Begin the job on your home in Pittsboro by covering floors and furniture with protective dropcloths, which also help contain the debris. Work in sections to spray the ceiling with water so the popcorn comes off easily with a stiff putty knife. Smart scrapers hold a bucket underneath so not all the debris falls on the floor.
Popcorn comes in two basic varieties. Styrene is light and soft and flakes off easily; vermiculite, with a crunchy, sandy base, is more difficult to scrape. No matter the type, plan to spend a few hours removing the texture in the room. Once one room is mastered, move on to the next.
"It might not be a perfectly flat-looking ceiling when you're finished," says Clay Wilson, owner of Clay Wilson Remodeling in Gladstone, Mo.
How Much Does Removing Popcorn Ceilings Cost: The biggest concern among homeowners when it comes to removing popcorn ceilings is how much it will cost. Removing popcorn ceilings does not have to be a huge expense. On average, popcorn ceiling removal costs anywhere from $1 to $2 per square foot. For an average size home, you are looking at around a couple thousand dollars.
Getting your ceilings textured and painted after removal could certainly add expense. Going with a smooth ceiling will more than likely add cost as it is more labor intensive to install.
You can try to reduce the cost by removing all furniture before professionals arrive. It would also be prudent to test the ceiling for asbestos first to find out whether removal can be done safely without assistance. Otherwise, you can plan on these items being an additional expense.
See a Video on How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings
Sometimes watching a video on certain home improvements can be really helpful. Knowing how to get rid of a popcorn ceiling is one of them. Take a look here at the video on popcorn removal.
Removing a popcorn ceiling can be a wise move especially when you are selling your home. Be sure to research your method of popcorn removal carefully. Always do your due diligence in discovering whether there is asbestos or not.
Getting rid of a popcorn ceiling can be easier than you think as long as you plan ahead.
To have ceilings professionally scraped and repaired with sanding, sealing and painting, plan to spend at least $600 per room.
Hoffower had one of the bedroom ceilings in her 1968 brick house tested for asbestos. The result: 3 percent asbestos. She's uncertain about what course to take. For now, her ceilings show dirt, are difficult to clean and easily chip. She might have the popcorn removed in one room, which she plans to turn into her study and reading nook.
Prime and Paint: Paint the ceiling with paint and roller with an extension attachment. Use a tinted paint that dries white to help you with the process. Americans have a love-hate relationship with popcorn ceilings.
Contractors like them because they're easy to install with a sprayer and they hide imperfections. But homeowners loathe the cottage cheese look.
Removing popcorn ceilings requires prep work and time. Start by choosing a less-trafficked room in the home to start the project, such as an office or guest room. That way if the work doesn't go as planned, at least it won't temporarily destroy the family room or kitchen.
Before scraping popcorn, have the ceiling tested for asbestos. The mineral fibers increase the risk of cancer and lung disease if they are released in the air, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Undisturbed, asbestos is harmless.
Textured ceilings installed before 1980 or sprinkled with glitter probably contain asbestos.
A professional asbestos testing firm can provide instructions on how to take a ceiling sample. Results typically come back in a few days.
If a ceiling contains more than 1 percent asbestos, homeowners can either keep the popcorn or have it professionally removed.
Asbestos-removal companies remove residue by wetting the ceiling and using negative-pressure machines that put the room under vacuum. Expect to pay at least $1,200 per room.
To save the expense, some homeowners ultimately decide to scrape the popcorn themselves.
If a ceiling contains less than 1 percent asbestos, it is safe for homeowners to scrape.
"Maybe it's better to leave the popcorn in the rest of the house alone," she says. "I won't grin, but I'll bear it."
Spray the Ceiling: Fill a spray bottle with warm water, then spray one small section (10 square feet) of ceiling at a time. Let it sit for about 20 minutes. Don’t over saturate the popcorn coating, as it could damage the underlying drywall surface.
Scrape the Ceiling: Slowly remove the popcorn coating from the drywall with a wide drywall scraper, working one section at a time.
Clean Up Debris: Before touching up with drywall compound, roll up the drop cloth and plastic sheeting. Take them outside, and shake out into a garbage bin. Lay the plastic sheeting back down, or lay down drop cloths before proceeding to the next step.
Touch Up Ceiling: Apply drywall compound to any problem areas using a drywall knife to get a smooth skim. Allow to dry overnight, then lightly sand and wipe clean with a sanding block and damp cloth.
