How to Remove Textured “Popcorn” Ceilings

Popcorn ceiling, as seen close up
Ceiling with textured “popcorn” finish

Textured popcorn ceilings went out of style years ago, but many older homes—and some new ones—still have them. While taking down a textured ceiling is not that difficult, it is a messy job that requires hard work and special safety precautions.

damaged popcorn ceiling
A damaged popcorn ceiling


There are two potential problems that can turn removing a textured ceiling into a DIY nightmare:

  • Asbestos: Acoustic texture manufactured before 1980 may contain asbestos and should be tested before being removed. While it doesn’t pose a health risk if left in place, removing a ceiling containing asbestos can stir up the fibers and cause them to become trapped in your lungs. More information about the dangers of Asbestos in Your Home can be found on the Environmental Protection Agency website.
  • Painted Ceiling: Another potential problem that can make removing a popcorn ceiling much more difficult is if paint has been applied over the texture. This prevents the texture from absorbing water, which is necessary to loosen the material. While a painted textured ceiling can be removed, it usually requires the application of a chemical stripper to break down the paint barrier.

To determine if either of these conditions applies to your ceiling, combine a few drops of liquid dishwashing soap with warm water in a hand sprayer. Lightly spray a small spot in an inconspicuous location, and wait a few minutes for it to absorb the water. If the water will not soak in, the ceiling has been painted. Otherwise, the texture should come off easily.

To test ceiling texture applied before 1980 for asbestos, use a putty knife to scrape a small amount into a sealable plastic bag. If you’re concerned about the possible health risks involved in taking the sample, a testing service can be hired to come out and take it for you.

Send the sample to an approved testing service to see if it contains asbestos. To find a testing service in your area, contact the state environmental or health office. A directory of state offices can be found on the EPA website.

If the material is found to contain over 1% asbestos then by law you can not remove it yourself and will need to contact a professional asbestos removal company or leave the ceiling as is. Even if it doesn’t contain asbestos, it’s important to wear an appropriate dust mask or respirator when removing the ceiling.

Joe Truini shows how to keep your putty knife clean in Today's Homeowner's Simple Solutions segment
Loading a putty knife to repair a ceiling.


To do the job you will need:

  • Plastic sheeting (2-3 mil for walls, 6 mil for floors)
  • Rosin paper
  • Painter’s tape
  • Rags
  • Putty knife
  • Pump up sprayer
  • Liquid dishwashing soap
  • 6” or wider floor scraper
  • Mesh sanding pad with handle
  • Drywall joint compound
  • Drywall joint tape
  • Dust mask or respirator
  • Coveralls
  • Eye protection

prepping a ceiling
Prepping the area is essential to removing your popcorn ceiling.


Removing a textured ceiling is a messy job so good prep work is important to keep from damaging your walls or floor and to make clean up easier.

  • Remove all furniture from the room.
  • Turn off the heating or cooling system and close any vents. Ceiling vents should be removed and covered with plastic.
  • Turn off the power to the room and remove any ceiling lights or paddle fans.
  • Cover wall outlets and switches with plastic, sealing them with painter’s tape.
  • Cover the floor with plastic, extending it a foot up the wall and attaching it with painter’s tape.
  • Run painter’s tape on the wall around the ceiling along the walls and attach the 2-3 mil plastic sheeting to it, overlapping the plastic along the bottom of the wall.
  • To assist in clean up, cover the floor with rosin paper, overlapping the sheets and taping them together.

Getting It Down

Popcorn ceiling removed, before and after
Re-doing your popcorn ceiling can lead to drastic aesthetic improvements.

Be sure to wear a dust mask or respirator and safety glasses, and keep the part of the ceiling you are working on damp to reduce dust.

  • If your ceiling wasn’t painted, fill a pump-up sprayer with warm water and add 2-3 tablespoons of dishwashing soap per gallon of water.
  • Saturate a 4-6 foot square section of the ceiling with the solution. Wet it enough to loosen it, but not so much that it damages the drywall under the texture.
  • Wait 15-20 minutes for the solution to be absorbed by the texture material.
  • Use a floor scraper, or another wide-bladed tool, to gently scrape away the popcorn texture. Be careful not to gouge the drywall or tear the drywall joint tape.
  • If the texture proves difficult to remove, spray it again, wait a few minutes, and try again.
  • Use a putty knife to remove any residual material as well as to get into the corners.

repairing drywall
Repairing drywall

Repairs and Finishing Touches

You’ll probably need to do some drywall finishing to the ceiling after the texture has been removed, including:

  • Hammer any visible nails or screws below the surface and cover them with joint compound.
  • Replace any damaged drywall tape and smooth out the joints with joint compound.
  • Once the repair work has dried, sand the ceiling with a long-handled mesh sanding pad. Sand only to remove the high spots, as too much sanding will damage the ceiling.
  • The final touch is to prime and paint the ceiling using latex ceiling paint.

