Removing a Popcorn Ceiling

Texturizing a ceiling with popcorn was really popular during the 70’s, but as everyone knows, fashion changes from year to year and the popcorn ceiling is unsightly to say the least.  Though no one is having their ceilings lined with a popcorn finish, you can still find them in houses and apartments in every city.

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So how do you get rid of this texturizing?  Well first thing’s first, know your limitations.  If you aren’t the least bit handy then we recommend hiring out a professional drywall repair company to remove it for you.  We called around to several local drywall contractors in Aurora IL and all but one were willing to perform the work.  If you happen to get in touch with a larger company wanting to do larger projects then you can also try reaching out to a local handyman.

Assuming this is a project you are capable of doing, you always want to think of safety first.  Since popcorn was popular decades ago, there is a chance that it may contain asbestos and may be painted with paint that includes lead.  Asbestos is an extremely tough and durable fiber that is very difficult to break down.

When the fibers are inhaled into the lungs they can cause chronic conditions such as asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma.  As long as the fibers remain in tact, they will not cause harm, but as soon as they are broken down the particles in the air can be inhaled and can cause health concerns.  Again, if this is a concern for you, it’s better that you hire a professional to assist you with this project.

Removing popcorn ceilings isn’t difficult by any means, it may require a bit of elbow grease but it’s a relatively simple process overall.  You’ll first want to make sure that you protect the floors, walls and furniture by covering them up with a sturdy painters cloth. The dust gets everywhere and it so much easier to take the extra step beforehand than to try to get dust out of the crevices of your couch.

First look to see if your ceiling is painted, if so, grab a floor scraper to loosen the surface.  By taking this step first you’ll be you’ll be loosening the paint so it is much easier to remove the popcorn material from the ceiling.  The goal at this point is to remove as much of the paint as possible to expose the popcorn material.

Using a hand pump sprayer (similar to the kind you use on your lawn) spray a mist of water on your ceiling.  You don’t want to soak your ceiling so that it’s dripping wet, but you want to moisten the popcorn so that it becomes much easier to scrape off.  You’ll also want to be careful not to penetrate the skin of the drywall either. Start off with a little and gradually add more. You’ll notice the difference as you spray water little by little.  The mist of water will also help keep the dust from blowing all over your house and will encourage settling directly down to the ground.

As the popcorn becomes easier to work with, take your scraper and use a good amount of pressure to scrape the popcorn off until you end up with a fairly smooth, damage-free drywall surface.  Attack this job in sections like a one or two square foot area and once that area has been completed then move on to another one or two square foot section. This makes a clear delineation between areas that have been completed and areas that still need work done.

Once the entire ceiling has been completely finished allow the ceiling to completely dry.  You’ll notice a change in color and should be completely dry to the touch. Roll up the floor protector and toss any debris in the garbage.  This helps so that you aren’t walking all over it and dragging it across the house. If you used a disposable plastic protector then roll it up making sure to get all the debris with it.  Throw the entire plastic sheet out and replace it with another fresh sheet of plastic.

Now that the entire ceiling has been allowed to thoroughly dry, grab some drywall mud and apply it to any areas that have holes, crevices or uneven areas and make sure everything is completely smooth.  If the drywall isn’t completely smooth then you’ll notice these flaws down the road. You can now retexture the ceiling with any finish you’d like or you can prime the ceiling if you’re looking to paint a different color.

We called up a drywall installation company in Aurora IL that was able to do both the removal of popcorn and refinish the paint as both services go hand-in-hand.  If this is a project you’d rather hand off to a professional then you should have no problem getting a drywaller to do it for you either.