You are not alone if you find yourself staring upward, wondering how to remove popcorn ceilings. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was common practice to have outdated eyesores, also referred to as acoustic ceilings, stucco ceilings, or, worst of all, cottage cheese ceilings.
The popcorn ceiling has gone out of style, and like many what-were-they-thinking trends, today’s homeowners are searching for do-it-yourself solutions to hide or remove the ugly surface.
The popcorn ceiling removal cost is not much, so you shouldn’t worry about extra expenses. However, you can remove a popcorn ceiling in DIY steps.
Popcorn ceiling removal is not as easy as dry scraping, but it can still be a reasonably cheap do-it-yourself project. Depending on several factors, including whether it has been painted over and whether asbestos was used in its construction, removing a popcorn ceiling can be difficult. Even in the best of circumstances, it can be a messy project that needs sufficient space preparation.
What is the Easiest Way to Remove Popcorn Ceiling?
It’s time to start working. Thankfully, special tools are not needed for this do-it-yourself project, and you might already have all you need.
You will need these materials:
- A putty knife or plasterboard taping knife
- Sheets made of plastic
- Tape for painting
- Mud pan for plasterboard
- A sprayer for gardens
- Goggles for safety
- Dust mask
- Paint, Sandpaper, Sander, Ladder
Step 1: Test for Asbestos Before Popcorn Ceiling Removal
Your popcorn ceiling probably contains one to twenty percent asbestos if it was installed before 1980. Before beginning the process of removing popcorn ceilings, you first use an asbestos test kit.
If asbestos is discovered in your ceiling, it is best to hire a specialist to remove it; however, if the asbestos is in good condition, it may be left encapsulated or undisturbed.
Most popcorn ceilings will require at least two skim coats before sanding, as you want to be sure you do not sand down into the original materials. If the ceiling has previously been painted, skim coating with an ultra-light joint compound can be a great way to smooth the appearance without disturbing the asbestos-containing material.
Step 2: Protect Furniture, Walls, and Floors
Take out the room’s furniture and cover the walls and floors with plastic sheeting. Scraping the ceilings is very messy, so have plenty of drop cloths and tarps on hand.
Remember that you will probably be spraying water, so make sure drop cloths are covered with something waterproof if you do place them down.
Use painter’s tape to secure plastic sheeting to walls to prevent dust accumulation. This is crucial when using a sander to finish the project by creating a smooth ceiling.
Step 3: Take Down Ceiling Fans and Lighting
To make the task easier, remove any hanging light fixtures or ceiling fans; just make sure to cover electrical boxes with painter’s tape to prevent water damage to the wires.
After shutting down your air conditioning system, seal all vents and electrical outlets with plastic wrap.
Turn off the electricity in the room you’re working in, as you’ll probably be using a garden sprayer to soften the texture of the popcorn ceiling.
Step 4: Protect Yourself
To allow fresh air to enter, open the windows before beginning.
You’ll breathe more easily if the room is kept ventilated while you work to remove the popcorn ceiling texture. Safety glasses and a dust mask are also recommended.
Step 5: Spray the ceiling with water
A wet scrape is indeed simpler than a dry one. Spray some water on a four-by-four-foot section of the ceiling using a garden sprayer.
To make removing the popcorn easier, you should wet down and mist the ceiling with water. However, avoid soaking it, as this could cause the Sheetrock underneath to become damaged. If you work in large sections, the areas won’t dry out before you get to them.
Wait for the water to absorb for approximately fifteen minutes after using a garden sprayer or spray bottle.
You are now prepared to begin scraping. Gently run a wide putty knife or plasterboard taping knife along the damp ceiling. Take care not to scratch the lower ceiling. (You can prevent gouges by filing the edges of your putty knife.)
Continue moving around the space until all of the texture is gone. You might have to make a second pass in some places. Remind yourself that you can always reapply the ceiling spray to assist in releasing a stubborn area.
Step 6: Create a smooth ceiling
Before you begin sanding, use a joint compound to fix any damage to the ceiling, such as gouges or broken plasterboard tape.
You can use a joint compound to hide any hidden flaws that you uncover when removing the popcorn ceiling, such as visible joints or screws.
Use a sander to create a smooth ceiling that is prepared for a new coat of paint after letting it dry for at least 12 hours.
Step 7: Prime and paint
Apply two coats of your chosen paint after using a primer. After the paint job is finished, take down the plastic sheeting, replace any lights or ceiling fans, and take pleasure in your newly smooth ceiling.
If your popcorn ceiling requires more care than just scraping and painting, you can cover it with new plasterboard, wood paneling, or pressed tin tiles.
If your ceilings are particularly damaged, or if learning how to remove popcorn ceilings by scraping away the texture sounds like too much of a mess (which you should prepare for), it might be easier to cover it all up.
If you want a fresh start, you can install a new layer of plasterboard, but there are a few other potentially simpler options as well. For example, you can use construction adhesive to attach some very realistic-looking faux tin tiles to the ceiling. If you prefer wood paneling, you can use a nail gun to affix wall planks straight to the ceiling.
To prevent an uneven appearance, you must install furring strips to your ceiling before attaching the paneling to the strips if your ceiling has a lot of texture.
Keep in mind that asbestos testing is still necessary because this method requires you to remove small portions of the popcorn texture to attach the furring strips.