Ceiling glitter — where to buy it — and my very pressing questions

ceiling glitterI was up at Miller Supply Co. in Pittsfield recently, picking up a framing project, and while I was there I got to talking with Steve Miller, the owner. Miller’s has been in Pittsfield for decades. I asked him whether something in an old store display was still available (it wasn’t), and then I thought to ask: What do you have left that is really really old? One of the items he pointed me to: Vintage Ceiling Glitter — in silver and gold. He has just a half dozen or so containers left and, “When it’s gone,  it’s gone,” he said. Ceiling glitter: Yes, that was sure another “thing”. 

ceiling-glitter-2-2But I have some pressing questions:

  • Golly, how do you install it? I see from the plastic container cover that guns were used — that, I get. I can go online today and see guns for blowing ceiling glitter. But “throw by hand”? You must be kidding me. What a bloody mess? How in the world? You must not only need to wear goggles but also a zoot suit. And the stuff is expensive — wouldn’t you want to collect the excess and put it back in the gun? But then, that means your entire room would need to be 100% dust free, or else you would be also collecting dust, putting into a glitter gun and spraying it on the ceiling. Maybe there is no excess? Maybe it ALWAYS sticks, as long as the surface is tacky enough (see question below).
  • Does it go on flat ceilings? Or popcorn ceilings?
  • How do you ensure that the surface is all tacky? Do you spray paint fast with a spray gun canister thingie then quick quick quick get the glitter gun up and get the glitter on? Or, do you paint the ceiling with oil paint — which takes longer to dry and therefore is tacky longer — and then put up the glitter?
  • What happens if you screw up?

This is a very intriguing product. I would love to figure out the answers to all these questions and maybe even try it — for the record — on a ceiling.

As you can see, this ceiling glitter was made, most recently at least, by Zinsser. That’s the same company that today is famous for all kinds of wall preparation solutions. I believe they are owned by Rust-Oleum. Sure enough, when I googled a bit trying to look for ceiling glitter sold today, I only found examples from Zinsser, and all the listings that I found were sold out.

Like I said, if you are in the market, you can buy the last remaining stock from Miller Art & Frame, Pittsfield, Mass. There is not much left, though.

UPDATE: Reader Mark quickly identified another source of ceiling glitter and glitter guns available today. He wrote:

Check this out: https://www.warehousebay.com/catalog/glitter-gun-glitter/?osCsid=3e5e07bd7512ee8f7e2966e396400f17

Everything you need, both professional (pneumatic) & DIY (hand-crank) guns available, as well as glitter…

Thank you, Mark!

When were glitter ceilings introduced? 

Some readers questioned whether this effect was truly “mid-century” — but we are pretty sure we have provenance back to the mid-1950s, at least. Mark says that his true storybook ranch, built in ’56-57, had glitter on the ceilings (befitting a “Cinderella!”) and Ranger Smith says the foyer of his ’61 ranch had glitter on the ceilings, too. I would guess-timate that glitter ceilings were fairly popular throughout the 1960s and even into the Liberace 1970s, but then interest faded. Even so, they seem to have been continually available.

I NEEEEEEEEED a glitter ceiling!
ceiling glitter

The glitter chunks in my relatively-old Zinsser are pretty big – notably bigger than my crafty glitter. The label says that this ceiling glitter is all-aluminum.

I may use my two containers for artsy fartsy crafty projects. More likely, I will keep them in my my museum-of-Pittsfield-hoard. My precious……

Before they moved from North Street to their new (very googie) location on West Street, Miller’s carried a lot of wallpaper. After they moved, which is after I truly discovered them, I raided their basement for many rolls of their new old stock vintage wallpaper. I have installed several patterns in the house. I adore Miller Supply Co.

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Comments

  1. Woody says

    I wanted to chime in on the ceiling glitter… My dad built the house I grew up in (mostly with his own hands — took 3 years), and one of the final touches when the house was finished in 1976 was a popcorn ceiling with glitter in the entire house. Most of the house was silver glitter, but the bedrooms had multicolor glitter. I vaguely remember workers coming in spraying on the popcorn and glitter with huge blower hoses. I was 9 years old when we moved into the house, and we kids thought the glitter ceiling was magic! Downside: for the first few months after moving in, we’d wake up with flecks of glitter on our faces.

