How Do You Remove Popcorn Ceiling Texture?

How To Remove Popcorn Ceilings? DIY Steps for You to Save Money over a Professional

Welcome to the ultimate guide on How to Remove Popcorn ceilings! Tired of that outdated popcorn texture looming above your head?

Look no further. In this comprehensive article, seasoned DIY enthusiast and home improvement expert, Kevin Carroll, shares invaluable insights garnered from years of hands-on experience.

From essential prep work to step-by-step removal techniques, we cover it all. Discover efficient methods using standard household tools and safety precautions to ensure a smooth and hazard-free process.

Whether you’re tackling a single room or your entire home, our practical tips and tricks will empower you to transform your space with confidence.

Say goodbye to popcorn ceilings and hello to a fresh, modern aesthetic. Let’s dive in and unlock the secrets to a successful popcorn ceiling removal project!

By the way, this is what your ceilings will look like after removing popcorn ceilings:

before and after photo popcorn ceiling removed
Before and After Popcorn Ceiling Removal – Besthomegear.com

What is Popcorn Ceiling Texture?

Widely used in the 70s and 80s as a cheap alternative to Stucco ceiling texture, Popcorn Texture consists of a thin material of drywall mud and miniature styrofoam beads.

When sprayed on the ceiling, popcorn’s texture dries white, covers drywall joints, and provides a final ceiling texture that doesn’t require painting.

Is it Hard to Remove Popcorn Ceilings?

removing popcorn ceilings with hand scraper
Using Popcorn Ceiling Removal Scraper – Besthomegear.com
Difficulty in Removing Popcorn Ceilings – Depends on a few factors, including:
  • The type of popcorn ceiling: Some popcorn ceilings are easier to remove than others. For example, unpainted popcorn ceilings are much easier to remove than painted ones.
  • If the drywall were originally painted with a “Primer” before applying the spray popcorn ceiling texture, vs. applying directly to bare drywall, it would be easier to remove it.
  • The Condition of the drywall: If the drywall underneath the popcorn texture is damaged or in poor condition, removing the popcorn ceiling may be more difficult without damaging the drywall further.
  • The Size of the Area: Removing popcorn ceilings from an entire home is relatively more difficult and time-consuming than removing popcorn ceilings from a small room.

If you are unsure whether you can remove popcorn ceilings yourself, it is always best to consult with a professional. I suggest getting a written estimate from a professional who removes popcorn ceilings and compare it to DIY popcorn removal (doing it yourself?

Bonus:  When you meet with a professional, even if you decide to do the work yourself,  you will get a GLIMPSE at how professionals remove popcorn ceilings!

How Long Does It Take to Remove Popcorn Ceilings?

Removing popcorn ceilings can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on the size of the area, the type of popcorn ceiling, and the condition of the drywall.

For instance, If you are removing popcorn ceilings from a small room and the popcorn ceiling is easy to remove, you may be able to complete the job in a few hours.

However, if you are removing popcorn ceilings from a large room or an entire house, or if the popcorn ceiling is difficult to remove, it may take several days to complete the job.

Here are some factors that can affect the amount of time it takes to remove popcorn ceilings:

  • The size of the area: Removing popcorn ceilings from a large area will take longer than removing popcorn ceilings from a small area.
  • Popcorn Ceilings that have been “Painted.”  If you’re removing popcorn ceilings that have been painted, using hot water to loosen the texture may not be enough. If you find that the case, you may first need to soak stubborn spots of popcorn texture with a spray-on solvent such as Max Strip.
  • The condition of the drywall: If the drywall is damaged or in poor condition, it may take longer to remove the popcorn ceiling without damaging the drywall further.
  • The tools and equipment you use: Using the right tools and equipment can help you remove popcorn ceilings more quickly and efficiently.
  • Your experience level: If you have experience removing popcorn ceilings, you will be able to complete the job more quickly than someone new to the task.

What is the Best Way to Remove Popcorn Ceilings?

The best way to remove popcorn ceilings is to use a process called “Wet Scraping”. This process involves misting the popcorn ceiling with warm water to loosen it before scraping it off with a paint scraper.

