh coat of paint to the entire ceiling will help blend your work in with the existing texture.

How to Match Popcorn Ceiling Texture

popcorn ceiling texture

The most challenging part of popcorn ceiling repair is matching the new product to the existing texture.

Yes, small variations will be nearly invisible once applied. But the goal is for the patch to blend seamlessly into the surrounding ceiling.

As you may or may not know, popcorn ceilings come in a variety of textures. These textures are typically broken up into categories like fine, medium, and coarse.

Knowing where your own popcorn ceiling stands in terms of overall roughness will help you narrow down your product search.

Before you apply a particular texture to the actual ceiling, consider testing it on a different (disposable) surface. A piece of scrap lumber or another semi-porous material works great for this.

Pro Tip: Start with a very thin application and build up the texture as needed to match the rest of the ceiling. It’s much easier to add more product than to remove excess.

Average Popcorn Ceiling Repair Cost

How much it will cost to restore your popcorn ceiling depends on several factors.

The tools and supplies needed for popcorn ceiling repair — replacement texture aside — are items most homeowners will already have on hand.

When it comes to purchasing a spray, premixed, or adhesive texture patch, most products cost under $20. These often include enough product for multiple repairs.

Homeowners who DIY their ceiling repairs tend to spend much, much less than those who hire professionals. If your ceiling requires extensive work, however, doing it yourself may not be possible.

Professional popcorn ceiling repair can cost several hundred dollars. Location, project size, and more will affect this rate.

Final Thoughts

Even if you plan to remove your home’s popcorn texture sometime in the future, there’s no reason to live under a damaged ceiling in the meantime!

Fortunately, there are several methods available to repair a popcorn ceiling or cover a popcorn ceiling that has seen better days.

Most popcorn ceiling repairs call for spray- or brush-on texture to replace the damaged surface. If you have just a small section in need of repair, though, a simple adhesive patch may do the trick.