    We never had major problems when the ceiling got dusty near the ceiling vents or cobwebs in the corners: a quick, gentle visit with round dusting brush on the vacuum hose took care of it!

    My sister redid the living room in her late 70s home a couple of years ago, including tearing out and replacing the ceiling. Yup, she did popcorn with glitter! Her husband used a glitter gun like the one John posted about above.

    Also, Pam, big thanks for the site! I’m now living in a vintage 1964 apartment in Atlanta that still has its original knotty pine kitchen—which I pretty much hated until I found this site. Maybe you should change your tagline to “Love the HOME you’re in,” since you’ve helped me really appreciate my apartment.

    • pam kueber says

      :)

      I LOVE your story about waking up with glitter on your face! MAGICAL! I think that sounds like another UPSIDE!

      Hmmmm, yes, maybe I need to change the tagline. Nice to have ya hear commenting, Woody!

      • Dipsterdeb says

        I was converting some basement closets in my parents home to a storage room and office to be close to Dad after my Mom passed, and decided to have some fun with it.

        I had seen an application on the side of a building that had a shimmery finish. Once by chance, while I was buying paint at the local paint store the man in line in front of me was actually buying this stuff. It was like an angel delivering an answer to a search that I had just about given up on. Well turns out that the store had a small bag of old store stock and I was able to buy it. After all, it was a closet that I was going to do.

        Unfortunately, I was not able to find any application “gun”. The guy at the desk told me I could use a squeeze bottle like the cheap plastic ketchup and mustard ones that you could take on a picnic. Well, that really didn’t work. What he did tell me was that you had to apply the stuff while the paint was wet or it wouldn’t stick.

        It was a tiny space so I used a roller to apply the paint, and ended up trying to apply the clear glitter flakes by hand with a damp paper towel. And yes, it was very messy. The ceiling was not in perfect condition to begin with and I don’t recommend this method of application because it is time consuming and the result is rather inconsistent, even with a good eye and some patience.

        All in all, I don’t regret trying it, as it was in a storage closet area, not a bedroom or large space, but I would probably try to find someone who might have some experience in this area next time. Clean up was not that big a deal because the floor was painted concrete. I couldn’t imagine trying to do this over any area with carpet, that’s for sure!

  2. says

    You apply it to fresh paint on acoustic ceilings by putting in a squeeze bottle, to shoot out the glitter a little at a time, section by section. Practice, or a friend of mine that did it can give some pointers. He probably has amazing photos of his handiwork in one of the most significant MCM houses in Tucson, and would share them for your blog.

  3. Typsy Gypsy says

    Ebay has clear ceiling glitter right now BIN. I think it is under 3 dollars a tub. I sooo bought some. (:

  4. Elizabeth Walters says

    Not to be a dumb bunny, but couldn’t you just pour the glitter in your ceiling paint and call it a day? That sounds easier than using a gun, even if I am a Texan, haha!

    • pam kueber says

      ummm… i think then the glitter would just get covered in paint and lose its… glitteriness. you want the glitter to sit on top of the paint!

  5. david says

    I have glittered ceilings throughout my house. It was built in 1995, but designed to mimic my mother’s house, which was built in 1971. I didn’t use metal flake ceiling glitter.. I used smaller 1/16 inch polyester glitter, 2 parts iridescent (It was called crystal disco) and 1 part silver mixed together. the smaller glitter doesn’t turn dark when viewed at certain angles. It’s very dazzling and brilliant. Just painted the ceiling one section at a time, and threw the glitter by hand while the paint was still wet. It takes finesse and the right touch, but I did a great job, and it turned out gorgeous, and still is 20 years later.

  6. Coline says

    Just ordered ” Crystal” ceiling glitter from : warehousebay.com

    They also sell gold & silver at under $20.00 a pound.

    Now, to find a blow gun . . .

  7. Ann says

    Lowes sells “Paint Crystals” that you stir into paint before painting. The brand is Valspar. It looks much finer that the glitter shown in your post. I want to try it on a bathroom ceiling.

  8. Telynau says

    Our house was built in 1947 and refreshed in 1974, same owners. We bought from the heirs in 2013. All of the ceilings are popcorn with very fine glitter. The glitter is a combination of rainbow colours; very pretty. My little room has silver glitter and gives a magical star dust effect.