Using pump sprayer to wet popcorn ceilings
Use a pump sprayer before wet scraping popcorn ceilings – besthomegear.com

Tools and Materials to Remove Popcorn Ceilngs:

  • Paint scraper: A Popcorn removal tool or Drywall Blade with a long handle is ideal for scraping popcorn ceilings. See our recommendations in the FAQ section.
  • Pump sprayer: A Pump/Garden sprayer can mist the popcorn ceiling with warm water to loosen it before scraping it.
  • Drop cloths: Drop cloths will help to catch falling debris and protect your floors.
  • Plastic sheeting: Plastic sheeting will help to protect your furniture and belongings from dust and debris.
  • Joint compound: A joint compound can patch any holes or imperfections in the drywall after removing the popcorn ceiling.
  • Sandpaper: Sandpaper can smooth out the joint compound and create a smooth surface for painting.
  • Ladder (or Drywall Stilts)

Safety Steps For Removing Popcorn Ceilings

Before you begin removing popcorn texture from ceilings, it’s essential to educate yourself on a few critical Safety Steps:

Safety First:

  • Test for asbestos: Popcorn ceilings installed before 1980 may contain asbestos, a hazardous material. If you suspect your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos, have it tested by a professional asbestos testing company – before attempting to remove it.
  • Wear proper safety gear: When removing popcorn ceilings, always wear a respirator, eye protection, and gloves to protect yourself from dust and other debris.
  • Cover your furniture and belongings with plastic sheeting to protect them from dust and debris.
  • Running an Air Purifier with a HEPA Filter or opening windows will help remove airborne dust from the house.

How To Remove Popcorn Ceilings:

These are the Eight Steps to Remove Popcorn Ceiling Texture:

  1. Prepare your workspace by covering furniture and belongings with plastic sheeting and lining the floor with drop cloths.
  2. Put on your respirator, eye protection, and gloves.
  3. Use a pump sprayer to mist the popcorn ceiling with warm water, but only cover an area you can remove in a few minutes.
  4. Let the warm water soak into the popcorn ceiling for 8-10 minutes.
  5. Use the drywall scraper to scrape and remove the softened popcorn ceiling, Working in small sections at a time.
  6. Complete one room at a time, repeating steps 3-5 until the entire popcorn ceiling has been removed.
  7. Once the popcorn ceiling has been removed, patch any holes or imperfections in the drywall with a joint compound.  Caution: If you skip this step, you will see every imperfection, dent, or knick as soon as you apply the paint.
  8. Once the joint compound has dried, smooth rough spots with a drywall sanding pad – then prime and paint the ceiling.

Video: How To Remove Popcorn Ceilings (From a Professional)

 

Additional Tips for Wet Scraping a Popcorn Ceiling:

  • If the popcorn ceiling is difficult to scrape off, mist it with water again and wait a few minutes before trying again.
  • Some people have good luck by taping a wet-dry vac to their popcorn scraper, which collects debris as you scrape.
  • Be careful not to over-wet the popcorn ceiling, which can damage the drywall underneath the popcorn texture.
  • Use a Good Popcorn Removal Tool or Drywall Blade. A dull paint scraper will make the job much more complex and time-consuming.
  • Work in small sections at a time. This will make the job easier and help prevent the popcorn ceiling from drying out before you can scrape it off.
  • Take breaks often. Wet scraping a popcorn ceiling can be physically demanding.

If you are uncomfortable wet scraping your popcorn ceiling, you can hire a professional to do it for you.

Conclusion

Most people consider the process of removing popcorn ceilings to be a difficult, messy, and time-consuming project. And they’re right!

However, depending on your budget, removing the popcorn ceiling yourself could be just the ticket for you. 

Remember that if, for example, a professional charges you $2/square foot to remove, patch, and make ready for paint, even a small bedroom (100 square feet) will cost $200.

Go Ahead and try DIY popcorn ceiling removal, and it might surprise you how easily it comes off. Keep in mind that most you may be out is the cost of the popcorn removal tool/handle and a pump sprayer ($50 +/- total).

So, if you’re moderately handy and have the time to complete it – this is a DIY job worth the savings by tackling it yourself.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the “Best Eye Protection” For Removing Popcorn Ceilings?

The best eye protection for removing popcorn ceilings is a pair of safety goggles designed to protect against dust and debris.

Safety goggles should have indirect vents (prevent fog) to prevent dust from getting into your eyes, and they should also be comfortable to wear for extended periods.

