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houseright 10-05-2012 11:48 AM

How to fix ceiling crack
3 Attachment(s)
I'm a complete noob when it comes to this. We noticed this portion of the ceiling in one of our bedrooms got puffy and had a crack, so we went up and tore it down. No water damage. We got the pieces checked for asbestos and it was clean. My questions are:
1: Why would it crack? if no water damage?
2: Should I tear it down as much as I can (see the pocket in the picture...more can be taken down.
3: How do I fix it? If this can be done relatively easily, I would like to not have to hire somebody.

Appreciate all your help!

chrisn 10-05-2012 04:06 PM

What is the ceiling? Looks like concrete:huh:

houseright 10-05-2012 05:09 PM

Hi, thanks for responding. It looks and feels like some kind of hard plaster.

chrisn 10-06-2012 04:56 AM

Well, it still looks like it is all going to come down.:eek:
You need to remove anything that is loose.
Apply a quality bonding primer or maybe Gardz.
Skim coat the edges, let it dry, sand, clean,repeat, then paint
The texture,I cannot help with

ToolSeeker 10-06-2012 09:02 AM

You don't say where you are but here in fla where i am they do this a lot. The ceiling may be a stucco mix. The reason I think it came loose was no primer, during the big building boom down here 1 of the shortcuts they used was to not prime drywall just come in and texture over it. on ceilings they would spray popcorn to hide everything then be gone. By the time problems started showing up they are long gone. In my part of the country a lot my work is removing popcorn ceilings. If you don't want to remove it all, you must remove what is loose (whice once you start turns out to be a lot), prime . then get a hopper , an air compressor, and try to match what's up there. Removing it is pretty simple if that's what you want to do. Get a garden pump up sprayer fill it with water a little fabric softener and spray the ceiling, let it sit 10 or 15 minutes then spray again and start scraping. Comes off pretty easy only thing is COVER everything (including walls and floor) because between spraying and scraping it is a mess. Hope this helps.

houseright 10-06-2012 10:20 AM

Thanks for your comments. The ceiling is not popcorn, but you're right, it does look like stucco. Ideally, I want to take down what I can by hand without taking down the whole ceiling, and patch it (not paint it because it will not match the rest of ceiling). But from what I'm hearing, matching doesn't seem possible, especially when I don't know what is the mix to create the texture. So chrisn, you may be right, it all may need to come down...and paint it completely.

I live in Massachusetts.

ToolSeeker 10-06-2012 10:35 AM

Just a thought, if you try taking it down, try it dry before wetting it. If it comes easy it will be a lot less messy and easier to clean up. Sorry should have said this earlier. And I would try scrapping with like a 6" drywall knife if you have one.

houseright 10-06-2012 10:55 AM


Originally Posted by ToolSeeker (Post 1025022)
Just a thought, if you try taking it down, try it dry before wetting it. If it comes easy it will be a lot less messy and easier to clean up. Sorry should have said this earlier. And I would try scrapping with like a 6" drywall knife if you have one.

Just tried it...the parts that had a pocket (detached from the ceiling) was easy to remove with a scraper...but when I hit the parts that was still tightly on, it became too difficult to scrape, and I don't want to damage the ceiling above. So you said to use fabric softener and water? You sure it would work? Stuff is about quarter inch thick. Also, how much softener should I mix with water?

ToolSeeker 10-06-2012 01:30 PM

Not very much it just helps it to soak in a little better and keep from drying out as fast. But wait before you do anything, if the spot is not much bigger than it was in the pic, before we get carried away let's try something simple first. Prime the spot then go to big box or hardware store and get a can of repair for a popcorn ceiling I know you said it's not popcorn but it looks close enough that it may work. Test it on something first to see if you can get it to match or come close. If it doesn't work all you are out is couple bucks for the texture but if it works you saved your self a lot of work.Also take that large piece of texture with you, maybe they can match it better than I am from the pic. You may want to hold up a little bit someone on here might have a better or simpler solution.