A Great Workout

Removing that dated popcorn ceiling will save a trip to the gym by giving your arms and upper body a great workout. In addition to your bulging biceps, the smooth ceiling will add value in your house and make all the hard work worthwhile.

Further Information


  1. For me, it is a very appropriate article in that I have on my chore list removal of “popcorn texture” in several rooms.

    Thanks for such a good article.

  2. I have water based popcorn textured ceilings. I would like to install crown moldings. My question is how do I conceal the seams of were the molding meets the popcorn cover? If I touch the popcorn in anyway it is destroyed and can be seen. Thank You

  3. Thanks for the information on popcorn ceilings.It was Great. I might try it, my house is 3years old. I don’t think there’s any danger. Thank You Very Much.

  4. I work for Home Depot. In the paint dept. we have a tool that is made especially for removing popcorn ceilings. You attach a garbage bag to the tool and it collects the ceiling as you scrape it down. It has a scraper on the tool. You can also attach a long handle to the end and saves your arms. Many customers have told me that it really works great.

  5. Hi Bill,
    Popcorn ceilings often are left unpainted. If they have been painted, the paint will have to be broken down so the water can penetrate. Try spraying it first with a stripper such as (like DIF) first. Good luck with your project!

  6. My husband and I are considering purchasing an older home, built in 1981. Every room in this large home, 3500 square feet has popcorn ceilings that has gold glitter. Since this is a foreclosure home, and the bank that owns the property is in an entire different state, there is no property disclosure. My question is: if the popcorn ceiling is found to have asbestos upon inspection, would it be better to hire a company to scrape the popcorn ceiling causing the labor cost to be tremendous, as parts of the ceiling are two story and others are vaulted? Or would it be better to just demo the ceilings and redrywall, which will also be quite costly? The ceilings are the only concern with this home as everything else basically needs paint and new flooring.

  7. I found this information very useful. Unforutunately, my ceilings are painted which means I have an extra step. To make matters worse, it’s evident that my ceilings are not in the best shape. It looks as though there may have been a leak that was repaired but the patch job is horrible- the ceiling isn’t level. So that means I will have to learn how to patch up the ceiling or hire someone to do it- damn!

  8. I am sitting her thinking of redoing my ceilings. My handyman suggested I get the Home Depot scraper and knock it down myself. Otherwise, it is costly. I paid $600 for the LR, DR, and Hall. It was wet and messy but done in two days. Trying to save money this time around.

  9. I removed my popcorn ceiling easily using the method above. Just make sure that the floors are covered and you mask off 12 inches down from the ceiling. The tool from Home Depot works well but the edges tend to gouge. A 10 inch taping knife works the best. I did it in about one minute for every square foot and the drywall underneath was in pretty good shape. As the article says, sand and prime.

  10. I just removed my popcorn easily. I used the method above but used a plastic scraper. This worked miracles and lessened the chance for gouges. For the 5 x 6 room it took me one hour including clean up. Have a shop vac on hand, its a must for messy clean up. Luckily the ceiling is in good shape so I’m on my way to sand and prime.

  11. I live in a modular home that was built in 1986. The textured ceilings which were done in a stucco effect with what looks like joint compound. I sent a sample to a lab and according to them it contains 0.5% Chrysotile asbestos. My point is don’t assume your home doesn’t contain asbestos containing material based on it’s age. Have it tested anyway. I am having another lab test a sample because I found out there is a mimic for asbestos called high density polyethelene. Still waiting for those results.

  12. We started removing the popcorn from our 1954-built home before I was aware of the potential for asbestos. If anything, I thought I’d have to worry about lead. Anyway, we are almost done now and I am concerned about him sleeping in the room once we are finished. We have the windows open and a fan blowing out.I plan to vacuum and mop anything left on the floor when we are finished. Any suggestions?

