How to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling

Though popcorn or acoustic ceilings were once popular in homes and apartments, the bumpy look of popcorn ceilings quickly dates a home today. A very common home improvement is to remove a popcorn ceiling.

Before you jump into this project, however, it’s important to consider whether the ceiling texture might contain asbestos. Popcorn ceilings applied before the 1980s may contain asbestos, a fiber that is harmful when airborne. If you ceiling contains asbestos, you should leave removal to a professional asbestos abatement contractor.

If you’re unsure whether your ceiling may contain asbestos, you can buy a mail-in asbestos test kit for about $35. With this, you carefully scrape a small piece into a plastic bag that seals and send it to a mail-order certified testing lab.

 

How to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling, Step by Step

Begin by preparing the room for the mess, then move on to the removal process.

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Turn off the circuits that supply electricity to the room.

1Because you need to spray water onto the ceiling to remove the texture, begin by turning off the power to the receptacles and light fixtures at the circuit breaker panel.

Tape protective drop cloths to the floor, and then the walls.©Don Vandervort, HomeTips

Tape protective drop cloths to the floor, and then the walls.

2Protect the floor, baseboards, and lower parts of the wall by spreading heavy-duty plastic sheeting or water-resistant drop cloths across the floor and extending it about 18 inches up the wall. Tape the edges of the sheeting to the wall with blue painters’ tape.

 

3Run 1 1/2-inch painters’ tape along the top of the wall, about 1/4-inch down from the ceiling. Drape the walls with plastic sheeting, taping the top edge to the painters’ tape along the top of the walls. Then unroll rosin paper on the floor to keep the floor from getting too slippery and make cleanup easier.

 

Use a garden sprayer to wet the ceiling with water. Photo: Chapin©Don Vandervort, HomeTips

Use a garden sprayer to wet the popcorn ceiling with water. Photo: Chapin

4Working in 2-by-2-foot sections,  use a garden sprayer to apply water to the ceiling, and then scrape the texture off with an 8-inch-wide drywall taping knife. Wear safety glasses and a dust mask.

8-inch Drywall taping knife is handy for scraping the ceiling. Photo: MarshalltownMarshalltown

8-inch Drywall taping knife is handy for scraping the ceiling. Photo: Marshalltown

 

5Once you’ve finished scraping the entire ceiling, remove the plastic from the walls.

Leave the plastic sheeting on the floor until you gather and dispose of all of the rosin paper and wall sheeting.


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