How to remove popcorn ceiling that has been painted?

by Quilter2

Does having a paint over a popcorn ceiling change how I'd remove the popcorn ceiling?

  54 answers
  • Bobbie Bobbie on Sep 18, 2017

    Mix one part vinegar to ten parts water and spray it on the ceiling. The vinegar should help break down the paint. Use a large pole-type scraper and more muscle. Wet the ceiling, scrape as much as possible, and then wet and scrape again.

  • DesertRose DesertRose on Sep 18, 2017

    We removed ours by wetting a section and scraping it off. We had to cover everything and it was a big mess but it came off. It left a textured but flat ceiling and we painted it. Our neighbor did it later and duct taped the scraper to the wide vacuum attachment of a wet/dry vacuum hose and saved himself the big mess. I wish we had thought of it! Hope this helps. Our ceiling was also painted and came right off.

  • Rae Rae on Sep 18, 2017

    Get a spray bottle and fill it with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and warm water. Spray the ceiling, wait a few minutes, then use a scraper to remove the popcorn. You may have to repeat the vinegar and water spray a couple of times in order to get it all. Make sure to put drop cloths or plastic sheeting down on the floor before you start to catch the mess. Best of luck!

  • B. Enne B. Enne on Sep 19, 2017

    Spraying water won't help if it was painted with oil paint. If it was latex or acrylic paint, you are fine.

    If your house was built before the mid 80's, it could contain lead or asbestos. I had mine tested, before I scraped it.

    Perhaps this would work on oil.

  • Alice Elaine Lord Alice Elaine Lord on Feb 25, 2018

    Look at your property records to see when the house was built. If it was after 1990 your pretty safe to remove it yourself. if it was before you need to see if it had asbestos in in and you have to have a licensed contractor remove it. I just sprayed water on it and used a large sparkle blade to remove mine and then washed the remaining residue.

  • Lori Lori on Feb 25, 2018

    When I removed our I attached a vaccum cleaner attachement, with duct tape (hey we're in the south! ) to a shopvac. Although it didn't catch all of it, it did help! After over a year trying to figure out what to do next, I simply got some joint compound and trowled it on, making "a curvy swirl, every so often, it took me 3 buckets of joint compound and I did it all by myself, but a much stiff neck afterwards, have to just find the right color paint now..

  • Alisha Alisha on Feb 26, 2018

    Hi There! I'm not sure how able you are, but I did my own ceilings and it's not hard At all. Just some hot soapy water in a sprayer and a paint/mud knife/scraper and a lot of elbow grease. Spray in sections, let it soften and then scrape it right off. I finished mine with a light orange peel texture and paint. I did about a room a day and had my 1700sq. Ft home done in a week!

  • Kim Kim on Feb 15, 2018

    Before removing popcorn ceilings it is important to have it tested for asbestos. If it was installed before 1985 it is likely asbestos. Any time you disturb it (do something that makes bits of it come off) you are in danger of inhaling carcinogenic fibers.

    If not asbestos, prepare for a dirty job.

    Tape and plastic off area to contain debris. Spray heavily with water from a new pump pesticide type sprayer. Scrape with floor scraper. If water isn’t saturating well, score lines in the popcorn with a screwdriver, being careful not to gouge too deeply.

    i hope that helps


    • Janet Janet on May 26, 2022

      If it is asbestos, I don't think you can just throw it in the trash. She should consult a place that tests/removes asbestos.

  • Jayna L Griffith Jayna L Griffith on Sep 28, 2017

    Scrape them off! Lay a tarp down under the area you'll be working first because it will get messy.

  • Dave Dave on Jun 12, 2018

    It would be best to remove it all together. It should be tested for asbestos anyway before it is touched. I played someone to scrap it off, it did not have asbestos, all he did is wet it with water in a spray bottle and used a blade, it came right off. Looks much better than the popcorn. It is finished underneath.

  • Sharon Sharon on Jun 19, 2017

    It may have been painted to encapsulate asbestos. Get a kit at the hardware store, and test it before you do anything.

  • We have removed popcorn ceiling but not on a ceiling that has been painted. To remove one that has been painted you spray water on it and allow it to sit for about a minute then scrape it of with a putty knife. If there is paint mix 10 parts water and 1 part vinegar. The vinegar breaks down the paint. Here is a link for more info.

