Popcorn Ceiling Removal

Written by Milan Jara on 13th May 2020

Pyramid Illusion Glue-up Styrofoam Ceiling Tile 20 in x 20 in – #R06 - Plain White

Popcorn ceilings may have been the trend back in the ’60s and ’70s but times have certainly changed since then. The decorative world has grown, and new ideas have formulated, meaning popcorn ceilings have become a distasteful buzzword within the industry.

When you’ve worked out how to remove a popcorn ceiling texture, you’ll soon realize how much of a messy chore it can be. However, it’s worth the effort if the substrate underneath is in good shape. As you’re here to look for ways to remove a popcorn ceiling, here is the list that has been designed to help:

  1. Scrape Testing
  2. Instead of going all out and scraping off all of the texture, think about working on a small section beforehand. For this, choose a small area on the ceiling and begin scraping. At first, attempt it while it’s dry, then dampen the texture with water and try again. Despite the texture being quite easy to scrape off dry, wetting it provides the most effective way – so your job will only finish a lot faster in the long-run. And will likely create less dust in the air.

    If the water doe not soak in to soften the textured ceiling, it likely means that either paint was added to the texture mix or that the textured ceiling was painted afterwards.

  3. Asbestos Testing
  4. If you know or can find out whether your popcorn ceiling was installed before 1980, then chances are, you have an asbestos popcorn ceiling. This is significantly dangerous as asbestos is known as a cause for lung cancer. If this is the case for you, consider reaching out to your local health department and ask them about getting a sample tested.

    If the test comes back positive, it’s then about whether you want to carry on with the job yourself or if you want to hire a professional instead. Although the latter may be the better option, this may not be necessarily a choice for you. An asbestos ceiling removal cost can be quite high, and some people do not have this sort of budget. If so, cover the popcorn ceiling with new drywall or wooden planks.

  5. Prep for a Major Mess
  6. Evergreen Glue-up Styrofoam Ceiling Tile 20 in x 20 in - #R28c - Antique Copper

    Removing popcorn ceilings tends to be a highly messy project, so be prepared for that before you begin. Typically, you may have some expensive furniture or décor in the room where the popcorn ceiling exists – hence why protecting it is vitally important.

    To protect your furniture, cover floors and walls with plastic drop cloths or plastic sheeting. Using plastic makes the cleaning up process easier too, as all you need to do is ball it all up and throw it away into the trash. An added tip is to keep the plastic in place after the removal process as you’re only going to create more mess when you repair and sand the ceiling later on.

  7. Remove Ceilings Fans & Fixtures
  8. To achieve this project as easy as you can, then removing such features will certainly help this cause. If you leave fans and other fixtures in place, they’re only going to get in your way, and they will likely end up being covered with dust and wet popcorn. Additionally, it may be a good idea to eliminate the chances of spraying them with water as you work.

  9. Pump Sprayer
  10. Using a garden sprayer may just be the way to make this process even easier for you. With this, mist the ceiling and let it soak for about 15 minutes before you start to scrape. However, make sure it’s only a light mist, as too much water can damage the drywall or loosen the joint tape. If the texture hasn’t softened after this amount of time, spray it again and wait another 15 minutes.

  11. Cover Electrical Boxes
  12. It’s important to shut off the power to any electrical junction boxes in the ceiling and cover them with painter’s tape to keep the wiring dry when spraying water on the popcorn.

  13. Small Sections

Faux Wood Planks

To achieve the best result, only spray and scrape a small area of your ceiling at a time. Ideally, you want to work 4 x 4 ft separately to avoid the ceiling material drying before you have the time to scrape it off. If this ever does happen, respray the area and wait another 15 minutes for it to dry.

As you can see, these are the tips and steps for you to remove a popcorn ceiling most effectively as you can. You would have also noticed that we briefly touched on the process of covering up a popcorn ceiling – especially if scraping it off wasn’t a viable option for you. If this is the case, here is a slightly more in-depth approach to this project.

  • Drywall: Using drywall involves installing a layer of 1/4-, 3/8-, or 1/2-inch drywall over the popcorn ceiling, nailing the drywall into the ceiling joists above the previous ceiling.
  • Planks: Ceiling planks are fiberboard planks that are made especially for this idea. The planks can be installed onto metal channels that are placed over the prior ceiling and screwed to the ceiling joists.
  • Paneling: This is also considered the old school method - Covering the old popcorn ceiling with traditional tongue-and-groove wood planks or beadboard paneling that you can buy through any high-end supplier. If the previous ceiling is dependably flat, you can install the paneling right over the old drywall.
  • Styrofoam ceiling tiles: Polystyrene (Styrofoam) ceiling tiles are one of the fastest and easiest ways to cover up your popcorn ceiling. To achieve this project you need to glue the ceiling tiles directly over the popcorn. The tiles have sloping edges for an easy butt joint installation. You have the option of leaving them unpainted (tiles are white) or you can be paint them with latex paint (after the installation).

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Removing or covering up a popcorn ceiling is perhaps one of the most frequent DIY jobs out there today. People are now wanting to see something else when it comes to the ceilings of their homes. If you apply the steps listed within this guide, soon you will not have to look at that hideous popcorn that’s been troubling you for some time.

Alternatively, you can always cover it up with the styles added to this guide. That way, you may end up with an elegant creation that suits your room’s furniture and décor.

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