How to Get Rid of a Popcorn Ceiling


In the 1960’s and 1970’s, many houses were made with popcorn ceilings. It was a popular trend that still exists in homes that were built during this time. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t like these kinds of ceilings and would prefer to get rid of them. This is a project that can be done by most homeowners, although it does take some time and will make a bit of a mess. Still, it’s a straightforward process that does not require a professional. Here are a few options for getting rid of a popcorn ceiling.

Check for Asbestos

Some popcorn ceilings were made with asbestos, which can be dangerous to remove. To find out if the ceiling has asbestos, dampen a few small areas of the ceiling. Then, scrape a square inch patch from each area and place it into a plastic bag. A local lab can test these samples and find out if there is asbestos in the ceiling. If the test is positive, it’s usually a good idea to leave it or call a professional to redo the ceilings and get rid of the asbestos.


This method is the most time consuming, but could be the easiest way of getting rid of a popcorn ceiling. First, move all the furniture out of the room. If there’s anything that can’t be moved, make sure to cover it to avoid getting water or popcorn dust on it. Also, place tarps on the floor and hang plastic sheets on the walls to protect them. Next, dampen an area of the ceiling using water, but make sure not to soak it. Next, take a taping knife and scrape the popcorn from the ceiling. Repeat this process until the entire ceiling is free of popcorn. It is advisable to wear long sleeves and safety goggles during this part to protect skin and eyes. After the popcorn has been removed, the ceiling might need to be sanded, spackled and repainted to make it smooth. Once caution for this method is not to get the ceiling overly wet. Soaking the ceiling can cause the water to go through the popcorn and into the drywall. This can result in discoloration and stains. It also makes the drywall weak and easy to tear.


Another method for removing a popcorn ceiling is to use a sander. The ceiling can be dry sanded to remove the popcorn. The easiest way to do this is to attach a sanding pad at the end of a long pole, such as a mop or broom. Then, rub the sanding pad back and forth over the ceiling until it is smooth. Make sure to only sand to remove the popcorn and any leftover high spots. Too much sanding can weaken the drywall and damage it. The downside of doing it this way is that a lot of drywall dust from the sanding will be created. This dust is very fine and can easily be spread throughout the rest of the house.


Installing an entirely new ceiling over the popcorn ceiling is another method. This is literally covering up the popcorn ceiling by putting in a new drywall ceiling. The downside is that the room would lose at least one inch of height and that it is a technically harder project than the scraping method. However, for a homeowner that’s experienced in these types of projects, this method probably comes with the least amount of hassles.

Popcorn ceilings were extremely popular forty years ago, but most people do not like the look of them today. Fortunately, there are a few good methods for removing this texture. The easiest and most commonly used method is the scraping method. This is also the method that will take the most time and the most manual labor, however. For homeowners that have some experience with drywall, it might be easier and less time consuming to install a new drywall ceiling over the popcorn ceiling. Regardless of the method used, a smooth textured ceiling will make the room look updated and fresh.

This post was written by

jasonjason – who has written posts on Home Tips Plus.
I'm a father of three, married and a home owner since 2006. I've worked in fixing up homes and rental properties.

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