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What Causes You’re Popcorn Ceiling to Fall Off?

popcorn ceiling falling off
Is your Popcorn Ceiling Falling Off?

Popcorn ceilings became wildly popular starting in the 1960s and going all the way through until the 1980s. If you purchase a home that was built during these decades, chances are you have a popcorn ceiling in at least one or two rooms in your house. And chances are, you may have caught your popcorn ceiling falling off.

So, what causes popcorn ceiling to fall off? Today we’re going to look at all the reasons why popcorn ceiling falls off and what you can do to fix it. There are three main reasons why your popcorn ceiling will flake, peel, and ultimately fall off, and there are a few easy ways that you can fix it yourself and prevent it from happening in the first place.

Humidity

Humidity is almost always the culprit for popcorn ceiling falling off. This is actually the reason you never see popcorn ceiling inside of bathrooms or in kitchens. The moisture from your hot shower can cause popcorn ceiling to peel and crumble much faster than it would otherwise.

The same can be said for your cooking. If you’re boiling water on the stove or operating a dishwasher, all that steam can work to peel off your popcorn ceiling. This is why you never see a popcorn ceiling in a kitchen!

Unfortunately, moisture travels. Even the popcorn ceiling in your bedroom can end up being damaged by moisture. This is especially true if you live in a place with high humidity. Moisture can build up in your home either from something you’re doing or simply from too much humid air being inside your house.

When your popcorn ceiling gets damp, it will not adhere to the drywall that it was originally plastered too. Peeling will almost always begin in the corners. The first sign will be stains. You’ll notice ugly stains forming in the corners, and soon after your ceiling will begin to peel.  

Water Leaks

One of the more serious reasons why your popcorn ceiling might fall off is a water leak. This is especially true if you live in a two-story home and have popcorn ceiling installed in your basement. A water leak from upstairs can run directly onto the ceiling below it, and this will severely damage your popcorn ceiling.

The big difference between a water leak and the accumulation of moisture is that a water leak won’t have any warning signs. Once the water leaks and begin spreading across your popcorn ceiling, the texture is going to get loose and start falling off. But if this is the case, you have a much larger problem than just a bit of ruined stucco, as you will probably need to replace the drywall and repair the leak itself.

Drywall Dust

Sometimes, the popcorn ceiling mixture that’s applied to the drywall on your ceiling won’t adhere the way it’s supposed to. This is almost always the case if your popcorn ceiling was applied without proper cleaning.

When you install popcorn ceiling, you need to have the drywall completely smooth. The drywall should be sanded and there should be absolutely no dust. If the drywall wasn’t cleaned properly, the popcorn ceiling mixture may have only adhered to a thin layer of dust. This means that over time, the popcorn ceiling will peel and fall off much faster than normal.

If this is the case, it means you probably need to replace all of your popcorn ceiling. If a large patch has already started to fall off, it’s only a matter of time before the entire ceiling does as well. This is by far one of the worst and most expensive reasons for popcorn ceiling falling off.

Repair

The good news is that popcorn ceiling is easy to fix. If you have a damaged piece of ceiling, here’s what you do.

If moisture has become a constant issue, you need to get rid of the popcorn ceiling permanently. Paint the ceiling and the walls that have been damaged by the moisture instead of adding more popcorn ceiling mixture. If the humidity is persistent, the issue will simply happen over and over again. You could also get mildew, and nobody wants that.

If your popcorn ceiling has been damaged because of a freak accident. Let’s say a piece fell off in the middle of your living room, somebody was moving a chair and chipped a piece off, or something similar, all you need is to patch the area that has been damaged.

How to Repair Popcorn Ceiling

The first step to repairing your popcorn ceiling is to scrub the damaged area with something like a bristle brush. You want to get rid of all the loose pieces, all the soggy texture, and all the dust. It’s best if you can create a bare patch in the shape of a square.

Step 2 is to pick up a can of textured spray ceiling patch and cover the bald spot on your ceiling. You want to spray the bald patch as well as the surrounding popcorn texture. You can pick up this type of spray at just about any hardware store or paint store. Be sure to pick up a spray that matches the color of the rest of your ceiling.

As a side note, it’s important to know that you probably won’t have a lot of time with your spray can. These types of cans often spit out all the textured patch goo in just a few seconds. Be sure that you’re prepared before you start spraying.

The next step is to let the textured spray dry. The textured spray ceiling patch is designed to match the white ceiling texture of an ordinary popcorn ceiling. So, you don’t need to do anything extra. However, if you are so inclined, you may want to repaint the entire ceiling to make sure the patch is hidden.

Final Thoughts

Popcorn ceiling is a great way to keep your house insulated, it looks awesome, and it’s affordable. Unfortunately, having a popcorn ceiling is like having a gremlin. You absolutely cannot get it wet! But like we’ve learned, even if your popcorn ceiling falls off because of moisture, it can be as simple as spraying some ceiling patch from a can!

Resources:

What Is Peeling in Popcorn Ceilings Caused By? | eHow

Patch A Water-Stained Ceiling Or Textured Ceiling (DIY) | Family Handyman

  • Gregory A Seely
  • Gregory A Seely

    Greg is a self taught home renovator and writer for RenoViso. His shares his experiences with Southern Living, Traditional Home and other publications.

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