An easy way to remove popcorn spray with less mess is to use a spray bottle or lawn sprayer and give it a quick swish with warm water, doesn't take much, let set for a few minutes them use a wide scraper or putty knife to scrape it off. Comes off in big chunks and not a lot of messy dust.
Prior to removal of any popcorn ceiling you need to know what the popcorn material is. Newer ceilings are styrofoam beads like you would find in a bean bag chair mixed with binders. However the older popcorn ceilings oftentimes were asbestos materials and can be hazardous to remove if not done professionally,.
I would suggest wearing a mask, scrape about a four or five inch square of this off and into a plastic bag and send to lab. One such lab is Pro-Lab. Often times you can find their test kits in the larger box stores if not you can visit their web site for a kit and costs. Testing is very inexpensive and is worth your safety. http://www.prolabinc.com/asbestos-test-kits.asp
Once you know it is safe if you do a search at the top of the site page on popcorn ceilings you will get a ton of advice on how to do this from many who have worked through this messy job.
Agreed! Get it tested. After that, we usually tarp everything and use a garden sprayer with hot water. Scraping it off is pretty easy at that point, so long as the ceiling was prepared correctly. For acoustical sprayed right on to raw drywall, that's a bit tricky.
Here is an article I wrote on this.
Also depending on the size and nature of the popcorn there are other means to redo it. I'm currently working on a project where the very fine sized popcorn tested positive for asbestos. We are undergoing an "encapsulation" mitigation plan. This entails a skim coat of drywall mud, we are hand texturing it in a rustic venetain plaster type look.
thanks you guys i dont believe it is asbestos it was done in 1996. i am going to try the water spray because it is really dusty and messy. kevin would love to see what you were describing but the site is for furniture?try again?thanks again .
@Terry S oops...I fixed the link. Cutting and pasting with low caffeine.
I saw a post where they had a large power tool that both sanded and sucked the dust right into a bag. It was like a vacuum and sander in one.