Trends and fads come and go. Be it fashion or home design; some trends are better off dead. One such trend, popular the country over only a few short decades ago, is the dreaded popcorn ceiling. 

For those homeowners who are plagued by this unfortunate design choice, the only thing worse than these ceilings is the thought of popcorn ceiling removal. 

If you are trying to figure out the best way to rid yourself and your home of these pesky popcorn ceilings, just follow these few simple rules. This guide will make your popcorn ceiling removal a breeze. 

For all your home improvement needs, call the friendly professionals at Select Painting. For popcorn ceiling removal or any of your other household paining needs, get your free estimate today. 

If you are a DIY-er, removing your popcorn ceilings will be a challenge, but one that is well worth undertaking. It may be a bit hazardous, but if you plan to update or sell your home, you will find it necessary. Now, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and save your ceilings.

What equipment will I need?

Like any other paint job, popcorn ceiling removal requires the proper equipment. Most DIY-ers will already have many of these items on hand. You will need:

  • Plastic sheeting
  • Rosin paper
  • Painter’s tape
  • Rags
  • Putty knife
  • Pump up sprayer
  • Liquid dishwashing soap
  • 6” or broader floor scraper
  • Mud pan
  • Sanding pad, preferably with a long handle
  • Drywall joint compound and tape
  • Protective equipment (eye gear, gloves, smock, tarps)

Once you acquire all the equipment you will need, it’s time to prepare for the job.

Preparing for the job

You need to be ready for a messy time. To save your home, furniture, and clothes from ruin, preparation tactics are a must. Save yourself the headache of unnecessary damage with a few easy steps.

  • Remove light furniture from the room
  • Any furniture you can’t move should be covered with plastic sheeting or a tarp
  • Cover any vents
  • Cover wall outlets and switches with plastic and seal with painter’s tape
  • Cover the floor and about a foot up along all walls with plastic and seal with painter’s tape
  • Use painters tape to create a barrier along the edge of the ceiling

Now comes the hard part.

Get down to business

1. Test for Asbestos

If your popcorn ceiling was installed before 1980, it might contain a hazardous material called asbestos. Asbestos has been known to cause lung cancer. Obviously, you want to stay as far away from this potential danger as possible. 

If you are concerned, all you need to do is get in touch with your local health department and ask them to test a sample for you. Hopefully, the tests will return with a negative result. If so, then you are good to go!

If not, it would be best to hire a professional. Leave the dangerous work to someone who has the experience and equipment to handle the job in a safe and timely manner. 

2. Do a scrape test first

Test the strength and durability of your popcorn ceiling. Some texture may come off almost effortlessly. Depending on the make-up and application of your popcorn ceiling, you might need a bit more prep and elbow grease.

It is good to know what you are dealing with before you begin. Some popcorn ceiling texture has been fortified with paint or other chemicals. That type of popcorn ceiling will need some extra attention. 

3. Remove ceiling fans and fixtures

It might seem like a hassle to take down your ceiling fixtures, but we recommend moving them anyway. If you leave your fan and installations in place, they will just be in your way throughout the whole process.

Plus, they will end up covered in wet popcorn material. Even worse, when you arrive at the water-spraying step, you might accidentally spray water into the electrical apparatuses. Don’t turn a minor problem into a major one. 

If you have can lights, or recessed lights, use rosin paper to protect them from water. Additionally, make sure the power is turned off to your fixtures. All it will take is a quick trip to your circuit breaker or fuse box.

4. Grab your pump sprayer and start spraying

This is going to be a messy job; there’s no getting around that. You can cut down on the mess by shelling out a few bucks on a pump sprayer.

A small amount of water will lead to easier scraping and a lot less dust. Use your sprayer to lightly mist your popcorn ceilings. Wait about fifteen minutes before you begin scraping. 

Be careful to not overspray, though. If you apply too much water, you could end up damaging your drywall or inadvertently loosen the joint tape.

As previously mentioned, some of the typical popcorn ceiling applications used paint mixed in to add strength. If your texture hasn’t softened, you might be dealing with a case of paint-laden popcorn texture. 

You might need to sand or dry-scrape the painted texture to make it easier to soak. One other option would be to cover the entire ceiling with drywall. This might be a job for a professional, though. 

5. Go piece by piece

When you are spraying, it is best to work in small sections. Spray only one small area at a time, about four feet by four feet. Any more extensive space than that and your effort will be wasted. The ceiling will dry before you can get to it. 

If you have to, you may respray an area. It will take you some time to work up a rhythm. Start smaller than you think you will need; you can always go bigger next time. 

6. Time to scrap

Before you begin scraping, use a file, sander, or grinder to round off the corners of your scrapper. You want to prevent cuts or gouges while you are removing the popcorn textures. 

Grab a mud pan and hold it under the scrapper as you are scrapping. Catch the wet popcorn as it falls to save time on clean-up. As a bonus, you can use the edge of your mud pan as a scraper cleaner when the scraper is loaded up with wet popcorn. 

7. The finishing touches

Now it’s time to finish up. Take care of any small dings or gouges. Before you paint, sand your ceiling so it will be perfectly smooth and ready for your roller or brush.

Painting your ceiling is another task you might be dreading, check out our tips here.

Last but not least, remove the plastic, return your furniture, and restore order to your house. Now that you are free of that unsightly popcorn, it’s time to kick back and relax. 

Put on a movie, pop some popcorn, this time the edible kind, and bask in your accomplishment. 

If you need help or advice, contact Select Painting. Get your free estimate today.