Gary in WA 10-06-2012 10:47 PM

Appears to me someone used drying-type mud with a sand finish (mixed with paint) using a roller on top, didn't clean (with TSP)/sand the original plaster finish first and lost the bond there. Abrade the old surface before any patch 2 cents. I'd try mud to fill the patch, tapering the edges smooth (let dry), then thin some paint mixed with some sand, apply with a brush; If that didn't match, use the store spray texture set on finest one, from 18" away, as said.


notmrjohn 10-07-2012 12:02 PM

" mud with a sand finish (mixed with paint)" Used a lot here, with proper prep. hard to patch and match a small area and not have it show. Like small scratch on car, whole fender painted, fender doesn't match, whole car painted.

Haven't used fabric softener, have used few spurts of liquid dish soap, helps water penetrate, stay wet. It is messy, cover every thing you can't take out of room. Cover floor. Remove shoes before leaving room. Near walls use less water more scraping to try to keep walls clean. Need aspirin for crick in neck, aching arms, just from working over head.

Large areas may fall from own weight. Right onto face.
(Long extension on sprayer, long handles on scrapers, do entire job from outside thru window.:wink:)

Cheap plastic dry wall knives do less damage to ceiling. 12' wide a couple of bucks. A few smaller ones. Metal or even paint scraper for tough spots.

Why is it that when there is a loose anything, texture, paint, a bolt, that is just falling off; the parts that aren't loose are harder to remove than if entire job had been done properly?

stoner529 10-10-2012 09:38 AM

It does look kind of like a fine grade popcorn but that can be confusing when it is orangepeeled over. that also looks the case. Is the piece you are holding in your hand very brittle or does it stay in one piece fairly well. Popcorn usually will crumble fairly easily. another comment stated it looks like a thick mud type of texture.. The edges of the portion that is still up looks fairly thick. What happened when you wet it down? the spot you could have could have been from dust on that part of the ceiling and over time, the texture no longer adhered to the ceiling due to dust. If you aren't to concerned with how it looks when it is finished, you can try to do it yourself with some fine grade popcorn if you can find any. or sand stucco and then a medium orange peel over that. It might do the trick. cans dont work. I suggest with the money you will invest in a hopper, and materials, not to mention renting a compressor, it might be easier to just hire a professional for $150 to do it...

notmrjohn 10-10-2012 11:21 AM

" renting a compressor," " hire a pro..." Either way you pass up perfect excu... opportun... need to buy new, larger compressor. Where are your priorities, stoner?
Rent hopper, most folks get little use of it, but will need many air tools to take full advantage of new compressor. Paint sprayer, since that patch will never match without repainting ceiling. 'cause, house, even if patch is perfect and no one else notices, your eye will be constantly drawn to it.

If you stripped whole ceiling, or just emptied room, and drop cloths everywhere, don't have to do that for spray painting. That's most tedious part of spraying.
I forgot to mention masking walls if stripping ceiling. A row of pre-taped masking paper at ceiling level, lapped over cheap plastic tapped to walls and it lapped over floor drop cloth is easiest.

Now I am off to see stoner's link. Which pro'lly tells how to do all that i just said, and more, only easier to understand and do, and do it better.

houseright 10-10-2012 09:19 PM

1 Attachment(s)
First off, thank you all for your help. I'm learning a great deal as I'm dealing with this. So here's where I'm at:

What I have tried:
1: Homex Popcorn Ceiling Spray
Big f***ing mess! Part of it is my fault...I should've read up on it more beforehand and watched the youtube video, but it lasts like all of 30 seconds. After a few "test tries" to make sure I was at the right distance, it was literally empty! It dropped everywhere, making a mess of everything...not even worth taking any pictures. Bad product in my opinion...$14 learning lesson.
2: Litex Interior Popcorn Patch
Got great reviews as seen in the link...reading it makes me think it is "too" good to be true. And I had that mentality going in. It was a little wet, but definitely 100% easier to put on than the spray. Results are below. Clearly not ideal, and does not match.

