Stippled ceilings in Bathroom and Kitchen


I’m in Ottawa, Ontario and am living an apartment that has stippled ceilings in the bathroom and kitchen. Obviously not very easy to clean! To top it all off I think I have mold problems because my eyes and sinus have been bothering me ever since I moved in.

I’ve read up on the Ontario Building Code, but it simply references a CSA standard when it comes to gypsum ceiling finishes. Can anyone confirm for me whether or not stippled ceilings are allowed, by code, on bathroom and kitchen ceilings?



The surface finish is not a code item. The material is the ceiling is made of is the code concern. That would be like saying you must paint the drywall, not put up wallpaper.

I agree with David - it is not a code related issue.

However, some stippled and drywall finishes were “targeted” for having “asbestos” suspect characteristics in part of the finishing material. This is not suggest that it may be the case without actual “further testing and evaluation”.

I always - from a personal POV - felt that stipple finish was created to help hide gypsum board application defects. That may be true in some cases - but certainly just my opinion.

Cheers, Claude

In answer to your question:

I agree with the above posts, it is not a code issue, (at least not in the US)

As a former drywaller, I would always prefer to leave the ceilings in bathrooms, kitchens and sometimes laundry flat to prevent what you are going through now. It would help if the surface was primed and painted with a quality paint. Your landlord probably wont mind if you ask. You would also find that the long “stalactites” would break off in the paint, making a less bumpy and slightly smoother finish. (and easier to clean)

Unless you are seeing serious mold growth on the ceiling, chances are that*** if*** there is mold, that is is not from a lack of cleaning the ceiling. (unique conditions are exempt)

Hope this helps:)

Thanks for the responses guys. I guess the section of the code I was reading was with respect to the drywall itself (or perhaps just stucco, which I think often gets confused with stippled ceilings. That’s been my experience talking with friends and family at least, stucco and stipple seem interchangeable to the average person!)

There are the beginnings of mold growth on the bathroom stippled ceiling, which is where my current cleaning concerns come in. My girlfriends place also has stippled ceilings in the bathroom and we spray the mold, but give it a month or two and it’s back. I’ve read that once the mold is there, spraying it isn’t enough since the spores still survive and cause allergies.

I have to admit I was a bit surprised to hear that the code wouldn’t cover this sort of thing, although the devil’s advocate in me can easily see the argument either way. I can certainly understand why it might be considered a non-code related ceiling finish to a code-related ceiling material (the drywall) as dcook1 replied, but I would have thought that a “waterproof” finish of a shower area should include the ceiling as well.

Thanks again guys, sorry for the rant :slight_smile:

Josh - spray the ‘mould’ area with a product like ‘STOPZ’ or ‘KILLZ’ ( available at any of the big boxes, Canadian Tire, Home Hardware etc). These priming paints are designed to seal in stains and prevent bleed through of the old stain through the new paint. I would then paint the entire ceiling with an oil base paint to water proof the stipple. I caution against using a latex paint as the water in the paint may liberate the stipple finish and peal it off the ceiling. ( I speak from experience !!)

What kind of ventilation do you have in the bathroom? Some apartments rely on the exhaust system built into the building while others have a dedicated exhaust fan in the bathroom operated from a switch or coming on when the light is turned on. It sounds like you have a moisture problem due to the lack of sufficient air exchange.

I wouldn’t paint a stipled ceiling.

This is from previous advice I received. If you paint, it is difficult to clean.

I had mine spray cleaned with an environmentally friendly cleaning service. Did a great job…sorry…can’t remember the name of the product…as this was several years back.

IF YOU THINK THERE IS MOLD PRESENT,why not have an air testing done,then you will know for sure


I think you meant to say surface sampling.

Thanks Mario,you are correct

If this stippled ceiling is latex based,eg has not been painted with an oil based paint,the stipples can be removed simply by spraying the ceiling with warm water,than scrape of the stipple,if done carefully there should be very little damage to the dry wall,if if there is ,patch it and paint with a good quality paint.Bath room and kitchen ceilings should never be stippled
Of course ventilation is very important in a bath room,most people do not leave the fan on long enough to get rid of moisture
My suggestion,is to install a timer on the fan,this way,you can set it to ensure moisture has been removed
Hope this helps