What is the fastest and easiest way to remove the popcorn ceiling?

Our home was built in the 70's. The popcorn ceilings are dust traps!
  7 answers
  • Nancylynn Nancylynn on May 19, 2017
    Unfortunately, some of those popcorn ceilings have asbestos in them. Before removing, it would be wise to have it checked out first. The alternative would be to install a nice wood or even bead board over the popcorn ceiling.
  • William William on May 19, 2017
    How to Remove a Popcorn Textured or Acoustic Ceiling

    Check for Asbestos

    Take a small sample of the ceiling material and send it to an EPA certified testing lab before you begin. If your ceiling contains Asbestos, you will need to have a certified asbestos removal contractor do the job for you.

    Turn Electricity Off and Remove Light Fitting/s

    Since you’ll be using a lot of water in this project, first be sure to turn of the electricity and check it with a circuit tester. Remove all furniture and ceiling light fittings.

    Cover the Floor with Plastic Sheeting

    Tape small pieces of plastic over each electrical outlet and cover the floor with heavy duty plastic floor sheeting, extending it up the walls a foot or so.

    Cover the Walls with Plastic Sheeting

    Run painter’s tape along the upper edge of the walls then cover the entire wall with plastic sheeting, taping the top edge to the tape already there. Roll out a layer of resin paper on the floor.

    Wet the Ceiling

    Using a garden sprayer, wet the ceiling, working in 4 to 5 square feet areas at a time, wetting the ceiling thoroughly, but being careful not to over-wet it.

    Scrape the Popcorn Material off the Ceiling

    Round off the corners of a joint knife (to prevent gouges) and use it to scrape off the popcorn ceiling. If you run into any hard scraping areas, apply a little more water, wait and then try again.

    Unroll Second Layer of Resin Paper and Finish Scraping

    Unroll another layer of resin paper directly on top of ceiling debris and continue scraping ceiling. When all material has been scraped off, take down plastic sheeting from walls, roll up wet paper and plastic on floor and place all into a large garbage bag.

    Re-cover any Bare Joints Using Joint Compound and Joint Tape

    Mix joint compound in a tray and apply along the joint lines. Dip joint tape into water, squeeze of excess and use a putty knife to press the tape into the joint compound. Smooth off excess.

    Fill any Eroded Nail Holes

    Use two thin applications of joint compound to bring holes flush with the wallboard.

    Sand the Ceiling

    Use a sanding pad on the end of a long pole to sand off any high ridges.

    Finish Your Ceiling

    Fill any low spots with another coat or two of joint compound, sanding in between coats. Prime the ceiling using a primer that says “for wallboard”. Your ceiling is then ready for you to paint or texture as you like.

  • Michele Pappagallo Michele Pappagallo on May 19, 2017
    We removed ours fairly simply. Fill a one gallon garden pump sprayer with plain water. Lightly mist the water over a small section at a time...about 3' x 3'. Let it sit for a minute or so, then use a large, flat scraper to scrape the surface. It makes a giant mess on the floor/furniture/you, etc....but it is well worth it in the end. Be sure to cover anything that cannot be cleaned afterwards.
  • Crystal Crystal on May 20, 2017
    The EPA banned the use of asbestos in ceiling materials in 1977. Since your home was built in the '70's you need to check for it before you disturb the surface in any way!
    Also, you mentioned that the popcorn ceiling is a dust trap. So, you might want to consider having your air ducts cleaned. This will help a lot! Changing out your air filters on your HVAC system is something you can do yourself in the meantime while you're waiting for the lab results from the asbestos tests.
  • Kha22481363 Kha22481363 on May 20, 2017
    this is a serious question as before a certain date, asbestos was typically in the popcorn. You would disturb this material by scraping it off and minute particles would then remain in your home atmosphere forever which is a health hazard. You need to research when it was really installed and determine if you are safe from the asbestos question. If you cannot do that, then you should have a sample tested and your health department can help with that, if not, a private lab. Google it. If you have asbestos, there are explicit instructions on removal based on square feet of the space; follow them religiously. One room? Pretty easy, you seal it off meticulously, wet the surface with a tank sprayer and make your way around the room with a mudding knife scraping it off and letting the wet mass fall to covered floor. You state will dictate how you dispose of this. Otherwise, leave it to the experts if there is asbestos
  • JoLeen Bolton JoLeen Bolton on May 20, 2017
    I used a wet roller to dampen the popcorn in a 3'x3' area, then used a wide blade scraper. It came off very easily. My garbage can's lid was square with a handle in the center of it and I used the lid to catch the popcorn as I scraped it. Not much hit the floor. I'd highly recommend having it checked for asbestos (you don't want the deadly health problems it causes)!