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Cover stained areas in a popcorn ceiling with shellac

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QuestionThe popcorn ceilings in our 1978 home are showing their age. They have a few stained areas, especially in the kids' rooms. Can these stains be covered with paint?

Answer White pigment shellac covers stains and discolorations and prevents future bleed-through. After it dries, you can then paint the ceiling with your choice of color. On some ceilings the shellac may blend with the color of the ceiling so you might not have to paint the entire ceiling.

Assuming your popcorn ceiling does not contain asbestos, you can apply the shellac using a sponge siped roller, a sponge roller featuring slits cut into the sponge material. It's important to roll on the shellac as it makes a big difference over spraying.

The same holds true for applying ceiling paint. A sponge-siped roller helps to get the paint into the texturing and it helps prevent the popcorn from dropping. Some will drop, but not enough to worry about.

However, if your ceiling contains asbestos, I recommend that you spray on both shellac and paint to prevent disturbing the acoustical material and releasing asbestos fibers into the room.

If you are considering a home improvement project and asbestos is—or may be—a factor, e.g., patching or removing a popcorn ceiling, I encourage you to read all the Q&As here carefully, check out all the links to read what others have to offer, and consult your local/regional/state air quality authorities about the applicable regulations before you begin the project.

Asbestos abatement has stringent requirements. When you finish your research, you may decide to turn it over to the pros, something I heartily recommend.

I've been in the construction field for over 25 years and wish I'd known then what I know now about asbestos. I would not have tackled a lot of projects because of the asbestos content of so many building products.

If you're addressing asbestos in your home, e.g., you want to remove your popcorn ceiling, I recommend that you purchase my informative 10-page article, Asbestos In Popcorn Ceilings.Purchase this article to learn about asbestos in popcorn ceiling and how to patch them!

In addition to a thorough discussion of the potential asbestos risk presented by popcorn ceilings, the article includes information about asbestos abatement procedures as well as links to government and state agencies where you can get more information, locate state-certified professional asbestos contractors for removal, and find other documents that address removing the asbestos yourself.

As an added bonus, Patching a Popcorn Ceiling has been added to Asbestos In Popcorn Ceilings to help those who need to make repairs to their ceilings. The process is about the same whether the ceiling contains asbestos or not; however, for your own peace of mind, you still need to determine if your ceiling contains asbestos, and the article describes procedures to follow to safely take a sample for testing.

Click to Purchase Don't forget—before starting this project get your informative 10-page PDF article titled Asbestos In Popcorn Ceilings and Patching a Popcorn Ceiling. To order your downloadable .pdf printable copy, click here or click the purchase button to the left!

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Copyright © 2008 LAF/C.R.S., Inc. All rights reserved.
Question answered by Leon A. Frechette.

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