8 Simple Popcorn Ceiling Removal Tips

Published On: May 5, 20200 Comments on 8 Simple Popcorn Ceiling Removal TipsTags: Last Updated: February 11, 20244.8 min read

Popcorn ceiling is so not trending! And while it seems like a lot of work, fortunately, popcorn ceiling removal isn’t that hard. A regular DIY part-timer can handle this job and make a ceiling look modern once again. With a little time, some safety practices and protective gear, and some manual effort you can rid your home of uncool popcorn ceilings.

8 Simple Popcorn Ceiling Removal Tips

To help you get cool, modern ceilings in your home, we’ve put together 8 tips. Follow these tips and you’ll safely and professionally remove popcorn ceiling.

  1. Test a Sample Area

The first thing to do when you start your popcorn ceiling removal project is to test a small area. Squirt water onto a small section of the ceiling. Let it soak in for a little while. Then, with a putty knife, scrape away the wet area. This test will tell you if there is paint in the texture mix or if it was painted over at some point. If the popcorn scrapes off easily there is no paint in it. If it doesn’t scrape away you will have to consider other ways to remove the popcorn ceiling.

  1. Check for Asbestos

A second benefit of doing a test is to check for asbestos. Popcorn ceilings from before 1979 might have asbestos in them. When you scrape the test area keep some of the scrapings and put them in a baggie. You will have to send the scrapings to a lab for checking. You can use a home testing kit. These are available from hardware stores. Even with a home testing kit, you might have to send the samples to a lab.



  1. Popcorn Ceiling Removal by Scraping

The most common way to do popcorn ceiling removal is to scrape it off. This is a laborious task and a messy one. But it is the cheapest and easiest way to get rid of that popcorn ceiling. You’ll need a wide putty knife or a drywall taping knife, a water sprayer, and protective equipment. Round off the edges of the putty knife. Doing this will help avoid gouging the drywall under the popcorn ceiling. Work in small areas at a time. Don’t try to take on the whole ceiling in one go. Use a step ladder so that you aren’t reaching too high above your head.

  1. Prep for a Mess

Scraping a popcorn ceiling is messy. You need to prep the whole room to make sure you don’t damage things in the room. Remove all furniture or cover it with plastic sheets. Tape the sheets around the furniture if you don’t remove it. Take all light fixtures off the ceiling. Cover the holes or fixtures that remain in the ceiling. You don’t want water or scraped ceiling getting in the holes. Cover walls with plastic sheets, too. In fact, if you can, cover pretty much everything, especially the floor. Remember, this is a messy job.

  1. Moisten the Ceiling

Use a large water sprayer to wet the ceiling. Spray the area you want to work on and let the water soak in for 10-15 minutes. You want the texture mix to be moist so that it is easier to scrape. Don’t soak the ceiling. You want it damp but not dripping. If, after 15 minutes, the texture doesn’t come off easily try wetting it again. If it still doesn’t scrape away after that there’s probably paint in the texture. You can dry scrape the top off the texture. That night get rid of the paint if it was painted over. After you have dry-scraped it, try wetting it again.

8 Simple Popcorn Ceiling Removal Tips - moistening

  1. Wear Goggles and a Mask

You must wear goggles and a protective mask. Scraping a popcorn ceiling is dirty and dusty. Even if you don’t have asbestos in the popcorn ceiling texture, you still don’t want the dust getting in your eyes and lungs. You might also want to wear older clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty.

  1. Sand and Finish

Once you have scraped the popcorn ceiling off you will need to finish it. After scraping you will find holes and dents. Use sandpaper to lightly sand the exposed drywall. After you have sanded it down you will need to apply a new finish. If the drywall is smooth or looks the way you want it you can paint it. Alternatively, you might want to put a new texture finish on the ceiling.

  1. Cover It Up

If scraping isn’t an option for popcorn ceiling removal you can cover it up instead. There are two main options to consider. The first is to cover it with new drywall. The second is to add a different ceiling such as tongue-and-groove planking. Either of these options is harder DIY projects. You’ll need someone to help install the new drywall or ceiling. Covering over the old popcorn ceiling is a good way to deal with potential asbestos. You don’t have to do any scraping so you won’t be putting asbestos particles into the air in your home. You could also think about painting over popcorn ceiling as another way to freshen things up.

Get Rid of Your Popcorn Ceiling

No matter how you want to do your popcorn ceiling removal project, it’s messy and labor-intensive. But the end result will modernize your home. Remember to do a test on the ceiling. You want to find out if there’s paint in the texture. You should also check for asbestos if your ceiling is older. Prep the room and wear protective equipment. This is a messy project!

For more great tips on home DIY projects visit our website often. We’ve got articles to help you do your best work. From apartment living to garden designs, we’ve got you covered.


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