popcorn ceiling

Popcorn is a great snack while watching a movie. But no one wants to see popcorn ceilings in a home anymore. Getting rid of them is a messy job that requires time and effort.

Popcorn Ceilings Are a Thing of the Past

Also known as an acoustic ceiling, this textured treatment was popular from the 1950s to the 1980s. The popcorn ceiling treatment is a spray that was applied to ceilings to cover up flaws and imperfections. It also was used to absorb sound and reduce noise.  Many homeowners used it because it was cheap and less time-consuming than other methods of achieving the same results.

Now homeowners want popcorn ceilings removed for two main reasons: aesthetics and asbestos.  If the popcorn ceiling was installed before 1980, then it’s likely that asbestos is present. Asbestos exposure is a serious hazard that can also be found in attic and wall insulation, roofing shingles, vinyl floor tiles, and steam pipes.

Asbestos is a known cause of lung cancer. It doesn’t pose a health risk if left undisturbed, However, when renovating a home or removing a popcorn ceiling that contains asbestos, the fibers that were once trapped can now fly through the air and into your lungs.

Popcorn ceilings became an eyesore for homeowners who wanted updated decor in their homes. Other reasons for removing popcorn ceilings are the difficult maintenance and attraction of dust and cobwebs.

scientific test

Steps for Removal

Professional or DIY?

First, you need to decide if you want to hire a professional to safely remove the popcorn ceiling or tackle this project yourself. There are some precautions that are necessary for this project, so the DIY decision should not be made lightly.

Before the scraping begins, there are a couple of pre-removal steps that must be completed.

  • Test for Asbestos. Contact your state or local health department to get a sample kit for testing. If the test comes back positive, follow their safety recommendations for removing this material. Some state health agencies may require an asbestos abatement contractor to remove this health hazard from your home.
  • Check for Paint.  Another potential problem that can make removing a popcorn ceiling much more difficult is if paint has been applied over the texture. This prevents popcorn texture from absorbing water, which is necessary to loosen the material.
  • Tools required. The following equipment is required to remove a popcorn ceiling: a garden sprayer, scraper, pole sander, dust mask, old clothes, ladder, eye protection, and drywall compound.

After these tests are taken and the proper tools are acquired, follow these steps to remove the ceiling.

Removal old dirty popcorn ceiling wall background

1. Prep the Area.

Turn the power off to the room. Remove all furniture, ceiling fans, and light fixtures from the room. Walls and floors should be covered with plastic drop cloths. Protect recessed lights by stuffing newspapers inside to keep them dry.  Cover ceiling vents and wall outlets with plastic.

2. Spray with Water.

Fill the garden sprayer with warm water and a little fabric softener. Spray the solution onto the ceiling. Take caution here; if you spray too much water, it could damage the drywall. Let it soak in for at least fifteen minutes.  The textured material should now have the consistency of cottage cheese.

3. Scrape It Away.

Once the popcorn ceiling has loosened, start scraping in small sections. Try to minimize damage to the drywall. If the ceiling was painted, the water will take longer to absorb and may require multiple light soakings.

4. Allow Time to Dry.

Drywall has a paper backing that holds water for a while. Allow the ceiling to dry completely to prevent any water damage.

5. Repair Ceiling Damage

With all the scraping required to remove the popcorn ceiling, there will be a few gouges and scratches in the ceiling. Use a drywall compound to fill in any holes.

6. Get A Smooth Ceiling

To ensure that the ceiling has a smooth finish, sand any material that is left using fine-grit sandpaper. Inspect the ceiling to make sure all the popcorn texture is gone. You don’t want to paint over any bumps.  Wipe all surfaces clean before applying paint.

7. Dispose of Waste. 
Gather all the plastic drop cloths used to cover the room and throw them away. If the debris contains any hazardous materials, you can’t just dump it in the garbage can for regular pickup. There are special facilities that can dispose of it safely.

Let the Professionals Handle It

Popcorn ceiling removal is a messy, time-consuming process. If you don’t have the energy to tackle this project, call Battle Born Painting. We have the necessary tools to get your ceiling back to normal. Once the surface is smooth, we’ll apply a quality paint finish to update your home’s decor. Contact us today for a free estimate.