Here are some specific recommendations for safety goggles that are well-suited for removing popcorn ceilings:

  • 3M Solis Anti Fog Safety Goggles: These goggles have a wide field of view and indirect vents to prevent dust from getting into your eyes. They also have a comfortable fit and are available in various lens colors.
  • DeWalt DPG82-11C Safety Goggles: These goggles have a durable polycarbonate lens resistant to scratches and impacts. They also have indirect vents and a comfortable fit.
  • Honeywell Uvex Skyper Safety Goggles: These are lightweight and stylish. They also have indirect vents and a comfortable fit.

What is the Best Respirator for Removing Popcorn Ceilings?

In addition to safety goggles, you should wear a respirator, such as the 3M N95 mask, when removing popcorn ceilings.

Some popcorn textures used before 1980 could include asbestos, and a respirator will help protect you from inhaling dust and other debris.

Popcorn ceiling texture applied before 1980 may contain asbestos, a hazardous material. If you suspect your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos, have it tested by a professional asbestos testing company – before attempting to remove it.

Here are some specific recommendations for respirators that are well-suited for removing popcorn ceilings:

  • 3M N95 Particulate Respirator: This respirator is comfortable to wear and effectively protects against dust and other airborne particles.
  • DeWalt DPG82-11R N95 Particulate Respirator: This respirator has a durable construction and provides effective protection against dust and other airborne particles.
  • Honeywell North 7700 Series N95 Particulate Respirator: This respirator is lightweight and comfortable to wear. It also provides effective protection against dust and other airborne particles.

Wearing safety goggles and a respirator can help protect yourself from the hazards of removing popcorn ceilings.

What is the “Best Type of Platform to Stand On” For Removing Popcorn Ceilings?

While some professionals stand on the floor and use long-handled poles to remove popcorn ceilings, you may not get the necessary angle or leverage to remove the popcorn texture this way.

Suppose you use a step ladder, etc. It is essential to stand on a stable platform that is at least 4 feet high. This will allow you to reach the ceiling comfortably and safely. 

Here are some specific recommendations for platforms that are well-suited for removing popcorn ceilings:

  • Step ladder: A step ladder is a good option if you have a small space to work in. Be sure to choose a step ladder rated for your weight and the weight of your tools and materials.
  • Drywall Stilts: Common as a first choice from professional contractors, drywall stilts* can be adjusted to the perfect height to reach ceilings.
  • Caution: *Drywall stilts require very good balance and a lot of practice before working on anything involving tools.
  • Extension ladder: An extension ladder is a good option if you have a large space to work in or need to reach a very high ceiling. Be sure to choose an extension ladder rated for your weight and the weight of your tools and materials.
  • Scaffolding: Scaffolding is the safest and most stable option for removing popcorn ceilings but is also the most expensive. Scaffolding is the best option if you are removing popcorn ceilings from a large area or a high ceiling.

When using any platform to remove popcorn ceilings, follow the safety guidelines provided by the manufacturer.

What are the Best Safety Tips for Removing Popcorn Ceiling Texture?

Here are the best  safety tips for removing popcorn ceilings:

  • Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including safety goggles, respirators, gloves, and a long-sleeved shirt.
  • To avoid losing your balance, avoid overreach when scraping the popcorn ceiling. If you cannot reach a section of the ceiling comfortably, move the platform or ladder or use a longer-handled scraper.
  • Be careful not to damage the drywall when scraping the popcorn ceiling. If you damage the drywall, patch it with a joint compound and then sand it before priming and painting the ceiling.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and watch for electrical wiring and other hazards.
  • If you are unsure about removing popcorn ceilings, consult a professional.

Following these safety tips can help prevent accidents and injuries when removing popcorn ceilings.

What is the Best Way to Protect Floors and Furniture When Removing Popcorn Ceilings?

These are a few things you can do to protect your floors and furniture when removing popcorn ceilings:

  • Cover everything with plastic sheeting. This will help to protect your floors, furniture, and belongings from dust and debris. Be sure to tape the plastic sheeting to the floor and walls to prevent slipping.
  • Use drop cloths. Drop cloths can protect your floors from heavy debris, such as chunks of popcorn ceilings—place drop cloths under the area where you will be working and around the room’s perimeter.
  • Move furniture out of the room if possible. If you can’t move furniture from the room, cover it with plastic sheeting and tape it down.
  • Cover vents and electrical outlets with masking tape. This will help prevent dust and debris from entering your vents and electrical outlets.
  • Clean up regularly. As you work, sweep up any dust and debris that falls to the floor. This will help to prevent the dust from spreading throughout your home.