    We need to fix a lot of places in the ceilings where the old roof leaked, kids tossed toys, and general & tear. The original paint job has held up very well considering. It’s just in need of more elbow grease and TLC.

    I want to keep the popcorn/glitter throughout the house ;-). I did find the Valspar additive at Lowes. And a Valspar “pearlized” tint-able paint base. Half tempted to ask for “Haint Blue” tint what with being here in SWLA.

    p.s. This site is a treasure trove! I finished reading the article on “Pickwick” pine panelling. Yes… We have that too; to which someone painted without priming and it’s the “lovely” lavender shade. The MBR was rotted out in too many places to be salvaged. At least now we know where it can be found and the room restored.

    • pam kueber says

      Cool — and welcome! Be aware: There may be vintage nastiness in the layers of our vintage homes — such as lead and asbestos. Be sure to consult with a properly licensed professional to assess what’s in those ceilings so that you know what you are working with and can make informed decisions.

      Good luck.

      • Telynau says

        Oh so True! That’s why it’s invaluable to have an inspection done by someone who _knows_ older houses construction methods/ materials.

        Thanks for the Welcome!

  9. CAROL says

    I TOO HAVE GLITTER (SILVER) ON MY CEILING AND I GET COMPLIMENTS ON IT ALL THE TIME. I DO THINK IT WOULD COME BACK IF MORE PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT IT. I HAVE POPCORN CEILINGS AND I NEED MY CEILINGS REPAINTED AND I WANT THE GLITTER PUT BACK ON IT. I WANT TO KNOW IF THE PAINT THAT ALREADY HAS THE GLITTER IN IT WILL SHOW UP AS WELL AS PUTTING IT ON THE HARD WAY.,WITH A GUN OR BY HAND. I DON’T WANT TO BE WITHOUT MY GLITTERED CEILINGS. AT NIGHT IT LOOKS LIKE STARS WHEN LITTE LIGHTING IS ON. BEAUTIFUL.

  10. Katie says

    You can also use glitter flecks intended for counter tops called Paint Crystals (Valspar makes these) sold at Lowes and Home Depot and just mix it in to the paint of your choice. They flecks aren’t as big as the old ones, but the effect is very similar if not a bit more subdued.

  11. Annette Robidoux says

    My parents bought their home in 1958.. it was 4 years old at that time and had a glitter ceiling in the living room… so this predates the info you have in the article by a couple of years. I remember it fondly from my childhood. ( I was born in 1960) The home has been vastly remodeled from a tiny 2 bedroom to a 6 bedroom 2 1/2 bath 2 story house. The ceiling in the living room has been painted over.. but it still has the original decorative sculpting around it. (Not sure what you call that). I would love to have it re-glittered!

  12. JU-JU says

    I am about to paint my bedroom and office. Thought I’d add glitter ceilings. From all these posts, the paint crystals at Lowes sounds the easiest.

    l am glad I found your posts. It provided guidance and affirmations that my intent is not outdated.

  13. says

    I have wanted a “glitter” ceiling in my Living room in New Mexico but had a very difficult time finding anyone that knew what I was talking about until I found this site! Many thanks for all the info but will probably try the Lowes store rather than trying to find some one to blow the glitter on.
    I remember the homes in south Florida in the 1960’s & 70’s that had glitter ceilings.. I though they were magical!

  14. Donna Schaffer says

    My husband and I are remodeling a 1970’s mobile home and we are covering the ceiling with decorative panels, painted to match crown moulding (white), then glittered and spray sealed before installation.. Along with ribbon lights every other row connected to dimmers it should be amazing….

  15. Pinky says

    have the paint guys add it to your paint before putting it in the shaker machine….that is how I did it ….and just roll it on like normal….comes out fine

  16. J Veilleux says

    It was a huge surprise when walking through the house to see the glitter ceiling in the hall. The entire house we are renovating. It’s a fun part of the house :-)

  17. Darla Brown says

    In the late 80’s we had a plastering guy redo our living room ceiling and I insisted it look like a cake with the little tiny peaks. When he finished the plaster which was quite a task on stilts, he asked if I wanted any glitter. I had never heard of it but I said yes and he kept asking if I wanted more and of course I said yes. It sparkled with daylight and with lamps in the evening. The most magnificent time of the year is at Christmas with the lights and the sparkle effect. I have a huge mirror over the fireplace mantle and it also catches the sparkle. Maybe old fashioned but I love it!

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