Are you selling your home or just want it to get a fresh modern feel? You aren’t alone as the home improvement business is expected to skyrocket to a $464 billion industry by 2022.

This projection shows the desire and need to keep your home’s value in check. And nothing says out-dated like a popcorn ceiling that makes your room look smaller and is a clear sign that you haven’t made an upgrade since at least the 1980s.

Learn how to remove popcorn ceiling with these 5 simple tricks and tips that will help you keep the mess and labor to a minimum. 

popcorn ceiling texture
Popcorn ceiling texture

1. Test for Asbestos

Unfortunately, many contractors included asbestos when building homes prior to the 1980s (it’s use was banned in 1977). This means that some popcorn ceiling removal processes can be unsafe as the substance will be released in the air.

It is important to buy a home test kit or hire a professional to make sure your ceiling is asbestos free before beginning. If you have asbestos in your ceiling, removing it on your own is too risky. Hire a contractor to do the job safely.

the right tools for the job

2. Get the Right Tools

If your home is free from asbestos, you can get started by removing popcorn ceiling on your own.

Gather your supplies and set up the work area to ensure your safety and avoid ruining your stuff.

Here are a few things you will need:

  • A plastic sheet to cover the floor 
  • Extra plastic for furniture
  • Painters tape to secure plastic
  • A scraper
  • Water spray pump
  • Mud pan
  • Sand pad
  • Ladder
  • Eyewear
  • Dust mask
  • Gloves

Having these tools will make removal easier and clean up a breeze. Use your safety devices, especially a mask and safety glasses.

Sheetrock Texture - ready to spray
Mask off the floors and everything in the room. Cover the walls with plastic if they are not also being re-textured.

3. Mask Off the Room

If you can, remove everything from the room. It will make your life a lot easier. Cover the floor with plastic. It helps to tape it at the walls to keep it from moving. Now tape plastic to cover the walls, taping up to the corner with the ceiling.

Cover any remaining items and furniture with tape and plastic. Keep in mind you will need to move a ladder around and will need to access the entire ceiling, so carefully plan what you will do with any items that remain.

Avoid getting old popcorn pieces on fans and lights by removing them and covering their access points with newspaper or bags. Cover electrical outlets with painters tape so no dust gets in them.

Remember to shut off the power in your workroom to avoid any electrical shock while working. If you are unsure or don’t have experience with this, hire an electrician or handyman to remove the fixtures for you. We do not recommend doing it on your own.

spray the popcorn with a water bottle

4. Get the Popcorn Wet

The most common way to effectively get rid of popcorn ceiling is to loosen the pieces with water. As long as your popcorn ceiling isn’t mixed with paint, the water will be absorbed and become soft.

If the ceiling is painted with a satin or semi-gloss sheen, the ceiling will have to be dry-scraped since the small amount of water needed will not penetrate the popcorn.

This will require a lot more elbow work, and likely require more touchup work as well to smooth over tape joints and possible gouges in the ceiling from the scraper.

Popcorn free of paint should be sprayed lightly and absorbed for 15 minutes before the scraping begins. If all goes well, it will peel off easily in large pieces.

Dry scraping to remove a popcorn ceiling texture
Use a ceiling scraper, going slowly and smoothly.

5. Go Section by Section

Learning how to remove popcorn ceilings can be a complete failure if you don’t take your time. By spraying the entire ceiling at once, you will actually waste time when the water drys and you will have to repeat the process again.

You will also soak your ceiling by spraying them over and over again. This can cause water damage and create a mess. Only spray an area that you can remove in 10-15 minutes. If the popcorn doesn’t come off easily, wait a few more minutes for the water to soak in.

Be especially careful at corners and at seams in the sheetrock. These spots have more sheetrock compound and can be damaged easily by a scraper. Try to go as smoothly as possible.

Drywall Repair and Texture
Smooth over any rough spots or visible seams and gouges

6. Fix the Rough Spots

Even if you are very careful, you will inevitably have areas that will need to be repaired. Gouges from the scraping knife, corners, and drywall seams are all common areas that need some touch-up.

If you are going for a smooth texture finish, you may have to skim the entire ceiling and sand it a couple times. Even if you plan on spraying a light texture such as an orange peel finish, you will still want to smooth over any obvious imperfections.

Cathedral Ceiling Living Room

7. Spray a New Texture

Before spraying, clean the area of all the popcorn debris you removed. If you don’t, the re-texturing process will kick up a lot more dust and create a mess. You can usually just wrap up the debris in the plastic covering the floor, then re-covering with fresh plastic.

Unless you want a smooth finish, now is the time to spray the new texture. Light orange peel finish is very popular. This slight texture helps hide imperfections in the ceiling and is less work than a truly smooth finish.

Make sure to practice first on a scrap piece of sheetrock of a piece of wood. This will allow you to make adjustments to get the exact finish you want. If you are trying to match an existing texture pattern, it might take you quite a few tries to get it close.

Spray the texture lightly and evenly across the entire ceiling. Try to avoid the urge to spray extra in areas to try and cover visible seams or imperfections. This tends to have the opposite effect and makes the area even more obvious

priming and painting a ceiling
Prime and paint the finished ceiling

8. Prime and Paint

Let it dry completely. The texture and drywall compound should dry to a white finish, so if it is still grey in places, just let it be. If it is not completely dry, you will risk pulling the texture off the ceiling when you begin to paint it.

First apply a coat of primer. We recommend Kilz And Zinsser primers. Primer will seal the drywall and new texture, and provide adhesion for the paint. When the primer is completely dry, apply one or two coats of paint. A paint with primer might only require one coat, whereas other paints are better off with two coats.

Paint the entire ceiling continuously, always keeping a wet edge. This will ensure there are less visible lap marks on the ceiling. Once the ceiling is dry, remove all the tape, plastic, and masking from the work area.

interior painting with gray living room

How to Remove Popcorn Ceiling Professionally

If your entire home is filled with popcorn ceiling, the time and energy put into doing the job yourself will feel unappealing. Plus, you may not have the tools and equipment needed.

So, you might wonder how to remove popcorn ceiling if you don’t want to do it yourself? Hiring a professional can be an easy solution that will not only include popcorn removal but also sanding and painting.

Get started by contacting us to get your home looking like new.