  13. Hello Lisa,
    I am no expert but some where I read said DON’t vacuum. You will stir up the asbestos into the air. home vacuum cleaner filter can’t filter tiny asbestos and all end up in the air. Just mop wet and wipe down above floor place with wet cloth.

  14. I have done this in two homes that are both old homes. The one house, my mothers, I know that the popcorn was added when the previous owners remodeled it, it was all on plaster and had no problems. It is very messy but well worth the effort. once we got the texture removed we papered the ceilings with the textured paper called anyaglptia (unsure of the spelling), it looks like the old tin ceilings. It is pretty simple to hang, you must have two people and plenty fo chairs or scaffolding. I have always loved it from the first time I used it in a farmhouse years ago. But I was truly amazed at the people that have been in the house and that is the first thing they notice and compliment on. You used to be able to get it at Lowes but I just recently bought more to do the bedroom upstairs and had to order it online. It is about 15-17 bucks a double roll with shipping. The one thing to remember if considering this is dont assume that the square footage coverage on the package is what you need to buy, insted find out how wide the paper is and the length of the rolls, the most recent I bought was 21″ wide and 33′ long, so there fore I am only able to get two strips out of a roll leaving me with about 8′ waste, but you dont want to try to seam the paper in the middle of a strip. Simple things like these projects with replacing old light fixtures and buying the nicer ones, not like the ones they put in spec homes make a huge difference.

  15. Gee Wizz Folks…asbestos from one room wont kill you. The guys with the asbestos issues worked in it their whole life..All the hype was so asbestos folks could be sued over and over and over for millions and billions.

  16. Why doesn’t somebody design a scraping tool that has the corners of it bent upward a little bit on the ends? Then nobody would have to gouge the ceiling accidentally, and they could work faster? Seems like I have seen that somewhere!?

  17. Do These Same Steps apply to a sponged textured ceiling. My house was built in ’85 and they used what looks like a sponge to make the textured ceiling. It breaks off in pieces that looks like joint compound. Will this be harder and more of a mess?

  18. Well nevermind…got my answer. They used joint compound or some type of putty to do the textured ceiling. I used a test area near a corner and found that when I sprayed the ceiling, almost instantly, I could see the drywall paper and where they used mud to cover the screw indentions. Upon scraping, the putty knife digs into the drywall paper way too easy….thinking about just drywalling over it. Taking new drywall and screwing it into the existing dry wall….any thoughts on this?

  19. I took a large putty knife and lightly scraped the popcorn off the ceiling. A slight texture remained, which looks great. I then painted the ceiling.

  20. I have painted popcorn ceilings throughout most of my house. In the bedrooms, I think I will just put up panels over it all. It seems the simplest thing to do, plus it adds insulation.

  21. I do appreciate all the help for removing texture from the ceiling which I don’t have any experience with this type of task. I would like to remove the ceiling texture and create my own personal design to my ceiling with the drywall mud. I do apprciate all the pointers that was given.

  22. What about when it is applied over a concrete ceiling? Can you get the concrete in good enough shape to paint when considering expansion joints etc.?

  23. Danny,

    Rather than remove my popcorn ceiling which is 13 years old, i just want to clean it up of the typical light and airy cobb webs found mostly around the ceiling vents then possibly paint. What would suggest for the cleaning and the painting aspect.

    Respectfully submitted…Rich

  24. The ceilings in our home aren’t popcorn, I think, — they’re the starburst-type paint stippling? Not even sure what to call it. What’s the best way to flatten those out? Thank you! (found your name in Better Homes & Gardens for October)

  25. I just removed my popcorn ceiling today and it was very easy I bought a sprayer but hot water and soap let it sit for about a minute then used a putty knife and it came right off. It is very messy but if u put plastic down it is so much easier. This is the second room in my house that I did and I did not get any of it tested. You are not really breathing in anything because it is wet do it drops right to the floor. If you want to save money I would do it yourself. I got prices for up to $600 per room. Im the type of person that if I can do it myself I will. Good luck if you are tring this but in the end I will say it is well worth it. Next I have to do all my bedroom too

  26. I’d like to pass on my experience after getting a tip on removal from my 85 year old mom in Ct. Seems she either saw an article in the New Haven Register or a magazine about Danny covering the removal of popcorn ceiling. I’ve been doing remodeling since my 20’s(1st home was old ) out of necessity and still do. I have a 1996 home (Oak Wood manufactured) that I’ve been redoing each room. Popcorn removal and creating the flat wall look (removal of the strip). What really got me was the tip of using warm water, someone I was discussing it with also suggested adding some fabric softener, as suggested using a sprayer.