A lot of people spray their ceilings with water before scraping to loosen them up. "Not only will it be a sloppy mess, but it will absorb into the ceiling and make it heavy; then it could start to expand and crack. It's more time-consuming, but it's best to scrape it dry."
Affix ceiling-grade gypsum board, which weighs significantly less than standard wall board, right over the existing popcorn ceiling. You'll need to securely screw it into the framing and be proficient at mudding and taping for a seamless job.
This is a better option than scraping if you have lead paint or asbestos, because you can encapsulate the harmful substance instead of sending it airborne. Plus, you'll get the smoothest possible finish, if you mud and tape properly. Alternatively, a team of pros will be able to complete the job in no time. Finally, if the ceiling has damage or if you already need to cut into it to reroute electrical or HVAC, you can make large cuts into the existing substrate without worrying about patching, since they'll soon be covered up anyway.
This method will come at a price—a 4-by-8-foot sheet of ceiling-grade gypsum board costs $9 apiece. It may also be difficult to maneuver the boards single handedly if you're it. And if you have crown molding, you'll likely have to remove it and replace it.
Rent a drywall lift if you're DIYing it. It might cost about $34 per day (The Home Depot; location pricing varies), but it's safer and allows you to get a better handle on the material.
Yes, it's still a texture, but according to Poellinger, it's making a comeback—and it's fairly easy for homeowners to do themselves. Often found in older homes—pre-popcorn-era—this method involves cleaning and prepping the existing substrate with quick-set drywall mud, applying a bonding agent like joint compound, and then applying a finish compound with a trowel or knife to create a new texture.
Many old-house owners want to recapture the history of the home, and a smooth ceiling won't fit the bill. The most important consideration is to make sure the substrate is structurally secure, since adding a wet product could create more weight than the ceiling can handle and cause it to come down. You might need to consult with a contractor before getting started.
If you opt to skim coat, use a quick-set drywall mud, then touch it up with a ready-mixed joint compound. Don't use a ready-mixed material as your base, as it has a higher moisture content and contains silica, which is prone to causing some shrinkage, affecting your final look.
Like cork walls, mirror tiles and avocado- green shag carpet, acoustic ceiling texture was all the rage in the 1970s and 1980s. Builders of thousands of new Colorado homes relied on it for a quick, inexpensive finish.
A stepladder will suffice for a regular 8-foot ceiling. Fill a clean garden sprayer — the kind with a tank and a wand, and not one that’s already been used for yard chemicals — with warm water, adding a squirt of dishwashing liquid. Lozano using suggests an 8- to 10-inch drywall spatula. Shorter and the blade won’t be flexible enough; longer and you’ll risk damaging the drywall.
To contain the mess, you’ll want to scrape into a drywaller’s mud tray and empty it regularly into a garbage bag. Wet mud gets heavy, so get a good supply of bags so you can change them out frequently.
- After scraping off the popcorn, plan on sanding and filling imperfections with drywall compound before painting them.
Very few things date a space like a popcorn ceiling—and not in a charming way. They're difficult to repair, hard to clean, and catch dust easily; but despite all these cons, their popularity exploded beginning in the late 1950s because they made easy work of finishing ceilings and hiding imperfections. If it's time to bid farewell, there are three popular ways to take on the challenge: scrape, cover with a new layer of drywall, or skim coat with plaster to create a new texture. Which is best? Depends on a lot of things, including the age and condition of the substrate (ceiling). We spoke with drywall and stucco expert Mike Poellinger, owner of Poellinger, Inc., in La Crosse, WI, who filled us in on everything a homeowner should know before deciding how to remove their popcorn ceiling.
For this method, you'll want to use a 4-inch utility knife or a drywall knife to chip away at the texture and create a smooth surface. You'll probably need to skim it with a thin layer of joint compound to smooth out imperfections, then sand it smooth before repainting.
Why do it?
This is by far the most common method of popcorn ceiling removal in Pittsboro. Scraping your ceiling is a messy and slow process, but it's the most cost-effective and can be completed by one person. However, popcorn finishes and paint applied before 1979 often contained asbestos and lead, respectively, which could be toxic if sent airborne. If you live in an older home, purchase a home test for lead paint, and consult with an expert about testing for asbestos. If it tests positive, do not scrape it.
If your ceilings are not at risk for asbestos or lead paint, but they have been painted, it may be near impossible to scrape them, since the porous popcorn material will have soaked it up. Drywalling over them may be a better option.
