I recently found a painter and got my popcorn ceiling removed. That ceiling is 70s concrete, so painter has to fill it with plaster instead of scraping popcorn texture off. After the job done, he skim coated it a few times to make it flat. However the plaster patch shrink afterwards and giving the ceiling a strange wrinkle texture. He came back to patch the ceiling a few times but the result is still not good. The method he used is just eyeballing the defect, applying some mud, and smoothing it with knife. That method is slow and leaving some light round spots on the ceiling. And frankly it didn't improve much...

He claim that plaster ceiling isn't going to be as flat as the ones backed with drywall. And he refused to skim coat anymore, saying it got three times already, and it is too much. I have a few photo, showing his patch jobs below.

May I know if this is what I got for plaster patched ceiling, or is it bad workmanship?

Also, if there is anything can we do to smooth it?

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    This is all very easily fixable by using some joint compound and repainting
    – amphibient
    Commented Sep 22, 2021 at 19:58
  • (Assuming you're in North America...) When engaging with a drywall contractor, familiarize yourself with the terms "level 4" and "level 5". That describes the flatness of the finish. Super-flat and nearly perfect costs money. Commented Sep 23, 2021 at 14:13
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    @AloysiusDefenestrate Yes, located in California. I realized that a "perfect" ceiling work is impossible. What I am really trying to ask, is if this piece of work is considered bad workmanship. If so, I will hire a plasterer to touch up it as JACK mentioned, and complain on contractors state license board. But if not, I guess I will just let it go... Commented Sep 23, 2021 at 17:22
  • I can assure you that if any of my subs did that and called it done, they'd never get work from us again. So yes, that is bad workmanship. (And it's incorrect to assert that plaster could never be flat. It requires more skill, but that's different.) To be frank, I don't think the CSLB cares about poor quality -- my sense is that they care more about licenses/bonds/safety, but they might wander off into breach of contract, if that applies. Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 0:06

2 Answers 2


I'm not an expert on this but that ceiling looks pretty bad. Your big mistake was getting a painter to repair the ceiling and not a plasterer. Painters can patch but doing an entire ceiling takes a special skill set. You can try sanding the living hell out of it to smooth it out or get someone who specialized in plastering.

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    Just think how the paint job would look if you expected the plasterer to extend beyond his skills and do the painting, too!
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 23, 2021 at 13:21
  • @FreeMan Really hard to find a good "Jack of all trades"... but I'd be more comfortable having a plasterer doing painting than a painter doing plastering... :-)
    – JACK
    Commented Sep 23, 2021 at 13:26
  • True, but a JACK of all trades is easier to come by! ;)
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 23, 2021 at 13:36

This does look bad.

One option would be to hire a drywall contractor, and have them put 1/2 inch drywall over the entire ceiling, tape and skim coat it. If the connection with the walls is difficult (and it probably will be), leave a 1-2 inch reveal around the edge, and cap the corner with a plastic edge bead.

Then paint.

  • 1
    It’s a concrete ceiling.
    – Kris
    Commented Sep 22, 2021 at 22:13
  • Well, wish I could do that. It is not only concrete, but also a layer of heating wire, which makes this impossible. Commented Sep 23, 2021 at 0:45

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