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How To Remove Popcorn Ceiling Texture – The Best Method

Popcorn Ceilings were a style that “for some reason” was all the rage back in the 1960s and 1970s. Hiding construction imperfections and soundproofing was the goal of this style. But, it’s led to one huge problem. Popcorn ceiling textures can change the whole look of a room and really date a house.

How To Remove Popcorn Ceiling Texture
How To Remove Popcorn Ceiling Texture

So what’s a homeowner to do? Is there a way to even remove these beastly, unwanted finishes? In this post, you’ll learn all about how to remove popcorn ceiling texture. We will walk you through the strategic steps to take for popcorn ceiling removal.

What Is Popcorn Ceiling Texture?

A popcorn ceiling texture is a type of ceiling sprayed with an acoustic texture to create cottage-cheese-looking bumps. This acoustic texture consists of tiny styrofoam balls mixed into drywall compounds and was used to reduce the sound coming from upstairs residents or roof noises.

It’s also cheap and super easy for a professional painter to apply. It’s as simple as mixing up the texture, loading it in a spray gun hopper or equivalent tool, hooking that tool up an air compressor, and finally spraying it onto your ceilings. The painter then covers the surface with a coat of paint, and it’s a finished product.

What a popcorn ceiling looks like up close
What a popcorn ceiling looks like up close

Adding a popcorn ceiling texture was sometimes a scandalous way for builders and painters to hide imperfections without the worry of the homeowner finding out. In addition, popcorn ceilings were thought to muffle echoes and sounds in your home.

Unfortunately, this look has become so out of style that it’s time to get it off your ceilings. So here’s how to remove popcorn ceiling texture in ten easy steps.

Tools and Materials Needed To Remove Popcorn Ceiling Texture

Here’s a comprehensive list of all the tools and materials you’ll need to effectively remove popcorn ceiling texture.

Step 1: Perform a Scrape Test

First, before you even begin removing popcorn ceiling texture, you’ll need to perform a scrape test. You will need to dampen the popcorn ceiling textures with water and lightly scrape a smaller area to accomplish this test.

This test will tell you one of three things:

First, does water soaks into the popcorn texture when you spray your ceiling? If so, you will be able to scrape it off your ceiling easily.

Second, do you find that water will not soak into the popcorn texture when dampened? This reaction means when applied, your ceiling texture was mixed with paint, which will make removal more challenging.

Thirdly, you may run into the case of a completely painted-on texture. This texture is the most complicated type to remove and will require more than water and a scraper.

Step 2: Test for Asbestos

Make sure to remain healthy while doing this project! To accomplish this, you’ll need to test your ceiling for asbestos, especially if your home was built before the 1980s, before removing popcorn ceiling texture.

To test for asbestos, you can either contact your local health department and have them come out and do a test for you, or you can get an at-home asbestos testing kit.

Asbestos is known as a leading cause of lung cancer. So testing your popcorn ceiling is crucial for your health and should never be skipped.

Practice Safety

Please, with any project, always practice safety first when it comes to home improvements. In addition to your plastic drop cloth and ventilated space, you will want to wear eyewear, gloves, and a mask for your protection.

How To Remove Popcorn Ceiling Texture - The Best Method 1

Step 3: Protect the Floors and Furniture

First, it would be best if you made sure to clean your room out thoroughly, including any furniture. Moving furniture may feel like a hassle, but the reasoning for this is you need to be able to make messes without worry. You’ll also need to make sure you can move your ladder around the room without any barriers.

Because scraping off the popcorn texture on your ceiling is a very messy project, you’ll want to cover all your floors and walls with a plastic drop cloth. Choose a plastic drop cloth over a canvas drop cloth, as plastic will collect moisture better, and you can dispose of the mess properly.

Protecting furniture and floors with plastic drop cloths before removing popcorn ceiling texture
Protecting furniture and floors with plastic drop cloths before removing popcorn ceiling texture

An important tip: Make sure to open windows and doors before beginning your project. Proper airflow will allow some outside air to circulate your room and keep your lungs clear of dust.