    I always thought huh sheet rock (paper and chalk) + water Bad news but I was pretty desperate. The rooms I had done took time , created a mess and broke my butt.
    So I thought using a paint roller in very hot water only. As suggested I kept the work area about 5×8 using an eleven inch knife after letting it set for 10 minutes.
    To my amazement the removal was to the paper which stayed intact. Getting 11 inches off at a time compared to doing it dry , mess, pain – little to none and time invested (took longer to lay paper and plastic) and all the rooms I still have to do (about 1200 square feet), I felt relieved and thankful I now had this method. I guess in my 30 + years of doing it all I now had a new trick.

    So (like I said to my mother after the first 5×8 area), Great tip, I now look at the other 1200 feet I still have to do as NO PROBLEM.

    Ironically too Danny being from Marianna, and I living in Grand Ridge.

    So I’d like to say Thanks for the knowledge and try the roller (I first started with one with a guard (works great , when the outer corn drop and the ceiling turned beige that was enough water) but broke it continuing with one without using a 5 gallon bucket, with a paint-cage for removal of the excess water and then just rolling. Like I said was great . removal of more area at a time, minimal effort, contained minimal mess , much more healthy. Use a mask and goggle at least as always.

    Thanks again and if you’re ever in this area, stop by ! Thanks again to Danny, (and mom) for this great tip.

    Mike Palmisano

  27. I am a new homeowner. My contractor wants to put sheet metal over the popcorn ceiling. Have you heard of this being done? I thought you had to remove the popcorn from the ceiling first. I would appreciate your advice. Thank you.

  28. Hello
    As we remodeled each room we have taken down our popcorn ceileings and just painted them.

    we have 3 rooms that still have popcorn – i found the easiest way to get that off a ceiling is wet with hot water and scrap with a putty knife.

  29. Thanks to all of the great comments here,I was able to remove over 2500 sf of popcorn ceiling over the course of 2 weekends with a helping hand from my father. The idea of bending the edges to prevent gouging was genius! Prep was a nightmare, especially because my walls had satin paint rather than flat. The shiny surface did not hold the tape very well. I used a 4 mil plastic on the floors and a 1 mil on the walls. It was amazing how easily the texture came off! We contracted a drywall company to install a knock-down texture and found out that I saved about $2,500 removing the texture on my own!

  30. Hello, I wish I had found this site before this morning when I needed to remove the popcorn in the skylight boxes. Some idiot a few years back damaged the skylights when installing new shingles, I saw him use a crowbar to lift them so he could put the shingles underneath. I pointed it out to hubby who has done nothing until I recently saw black mould around the frames. Since his retirement,hubby does not believe in doing anything around the house because he’s retired. So I’m left to do anything needing done and since cleaning was not enough, before they’re replaced, this is what I did this morning.
    I am 65yrs. old, I got a newspaper, made a cone, taped it into the central vac hose, went on the ladder, scrapers in hand, turned on the vac and scraped holding the cone under the work area. After the paper got tired of staying erect, I got a funnel and put it in another paper cone. Job done and little cleaning on the floor!! Next I need to check for water damage by removing some of the drywall and deal with that. Then this granny is going to buy new skylights and somehow will try to remove and install the new ones myself, just so I know it’s done right.
    Somebody is really lucky his wife actually enjoys doing things!! Just so you know, I’m shaking my head too!!

  31. I have a concrete ceiling with popcorn finish but I got tire of it so my Wife and I tuked down.Know she want a flat finish ceiling.What is your sucgection.How can We do that.

  32. Thanks for the article. I removed popcorn from one ceiling and used a wet rag to smooth some rough spots — it had been painted. The ceiling is now painted and looks great. Now onto the next popcorn ceiling — BUT — has anyone just scraped a painted popcorn ceiling and painted the resulting texture? I’m concern that the remaining texture may peel off with the weight and wetness of the paint. Any suggestions?

  33. I just scraped my 10×12 foot room popcorn ceiling using a wallpaper steamer, a wide dustpan and a 6″wide wallpaper scraper. I steamed a small area( within reach ) 4′ or so, slid the scraper along the ceiling with the dust pan under it to catch the debris. I had a wide bucket nearby to put the steamer in while I was scraping and a plastic lined trash can nearby to dump the old ceiling debris in. It took about 4 hours. I’m a 59 year young granny DIYer. Happy scraping!

