How do I Stipple a Ceiling?

C. Daw

When attempting to stipple a ceiling, which is a unique form of texturing, drywall mud mixed with water is used, along with the color that is desired. It involves a combination of texturing, painting, and visual uniformity all in one process. This form of texture does not require the use of a texture gun, and it is not performed in various stages. Stippling, after the preparation has been accomplished, involves two steps before letting it dry. This form of texture is more complicated to accomplish than basic texturing tasks, but it can be accomplished without any special tools or painting knowledge.

Stippling a ceiling involves a combination of texturing and painting.
Stippling a ceiling involves a combination of texturing and painting.

The first step when trying to stipple a ceiling is to prepare the area that will be worked on. This means cleaning any grease or water spots that may be present, and then coating the area with a base coat of white. The reason for this is so the textured paint will not seep into the ceiling, ruining the work that was put into making the stipple texture. This base coat has to dry, preferably overnight, before the actual stippling process can begin.

A basic paint roller and pan are essential materials when attempting to stipple a ceiling.
A basic paint roller and pan are essential materials when attempting to stipple a ceiling.

The next step to stipple a ceiling is to mix the textured paint. To do this, begin with some basic drywall mud and mix with water until a consistency similar to latex paint is achieved. It is best to use a power drill with a mixing tool attached to it so that all of the mud and water are mixed together thoroughly. Slowly add the color of paint that is desired, mixing the entire batch as it is added. Once again, make sure that the mixture is completely blended before continuing.

Painting the textured paint onto the ceiling is possible now that the mixture is ready, which is the final step when wanting to stipple a ceiling. Use a basic roller and paint pan and begin coating the ceiling. When stippling a ceiling, this process must either be done quickly, or in sections. The textured paint cannot dry all the way before the final process is completed, so if the area is small, work fast, otherwise do one smaller section at a time. Once the textured paint becomes tacky, but not dry, run the roller over the ceiling one more time. Do not add more textured paint to it; just use what is left over from the previous step. The idea of this step is to bring the texture out a little, producing the stipple effect.

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Discussion Comments


@Charred - I had to do some ceiling repair on my old stipple ceiling last year, and I was surprised how easy it was.

You can buy some inexpensive stipple repair kits from the home improvement store. It’s a can with some of the stipple mix, and a sponge. You can also use any old sponge around the house if you want, but all it takes is a dab and you’re done.

In addition to their vintage quality as you said, I happen to think that the stipple ceilings are easy to fix.


@miriam98 - Maybe I’m an anachronism, but I like the textured ceiling look. It gives a vintage quality to my ceiling, and I have other antiques and knickknacks around the house which make it feel somewhat retro.

I like it; it’s my personal style, and you should go with what works for you.


Both stippled and popcorn ceilings were very popular styles back in the 1980s, but they have fallen out of favor from what I can tell.

We have a popcorn ceiling in our house and it’s okay, but we’re not that crazy about it. I realize that most modern houses don’t have that style.

My wife was concerned about it when I moved into the current house but I told her not to worry about it. She was going to grab a knife and start scraping away, but I told her that removing a popcorn ceiling would be more hassle than it’s worth.

Besides, how often are people going to look up to notice the style of your ceiling?

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