How To Remove a Textured Popcorn Ceiling
Removing a textured popcorn ceiling isn’t difficult if you know how to do it. However, it can be very messy. If the texture was applied before 1970, have it tested for asbestos first. If the texture doesn’t contain asbestos, you can proceed with the removal.
Steps For Removing a Popcorn Ceiling:
- Cover all the walls and floor with plastic sheeting.
- Mix hot water with a little fabric softener in a pump-up sprayer.
- Wet down a section of the ceiling with the sprayer.
- Allow the solution to soak in and loosen the texture.
- Use a drywall knife or a special scraper that collects the texture in a plastic bag, such as the Homax Ceiling Texture Scraper (available at The Home Depot), to scrape the texture off the ceiling.
- After the ceiling has dried, repair any damaged or uneven areas with drywall joint compound.
- Allow the joint compound to dry, then sand the ceiling smooth.
- Prime and paint the ceiling using latex paint.
Watch our video to find out more.
- How to Remove Textured “Popcorn” Ceilings (article)
- How to Install Paneling on a Textured Popcorn Ceiling (article)
- Repairing a Water Stained Ceiling in Your Home (video)
- How to Cover Over a Water Stain on a Ceiling (video)
Danny Lipford: Removing the texture, sometimes called popcorn, from a ceiling is a fairly simple process, but one that can be very messy. If your home was built before 1970, there’s a chance the texture could contain asbestos, so have it tested before you attempt this.
This is something we get so many emails about and we’re going to show you a few tricks that will make it a little bit easier. Number one, cover everything up, that’s really important. And then, what Mike did, he took pump up sprayer, filled it up with really hot water, and then just a little bit of fabric softener, which keeps the water from evaporating so much, so that it can really help to release all of the texture from the ceiling.
Now this is a little bit different, because normally when you’re scraping texture off the ceiling, you want to minimize all damage possible. Here it’s a little different, in that because of the trench we have from the electrician, we have to do a little bit of drywall work anyway, so it’s not as crucial. But still, you want to minimize that amount of work as much as possible.
But the number one thing in removing texture is getting it as wet as possible. So take off, Mike.
Mike: Here we go.
Danny Lipford: You’ll want to spray the whole ceiling with a fine mist of the mixture, and allow it to soak in. Then do the same thing all over again. The thicker the texture, the more time and water will be required to loosen its hold on the ceiling. Then you can begin gently scraping with an ordinary drywall knife, held at a shallow angle to remove the texture. If you don’t mind buying a special tool for this job, there’s another alternative.
See, that’s the problem with using just the regular drywall knife, you end up with that mess everywhere all over your feet. Now, this is supposed to address that concern. Here, hold that. What this is is a frame that’s supposed to hold that bag, and then this is the scraper, so as you’re scraping it falls right over in the bag. What do you think?
Mike: Well, let’s give it a try.
Danny Lipford: If it works, it makes this whole process a lot easier.
Mike: I’m all for that.
Danny Lipford: So, put it on the inside, and bring it out like that. Okay, hold that one, and put the clip on.
This scraper actually works really well, and because it has a longer handle you don’t have to constantly move a ladder. But the big advantage is that bag, which catches almost all of the texture coming off the ceiling. You do have to pay more attention to the angle of the scraper blade, since you’re further from the ceiling. And the tool gets heavier as the bag fills up. We found it quicker and easier to dump the debris out of the bag, instead of replacing it each time it got full.
Whenever possible, you want to scrape along the drywall seams, instead of across them. That means less chance of scraping up the tape that covers the seams. Around the edges you’ll have to use an ordinary drywall knife to get close to the crown molding and clean up the caulk line between the ceiling and the crown.
When the ceiling is dry, you’ll need to coat any damaged areas with drywall joint compound. In this case we had to repair the trench cut by the electrician first, but we’re also coating the all the seams. Ceilings with texture on them often weren’t finished too smoothly because they knew the texture would cover up any rough spots.
When the joint compound is smooth and dry it will need to be sanded before you apply two coats of paint to finish the job.
Why You Might Want a Smooth Ceiling
Creates an Illusion of Spaciousness
Smooth ceilings are finished flat to create an illusion of elevation. The added visual height to your ceilings creates more space. Thus, when you look at the overall interior of your house, it would not look confined. Instead, it will look roomy and comfortable.
This effect contrasts with the textured one, as you will draw your focus to the design, making the room look smaller.
Easier To Clean and Maintain
Textured ceilings have various designs, making them more difficult to repair should damage occur. If one section of the ceiling is damaged, you might need to replace the entire thing to achieve a uniform look.
Untextured, flat ceilings are easy to repaint, clean, or repair if damaged. It will also be easier to change their designs or colors, depending on your aesthetic mood.
Slick Minimalist Aesthetics
Flattening your ceiling is indeed a home upgrade. It exudes a dated, modern-type house, which helps increase its market value. Also, it offers minimalist aesthetics for your house to look slick, neat, and high-end. A smooth ceiling is also uncomplicated to design, so you don’t need to worry about what elements fit.
Dear Mr. Lipford, I was recently asked to remove and paint a textured ceiling. You stated that homes built before 1970 had asbestos in it, so I was wondering, if it was safe to say that homes built around 1993 are asbestos free? Just wanted to say thank you, your article was very helpful to this weekend warrior.
Can you use this process if you have radiant ceiling heat?
I had a painter tell me the popcorn could not be removed from the ceiling and walls, and I should cover them with drywall.
I am so very glad my Daddy raised a smart daughter!
thanks for the video and the info!
Even if I discover it is too much for me to remove, I can now hire someone and at least know what they should be doing!
gotta go buy a bottle of fabric softener!
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Will this process work if the ceiling wasn’t “primed” before they sprayed he popcorn?
What is the name of the bag holder & scraper you used to remove the popcorn ceiling? Where can I get a couple?
By the way, great show and time saving tips.
That’s Homax’s Ceiling Texture Scraper for Popcorn Ceiling Removal.
You can find it at The Home Depot:
Thanks for your question!
I wish you would show how to install the bag to the Homax scrapper.
No one really showed how to do this. I put it on several ways and was not catching the popcorn. And Love your show. Thank you for all your tips
Question : We have a fireplace, there is a raised brick threshold . We have wooden floors around. If we were to take up the single row of bricks what could we place to cover the floor The house is from the 50’s. Original wood floors, in decent shape. Thank you Mr, Lipford.
Thanks for the suggestion!
Regarding your question:
We would need to see a photo to better understand the issue.
We accept photos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include a link to the article and a couple of sentences about the situation.
Thanks so much!
Hi Danny. Regarding removal of a textured ceiling, where should I go to find out if we have asbestos? Our home is 60 years old.
Here’s more information on this topic, to prevent exposure to asbestos: https://todayshomeowner.com/removing-textured-popcorn-ceilings/
Thanks for your question!