Removing a Popcorn Ceiling

Popcorn ceiling

How to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling (Because Isn’t It About Time?)


By Audrey Ference

“How to remove a popcorn ceiling” is one of those questions you’ll ponder if, well, you find yourself afflicted with popcorn ceilings—a home decor trend which had its heyday in the 1950s and ’60s but has since fallen far out of favor. If you dream of smoothing over that unsightly, bumpy texture, you can hire a pro to remove the popcorn ceiling for an average national price of $1 to $2 a square foot. But that adds up quickly.

So, before you hire anyone, make sure your popcorn removal includes all the cleanup, because boy is it messy.

The other option is to learn how to remove a popcorn ceiling yourself. The good news is that this DIY route is not difficult in a technical way; it requires no special knowledge and only a few tools. The bad news is that it’s hard work. But isn’t it worth a day or two of backbreaking labor for gloriously smooth ceilings? Here are the tools you need and steps to take to remove a popcorn ceiling.

  1. Check for asbestos

If your popcorn was applied before 1977, there’s a chance there could be a small amount of asbestos mixed in with the chalk and wallboard compound used to create this material.

  1. Get your tools and make a plan

Here are the tools you’ll need:

  • Clothes that can be destroyed
  • A sprayer
  • A scraper
  • Drywall joint compound and putty knife
  • A sander
  • Paint and roller
  • Light and fan
  1. Clear and cover everything

If you can move out the furniture, do it. Otherwise, cover up everything in the room like it’s going to have globs of wet plaster falling onto it, because that is what is going to happen.

  1. Spray it down

Fill your garden sprayer with the hottest water you possibly can (just boiled is best), and add some fabric softener (about a quarter cup per quart of water). The fabric softener will help it adhere to the ceiling. Start by wetting down a 6-square-foot area of the ceiling.

  1. Remove the popcorn ceiling

The cathartic moment: scraping off the wet popcorn. Feels good, doesn’t it? Use your scraper to carefully remove the texture, trying to minimize gouging or damage to the ceiling beneath.

  1. Take a break

Once all the drywall on the ceiling has been removed, walk away for an hour to let the goop on the floor dry, then shake it into the trash and replace the drop cloths.

  1. Sand off imperfections

Using your sanding pole (or even just a handheld sander and ladder) carefully shave off any bumps or remaining popcorn.

  1. Repair any gouges

Skim out any imperfections or gouges you see on the ceiling with your drywall compound. You’re going for a flat, clean ceiling. Let that dry completely, inspect it, and do any sanding or touch-ups as necessary.

  1. Time to paint

Finish your ceiling off with two coats of paint, trimming around the edges with a brush and filling in with the roller. Welcome to a popcorn-free existence.

Is this a project you want to tackle?  Click on the link for complete step-by-step article and how-to video: