Asked on Sep 27, 2017

How do I smooth out my overly textured ceiling?

Ruth R Wisner
by Ruth R Wisner
Back sometime in the mid 1980s my ceiling was textured with LOTS of plaster, using a pouncing motion with a plastic bag. Instead of a light texturing, the ceiling is drippy looking, and catches dust and cobwebs. How can I smooth it out, or at least knock down some of the drips?
  16 answers
  • Debbie Debbie on Sep 27, 2017

    I have a similar problem. I was told by my dad to save on sweat equity and go over it with beadboard or other type of panel. The other alternative to what looks to be your situation is lots and lots of sanding after covering literally everything in the room to protect it from the sanding dust. Also you'd be sealing off the room to prevent the same all through the house. My ceilings have the typical "cottage cheese" texture, which was done in a fine coat application, not large "curds". I know you can drape your room and spray the ceiling down with a new garden sprayer containing plain hot water. Then use a wide blade scraper to remove the "cottage cheese" texture. I thought long and hard about this considering I've had two surgeries in 3 months and I think I will be leaving mine as is. I don't want to run into worse problems once the texture is removed and cause myself double or triple the work. I am not so anal as to care about who thinks what of my ceiling and it will save me money, my back and my neck to just leave well enough alone.

  • Kathy Kathy on Sep 27, 2017

    We had the same kind of ceiling when we bought our home. We decided to tear out the ceiling and replace it. It was a dirty job but well worth it. The bathroom has the same problem, and will no doubt be doing the same thing,

  • Florida Beachpotato Florida Beachpotato on Sep 27, 2017

    These are now unwanted textured ceilings and can be costly to remove, replace or.... If I remember right, the textures used in the 80's was a thicken paint product and applied sometimes with a mop head. Some had styrofoam beads to simulate acoustic ceilings.

    1. Grind down high spots and have a plasterer apply a finish coat to fill in and smooth the entire ceiling. (I used US Gypsum products for mine).

    2. The undulating texture will act as a key to receive a new finish, can be smooth or a sand finish. Add a light tan/beige color to finish product if wanted.

  • Cindy Sizelove Pyl Cindy Sizelove Pyl on Sep 28, 2017

    My hubby took a paint scraper and scraped the heavy thick stuff hanging down. It was a real mess but well worth it. We were lucky and have beams approx. every 3 ft so it was easy to do it in sections. We have a slight texture now and were able to clean & paint the dirty ugly ceiling. Nothing like a freshly painted ceiling to brighten a dark room!!!!

    • Magz Magz on Sep 28, 2017

      Yes i did the same @ my dad's house ... just up on aladder with a sharp scraper. He went along under me with a trash can lid and we worked slowly ...avoided ruining the carpeting ... (but we also had a dropcloth that was just thrown away afterwards)

  • Laurie Young Laurie Young on Sep 28, 2017

    My sister and I made over my dad's bathroom years ago and his ceiling and walls were very textured like this. We used a brick from Home Depot to sand it smooth. Worked like a charm! Was super messy, wear goggles and a mask!

  • Pennski22 Pennski22 on Sep 28, 2017

    I have the same ceiling. I am a senior and all of the above suggestions were just too much work and hard on the body. I decided to paint the ceiling a lighter shade of what was on my walls and they do not bother me as much. Yes, smooth ceilings are in right now, wait another 10 years.

    The other thing I wanted to do was use these plastic panes that look like the old tin tiles. A little expensive if you have a large area. It would look amazing and not all the mess.

  • 2dogal 2dogal on Sep 28, 2017

    Your ceiling is my ceiling. I dislike it also, but have decided to ignore it as my room is 16 x 20 and it seems overwhelming to remove the texture.

  • Magz Magz on Sep 28, 2017

    I had the same in my bathroom. My BF is a contractor and after i did a minimal scrape, he covered it with extra-thin sheetrock (i think it was 1/4"? Ask at any home store). I am good at mud & tape so i DIYed the finish. Well worth the minimal effort.

  • Charly Charly on Sep 30, 2017

    Never look up. Problem solved. Too many important things to worry about.

  • Tom Tom on Sep 30, 2017

    Don't forget the fact that popcorn ceilings installed before about 1972 probably have asbestos in them. Scratch off a small sample and have it tested. If you DO have asbestos, don't scrape or sand: You can end up with mesothelioma and/or asbestosis - both deadly. You'll have to either cover it completely with something else, or pay a remediation company to remove it, which can be expensive.

  • Diana Deiley Diana Deiley on Sep 30, 2017

    I'm with Tommark8, have a sample tested BEFORE you do anything. IF you leave it untouched you can just cover it with bead board, 1/4" paneling, tin tiles, or decorative foam panels. If you can't do this project yourself be sure to get at least 3 written quotes from reputable licensed contractors. Best of luck.

  • Fso29710480 Fso29710480 on Sep 30, 2017

    If the ceiling was painted with a water-based paint, and not an oil-based one, it's easy to do. Wet the ceiling (I used a simple plastic sparay bottle, with water, and a couple of drops of dish detergent to make it get into the plaster better) and using a wide scraper (6" or so" - Metal) it's easy to "knock-down" the surface. It actually looks nice when flatened a bit. Then, repaint it with a roller. It's almost "smooth" looking, but with a nice hint of texture.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Sep 03, 2023

    Sand it or have it plastered over.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Sep 03, 2023

    Cover it up, can use very thin plywood, tongue and groove, then paint if you'd like.

  • Deb K Deb K on Sep 03, 2023

    Hello, hope this helps you out.