Q: We had a kitchen addition put on our home about 10 years ago. Decisions were made that now have us slapping our foreheads. My wife wanted a smooth ceiling with no texture whatsoever, which is easier to keep clean, so we painted it with multiple coats of semigloss white paint. When we stood back to inspect our work, we found a couple of misses. I touched them up, but now they stand out like a sore thumb. We came to the realization that a texture on the ceiling may have been a better choice. Is it too late to call a drywaller or painter to come in and apply a texture overlay? I’m not talking about the infamous popcorn stuff that everybody removes, just a simple texture that is typically used.
A: I don’t believe you and your wife made a mistake going with a smooth ceiling finish. Anything other than smooth makes cleaning a kitchen ceiling almost impossible. It doesn’t take long for the ceiling, as well as the walls, to get coated with an ultrafine aerosol of cooking grease.
There are products, however, that make cleaning ceilings much easier. I’ve had the best success using powdered, certified-organic oxygen bleach. I mix it with hot water, stir until it’s dissolved and put it in an old spray bottle. I then spray 4-by-4-foot sections of the ceiling until I’ve done the entire kitchen. Let the solution work for about a minute, then remove the softened grease using a grout sponge that’s been soaked in soapy water. The grease comes right off. Rinse it with clean water and the ceiling looks like new.
You also used the right paint on your ceiling, as semigloss is the correct choice to make cleaning easier. But as you learned, it’s very hard to touch up semigloss paint and not see where you made the repair attempts. You often have to repaint the entire ceiling, keeping a wet edge as you go. New drywall needs a coat of primer or sealer paint on it before you apply the paint.
Here’s your dilemma: You have greasy semigloss paint on your ceiling and you want to hire a pro to apply a texture. No matter what texture is applied, it’s only going to survive if the ceiling is grease-free and the semigloss paint is sanded.
Most textured coatings are meant to be applied to new drywall or a rougher surface for the best chance of bonding to the ceiling. Your semigloss paint has now become a barrier to success. There are liquid deglossers that might do the job, but check with the manufacturer for the ideal conditions for application.
It’s not simply a matter of just hiring a drywaller to install the new coating. Ultimately, it’s all about the surfaces being squeaky clean and not glossy smooth. Textures and paints are like glue: You need things to be clean in order for them to stick.
Tim Carter has worked as a home improvement professional for more than 30 years. To submit a question or to learn more, visit AsktheBuilder.com.