How Do You Wet Popcorn Ceilings With a Pump Sprayer?

Follow these Six Steps when using a Pump Sprayer to Wet Popcorn Ceilings (before removal)

  1. Fill the garden sprayer with water.
  2. Attach a nozzle to the garden sprayer that produces a fine mist.
  3. Hold the garden sprayer at a distance of about 12 inches from the popcorn ceiling.
  4. Spray the popcorn ceiling with a fine water mist until it is evenly wet.
  5. Wait a few minutes for the water to soak into the popcorn ceiling.
  6. Use a popcorn ceiling scraper to scrape off the wet popcorn ceiling.

What are the Best Tools to Remove Popcorn Ceilings?

The best tool to remove popcorn ceilings is a Popcorn Ceiling Scraper or Drywall taping knife.

Popcorn ceiling scrapers are designed specifically for this task, and they have some features that make them more effective than other tools, such as typical paint scrapers.

Popcorn ceiling scrapers typically are attached to a long handle, which allows you to reach the ceiling comfortably and safely. They also have a wide blade with rounded corners, which helps to prevent damage to the drywall.

Additionally, some popcorn ceiling scrapers have an attachment that helps to collect falling debris.

Hold a popcorn ceiling scraper at a low angle and scrape the popcorn ceiling in the direction of the grain. If the popcorn ceiling is difficult to scrape off, mist it with water first.

Here are some specific recommendations for popcorn ceiling scrapers:

  • Homax Ceiling Texture Scraper: This scraper with a threaded handle, screws onto a pole (broom or paint roller pole), and has a 12″ wide blade with rounded corners. Pros tend to use this method to remove popcorn texture.
  • POPeeze Popcorn Ceiling Scraper: This scraper attaches to a shop vacuum hose, which helps to eliminate dust and debris. It is also very easy to use.

If you are removing popcorn ceilings from a large area or a high ceiling, you may want to consider using a power scraper. Power scrapers are more expensive than manual scrapers but can save time and effort.

Power scrapers typically have a rotary head with carbide teeth. To use a power scraper, hold it against the popcorn ceiling and turn it on. The teeth will scrape off the popcorn ceiling quickly and easily.

No matter which tool you choose, be sure to follow the safety guidelines provided by the manufacturer.

How Do you Fix Damaged Drywall after removing Popcorn Ceilings?

To Fix Ceiling Drywall Defects, You will need the following materials:

  • Joint compound
  • Sandpaper
  • A putty knife
  • Primer 
  • Paint 

Instructions:

  1. Fill any holes or gaps in the drywall with a joint compound. Use a putty knife to apply the joint compound to the holes or gaps. Smooth out the joint compound with the putty knife.
  2. Allow the joint compound to dry completely. This may take several hours or even overnight.
  3. Sand the joint compound smoothly. Use fine-grit sandpaper to sand the joint compound smoothly. Be careful not to sand too hard, or you may damage the drywall.
  4. Apply a primer to the drywall (optional). Applying a primer will help the paint adhere to the drywall and will also help cover up any minor imperfections.
  5. Paint the drywall (optional). If you want to paint the drywall, choose a high-quality paint that is designed for drywall. Apply two coats of paint for even coverage.

Additional tips for fixing drywall imperfections after removing popcorn ceilings:

  • If you are filling a large hole in the drywall, you may need to use mesh tape to reinforce the patch. Mesh tape is a strong, self-adhesive tape designed to be used with joint compounds.
  • If sanding a large drywall area, you may want to use a power sander. Power sanders can help you to save time and effort.
  • If you are painting the drywall, be sure to use a paint compatible with the primer you used.

Following these tips, you can easily fix drywall imperfections after removing popcorn ceilings.

What is the Best Way to clean up after removing popcorn ceilings?

The best way to clean up after removing popcorn ceilings is to use a combination of vacuuming, wet wiping, and sweeping.

Vacuuming

Start by vacuuming up as much dust and debris as possible. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to prevent the dust from recirculating back into the air. Be sure to vacuum all surfaces, including the floor, walls, furniture, and vents.

Wet wiping

Once you have vacuumed the bulk of the dust and debris, use a damp cloth to wipe down all surfaces.

This will help to remove any remaining dust and debris, as well as any joint compound or other materials that may have been used to repair the drywall.