  • Zard Pocleeb Zard Pocleeb on Dec 10, 2018

    It can be removed with a wide scraper and usually some sanding. Make sure to throw down some drop cloths because it will make quite a mess.

  • Lynn Sorrell Lynn Sorrell on Dec 10, 2018

    Use 2/3 water &1/3 downy to hold fibers together from getting/flying all over(you will not know if it has asbestos so you should treat it like it does). Put tarp down to keep mess to minimum,spray section of ceiling then scrape with putty knife making sure not to gouge drywall/paster?? underneath, sweep & clean as you go to keep dust scrapings in room. Do not track outside of room on clothing,hair,shoes.Tape off the vents/air ducts.Bag all scrapings really well. Wear mask, gloves, eye protection. Wipe everything down several times with damp clean rags throwing them away as you go. Let everything, ceiling dry really well up to 2-3 days depending how humid it is where you live then check to see if any spot sanding is needed or you need to patch anything on drywall/plaster?? primer then paint. This is actually easy DIY but time consuming due to clean up.if you use any cloth for clean up(rags,drop cloth) throw it out because fibers will get trapped then when dry could be released in air if item is moved/shaken much. Don't forget to clean all equipment too ,scrapers,brooms,dust pan,ladders,step stools so you don't move dust around by them either.Don't use your vacuum. Once it's done you will be so glad you did it. it will look better and be much easier to keep clean.

  • Jcraw Jcraw on May 07, 2018

    Score it gently so when you spray it with a water solution the liquid gets thru To loosen the bond. Or “punch” it gently with a wire brush Enough to break through the paint layer.

  • Tody Tody on Jun 17, 2018

    use the largest scraper you can find. **Wear protective eyewear** scrape it off. I did it in bathroom but added sand texture to new paint. (In case there are sum residuels)

  • Peggy Riggles Peggy Riggles on Jun 19, 2018

    Yes you can. Getting it started may be a bit tougher than if it hadn't been painted, but I found it actually came down in larger stretchey sheets due to the paint! Use a wide(12") taping knife to scrape it down after spraying with water. I held a shallow box like what canned veggies come in at Costco and caught what I could and dumped into black plastic trash bags rather than into the tarp, for less mess to clean! Good luck! Its literally a pain in the neck. But it's worth it!

  • Kelli L. Milligan Kelli L. Milligan on Jan 29, 2019

    Scrape and scrape. Be sure to wear protective goggles. You can also apply 1/2" drywall over it and finish smooth. Make sure to find studs and screw up long enough screws.

  • J J on Jan 29, 2019

    We used warm water in a spray bottle and a very wide plastic scraper. Scrap gently so you don’t damage sheet rock, you can always respray a section for more scraping Concentrate on one section at a time. Make sure to drape everything with plastic or drop cloths for easy cleanup.

  • Penny Penny on Jan 07, 2018

    VERY easy, Get a spray bottle with warm water and a 1/4 cup of vinegar. Work in grids, spraying the area to dampen--NOT to saturate. Wait a few minutes and use a plastic or metal straight edge to scrape it. It comes right off. Two things, make sure you've put plastic down so it doesn't damage the floor or furniture. This will work IF the popcorn hasn't been painted over.

  • Kim Kim on Oct 10, 2017

    Removing Popcorn ceilings

    First make sure it is not asbestos! It's a simple Mail in test. I know that Home Depot carries them, I assume other places do as well.

    Once you determine that it is asbestos free, empty out your room. Cover all that can't be removed and your floors with plastic. This is gonna get messy! Cover door openings with overlapping sheets of plastic that you can use like a door.

    Spray your ceiling really well with water. A new pump bug/yard sprayer works great for this. Do not used a used one! Let water soak in and scrape down. Putty knives work great. If you have a floor scraper and a steady light hand, that works really well!

    When all scraped, use plastic to wrap up debris and haul out.


    Disposing of asbestos into the trash is subject to fines and imprisonment.