Always test for asbestos before attempting DIY popcorn removal. You can purchase a test kit in the hardware section of the store. If the test is positive, leave this job to the professionals.
Prep the Room
Remove furniture from the space, or move it to the center of the space and cover with plastic sheeting. By laying down a drop cloth and plastic sheeting, you’ll protect flooring and furnishings from dust and debris and it will be easy cleanup after you're done.
First, cover and prep
Remove as much furniture as you can. Cover large pieces, the floor and the walls with plastic sheeting and/or resin paper. Don’t be tempted to skip the step of masking the walls all the way up to the ceiling — this stuff gets everywhere.
Cut the power to overhead lights and fans at your fuse box. Then disconnect them, cover them and mask them off.
You’ll want to wear eye protection and old clothes and keep the kids and pets away while you work. This is going to be a drippy, muddy, high-humidity job. Take frequent breaks to cool down and hydrate.
Spray a 4-foot square of ceiling, wait 10 to 15 minutes and then test it with your scraper. It may take a few tries until you get a feel for the right moisture level. The texture should have the consistency of oatmeal and come off easily, but spray on too much water and you can damage the drywall or loosen the tape that covers its seams.
Holding the scraper at a 45-degree angle, push the texture off the ceiling and into your drywall mud tray, being careful not to break the surface of the drywall underneath. Use a putty knife or painter’s 5-in-1 tool for the edges and corners.
A painted, textured ceiling will need at least two passes; one to remove the layer of bumpy paint, which comes off in sheets, and a second to clean up the loose texture underneath. Then make a final pass with a blade or sponge to catch the shreds you missed.
Some people let everything fall onto the floor covering, which they then roll up and throw away, mess and all. Scraping into a drywall mud tray catches much of the goop, but requires a lot of trips up and down the ladder to dump out the tray.
This reporter got her 10,000 recommended daily steps and the equivalent of 30 flights of stairs during the popcorn-removal process, according to her Fitbit. But she also looked like she’d run the Tough Mudder afterward.
Once the ceiling’s scraped clean, let it dry overnight. Now you’re ready to assess the state of your ceiling and decide whether to call in a professional. It may need damage repaired, seams taped and mudded, nail holes and low spots filled with joint compound and high spots sanded.
The pros will finish what you started with a smooth, skim coat of joint compound, a final sanding drywall primer and finally, two coats of finish color.
Popcorn, or “acoustic” ceilings, were very popular in the 60’s and 70’s. This ceiling treatment was not due to hippies, rock and rock music or psychedelic drugs. They were installed mostly for economic reasons. Finishing a ceiling to smooth drywall was a lot more work, and you still needed to paint it. Popcorn could be applied to simple taped and skim-coated drywall, and when the popcorn dried it was complete. It was cheap and fast, so it was popular with home builders. As with many “short-cuts", the perceived time and work saved came back to haunt us.
Solid preparation work will save time.
The techniques used to remove popcorn ceiling texture are not overly complex, nor do they require fancy tools. The “work” comes in some planned and thorough preparations. This process is a messy one; your hard work up front will save you headaches and time in the clean-up phase. Before you dive into this project, you will need to know weather or not your popcorn contains asbestos. Asbestos was occasionally used for this technique until around 1979. Submitting a small sample scraping to a testing lab, or having a testing outfit come test your home, will put any of these concerns to rest. If you do have asbestos, it’s best to bring in some asbestos removal pros.
How to prepare your floors and walls for popcorn ceiling removal:
Since water and electricity are poor bedfellows, turn off the room’s power at the breaker panel. This will ensure no surprises are encountered if your plastic or taping job should lose its stick.
Since you will be working overhead, safety glasses, a hat or cap and some work clothes or a disposable painter’s “jumpsuit” will keep the popcorn out of your eyes, ears, hair and britches.
Remove all of the room’s furnishings. Not only will they be safely out of way, it is necessary to provide the free space you will need to move about.
The flooring should be covered with 6-mil plastic sheeting that is installed “bath tub” fashion so it extends up the wall about a foot. Tape seams and edges with painters' tape, so every area is fully covered and secured.
The next step is to seal the upper wall with an application of painters' tape about ¼” below the ceiling. Then lightweight plastic sheeting is taped to the “seal” strip of tape you just applied to cover the walls. (The use of lightweight plastic here reduces the chance of it pulling free during installation or during the removal process.)
Overlap the wall’s plastic into the “bath tub” area, but trim it so it does not cover the floor. If you step on wall plastic it is likely to get pulled down.