Step 4: Remove All Your Electrical Fixtures and Ceiling Fans

When it comes to how to remove popcorn ceiling texture safely, You’ll never want to spray water into an electrical fixture accidentally. This is why it’s wise to remove them altogether. Save yourself the trouble and practice safety when carrying out home projects!

We can promise you again, like removing your furniture, it’s not going to be easy to keep light fixtures intact, trust us.

Step 5: Protect Recessed Can Lights If Needed

Do you have recessed can lights? If you have recessed lighting, another essential thing you need to do is prep these areas properly.

This is an example of a recessed can light
This is an example of a recessed can light

First, before anything, always remember to turn off the power to these areas from your circuit breaker.

To keep these areas dry, stuff newspapers inside your canned light areas. Good prep work will prevent moisture from entering your light sockets and fixtures.

Step 6: Wet The Ceiling With A Misting Pump Sprayer

Using a misting pump sprayer, such as the kind you’d use for your lawn or garden, can be helpful if you use it correctly, but proceed with caution! A misting pump sprayer could also help reduce the amount of dust removing a popcorn ceiling produces and might make it easier for you to scrape.

spraying a ceiling with water to prep for removing popcorn ceiling texture

If you choose to use a pump sprayer, spray lightly, let the wet popcorn texture soak for 15-20 minutes, then start scraping. Always ensure first the popcorn ceiling texture is soggy and has completely absorbed in the water.

Please always be careful with the amount of water you use; too much water will damage your ceiling instead of updating it.

Step 7: Remove Popcorn Ceiling Texture With a Scraper

To remove popcorn ceiling texture from your ceiling, you’ll want to use a wide putty knife.

Always make sure never to cut into or gouge your ceiling. Updating your ceilings is the ultimate goal, never damaging it. Lightly scrape as you go to achieve the best results.

How To Remove Popcorn Ceiling Texture
Removing Popcorn Ceiling Texture

Remember that you’ll want the popcorn texture on the ceiling to be damp but never soaked, so the ideal route to take is waiting the 15-20 minutes to ensure it’s wet first, then start scraping.

Step 8: Sanding Down, Priming, and Painting Your Ceiling

Finally, when you have finished removing popcorn ceiling texture from your ceiling, now prep your ceiling for painting. To paint your ceiling, you’ll first want to apply a good primer and allow that to dry thoroughly.

Next, when your primer is thoroughly dry, you can apply a coat of interior ceiling paint. Always make sure you allow the paint to dry thoroughly between each coat for the best results!

painting a ceiling after removing popcorn ceiling texture

Once your first coat of paint is dry, go back in for a second coat. Since you’ve applied primer, two coats of paint are all you’ll need to finish your ceiling’s new look.

Step 9: When To Hire a Professional To Remove Popcorn Ceiling Texture

If you’ve run into trouble with learning how to remove popcorn ceiling texture or read our guide and realized this is not something you want to try and attempt, please look into hiring an experienced professional.

There’s absolutely no shame in ensuring the project of removing popcorn ceiling texture is done right the first time with no chance of damages to your ceiling.

Step 10: Alternative Ways To Update Your Ceiling

If you find your popcorn textured ceiling is mixed with paint or directly painted on, consider covering the areas.

You’ll find that most popcorn ceilings with mixed-in paint or strictly painted textures are very difficult to remove altogether. It’s a risk to take that could end up causing a lot of damage to your ceiling, and we would much rather see you covering it up than having to deal with ceiling damage.

To carry out an updated look by covering your ceiling, you could try using faux tin tiles. Faux tin tiles can be attached using construction adhesives.

If you like the look of wood panel styles, this is another good choice. To apply wood paneling to your ceiling, attach the paneling using a nail gun directly into your ceiling. Always test the area before removing your hands to ensure it’s secure!

Wrapping Up How To Remove Popcorn Ceiling Texture

If you took on this big project, pat yourself on the back! Learning how to remove popcorn ceiling texture was no easy feat, but hopefully, this guide by DIY Painting Tips made it all a bit smoother! We would label this home improvement project as an intermediate to expert level project.

Now that you’ve correctly scraped, sanded, primed, and painted your new flat ceiling, it’s time to enjoy the fantastic results of your now updated ceiling. You can rest assured you have increased the value of your home since most home buyers and owners prefer a style of flat ceilings.

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