  34. I just got done scraping my popcorn ceilings. I used a garden sprayer to dampen in some areas the texture was thinner than most and the dry wall underneath got wet. I have put fans in to air it out. Is it going to be ok?

  35. It might be okay, depending on how much water actually penetrated the drywall.

    I just scraped the popcorn ceiling from a large room 28 x 14. The popcorn ceiling had been painted at least once so rather than trying to remove it right down to the drywall, I just scraped the popcorn off and left the texture on the ceiling. A coat of primer and then a coat of satin paint makes the ceiling look really nice and modern. A lot easier than trying to make it smooth.

  36. Louise did you use the wet method or did you just scrape off the popcorn dry. I have several rooms to do next weekend.

  37. Good info, thanks. My town house was built in 1977. I am having the acoustic (popcorn) removed. My neighbor had a flood had to have dry wall removed and replaced. It was tested for asbestos and it was positive. I am sure I have asbestos. My contractor said he takes the necessary precautions to remove. However; how long will the fibers be airborne for? I was thinking I would stay away from home and come back when complete. How long should I wait to come back in home, that’s if I really have to. Thanks!

  38. Can anyone tell me why when painting new ceiling textured ceilings the new sprayed texture would fall off. I had to fire my contractor because of shoddy work and only showing up when he wanted. I started to paint my ceiling with a roller and the textured started falling off.

  39. I’ve removed the popcorn from just about every room in our house. It’s not fun. I got the scraper that the bag attaches too. Good idea but very time consuming. I just let it all fall after the first bag change. Plus it’s very hard to get close to the walls. Be very careful of the seams. The tape will peel very easily. Little dogs and scratches can be repaired easily. Larger repairs are a little more tricky. My issue was the cleaning of the residue left my the popcorn. I cleaned the ceiling down and sanded but my texture and paint still peeled.

  40. Your paint peeled because it was to thick and heavy. Put a thin/watery paint coat up first after scraping the popcorn because you can not get all the dust off the ceiling.

  41. This may be a silly question but after removing the popcorn off the ceiling do you need to go through and remove the excess dust that’s left before starting to paint? If so, what has been the easiest method that you’ve come up with?

  42. Just read the last comment. So it’s ok to leave a little? I’m going through each room and wiping it down but it just seemed impossible! So you would water down the first coat (primer) and then the second would just be applied normally?

  43. Just my two cents worth. I have been removing the popcorn ceilings from my house. Two of the best tools I have found are first, a 4ft scraper, peels the popcorn right off, painted popcorn that is. Second, get a drywall sander that connects to a shop vac. It uses screen sanding sheets that allows drywall dust to be collected and almost none escapes. After peeling the popcorn off, sand, fill all divits, gouges, screw/nail holes, etc, than sand again. Apply a coat of drywall primer. If you are going for a flat cig you will be able to see areas needing more attention after the primer dries. Simply fill, sand, prime and check again. Once it’s all smooth and flat, apply whatever cover you want, knock down, paint, whatever. Granted, if you are applying knockdown you don’t have to be as concerned over small irregularities so less work. If painting knockdown make sure to get a thick roller, 1/2 min to be able to get into the texture. If spraying, sooooo much easier. Again, just my two cents worth.

  44. Once more option; if your popcorn hasn’t been painted and is not leaded there is a great scraper that attaches to a shop vac that allows you to scrape the texture while it is sucked into the vac. Nice thing is, no water mess and no waiting to see how much damage was done to the sheetrock from too much water. No mater what, you need to prime before coating with texture or paint.

  45. I had popcorn ceilings in entire house. I removed popcorn from 3 bedrooms, hall, kitchen and 2 bathrooms. Popcorn was splattered everywhere, on moldings and windows. I’m a female senior but got the job done. Living room is still beautiful so decided to paint and it’s coming along nicely. Biggest suggestion, you can’t hurry the job.

  46. Just wondering what happens after the popcorn comes down. I have done the popcorn removal and am trying to figure out if the entire ceiling gets a skim coat or if you just putty places? My ceiling is in pretty good shape. Can someone answer this question?

    Thank you.

  47. Use half water and half white vinegar in your spray bottle popcorn will fall right off. It’s a little stinky but it works great! Cant believe no one has suggested this, it works great for wallpaper removal as well.

