How to Patch a Popcorn Ceiling

A close up on popcorn ceiling.
  • 2-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • 100-300
What You'll Need
Drop cloths
Ceiling paint and new popcorn texture
Rags and sponges
Sander and scraper
Roller and edger
Masking tape
Putty knife
Cat litter

Repairing a popcorn ceiling can be tricky. The textured material tends to fall off when it is touched or brushed. The color or texture may also be hard to match. Before repairing the ceiling, you must determine if your ceiling contains asbestos. If you are not sure, call a licensed asbestos abatement company.

WARNING: You should wear eye protection and possibly a filter mask while doing this task.

Step 1 - Get the Room Ready

Place drop cloths or paper, and mask around the ceiling. For small holes, you can mix paint with non-clumping cat litter and spread it over the hole. Smash up the cat litter first so that the pieces are about the same size as the ceiling texture pieces.

Very small holes, such as those left after a ceiling hook is removed, can be filled with a little spackle and textured with a putty knife. Scrape off some of the popcorn ceiling around the damage. Scrape as much as necessary to make sure no dampness is left in the textured material. Sand and prime the area.

Step 2 - Spray Your Patch

There are products available in spray cans to patch holes in popcorn ceilings. Spray over the hole until it matches the original ceiling. Do not overspray; doing so may cause sagging. The sprayed material may flatten if you paint over it.

Step 3 - Spread New Ceiling Material

A man scrapes off popcorn ceiling.

You can buy fine, medium, or coarse-grade aggregate depending on which one matches the pieces in your ceiling. Mix the aggregate with ceiling paint to get a thick material. Try it on a spare board or piece of drywall if you want to make sure it looks right. Spread it over the hole with a roller. An edger may be necessary if the patch is near the wall.

If the patched area doesn't look right, it may help to roll over it again without adding more mix to the roller. Roll out any patterns in the patch. Once it's dry, you can add another coat if it doesn't look thick enough. Be sure not to apply too much, as the excess textured material may pull off the ceiling. Use the water, rags, and sponges to clean any excess material.

Step 4 - Paint

If the popcorn ceiling was painted, re-paint it to match the original color. If there is water damage, the leak has to be fixed and all the damaged wood, drywall, or other material in the ceiling has to be replaced.

These steps will help you patch a popcorn ceiling. Once the job is done, your ceiling should be as good as new for years to come.