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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Yikes! I've got cottage cheese ceilings and I hate them. I also want to paint the entire interior. The ceilings go up to 16' at one end of the largest room in the house so it's not easy to work on. My question is this:

Can I cover my cottage cheese ceilings with a paste/mud/goo or whatever you call it with a mixture of Fix-all, water-based latex paint and maybe some white school glue thrown in just for extra sticking power and apply it rather thinly with a trowel in maybe roughly 8' x 8' sections per batch? I would like to avoid having to remove the cottage cheese, then re-texture, then paint, so I'm wondering if I could just do it all in one step.

I thought about just dampening the cottage cheese and then squishing it flatter and smoother so that it would look more like ordinary texturing, but in half the house the ceiling has been painted and I don't think the water would soften it enough to do this. Also, if I get it too wet I think it will just fall off here and there in clumps so it will be hard to get uniformity without having to do a lot of filling in with texture that would have to look the same. I think it would be a mess, and I'd still have to paint it.

I just want to get this done and have it look nice so I can sell this place. I don't want to reinvent the wheel or make this anymore labor-intensive than it has to be.

Any help would be appreciated, and I thank you in advance for your advice. Will my proposed mixture work? Will it stick? Will it shrink?

Regards
 

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More than likely anything you try that involves physically touching it will make a mess. Remove it or spray paint it.
 

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I'm assuming it's aristex. There is no way to just go over it with another texture and make it look half way decent. If it has never been painted going over it by hand with another texture would be a disaster.
Unpainted it scrapes off with ease but makes a heck of a dusty mess, be sure to cover everthing. You could use a 12 inch drywall knife and scrape it off....the end result would be an almost smooth texture that could be sprayed or rolled over with paint. This would work fine if you didn't want it perfectly smooth or didn't have cracks or other ceiling repairs to do where you wouldn't be able to match the texture. You may want to use something like a wet sponge mop to get the majority of the dust off of the ceilings before painting.
If they have been painted it would take a minimum of three skim coats to smooth the ceilings before needing addition sanding and repainting. But if youre not very confident in your finishing skills this could prove to be a costly alternative....a bucket of mud doesn't go far over a heavily textured and painted ceiling. Best of luck!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Okay, then. Thank you to all three of you for your good advice.

How about doing this, then: Scrape off the cottage cheese, then paint it with the paint that has the primer/sealer already in it. I can have it tinted to the color I want. Then, what if I roll it with one of those texturing rollers? Instead of looking like a typical fluffy roller, it's wirey looking, sort of like a loofah if you know what that is. Maybe some of you have seen those. Supposedly they leave some texture as you roll the paint on. Looking at this type of roller compared to conventional rollers, it looks like it would leave a light-medium texture which would be fine. So this would still only be two steps for the ceiling. Then I could just paint the walls conventionally as they're already textured. I won't mind if the texture on the ceiling is a little different - it won't be noticeable and I've been in houses where the texture varied between the walls and the ceiling anyway.

What do you think?

Also, to remove the cottage cheese on the ceilings that have been painted, do I need to use more water than on the part that hasn't been painted? Or should I just scrape it without wetting it? It seems like there'd be a lot less dust if it was dampened. By the way, I did try scraping some of it off with my hula hoe and that worked pretty good. If you don't know, a hula hoe is used for getting weeds out of the garden. It is a long handle like a broom or rake and has a sort of closed horseshoe (about 6" x 5") shaped metal blade about 1" wide that wiggles back and forth in the soil to get under the roots of weeds and crab grass and aereates the soil. It scrapes the cottage cheese right off, but it seems like it would work better and there'd be less dust if the cottage cheese was dampened.

Who was the lunatic who invented cottage cheese ceilings in the first place? God, is it ugly!!!!!!!!! :cry:
 

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Down here we call them popcorn ceilings. If you wet it, the popcorn will stick to everything and make clean up a real bummer. Dry, you can vacuum it up.

Many years ago somebody figured out that texture can cover up many faults, it has to do with the way that our brains process vision. It's faster and cheaper than doing it right. The guy that invented popcorn should die a thousand deaths.
 

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If you wet it with a pump sprayer it comes off with a drywall knife (use a wide one to really speed it up). Wetting it also makes it come off down to the drywall itself, doing it dry makes tons of dust and you are scraping and scraping to get it down to the drywall and often you won't get it all and often you will gouge because of how much scraping you are doing. When wet, one easy pass and it comes right off - very similiar to the way a chemical stripper acts when refinishing wood or peeling off old wall paper in strips.

You can try the paint texture method, but I have never had results that were very acceptable, its a work around as far as I'm concerned. I would retexture or float.
 

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Mike, I did it your way......once.
I had to go get a second pair of shoes, one pair for inside the room and the other to get through the house. Clean up was a total mess. I'd rather deal with the dust.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
What's "float"? Hand-troweling on that mud stuff as smooth as possible in sort of a sweeping pattern? Keep in mind I'm a girl and no way do I have the upper body strength endurance to keep going over and over this ceiling, and I can't afford to pay someone to do it because I have so many renovation projects in this house to do (flooring, countertops, tiling, fixtures, door replacement, some landscaping changes, etc.) Anything I can do that involves a long handle instead of a short one is better. If I was just working on vertical walls, no problem, but the ceiling is an altogether different challenge for me. As Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) said, "A man has got to know his limitations." So do women, and I know mine. :eek: Can "floating" be done with a long handle?