    Hope that helps

    : )

  • Sjt29229935 Sjt29229935 on Oct 10, 2017

    You said your ceiling had been painted and coated. If that is the case, the soaking method probably won't work. We ran into the same issue with our ceilings. Over the years, people have repainted them and that seals the original popcorn making it strongly adhere in some areas while releasing in others. It is a PAIN!!! You literally have to scrape and sand and repair and say bad words. I strongly suggest you call it the pros to tackle them. It may cost a little more, but well worth your sanity. Ours were done in the early 70's. At that time, they hung the drywall differently too and there were waves in the ceiling that needed remudding to straighten before repainting, They were an easy answer back in the day, but a nightmare to change, especially if painted/sealed. Good luck!!

  • Tara Austin Tara Austin on Dec 02, 2017

    we used a spray bottle with some water and a floor scraper. It made a mess and took forever but it came off.

  • Jgr26317845 Jgr26317845 on Dec 02, 2017

    Spray with warm water with garden sprayer after covering floor with plastic. Let sit and then scrape with spatula . lightly sand after dries . Roll up plastic and discard .

  • 27524803 27524803 on Dec 02, 2017

    Just be aware that wet popcorn gets really heavy... really fast...we tried the roll it up into a burrito tactic... really heavy and hard to hold on to.. we have always used a heavy-ish that the dropped popcorn can be swept up and placed into a large trash can which can be emptied more often for easier handling.

  • Nicola Nicola on Dec 02, 2017

    A sander and wear a mask and goggles

  • William William on Apr 11, 2018

    Yes but it will be a little harder with the paint. You would need to use a mixture of vinegar and hot water in a spray bottle. Fabric softener and hot water would also work. You need to cut through the paint first then the ceiling.

  • yes,, most of them have paint in them. I had one with sparkles in it. Same wet and scrape method that makes a mess - or you can sheet rock over the entire thing.

  • Joy30150932 Joy30150932 on Feb 14, 2018

    Spray with a little water, a square at a time, maybe 4X4 and scrape off. Cover your hair and the floor before starting. You will probably find that the seams were not done smoothly as this was an easy and quick way for contractors to finish a project fast by doing a lot less work.

  • Georgette Jensen Georgette Jensen on Apr 26, 2018

    When removing hang wet sheet on doorways so it does not get to other rooms.

  • Janice Janice on Feb 19, 2018

    I did this a few years ago. It takes a lot of energy but you can do it. The fact that it has been painted will make it even more labor intensive. First, be sure to place drop cloths all over the floor of an empty room. If you have furniture left in the room, move it to one side and work in the vacant area, then move back to the area you've completed and do the remaining. Get your ladder out and use an outdoor weed sprayer filled with warm/hot water to spray about a 3-foot area. You could probably use a plastic bottle with a squeeze sprayer on it and with warm water but the larger weed sprayer worked great for me. Let it set for about 4-5 minutes then take a paint scraper (plastic or metal) and start scraping the popcorn off. Try to keep the scraper from gouging into the sheet rock the popcorn is adhered to. Repeat this in small sections so that you're working with the moistened popcorn. If you wait too long before scraping it off, it will dry and need to be resprayed with warm water. You may need to do some sanding and/or fill in if you did gouge the sheet rock. It is a tedious, messy task but if you dislike the popcorn as much as I did, it will be worth all your hard work. Because of the paint on the popcorn it may take much more time. Mine did, but once you start, there's no going back. If I had more money than time, I'd hire someone else to do it. :)

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jan 16, 2022

    It a filthy dirty dusty job, and the dust keeps falling long after, unless you have all the necessary equipment , tarpaulings, dust asperators,etc. Might be worth getting a price to do it with a professional specialist company for health reasons alone!

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Jan 31, 2022

    i wouldnt even try to sand all of. It is super messy .. I would either remove whole thing or apply 1/4 inch sheetrock over it

  • Rust Rust on Feb 09, 2022

    TSP this is all I use it's made to etch the paint before installing wallpaper or repainting.. try that it's obtainable at home depot.

  • Rust Rust on Feb 09, 2022

    just looking u definitely don't want to sand it because the reason they quit using it is it is asbestos. hello!

  • It's a tough one for sure and it's going to be much harder with paint on top. The suggestions above are all good, I would test, protect yourself and then honestly, I'd be prepared to replace the entire ceiling sheetrock. If you're super careful, you might only have to repair some spots.