  48. My ceiling is not a very old one. But lately I’ve spotted popcorns on them. I’m very worried about these asbestos. Do they pose a major health hazard? We just moved in a couple of months ago and the house was totally in good condition when we got it. I doubt whether the recent harsh climate has taken its toll over our ceiling! I tried removing them myself but it didn’t help much. So, I’ve got men from Healthy Environmental (Asbestos removal service) volunteer me. They’ll take up our job next week.

  49. I’m dealing with a popcorn ceiling that was painted. What type and brand of chemical stripping product can be used to help remove it now?

  50. I used water and fabric softener in a spray bottle and tried it out in the spare room…the ceiling had been painted! But like the nature of the nasty material, the paint didn’t sink all the way to the surface so there were little pockets with no paint. That only mattered on where the builder had mudded seams and nail holes though! Once I was able to scrape to the drywall and get my 4 inch blade under it, the stuff came off in sheets. I used a cookie sheet to catch it and limit how much hit the floor. A 10×12 bedroom ceiling came off in about 2 hours. I alternated between a metal blade (which gouged a bit if I wasn’t careful and a plastic one)…and I liked the way the fabric softener scented the room while I worked…yes, I’m a 50 something female. Thanks so much!!

  51. I removed the popcorn with a spray bottle and 10 inch plastic blade from Lowes. After removal I had to putty imperfections and sand. This is your only opportunity to get the ceiling right before priming. I used a large dust cloth and shop vac to remove the dust. You MUST prime the drywall before painting. The rollers you should use are called primer rollers. Lowes has a 5 gallon drum called Valspar Drywall Primer/Sealer for $60. It is latex interior. No one mentioned that. I am a perpetual diy, and I learn as I go, but I always research and ask for advice from HD or Lowes before I tackle something new. I am glad I did, because I did it right. Removal of dust after sanding is very important before sealing. This is a 4 step procedure to remove popcorn. I recommend taping plastic on your walls and floor, then just fold it in on itself and dispose of it. It will get on your walls. Step 2 is patch using a latex patching compound. You can sand it with a sanding block which is less than 3 bucks. Make certain to remove dust after this step. I used a shop vac on the ceiling followed by a damp dust cloth. There are other methods, but don’t skip this. Step 3 is to seal the drywall. When I removed my popcorn, I was looking at the sheetrock. I sealed it. Step 4 is to paint it, and your done! It is a lot of work (and cost me a good penny in drop plastics, floor protection, shop vac, and sealer, not to mention paint) but was it worth it. It looks great and best of all, No more ugly popcorn.

  52. I am on room 3 and just thought I would browse the comments. I had also been told to spray the ceiling with water and it would become “oatmeal”… unfortunately, my ceiling were all painted so it didn’t work quite that easy. But wetting it did help. That left me with the dust on the ceiling. I went back with the spray bottle and lightly sprayed again. Used my scraper again and turned the “dust” to a paste, much easier to remove. Did my spackling, sanding, painting… ONLY to realize that I am going to have to redo some spots that are definately not smooth. Oh well, doing a better job in room one. Removing popcorn is taking about 4 hours per bedroom. On 2nd room, I did removal and spackling at the same time so I didn’t have to move ladder (got smarter)…I have 3 bedrooms and a kitchen. Then I get to install new laminate flooring… AND I am a 57 year old woman.. with a disabled husband.. who says women can’t do repairs….

  53. Just thought I would add in my DIY “expertise.” We have a stippled ceiling with a starburst/flower texture that was applied with what I assume is a plaster-like material. We wet the ceiling and scrapped it, just like removing popcorn. After removing it, let the ceiling/drywall dry (we used fans). We then applied drywall mud to the entire ceiling since the drywall was completely exposed, and patched any gouges and tape mishaps (If you have to repair tape, watch videos on how to do this!). The mud has to dry for 24 hours or so. Then you sand to get out any big inconsistencies. We didn’t obsessively sand, just because we thought a little natural texture would be ok. After sanding use a damp cloth or shop vac with brush attachment to get off any dust. Then, you must prime the ceiling with special drywall primer (Home Depot has a big 5-gallon tub for $50 or so). You can sand again (and clean again) after priming if you want. Then you should apply 2 coats of paint. The clean-up is the daunting part. We used plastic and tarps and did 2 rooms at once. In hindsight, I wish we had used the rosin paper mentioned above for the floors as it would be easier to sweep/vac up. My biggest piece of advice: completely seal off the room you are working in. We didn’t do this at first and the dust from knocking the ceiling down and sanding gets all over EVERYTHING. Invest in some good waterproof tape that won’t lose it’s hold when it gets a little wet and make sure to vent the room you are working in. Stale, wet dust smells terrible and isn’t good to breath in. This project is definitely a process and takes TIME. Definitely account for that when deciding the sequence of which rooms to do! We have only done 2 rooms in a 2,400 SF house and aren’t excited about repeating the process elsewhere.

