Various trends come and go. In clothes, it is easier to just stop wearing them and replace them with new ones. However, when you renovate your home, changing old with new trends is not as easy; it will take much more effort. Popcorn ceilings were a rage of yesteryears but now, they are not in trend anymore. That is the problem homes’ and office owners come to face; removing them. It can really be tricky and messy at the same time to remove them. Sure, you can hire professionals to handle the mess but that can be costly. However, with a little effort, this can be done easily by you. Here, in this article, we are going to discuss easy steps to remove popcorn ceiling without seeking professional help.

Step-by-Step Removing Popcorn Ceiling

Tools and material you need:

  • Tank Sprayer
  • Rosin Paper
  • Rags
  • Liquid dishwashing soap
  • Mesh Sanding pad with handle
  • Drywall Compound
  • Clothing protection
  • Drywall tape
  • Wide Putty Knife
  • Plastic Sheeting or any protective covering for your floor and fittings to avoid getting dirty due to mushy mess
  • Frog Tape for fixing plastic sheeting
  • Ladder
  • Breathing mask
  • Water
  • Goggles

Before start scraping, you should be aware about whether the popcorn ceiling contains Asbestos or not. Pre 1980s homes did contain this element, which was later on, banned by environmental agencies as a chemical that causes lung cancer if taken in concentrated amount. Therefore, if you are removing popcorn ceiling from such homes, take maximum precaution before start working on it.

For safe removal of such ceilings containing Asbestos, proper concealment of the rooms should be done. In addition, if you do not know whether the ceiling of your house contains Asbestos or not, you can get it professionally tested to be sure by taking a sample off.

Step 1 Preparing

  1. Before starting the removing popcorn ceiling, it is imperative that you clear the rooms from any furniture or loose fixtures of other kinds. Rest of the room and items, that cannot be removed, should be covered by the plastic sheets completely to avoid any messy aftermath. Use Frog Tape to secure the sheets, especially if the room is carpeted to avoid any dust getting into carpets.
  2. Power supply of the room should be cut off before starting your work. You can use circuit breaker to avoid power supply to whole house. Wall outlets should also be covered by plastic sheet to prevent them from letting water in them during wetting process.
  3. For added ventilation in the room, you may place a fan in the room as well. Never face it towards the ceiling though. Place it at a place, where it does not blow up the dust on the floor as well. It is better to keep it at lowest settings.

Remove Popcorn CeilingOnce all the preparations are done properly, you may start the actual process.

Step 2 Removing the Ceiling

  1. The actual process starts by wetting the ceiling. 4-6 foot square areas are wetted at a time to remove the ceiling properly. For this purpose, the pump sprayer is used which is filled with the solution of warm water and 2 to 3 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid per gallon. After spraying the area, let it sit for at least 15-20 minutes to let the solution soak in entirely and penetrate as deep as possible. As the popcorn surface is very dry and porous, it will easily soak. Soak it time and again as needed.
  2. Once you are sure that the material is now all wet and ready to get off easily, get up on the ladder and start using large 6-inch floor scraper or a large putty knife and start scraping gently the popcorns away. You have to be very careful, as you do not want to cip into the drywall itself. Neither do you want to damage the tape holding it together. And if you feel that even after 15-20 minutes of soaking has not made the ceiling give way and sticks there, it is better to repeat the soaking process to soften the surface and wait further for 10 to 15 minutes to let the water soften the material to desired consistency.
  3. After you are done with removing most of the ceiling using large scraper, use small putty knife to scrape off the rest of the material and to get corners clear of residual ceiling. Keep on working around the room until the ceiling is clear of all the material perfectly.