I think a lot of you are right, I don't think it is straight up popcorn, hence why maybe these two products aren't working correctly. Googling "stucco ceiling" (without popcorn) led me to these
images, which actually look at lot like what my ceiling is made of. Hence, I'm ready to try Stucco Patch. To be honest, I'm not sure if this will work any better or worse. What do you all think?

If the above does not work, what I unfortunately cannot do is to invest in a hopper, compressor...etc. It's less about the money, but I'm just not really that handy, nor do I really have the time to do it myself. I'd invest if I am confident that I can do it myself, but what will be the worst is if I invest and it turns out crappy. If I can't patch this sufficiently and tearing down the whole ceiling is necessary, I will unfortunately have to hire somebody to do so. Several questions:
1: How much do you think it will cost to hire a pro to come patch this correctly?
2: If patching so it matches is not possible, how much do you think it will cost to tear down this room and redo the ceiling? Couple thousand?
3: The rest of the house is of this material. If I hire somebody to tear down this room, do you think it is even possible to make this room match the rest of the house (same texture) or will it look different?

Stoner, your observations are pretty accurate. The pieces are brittle and break easily. When I wet a portion of it, it does get softer, but still a pain to scrap off (I tried scraping off more to see if I can easily remove the whole ceiling myself). And your dust theory is plausible considering no water damage. I actually did see the video in your link when I was researching...but because of the thickness, it doesn't look like I can just scrap it off so easily. It is about 1/5 of an inch thick. You mentioned $ it really that "cheap"? If so...probably should've spent that already.

This has been a headache...again, thanks for all your help!

drywallfinisher 10-10-2012 09:33 PM

you have a calcite based plaster mortar mix ceiling popular in the 60's. The texture is basically a polystyrene aggregate based in a very heavy latex paint.
The reason it's falling is that plaster/mortar is effected by its environment. It absorbs moisture or release moisture(breaths) depending conditions of the building. If this "just" happened , chances are it will keep happening elsewhere.
The fix is in removing that ugly texture and upgrading to a different media that is tougher than what was available in the 60's.
How to:
1)remove everything from the room
2) dont use tarps or drop clothes, you will make a big mess. Use the brown/red rosin paper from HD or Lowes , roll it out, and tape the joints together with blue 1.5" painters tape. Drape the walls with painters poly, When you are finished scraping you drop the poly to the floor, roll up the mess into one ball and into a trash bag/can.<p>

3) use a simple 1 gallon garden sprayer, DO NOT USE FABRIC SOFTENER OR SOAP, just WATER. not only is it a waste of time but it will contaminate your environment, your eyes will hate you.
4) set the stream on the garden sprayer to a mist and wet the ceiling until the water wants to drip. Make sure you cover all the surface right up to the wall angle.
5)let sit 15 minutes.
6)take a 10" METAL drywall knife(shorter the handle the better) and drywall mud pan .....this is a two hand procedure. scrape the ceiling into the pan.
Place a trash can in the center of the room for convenience.

after you have it all off, what are you wanting the ceiling to be. Chances are the rest of the house is this same nasty popcorn crap....if that's the case I always suggest removing the rest of the house or spraying a similar popcorn back on the one room.

assuming you go back with the same texture
1) buy 2 cans of ALL PurposE(AP) joint compound, preferably a name brand green lid USG ot Gold Bond black lid, do not use a light weight mid weight muds. Remove 1/3 of the contents of each can and set aside. mix the 2/3rds with water until the cans are filled back up.
2) paint the ceiling with the thinned down joint compound. Dont over do it. The glue in the AP joint compound acts as a bonding agent but is also NOT a sealer. You do not want to seal needs to breath, hence the joint compound.
3) this where you hire a professional to come in and spray the popcorn. Only someone who has been spraying ceilings for 10 years can guarantee that what is being mixed will look like what the rest of the house looks likes....thickness in the mix and air pressure are what determines this....if you decide to try it yourself, remember you need a compressor that pushes at least 40lbs constant.

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