  54. Lucky for me who ever put on the popcorn didn’t prime first. It was way easy to come off, don’t even have to use water. But be sure you really want it gone, it is hard on your arms and neck. I had no help and I’m 65. I did it and love the look. Have fun think of the rewards. Thank you for the article.

  55. I always use a garden sprayer. Painted popcorn comes off the easiest, in sheets…unless painted in a semi-gloss (horrid, use a garden hose but only if the house is empty…you can knock the tips off the bumps to allow water penetration). Sponge clean with a grout sponge. Drywall paper holds up well to water…drywall mud is wet! Fill fastener dimples. Prime with hi solids drywall primer. Paint. If you tear up your drywall, there is a primer that penetrates and hardens…i have used it when I removed a backsplash and tore up the drywall. I used Murco but home depot sells another brand. Then you can skim coat with a magic trowel.

  56. I am working on a room with a popcorn ceiling that has been partially primed (due to a water leak) and painted more than one time. I purchased a paint stripper for a particularly nasty section and some of the edges and corners. Should I just follow the directions on the container or are there other steps I should take?

  57. i did 2 ceilings in my house, used garden spryer and water. The ceilings came down pretty easy, except the edges next to the walls? Any suggestions.

    And if anyone has some diy texturing ideas please share. I’m 58 years old and I still enjoy doing home projects myself, but I might not want to attempt the texturing.

  58. My wife and I wanted to repaint our bedroom which had a popcorn ceiling. The room has a tray ceiling and she wanted to paint the sides of the tray ceiling the same color as the adjoining master bath. All the tips above helped me through the project so thanks to all who responded. I also purchased the tool to help remove the popcorn off the ceiling which worked very well but it would be nice if they would make a bag that fit the tool. We just used small bathroom bags, tied the ends and taped down the edges where needed. The tool catches about 98 percent of the popcorn ceiling coming off. I would just say when using the tool don’t angle it so as to “dig” into the dry wall. Let the tool do the work. Adding a little dishwashing liquid to warm Water to spray on the popcorn ceiling makes the job easier and it loosens the popcorn very well. I found that about 8 to 10 minutes is all I had to wait before I could start scraping the ceiling after spraying. Before you start painting wipe down the ceiling and walls to get residue off after sanding. Sanding and scraping will make a mess and you will need eye protection, breathing mask, and some type of covering for the floor. Actually after doing this job I can see why it cost so much to hire it done.

  59. After removing Popcorn ceiling. We are have difficulty applying finish (Stomped drywall texture) Is there something in the Popcorn finish (residue) that would cause the new material to peel off?

  60. I followed the basic procedures noted using a spray bottle to mist the ceiling. After scraping with a putty knife, I used a damp sponge and mopped the ceiling to remove any remaining popcorn. This really gives a smooth ceiling to work with. I use joint compound sparingly to cover any remaining imperfections. Once the joint compound is dry, I use the damp sponge to “sand” the repaired places. I rarely have to dry sand. The ceiling is now ready for priming.

  61. After reading all this info on removing popcorn from the ceiling, I am now wondering where these people find the tools? I am especially leaning towards using a shop vac with brush attachment and drywall sander that can attach to a shop vac. But where do I find these tools? So far, all I can find is the scraper with the garbage bag attachment at Home Depot or Lowes. Is there anyone out there who can let me know where to obtain these tools? OR, who is done with their job, that has those tools – that still work – and willing to sell to me? For me the shop vac looks the best way to go. Thanks to everyone for the great tips!!!

  62. Never mind my comment. I went online – should have done that first! -and actually found a shop vac with brush attachment (Ace Hardware) and a drywall sander (Hyde Tools) that fits a shop-vac. What a relieve…I can’t wait to get going!!!

  63. after removing my textured ceiling there is still a thin layer of compound and vacuming and wiping with a damp sponge there still remains some dust.Will P.V.A.primer still adhere to the ceiling before i retexture. Can not seem to get a clear answer to this.


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