Is your ceiling sporting that (not-so) glorious popcorn texture that was once so popular? Mine was too until I decided to pull a little DIY popcorn ceiling removal. Read on to learn how to remove popcorn ceiling the right way – and what not to do. Learn from my mistakes, friends.
Friends, this is one of those projects that is not for everyone.
Removing a popcorn ceiling is not necessarily hard, but its messy.
And did I say it was messy?
Oh and this single project is what sparked the entire makeover of the bathroom.
However, in the end, for me, it was worth it.
Lucky for you, I screwed up multiple times during this process and can tell you exactly what not to do.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by HomeRight, however all opinions and popcorn ceiling messes are 100% mine. This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
How to Get Rid of Popcorn Ceilings
*Before you start anything you need to determine whether or not your ceiling contains asbestos. If your house was built prior or around 1978, your ceiling could contain asbestos. You can do testing for asbestos by using this kit.
Tools & Materials Needed:
- Tank Garden Sprayer – I used this one.
- Wide Putty Knife
- Plastic Sheeting or Drop Cloths (If you want to keep a mushy mess from getting on your floor and ceilings)
- FrogTape or Painter’s Tape (needed if you use the plastic sheeting)
- Breathing Mask
- Safety Glasses / Goggles
What You May Need if You Screw Up Like I Did:
- Joint Compound
But you are going to pay close attention to the what not to do’s and not need those last two items above, mmkay?
Learn from my mistakes, y’all.
Remove any light fixtures and cover up the wiring so that it isn’t exposed to water. Also be warned that when water hits a hot light bulb, the bulb will bust. Yes, this may have happened to me.
If you want to avoid a big mess, at this point you need to run the plastic sheeting all along your walls and floors securing it with tape along the edges. If you like big messes or you really don’t care to clean it up, you can skip this part.
Guess who skipped this part because she may have been a bit too impatient?
Yep. I’m still cleaning popcorn ceiling remnants out of my grout.
And yes, I realize that was more like three different steps, but its all just prep work.
Fill up your garden sprayer with water. Nothing else, just plain water. Do not fill it so full that it is too heavy to carry across your shoulder while you are on the ladder. Yes, I nearly toppled myself over because of that.
Pump up the pressure on your tank sprayer and aim your nozzle toward the ceiling. Begin spraying the water directly onto your popcorn ceiling. Wear safety glasses / goggles to keep the water from dripping onto your eyes and eventually the popcorn. Do not try to be a rebel and not wear them. Take it from me.
If you are working in a small space, as my bathroom was, then spray the entire ceiling down at once. If it is a large space, work in sections.
After you spray the entire ceiling down once, go back to where you began and spray it down again.
How to Scrape Popcorn Ceilings
Put on your breathing mask. Seriously, put it on. I mean it.
After the water has had about 15 minutes to soak in, go back to where you began spraying, take your putty knife and scrape the ceiling texture right off the ceiling.
If it doesn’t come down easily with one scrape, stop and let the water soak in more or spray more water on the ceiling. Do not think that constantly scraping it will make it come down. Wait until it is soaked through and it will come down super easily – like mush. Literally.
Keep the putty knife flush against the ceiling and don’t angle it on the ends one way or the other.
Ok, so see that small putty knife I was using? This works so much better and goes faster with a wider, larger putty knife. The small one is good for going back and getting small pieces of popcorn you missed, but a larger one is better overall.
Where was my large putty knife you ask?
Buried in a box of sandpaper that I found after I had scraped the ceilings. Story of my life.
Do not think that you can leave small pieces of popcorn behind.
All those small pieces gotta go too. If they dry before you get to them, wet them back down and then scrape.
When scraping the popcorn off, try to keep the putty knife as level as possible against the ceiling. Do not put too much pressure on the edges or you will gouge the ceiling:
Where you see the brown is where I put too much pressure on one side of the knife and took off some of the drywall paper. Not good, but fixable.
In the end, you will be left with this:
The above picture is why you tape plastic sheeting up. I think the picture proves the value of this.
After you have scraped all the popcorn off, allow the ceiling to fully dry. If you scored an A+ in following my what not to do’s, then you may not need to do this step.
If you do have some spots, like I did, where the paper on the drywall tore or you gouged the ceiling, you’ll need to fix them now.
Lightly sand them to make them as even as possible, then spackle as needed. Allow the spackle to dry and then sand them smooth.
If the ceiling is really bad, you might need to skim coat the whole ceiling with drywall mud, let dry, then sand.
You should only need one coat of primer. This just helps to seal the drywall and keep your ceiling paint from soaking in too much and requiring multiple coats.
At this point, you can paint your ceiling white or whatever color you want to paint it.
Oh, you are wondering if I was just lazy and left my ceiling primed? Nope…..I painted it PINK and added some faux white moldings to it. See that tutorial here!
Have you done a DIY popcorn ceiling removal before?
Share your experience in the comments!
More helpful ceiling posts:
Not ready to take the plunge into removing your popcorn ceiling? I totally get it – see these ideas instead for distracting from your popcorn ceilings!
Painted Ceiling Designs – you’ve banished the popcorn, now make that ceiling shine!
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