5 Steps to Remove Popcorn Ceilings

If your house is over 15 years old, it’s pretty likely that you have popcorn ceilings in almost, if not all, of the rooms. When it’s time to update your house, you’ll probably want to remove those ceilings; it’s a lot of work but if you would rather save some money and do it yourself before calling in a professional interior painter, it is possible. If your popcorn ceiling isn’t painted, you should be able to remove it yourself.

1. What You’ll Need

To remove the popcorn ceilings from your home you will need some equipment:

  • protective gear
  • painter’s tape
  • putty knife
  • rosin paper
  • pump-up sprayer
  • rags
  • plastic sheets
  • 6” floor scraper (or wider)
  • liquid dish soap
  • drywall joint compound and tape
  • sanding pad with handle

2. Prepare

This will be a really messy job. There’s no way around it, so it’s best to prepare the room as best you can before you start, so you don’t damage any flooring, walls, or furniture.

  • Remove or cover up any furniture from the room.
  • Cover all vents with plastic.
  • Use plastic to cover up all switches and wall outlets. Seal with painter’s tape.
  • Cover the entire floor in plastic; go a foot up the wall and seal that with painter’s tape.
  • Line the edges of your ceiling with painter’s tape.

3. Take it Down

This is the hardest part. Always wear protective gear like safety glasses, filter mask, and a jumpsuit to protect your eyes, lungs, and clothing. If you suspect the ceiling might have asbestos, do not touch it! Call in an expert who can do it safely without contaminating your entire house.

  • If there’s no paint on the ceiling, fill your pump sprayer with warm water and two to three tablespoons of liquid dish soap for every gallon of water.
  • Spray a four- to six-square-foot section of the ceiling with your water and soap solution. Wet it enough to loosen the popcorn, but not soaking wet. You don’t want the drywall underneath to get wet.
  • Let it soak for 10 to 15 minutes and then use a floor scraper or other wide tool to scrape away the popcorn texture. Don’t scrape so hard that you tear into the drywall underneath.
  • If you find it’s too difficult to scrape off, spray it again, let it sit, then repeat.
  • Use a putty knife to get access to the corners and to scrape away any residue.

4. Finishing Steps

Chances are good that you might have to do some repair and finishing work after you’ve successfully removed all the popcorn texture.

  • Replace any damaged drywall tape and use joint compound to smooth out the joints.
  • Once the compound is dry, sand it with a long-handled sanding pad. Be sure not to over-sand the ceiling or else you might damage the surface.
  • If you’re doing the interior painting yourself, now is the time to prime and paint! Otherwise, you can have your interior painter in to do the job.

5. Risks and Hazards

Home renovations are messy and can be dangerous. If you have any doubts about the safety of the job you’re doing, call in an expert. Here are some times you should always call in a professional:

  • Asbestos: any homes built before 1980 might contain asbestos in the walls or ceilings. These should be tested before being disturbed.
  • Painted Ceilings: paint on the popcorn ceiling will prevent the water solution from soaking into the texture. A harsher chemical is needed to break down the paint.