I'm not sure if you are referring to the older, stiple style or the more recent, decorate version with a brush used to add patterns to the veiling. Either way, textured ceilings can be a pain. The tendancy is to use a thick knapped roller and to push to get the paint in between all of the texture. This sometimes breaks the texture coat away from the ceiling. Old ceilings which were once painted, then textured at a later time are especially prone to this. The second issue is the pressure of the roller on the texure. I've seen older style stiple ceilings ruined by the use of a roller.
The best way to paint these ceiling is with a spray gun & compressor. Most rental stores have these available at a reasonable, daily rate. An airless sprayer will do in a pinch but the spray pattern is typically not as good. There is a definate art to using a spray gun. Practice first or at least be prepared to add a second top coat to catch any areas which didn't cover well during the first pass. Undercoat with a good quality, fast drying sealer / primer first. This will seal any stain and prevent the top coat from soaking into the texture material. You can add the top coat when that sealer dries. Good luck.
If it's the spray that was common in the 70's, yeah...you can paint over it. However, it isn't that hard to remove it and get rid of the nasty, dirt and cob web catching mess. You just mist it with water, let sit a few minutes, and it will scrap off the ceiling like butter if you use a trowel. Sure, it's messy, but it's not hard to do. We had our bedroom ceiling cleaned off and primed in one day.
Are you talking about popcorn? GADS, I hate this stuff! Yeah, you can paint it. Add water to your color then roll it on it with a good napped roller. Wear eye protection. I agree with taking it off...only have my kitchen left to do in this house. It just makes every room look so much better, cleaner..higher even!
Have fun! heee!
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