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Spray-on stucco sucks

August 14, 2008 @ 14:44 By: gordon Category: General

If I wasn’t a hater of spray-on “popcorn” stucco before having my apartment painted recently, I am now.

Because I had almost everything in my apartment taken away so the carpets can be replaced, I decided to have the place painted while it was empty.

I found some painters and bought the paint I wanted. They started painting Saturday morning with the ceiling with a latex ceiling paint.  When they’d finished the first coat we stood there and looked at it together and agreed that it if it wasn’t for the fact that we knew it had been painted we’d have said it hadn’t been painted.  It was kind of blotchy and in a couple of places some of the stucco had kind of dissolved.  We figured out that happened where they paused while rolling it on.  They put a second coat on part of the ceiling to see if it made a difference and we agreed that it didn’t, so they focused on the walls while I thought about things.

I headed off to Home Depot that evening feeling generally discouraged by the whole experience and talked to the people in the paint department.  They figured that the stucco was absorbing the water from the latex paint and suggested using an odourless oil-based ceiling primer by Zinsser that was also a stain blocker and final coat and also recommended using a different style of roller.  I bought a can of it and a couple of rollers and tried it on a small patch of ceiling that evening.  It worked like a charm.

I bought a couple more cans of it and more rollers and the painters used it the next day.  They didn’t have any problems with the stucco dissolving or falling off and the ceiling looked much better after just one coat.

So, I’m left with having to decide what to do about a few bald patches where the stucco delaminated and fell off and where it stayed on the ceiling but is sort of smeared.  None of them are really that obvious, though I see them because I know where they are.  Part of me wants to get a stucco repair kit and try to fix it.  Another part says “screw it”, while a tiny third part says “get a scraper and remove it all”.

My guess is the second part will probably prevail.

7 Responses to “Spray-on stucco sucks”


  1. Ken says:

    I think I mentioned that to you that if you were going to paint your ceiling, don’t use latex because it’s water-based and would, as you said, dissolve or move around the stucco.

    Removing it all would be quite messy – you’d have stucco bits and what-not all over your apartment. Perhaps the patch job would be the best choice 😉

    Good luck!

  2. gordon says:

    True, you did, but I was more or less committed at that point. Applying latex to a popcorn stucco ceiling that hasn’t been sealed with something like an oil-based primer is doable as long as you have the right type of roller and don’t backtrack over what you just painted. While the rollers I originally provided were good, I found even better ones that were basically a foam cylinder with deep cuts meaning they don’t apply a lot of pressure on the stucco. Also, I assumed that the ceiling had been painted at some point by the previous owner, but that doesn’t appear to have been the case.

    In any event, the bald spots aren’t huge — only a few square inches — nor are they particularly noticeable. My guess is that they’ll remain bald patches for quite some time.

    The only time scraping them all off would have been a viable option was when the old carpet had been removed and the new carpet hadn’t yet been installed.

  3. john says:

    idiot you needed to spray paint the ceilings not rol what are your painters bone heads?

  4. gordon says:

    The problem in this situation wasn’t using a roller versus a sprayer and it wasn’t the painters. Rather, it was the fact that the ceiling had not been sealed with an oil-based primer so the stucco absorbed the water from the latex paint and lots its integrity, which you would have know had you actually read what I wrote. Had it been sealed with an oil-based primer at some point in the past, there wouldn’t have been any problem with using a roller on it.

    And calling my painters “bone heads” and me an “idiot” speaks only to your character, not mine.

  5. Donna says:

    I have a question..My ceiling has stucco done with a round brush. At one point cracks must of been fixed because i now have a line 3 inches wide and about 5 feet long, with parts falling off?? Please help..

    • gordon says:

      Hi Donna…

      You should probably try going to a place like Home Depot or Rona and talking to one of the people there. They should be able to point you towards some products that might be useful. Also, these guys were talking about repairing cracks in stucco and they may have mentioned something that would be useful in your situation.

      Good luck!

  6. Jay says:

    Start over. A repair kit isn’t full proof. And have a professional do it. Sounds like the last people you had do it were found at the Home Depot parking lot or something.



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