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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.
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Tools & Materials Needed:
- Tank Sprayer – I used my HomeRight one
- Wide Putty Knife
- Plastic Sheeting (If you want to keep a mushy mess from getting on your floor and ceilings)
- FrogTape (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.
Before you start anything you need to determine whether or not your ceiling could contain asbestos. If your house was built prior or around 1978, your ceiling could contain asbestos. You can get it checked for asbestos before proceeding. Our house was built in 1969, but our contractor said we were in the clear of asbestos when we took out a wall and cut into the ceiling.
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 tank 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.
Put on your breathing mask. Seriously, put it on. I mean it.
After you spray down the ceiling completely the second time, go back to where you began, take your putty knife and scrape the popcorn 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.
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 end up with these spots:
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.
Those spots where I tore the paper on the drywall need to be fixed.
Lightly sand them to make them as even as possible, then spackle as needed. Allow the spackle to dry and then sand them smooth.
You 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.
Have you removed popcorn ceilings before?
If so, I hope you didn’t make all the mistakes I did. I’m sure you were much smarter than that.
See the full Preppy meets Hollywood Regency Bathroom Makeover here.
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!
You know you don’t wanna miss any of this crazy.
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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by HomeRight, however all opinions and popcorn ceiling messes are 100% mine.