home repair

Plaster Patching

How to patch a swirled ceiling // Year of Serendipity I'm sure we've all seen it: a badly patched textured ceiling.  Joe Homeowner has a damaged textured ceiling and attempted to patch it himself.  He grabbed whatever patching compound he had and spread it over the damage in hopes no one would notice.  The resulting gloppy patch sticks out from the rest of the ceiling like a sore thumb.

For a hot second with this lastest flip, I thought I was free and clear with the textured ceilings- a few of the flat ceilings had issues, but the textured ones looked in good condition.... until I scraped the wallpaper in the hallway and discovered this gem.  The plaster layer of the ceiling was loose and started to crumble and fall the moment I touched it.

damaged plaster ceiling

No Joe Homeowner gloppy fix here!  Unless you're really looking for it, you'd never realize there was a patch! (cue sigh of relief here)

repaired plaster swirl ceiling

As it turns out, a large part of getting the patch to match (giggle) is in the magic coverup mixture:

plaster patch mix

Mix ceiling paint with joint compound until you have a mixture only slightly thinner than peanut butter.

ceiling patch mix

Once I had the mixture set, I went straight for the ceiling and got it perfect on the first try.  KIDDING!  I took a scrap of drywall and started testing out how to get the desired texture.  I tested out 3 different brushes that I had at the house.

texture testing

My verdict was to use the regular paint brush for application, then the large paint brush to texturize.  Now comes the ceiling... but not quite with the texture just yet.

I started with my ceiling by using regular (non-mixed with ceiling paint) joint compound to fill in where the plaster was missing.

ceiling patch

Once that dried, I sanded it and had a great base to texturize from.

sanded ceiling patch

Now comes the fun/difficult part.  As I mentioned above, I used a regular brush to spread the texturizing mixture, then used a large brush to add the correct scale to match the rest.  I paid careful attention to the directionality and pattern of the existing swirls, and tried my best to layer them and match them appropriately.

plaster swirl patch

This wasn't a first try result- I stepped back a few times and re-swirled, stepped back again..... etc... until it started looking like it should.

Not perfect, but definitely a good start.  The biggest difference between the new swirls and the old was the definition.  The new swirls were nice and sharp, the old had been painted over for 50 years.  To make the new swirls blend more, I took sandpaper to it once the patch was dry.  I feathered the edges out and dulled out some of the sharp texturing.

plaster swirl patch sanded

The last step was just to paint the entire hallway ceiling a crisp coat of white.  That was the true test: once everything was the same color, would the patch be noticeable?

plaster swirl ceiling

I'd call it a success!  Would I recommend this for a large blemish in the middle of your living room as a permanent fix?  Probably not.  In that case, skim-coating the entire ceiling would yield the best result... but as a quick temporary fix or a smaller patch in a less visible area (like mine), go for it!!

repaired plaster swirl ceiling

I'm rather proud of the finished result and how well it blends in with the old ceiling.  It's pretty near impossible to get the patch to match 100%, but I dare you to notice it when you're in the space.

Have you had any experiences (good or bad) in attempting to patch a textured ceiling?  I'd love to hear about it!