Removing the Ceiling

Step 3 Finishing

  1. Once all the texture is taken off completely, let the ceiling dry fully if it is wet. You may notice some of the sheetrock peeking through parts of the ceiling. It is nothing to be worried about so long as the surface itself, is smooth. To get perfectly finished and smooth look, you should sand down the entire ceiling.
  2. It also happens more often that while removing texture, some of the drywall gets chipped away as well which should be repaired before you proceed to next step. Do not worry; repairing is quite simple. If the hole is big, use joint compound and tape just like you would repair any drywall area. Let the compound to dry for at least 24 hours. Use sand paper to smooth it before moving on to the next step.
  3. Once drying process completes and it is smooth, prime the ceiling with you choice wall primer and paint it with your desired colour. For best and long lasting solution and finishing, make sure you use ceiling-specific latex paint.
  4. Once the paint dries completely, make sure you dust and clean up the area thoroughly before removing the sheets and restoring the power of the room. Carefully remove the plastic sheeting from the floor and wall outlets ensuring no scraped mess spills over. Clean up floors thoroughly and in case of carpeting, vacuum clean the whole area.

Finishing Removing Popcorn Ceiling

Benefits of Removing Popcorn Ceiling

Popcorn ceiling or acoustic ceiling was rage in the 70s and 80s but not anymore. Modern renovation calls for removal of popcorn ceiling if you have any. Apart from giving, a modern look being your motivation for removing acoustic ceiling, there are other benefits as well that will definitely make your decision even more rational and timely. Here they are.

Eliminate the Element of Asbestos

Back in 60s and 70s, many building materials contained Asbestos like tiles, insulation and popcorn ceilings. Asbestos is a toxic and hazardousmaterial that can be a cause of mesothelioma, which is a specific form of lung cancer, if inhaled in concentrated amount. In addition, as it is present in the indoor furnishing in the form of tiling or popcorn ceiling, you will be exposed to this toxic material for longer period of time.

Make you Ceiling Easy to Clean

Cleaningthe ceiling can become a real headache with all the crevices and ridges you have to negotiate during the whole process. Moreover, having popcorn ceiling means cleaning the ceiling more often than other ceilings. While running a cloth or trying to clean by vacuum, you have to be really careful so that you do not chip the material and let Asbestos become airborne. Smooth ceilings are easier to maintain and clean.

It is Easier to Paint Over

With popcorn ceiling, it becomes troubling proposition to repaint. Smooth ceilings are way easier to paint anytime you want. With popcorn ceiling however, it is very tough and you need to be extra careful if you do not want damage it. It is yet another reason to remove the popcorn ceiling to make your life easier.

It Looks Better

Smooth ceilings give a better look as compared to acoustic ceiling as it looks more sleek and contemporary. Moreover, with light being trapped in the ridges, the popcorn ceiling makes the room look darker as compared to the room with smooth ceiling.

These are very persuasive reasons to remove the popcorn ceiling and make your life easier and your rooms look more modern.

Cost to Remove Popcorn Ceiling

The average cost paid by homeowners for removal of popcorn ceilings amounts to $1,439. That is, $1- $2 per square foot of ceiling. This is a high cost, of course. There are people who are paying for this task ranging from $788 to $2,130 as well. However, if you do it yourself, the cost decreases to mere $100 – $300. This is a huge difference we are talking about here.

The high cost is expected when you consider:

  • Labour hours
  • Professional hired
  • Per square foot
  • Removal of furniture
  • height and difficulty level of reaching the ceiling
  • Repainting job, if added in the assigned work
  • Asbestos removal

Therefore, these factors all combine to formulate the total cost of the job.


As obvious from the steps to remove the acoustic ceiling, it is not that difficult a proposition to perform this job on DIY basis at all. All you need is to be careful and follow every step as directed, especially the part of preparing the room for removal of the ceiling. Other steps are also easy to follow and can be done by non-professionals. This reduces the cost greatly which you have to pay if you decide to acquire a professional help. Removing the textured ceiling is not only the need of trending aesthetics, but also became necessary to avoid direct or indirect contact with toxic substance, Asbestos. In addition, Smooth ceilings are easy to maintain and easy to repaint.