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Mar 31, 2022

    Just install over super thin sheetrock .. too much work with remvoal

  • Janice Janice on Apr 30, 2022

    Removing popcorn ceiling is very messy time-consuming work but it can be done. It's a bit more difficult when it includes paint. Use a garden sprayer with hot water to soften the paint/popcorn. Work in 3'x3' areas and after letting the spray sit for a while, use a plastic scraper to scrape along the moistened ceiling. Repeat this until the popcorn is removed. As usual preparation is key so be sure to cover the floors and anything else in the room so the scrapings don't ruin other items. Do a second round using a wedge of sandpaper to knock off the final remains of the popcorn.

  • Jessie Honeycutt Jessie Honeycutt on May 09, 2022

    Thanks to everyone that answered


  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jan 05, 2023

    Believe me it is much cleaner and safer to have the professinals do that job! It is worth every penny, they can remove it and plaster it in no-time. much quicker than you can do.

  • No, it doesn't. I would hire a professional, especially if it's an older ceiling.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Aug 17, 2023

    After you've had checked for asbestos, then you can use a paint solvent rather than water to soften. Everything will need to be covered in plastic, you need to wear protective clothing, eyewear, and a hair cover. Using a scraper, I like the one by Homax, you can scrape it. You can also get a grinder attachment for a ShopVac. If you have a large amount to do, I would go that route.

  • Janice Janice on Aug 17, 2023

    Yes, painted popcorn is more difficult to remove but it's still possible. Great suggestions have been posted here.

  • Penny Burgess Penny Burgess on Sep 17, 2023

    We had a house that was built in the 60’s. We just sheet rocked and taped over the popcorn ceiling.

  • Deb K Deb K on Sep 17, 2023

    Hello, hope this helps you out. Even though ut has been painted, you can still scrape it off.

  • Betsy Betsy on Oct 15, 2023

    Hi Quilter2: Here are 3 sites that tell about that. You have to be very careful and wear a mask and safety glasses:

    How to Easily Remove Popcorn Ceiling - This Old House

    12 Tips on How to Remove Popcorn Ceiling Faster and Easier (

    How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings in 7 Easy Steps | Architectural Digest

    Good luck and be careful.

  • Annie Annie on Jan 29, 2024

    Here's a video on it:

  • Mogie Mogie on Feb 06, 2024

    To prepare the room, its best to remove the furniture if possible. Make sure that you turn off the heating and cooling system and close off and cover all vents, using plastic and painter’s tape.

    Also, cover (remove) light fixtures, outlets and wall switches. Protect floors with plastic or rosin paper extended about 12 inches up the side of the walls, and attach with painter’s tape. Follow these steps for removing a painted popcorn ceiling:

    • To help breakdown the paint, spray a mixture of one part vinegar to ten parts water on the surface of the ceiling.
    • Use a 4-inch utility knife/type scraper to remove the material. This method is messy and slow, but it works. Make sure that you saturate the surface so that the solution penetrates and allows you to easily scrape away the material.

    Try alleviating some of the strain of working overhead by attaching the scraper to a pole.

    *Popcorn ceiling removal service is not available in all states without proper licensure or certification, including Washington.

    Now that you removed the popcorn texture, you can start prepping the new surface for a fresh coat of paint. Proceed as you would for any project. Sand the surface of the ceiling with a drywall sanding stick. Fill any imperfections as needed. After you apply a quality coat of primer, you're ready to paint.

  • Betsy Betsy on May 07, 2024

    Hi Quilter2: Very carefully! Check this site for help:

    12 Tips on How to Remove Popcorn Ceiling Faster and Easier (

  • Steveparker Steveparker on May 08, 2024

    i thinks this will help you more better:

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on May 08, 2024

    Call in the professionals as it migh contaain Asbestos!

  • Annie Annie on May 31, 2024

  • Betsy Betsy on Jun 07, 2024

    Hi Quilter2: No, painting doesn't have anything to do with the removal. Here are a couple of sites that should help you. Just be sure to use the proper face coverings and safety equipment.

    12 Tips on How to Remove Popcorn Ceiling Faster and Easier (

    DIY-ing A Popcorn Ceiling Removal? Here's What You Should Know (

    How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings in 7 Easy Steps | Architectural Digest

    How to Easily Remove Popcorn Ceiling - This Old House