Secure the wall plastic along the bottom at various locations with more painters’ tape. Some folks will roll out rosin paper over the floor plastic to reduce the slippery nature of walking on plastic and to absorb a bit of the moisture when the debris falls. Bring on the shower cap -- it's time to get out the garden hose.
“Texture covered a lot of imperfections,” says Ramiro Lozano of Gens Remodeling in Aurora. “You don’t have to finish the drywall as well,” apply multiple skim coats or even paint the ceiling afterward.
But roofs leak and homes settle and a damaged popcorn ceiling is impossible to match, says Todd Wortmann, owner of Handypro of Denver. “We’re the bearers of bad news a lot. We start peeling back the onion and find other damage,” he says. “Water uses the popcorn as a wick and spreads.”
Wortmann estimates that 99 percent of homeowners with popcorn ceilings want a smooth, flat finish overhead to brighten their rooms. Not only does popcorn collect dust and spiderwebs, the texture creates shadows that make a space look darker. “The light just gets eaten,” he says.
Having someone to help you move and position the boards is a great help too. Keep in mind that while you can use a few ladders to get up to the ceiling, you will be much happier if you rent a small lift to provide a raised platform to work from. Less fatigue for you, and an easier time ensuring that every little detail is right.
If you are not comfortable with putting up the drywall, you are not alone. Doing it correctly does take a bit more skill than just scraping away the popcorn. It may be worth it to hire a contractor to come in and do the job if you want to make sure that your ceiling looks exactly like you want it to.
The Family Handy Man has an excellent article on how to cover a popcorn ceiling with drywall. It is worth checking out!
3. Applying a new design with skim coat
Although smooth ceilings are desirable in many home renovation projects, there is still a place for texture other than popcorn. Some owners want to achieve a textured look in older homes to regain the original look – the one that existed before popcorn become a hit.
You can create your own texture with some drywall mud, joint compound, and a finishing compound. Using a tool like a knife or a trowel, you can create your own design for a custom texture that is much more expressive than a simple, smooth ceiling.
The process you use is important here, as trying to apply a ready-mixed joint compound directly on the ceiling may cause some shrinkage. You want to apply quick-set drywall mud first, directly on the ceiling, to create a base that you can then apply the joint compound.
Before you start slapping up mud on the ceiling, bring in a contractor to verify that your ceiling is capable of handling the added weight of the mud and joint compound. Older homes can be brittle at times, and the last thing you want is for the ceiling to fall in after you have gone to all the hard work to improve it.
The most common complicating factor in popcorn ceilings is asbestos. Until it was banned in 1978, asbestos was used in ceiling texture, and disturbing it creates a health hazard. Paint and drywall contractors will require that your ceiling be certified free of asbestos before they move forward.
Cost guides provided by Golden-based estimate that popcorn ceiling removal projects in Denver cost an average of $1,500. Professional asbestos abatement more than doubles that cost, to an estimated $3,300.
If your home dates from the early 1980s or earlier, wet down a small patch of ceiling, scrape some texture into a plastic bag and send it to a lab for asbestos testing. An abatement contractor can also be hired to collect materials and recommend solutions. You can find testing labs and abatement contractors through isor or in t phone book.
In the absence of asbestos, popcorn ceiling texture removal becomes a job that’s easy and oddly satisfying. “It’s not that hard,” “It’s just messy.”
With a garden pump sprayer, apply a light application of water to the popcorn ceiling. Allow the water to soak in for a few minutes, then with a wide blade putty knife or drywall tool, scrape it away. For best results, work in sections of about 4-5 sq. ft. at a time.
If your soaking and timing ratios are correct, the offending popcorn will fall in ribbons or clumps to the floor. Some areas may require extra attention, and the trick is to find the perfect water-to-waiting time ratio. When the entire ceiling has been cleared, the mess can be rolled up and disposed of.
It's time for touch-up work and paint.
After the popcorn is gone, you will need to skim coat the seams and complete the final drywall preparation (sanding and touch-up) that was skipped 30-40 years ago. When that is complete, you can add modern texture or go straight to primer and paint. In most cases, this can be completed over the next day or two.
One of the more popular home renovation searches is how to remove a popcorn ceiling. With good reason as popcorn ceilings are no longer an appealing feature in today’s homes.
Popcorn ceilings were all the rage in the 1960s and for many years after – partly because people liked them, and partly because they made building homes that much easier. As a builder, you didn’t have to create a perfect ceiling with all its tough angles and lines. You could just popcorn the ceiling instead, which covered up any imperfections.
