Drywall ceiling repair can involve an assortment of textures (or non-textures) for you to deal with. Repairs can also entail working with cracks, stains, the peeling of a popcorn texture or lifting of paint and drywall tape from the surface.

Some techniques do not work and there are products on the market that are absolutely useless when doing a ceiling repair. Below you will find step by step instructions for the process of repairing most ceiling problems along with advice regarding the best products and tools to use in regards to the job at hand.


Doing ceiling repairs requires the selection of tools and materials in relationship to the work being done. You will need to choose the items needed for your specific type of job from the list that follows below.

  • Painters plastic
  • Masking tape
  • Drop cloths
  • Paint-able caulking and gun
  • Compressor & hopper gun
  • Sanding sponges
  • Very clean (or new) 5 gallon buckets or pails
  • Heavy duty electric drill with mud mixer (paddle)
  • Old close (or coveralls), hat, gloves, & goggles
  • Ladders, platforms and sawhorses (as needed)
  • Paint trays, rollers/covers, roller extension poles, paint brushes
  • All purpose drywall mud (mud pan & knifes)
  • Your preferred texturing compound (if needed)
  • Drywall primer/sealer (use a stain blocker if needed)
  • Appropriate type of ceiling paint

For those who are interested Amazon.com is an excellent source for finding high quality, well priced, ceiling repair products, tools and materials.


Ceiling repair can be a messy project to take on so be sure to wear the proper clothing along with removing as much furniture from the room as possible. Non-removable items should be coved with plastic or drop cloths.

Remove, cover, tape or paper off electrical plates, light fixtures, baseboards, doors, windows, flooring and walls etc. (as needed).

If your doing a smaller repair you can protect the floors then spray (paint or texture) into a large cardboard box with the bottom cut out (guarding areas from over-spray or splatter). Attaching painters plastic around the repair like a shower curtain (with thumb tacks, then filling the tack holes using paintable caulking) will also work if one is doing a smaller sized repair job.


Any repairs that you do have may entail removing texture from the ceiling this texture removal page should help get the texture removal process completed.

For those not scraping away large areas of texture you will need to at least scrape around the repair being done. Removing a good 6" to 12" swath of texture from around a repair will help you easily re-apply drywall tape, mud compound or new ceiling texture.

Spots of old loose textures should also be eliminated and re-textured (as needed) along with any leftover dust or other debris removed.


If you have a textured ceiling and the paint or texture is lifting away from the surface then check out the ceiling texture removal page above.

An untextured ceiling on the other hand that has peeling paint or puckering drywall tape requires the process that follows.

  1. Cut away un-stuck, bubbled paint (or drywall tape)
  2. Scrape away all unattached paint etc. (wide drywall knife)
  3. Sand and feather lifted paint edges etc. (electric palm sander)
  4. Remove dust and debris from sanding etc.
  5. Fill all areas of removed paint with drywall mud (let dry)
  6. Re-fill as need, let dry again, sand the repair flush to the surface
  7. Dust, prime/seal (stain blocker if needed), paint (or texture)

When removing the old peeling paint (or drywall tape) try and cut with a very sharp utility knife then scrap away everything that's not sticking to the surface. With that said, remember to apply new drywall tape if required. Also, while sanding the paints edges, be sure that they are nicely feathered and flat. Otherwise old paint (or drywall tape) will be sticking above your mudding job.

When applying the drywall compound a number of coats may be needed for the best results.

If you have a large amount of repairs to do first cut and scraped away any non-adhering paint (or drywall tape) then check out the skim coating page for the mudding process.


Some ceilings, over time, will acquire cracks in them and should be repaired. Water leaks can also be an issue that you may need dealing with.

In the case of cracks if they are on the skinny side (1/16" wide or less) you can apply a very thin layer of paintable caulking over them. Let the caulk dry than lay on a coat or two of drywall mud as needed. Thicker cracks (3/16" or less wide) can also be caulked (and mudded as needed) if they are in a corner or where the ceiling meets the wall. Reoccurring cracks may require deepening (with a sharp) utility knife then primed, caulked and mudded.

Wider cracks (1\\4" or more) on the other hand, or very persistent cracks should receive drywall tape and three or more coats of compound (drywall mud) for the best results.

When it comes to stains from water damage a coating of stain killer before re-texturing or painting is required.

If the drywall itself is damaged or un-repairable remove the damaged areas then replace them along with re-taping and re-mudding.

Once your repairs are done fill all other holes, divots or surface imperfections that you may see.


There are a number of styles for textured ceilings. Popcorn was very popular in the past along with different types of splatter and knockdown. Other techniques have also been used such as stamping, tooling or combing (swirls, peeks and clumps of mud designs) etc.

Whatever type of texture you have, keep in mind that unless you are very lucky your repair in most cases will be visible. How well a project looks depends entirely on materials used, texturing style, skill level, and tools used.

If your looking for a seamless repair it's best to start with a smooth un-textured surface (removing the old texture if needed) then applying (or re-applying) your preferred type of texturing style or technique.

For those needing to re-texture an entire ceiling (or wall surface) the texture removal page and this surface texturing page should help you get the jobs done.


For repairs larger than two square feet or more a hopper gun is in my opinion the only way to go. Smaller jobs of course are best fixed with aerosols or dabbed on compounds but using a hopper gun setup will usually get closest to the style of texture that was originally sprayed onto your ceiling.


Some pre-mixed texture repairs come in a roll on texture paint, along with a thicker brushing or (tubed) dabbing compound.

Roll on products work much better than the brushed (or dabbed) on mixtures but it can be difficult to match the roll on with the original texture some times.

For best results scrape away old texture from around your repair (6" to 12"), use drywall tape, caulk or mud as needed then roll or brush your product on.

Apply more coats if required after the first coat dries.

When brushing or dabbing be sure the surface being repaired is quite small and very clean. Dust and debris must be removed, stains blocked or the drywall primed otherwise your compound will not stick to the surface.

After a repair is done re-prime, paint or re-texture as needed.


Aerosol textures work best for very small repairs. With that said, in almost all cases (contrary to what the manufacturer says) you will definitely see where a repair has been completed. Another thing to consider when it comes to aerosols is its high pressure resulting in the product coming out of the can at an extremely high rate of speed.

Aerosols textures are also unbelievably messy and in most cases require a diffuser to be attached to the cans nozzle. Be sure that the diffuser (or plastic spray attachment) is on the can or in the lid prior to leaving the store.

When texture spraying, work in a number of thin layers letting the product dry between coats. Use short quick strokes and feather the aerosol texture in with the surrounding old texture. Easier said than done of course.

I do find that this this tool is better for very small repairs more so than the aerosol. Even so, aerosol textures will work fine and are readily available just as long as you lower your expectations for your finished ceiling repair. Also, along with lowering expectations you'll want to keep your aerosol texturing project confined to as minimal of an area as possible.


Prior to starting your ceiling repair follow all instructions for the tools being used and products applied. Furthermore always test your product, tools, materials and technique (start to finish) prior to using them on your main project.

Other things to consider would be to remove damaged drywall, dust, debris, loose lifting paint or drywall tape and textures along with blocking stains and priming or painting as needed.

When applying paint to a ceiling flat finishes or sheens are always recommended (unless the ceiling is in a commercial environment).

Last but not least, acquiring professional assistance is always the best bet if you feel the work is above your skill level.

From ceiling repair to the drywall texturing page

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