Sweeping

Finally, sweep up any remaining dust and debris with a broom. Be sure to sweep the floor, walls, and any other surfaces that may have been affected by the popcorn ceiling removal process.

Here are some additional tips for cleaning up after removing popcorn ceilings:

  • Wear a respirator and safety goggles to protect yourself from dust and debris.
  • Cover your furniture and belongings with plastic sheeting to protect them from dust and water damage.
  • Open windows and doors to ventilate the area.
  • After the popcorn ceiling removal process is complete, clean up as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to clean up the dust and debris.

If you have a large area to clean up, or if the dust and debris are difficult to remove, you may want to hire a professional cleaning service.

Do I need to test my popcorn ceiling for asbestos before removing it?

Yes, testing your popcorn ceiling for asbestos before removing it is essential. Asbestos is a hazardous material that can cause serious health problems if inhaled.

Popcorn ceilings installed before 1980 are more likely to contain asbestos, but it is possible to find asbestos in popcorn ceilings installed after 1980. A professional asbestos testing company can test your popcorn ceiling for asbestos.

What safety precautions should I take when removing popcorn ceilings?

When removing popcorn ceilings, it is important to take the following safety precautions:

  • Wear a respirator, safety goggles, and gloves to protect yourself from dust and debris.
  • Cover your furniture and belongings with plastic sheeting to protect them from dust and water damage.
  • Open windows and doors to ventilate the area.
  • Be careful not to overload your electrical outlets with power tools.
  • Be careful not to damage the drywall when scraping off the popcorn ceiling.

What are the basic steps in removing popcorn ceilings?

To remove popcorn ceilings, follow these basic steps:

  1. Prepare your workspace by covering furniture and belongings with plastic sheeting and lining the floor with drop cloths.
  2. Put on your respirator, safety goggles, and gloves.
  3. Use the garden or pump sprayer to mist the popcorn ceiling with water. Work in small sections at a time.
  4. Let the water soak into the popcorn ceiling for a few minutes.
  5. Use the popcorn ceiling scraper to scrape off the softened popcorn ceiling. Work in small sections at a time.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 until the entire popcorn ceiling has been removed.
  7. Once the popcorn ceiling has been removed, you may need to patch any holes or imperfections in the drywall with a joint compound.
  8. Once the joint compound has dried, you can sand it smooth, prime it, and paint the ceiling (optional).

How much does it cost to remove popcorn ceilings?

The cost to remove popcorn ceilings varies depending on the size of the area, the type of popcorn ceiling, and the complexity of the job. Most homeowners can expect to pay between $1 and $2 per square foot to have their popcorn ceilings removed by a professional.

Of course, if you Do It Yourself (DIY), the only cost to remove popcorn ceilings will be the cost of any tools and supplies you may need, which are minimal compared to hiring a professional.

Should I hire a professional to remove my popcorn ceilings?

Whether or not you should hire a professional to remove your popcorn ceilings depends on your comfort level with DIY projects and the size and complexity of the job.

If you are uncomfortable removing popcorn ceilings yourself or have a large or complex job, it is best to hire a professional.

Conclusion:

Once considered Trendy, Popcorn Ceilings are now considered Tacky. And let’s face it, nothing much dates a home like popcorn ceilings from the 1980s.

If your home has them – you’re probably itching to Remove Popcorn Ceiling Texture as quickly as possible.

Thanks for visiting BestHomeGear – I genuinely hope this information is helpful and encourages you to complete this home improvement project yourself.

Please let us know if you have any other questions or comments!

Additional Reading & Resources for Homeowners

How To Remove Mold From Wood and Drywall

Kevin Carroll
Kevin Carrollhttps://www.besthomegear.com
Kevin is the author and editor for Best Home Gear, and uses his 25+ years experience in Commercial and Residential Construction Management to author and publish the work for this website. In addition to publishing Best Home Gear; Kevin enjoys the outdoors in Michigan and Arizona, hiking, cycling, fishing, golf, and completing DIY projects at his Home and Garden.

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Image of Kevin Carroll, author and publisher @ Besthomegear.com
Author and Publisher for Best Home Gear

Kevin is the Owner, Author, and Publisher @ Best Home Gear, which he began In 2018.

As a Professional in Construction, Real Estate and Property Management, Kevin uses that experience to publish Useful Articles, and help homeowners improve (DIY) their own homes, lawns, and outdoor spaces.

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