Today, few buyers are interested in retaining the popcorn material on their ceilings. The material and texture is unattractive, tends to hold on to dust and makes a space seem smaller and less appealing. So how hard is it to get rid of the popcorn ceiling? Fortunately, there are several ways to take back your ceiling, one of which is sure to fit your needs and your goals for your home.
If you are going to be selling your home, removing a popcorn ceiling can go a long way in helping it sell quicker and for more money. Many buyers today lack the time, motivation or inclination to take on a project such as popcorn ceiling removal.
Heck, many buyers will see a home filled with wallpaper and will balk if they have to remove it. This is why so many real estate agents talk about making homes more appealing before they hit the market. Removing wallpaper certainly falls into that category. Wallpaper dates a house. Most buyers don’t want it as it is extremely personalized.
Removing things like popcorn ceilings and wallpaper is always a good thing when it comes time to sell your property.
Getting Rid of a Popcorn Ceiling
Most resources will tell you to spray the ceiling material and then scrape it off. While there are advantages to spraying – the material comes off more quickly – there are also risks to applying water to your ceiling. The ceiling may absorb water and become damaged. The popcorn material will also absorb water and become difficult to manage.
To use the scraping method, it is best to use a utility knife and chip away at the popcorn material to break it away from the ceiling material underneath. Chances are there will still be imperfections in the ceiling, so you will probably want to smooth over some joint compound and sand the ceiling before you paint.
You can do all your scraping from a ladder, but consider getting a lift or at least a platform to use while you scrape. You may be scraping for hours, and having a stable base to work on will be worth a little extra cost.
CAUTION: Popcorn ceilings were often contained lead and asbestos before 1979. Do not scrape your ceiling if the popcorn was applied before 1979.
If you are not familiar with asbestos, it is a substance that has been known to cause cancer. It has been banned in more than fifty countries although surprisingly not the United States. Asbestos is not something you want to take chances with as it is highly toxic! Asbestos is a primary cause of Mesothelioma cancer.
Here is a good reference on how to find out if your popcorn ceiling has asbestos.
Scraping will also be involved if the popcorn was painted, as the material most likely soaked up the paint. A utility knife won’t be sufficient to scrape through the paint. If asbestos, lead or paint are a concern, choose another option below.
2. Use drywall to cover the popcorn
Cover Popcorn Ceiling With Drywall The danger presented by asbestos is only significant if it becomes airborne. If you can keep the asbestos contained, it won’t present any threat. There are drywall products available that are lighter than the drywall you put on your walls, products that are perfect for mounting on the ceiling – on top of the popcorn – to create a smooth surface and to contain the dangerous material.
Using drywall can be more challenging than scraping, and it does require more money, tools and ideally some help from another person. You will need to screw in the drywall and apply mud and tape to get the look you want – one that is smooth, instead of showing seams.
4. Going over the popcorn ceiling with wood instead
Covering a Popcorn Ceiling With Wood Another possibility is to skip removing the popcorn ceiling altogether and instead apply wood over it. Using wood can make a room far more impressive. By adding wood, you are not only making the room look more handsome but are in the process making the popcorn ceiling go away.
Home buyers love to see details such as wood ceilings. Of course adding wood ceilings to every room in your home would be quite a project and not one worth taking on.
You would use a wood ceiling in a couple of rooms. Maybe your family room and master bedroom would be good options. These are two important rooms in the home that wood would add charm and character.
Armstrong also has some other alternatives to make a bold statement with your ceilings. Check out some of the other alternatives for covering those ugly popcorn ceilings.
Real Estate agents are always recommending ways to make a property more desirable. Add touches such as this can make an impression on home buyers.
Contractor For Popcorn Ceiling Removal
The popcorn ceiling has got to go. You know that much. But is it best for you to do the job, or for you to hire someone else to do it? You will save money, so it has distinct advantages. However, you want a good finished product, so do your research and verify that you feel comfortable with the process you choose.
Scraping all day may be doable while fitting drywall, mudding and seam taping may be less appealing.
Remember, it is better to spend a little more money and be happy with the final product than to find yourself in the middle of a botched job that may be much harder to repair and correct halfway through.
You could try giving it a shot in a smaller room and if it doesn’t work out hire a contractor instead. Remember shoddy workmanship is going to be just as bad as having the popcorn ceiling when it comes time to sell your place in Pittsboro.