Popcorn ceiling is made up mainly of chalk, clay and an aggregate. To remove popcorn ceiling you have to wet it, which turns it into a soft gooey mess. Removing popcorn ceiling not going to be an easy project, but with a little preparation you can control the mess. If you are not using a ChipBuddie™ from Dustless Technologies, you’ll have to use the painstaking method described below.
Start by removing anything possible from the room. Protect the floor and anything that had to stay in the room with a thick sheet of plastic. Lay out some old newspaper on the floor on top of the plastic to soak up most of the wet mess from the popcorn ceiling.
A note of caution – if your popcorn ceiling
is from the early 70’s it may contain asbestos. If you suspect your ceiling may be from that era, remove a small piece of the popcorn ceiling and send it in for testing. If the popcorn ceiling does contain asbestos, it will have to be removed by professionals who can also dispose of it properly to reduce the cancer risk asbestos can pose for you and your family.
Wear some old clothes, a hat to keep the goop out of your hair, and protective eyewear. A respirator of some sort or at least a mask to keep most of the dust particles out of your lungs is a good idea as well, unless you are using a ChipBuddie™ dustless scraper.
Use a spray bottle and completely saturate part of the popcorn ceiling. Let it soak in for a few minutes and then use a scrapper tool to scrape the gooey mess off your ceiling. A drywall-finishing knife works OK, but not as good as a ChipBuddie™. Hold a bucket under the tool to catch most of the removed popcorn ceiling. Work in small section and keep repeating the process until the popcorn ceiling is removed. Use a wet sponge to wipe off any remaining residue on the ceiling.
You may have to rewet some parts of the popcorn ceiling to get the popcorn to soften up enough to remove it. Try not to wet it more than 2 to 3 times. You don’t want the drywall beneath to get too saturated with water. It may warp or grow mold.
Once the entire popcorn ceiling is removed, let the ceiling dry completely. Now it’s time to sand the entire surface to remove any rough patches. A pole sander works great for this. Give the dust a chance to settle and then use a joint compound to patch any wholes, cracks etc that may have formed on the ceiling. Let the compound dry for about an hour, then lightly sand over it to smooth it out.
Once you get the mess on the floor cleaned up your new smooth ceiling is ready to be painted.
Acoustic popcorn ceiling removal is not easy, it can’t be done by just anybody. It’s messy and grueling work. To the untrained eye, mistakes generally aren’t glaringly apparent until the paint has dried on the finished ceiling...basically once it’s too late. It takes years to learn how to finish drywall. Do it wrong, and you’ll have to look at that mess every day you’re in your home, or maybe have to spend more money than you should to have it corrected.
removal isn’t just about getting the popcorn off your ceiling. There is way more to it than that. Unfortunately, we frequently get customers who want steep discounts on their ceiling jobs because they removed the popcorn ceiling themselves and want us to finish it and texture it. It just doesn’t work that way. These poor souls unwittingly wasted a huge amount of their time and usually thrashed their ceiling, in an attempt to save money. These folks just grab a spray bottle and a putty knife and start scraping. They get acoustic popcorn ceiling residue on the walls so our tape won’t stick and they make a huge mess of their home. Two big problems: You need to get the popcorn very wet so you can scrape it off easily without damaging the sheetrock underneath, so you’ve got to mask the home to be water-tight. Also, you need to skim the drywall joints and texture the ceiling once the popcorn ceiling is off, so you must mask in order to protect everything. The masking process, which protects your walls and the interior of your home, takes several hours and has to be done no matter what. The actual scraping-off of the popcorn texture of a typical 1400 sq ft home only takes a 2-person crew about 45 minutes. The real work is in the finishing. So, scraping it yourself is not going to save you any money unless you do the complete re-texture and paint process yourself. You need to be careful not to gouge or damage the drywall. Every single tear in the sheetrock paper has to be skimmed with joint compound. The tape joints and nail spots need to be filled and skimmed in order for your ceiling to look smooth and even. Once everything is coated, you then need to apply the popcorn ceiling texture, not to mention the appropriate primer and paint. When we’re finished, we roll up all the mess in our plastic so your home is clean and your ceilings are beautiful. It makes sense that our tried and true method of popcorn ceiling removal should be the way you, as a DIY’er, would complete it, especially if you want a professional result you can be proud of.
So be careful. If you’re thinking about removing your popcorn ceiling yourself, gather all the information you can. Take what you hear with a grain of salt and carefully consider the source before acting on their advice. Put your safety first.
Be sure to check out the Dustless Technologies online video of the ChipBuddie™
dustless scraper that can be used to remove popcorn ceiling.