As for the wet or dry scrape question, the floor is not an issue as all the flooring will be out and I'll be working on bare concrete. Personally, I'd rather clean up a mess than to have to get up close to the ceiling with a scraper to get the last little bits off left from dry-scraping, again because this is much harder work for a girl. My arms start to shake after about a half hour of overhead work, especially if I'm having to exert sustained pressure as opposed to say, just screwing in a new light fixture or touching up paint.

Also, for the dry-scraping, do I need to wear a mask? Those are hot inside, but I think I can stand it if I take breaks outside every so often.

What about a combination of both methods, such as dry-scraping about a 1' perimeter so that no wet gobs hit and stick to the walls, then wet scraping everything within the perimeter and letting it land on plastic drop cloths, then just roll 'em up and toss 'em? I can wear old long-sleeve T-shirts that I can just throw away and old cloth tennis shoes that can be washed in the washer.

There's also this: the hula hoe method I previously described leaves some of the existing material on, but much smoother. It looks like plastering. Maybe that would be okay as is? But I guess I can't expect that to be consistent throughout the whole ceiling - there would probably be places where the scheetrock is exposed or bumps are left behind, but hand-troweling and hand-scraping small places here and there to get uniformity is something I can easily handle.

What do you guys think about either of those two ideas?
 

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I could understand your frustration, but all I have ever had to do was lay down a $1.50 plastic 10x15 tarp and move it around the room as I scrape. You can also just cut a couple of squares out of the corner of the tarp and wrap your shoes in the plastic and tape your ankles. To me it is like staining using disposable rubber gloves, you just rip them off and throw them away when you are done instead of spending the time to clean your hands.
 

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Kitty
2 more suggestions.

1. Learn to love it.

2. Don't look at the ceiling very often.
 

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Kitty, Dale is right. You've been given the best possible solutions from the people here. Regardless of which alternative you were to select, none of them are that easy to do. I consider myself a pretty skilled carpenter and a pretty good handyman when it comes to home repairs but I would never tackle removing the popcorn ceiling and skimming it myself. If you have trouble working with tools over your head for extended periods of time, you're going to take forever to finish that ceiling.

As Teetor alluded to, popcorn ceilings are put in place to cover up uneven framing and production home drywall jobs. The texture of the "popcorn" hides the uneveness to most people's eyes. If you scrap it off you could be opening up a can of worms that could end up costing you a small fortune.

You say you want to fix it up to sell it so why don't you just paint it? A good thick, slotted roller will allow you to paint over it and won't cost you nearly as much time or money.
 

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Hey Terry, it might be different up in the great white north, but in the states popcorn was a design statement, like everything as time goes by a new style emerges and the older one looks dated. After popcorn ceilings we went into stylized textures - swirlys, patterns ect... now we seem to be in the age of knock down.

There is no-doubt that a texture on a ceiling can cover up the sins of a bad drywall job, but at least in the USA the ceiling treatment is part of the finish of a house and not used as a coverup, but just reflects the current style trends. It would certainly be a very rare occurance to see a new home builder putting popcorn in a new home today. Everything is knockdown where I am from, until you get into really high dollar custom homes that is...

Just for one last time - scraping off popcorn by wetting it is not rocket science, it isn't chain-gang back breaking type labor either. It is a relatively simple, painless and quick way to handle it and as far as I knew was considered the standard method of dealing with it. I'm quite suprised by how many people have such a weird impression of it, in the house rehabbing places I hang out in, dealing with popcorn ceilings is an everyday occurance and is considered no worse than dealing with other cosmetic issues of remodelling houses for investment purposes.
 

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My take on popcorn is that it was introduced at the same time as baby boomers were starting to buy homes. Home building went into mass production and popcorn covered up a multitude of evils and sped up finishing. With a half decent install and tape job all that you had to do is spray and go, the popcorn covered or blended in everything.
The stomp, swirls, ceiling medallions and such were used extensivly in the 20's thru 40's, they were also considered an art form. Dad's company specialized in reconditioning many of these homes and, over time, you knew who did the ceiling just by looking at it. Dad even put some of these guys back to work for a job or two. Most were Italian and in their 70's or 80's in the 60's, they never seemed to lose their 'touch' either.
Removing popcorn will always be a mess any way that you do it.
 

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Mike, I'm sure that popcorn ceilings were originally a design statement both north and south of the border when they were introduced. Unfortunately, they have become the norm up here for virtually all new sub-divisions of any substantial size. My experience with most "production" subdivisions here is that the builder sells the popcorn ceilings as being a "design" feature. Well, the truth in my experience is that they do it to cover up shoddy framing/drywall work. Other examples of builder's tales are 1. Telling me that my floors squeak (almost every inch of my main floor squeaks by the way) because there is "shrinkage" in the wood when they squeak so much because they cut corners and don't use enough screws. 2. They use 12" high windows in the basement to prevent break-ins when in actual fact they drop cheap 12"x30" metal framed windows into the wet concrete foundation walls because it costs them less money. I could go on...

As for the removal/fixing of the popcorn ceilings, I don't disagree with you. My main point to Kitty was that I thought it was an awful lot of work for her considering the information she provided about the reasons she was doing it and her stated skill level. If she can't work tools over her head for more than a 1/2 hour at a time, she'll take forever to remove it and skim coat the ceiling by herself.
 

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Decks, I don't know how it's going up there but everthing that we're getting here is saturated. We have an ongoing construction boom + reconstruction, building supplies are in short demand. I'm ricking everything, even ply, for 3-4 days minimum. 2 by's for at least a week.
Downside for dealing with your local lumber co., they won't take your 'propeller blanks' back. The box stores will.
 
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