Removing Popcorn Ceiling

Remove popcorn ceiling
  • 4-8 hours
  • Beginner
  • 100-200
What You'll Need
Spray bottle with water
Sturdy cardboard flat like that containing soda cans
Two plastic drop cloths to protect the floor and walkway
A ladder
Safety goggles
Hat or cap
Disposable dust mask
Heavy-duty shop vacuum

Removing a popcorn ceiling may be on your list of things to do. Once a popular ceiling treatment, popcorn ceilings look beautiful when first applied, but they can become easily damaged and discolored. They cannot be cleaned very well either. If your popcorn ceiling looks too dingy, it might be time to remove it.

Step 1 - Prepare the Surrounding Area

Remove all furniture and wall hangings from the room. Place an oversized drop cloth on the floor. When you use a bigger drop cloth, you won’t have to keep moving it from spot to spot. Start the process at the end of the room opposite the exit.

Step 2 - Position the Ladder

Position yourself on the ladder so you can work side to side and not directly overhead. This method should protect your head from falling mud and dust. Make sure you have a garbage bag within arm's reach.

Step 3 - Spray the Work Area

Choose a comfortable work area well within easy reach and spray that area with water from the spray bottle. Soak the popcorn until it looks damp, but do not oversaturate it. Water should not drip on the floor.

Step 4 - Scrape With the Trowel

Hold the cardboard flat directly under the area you will scrape with the trowel. Remove as much of the popcorn material as possible to make the ceiling easier to paint later. Make sure to periodically empty the cardboard flat into the garbage bag at hand. Move the ladder as needed to reach other ceiling areas.

Step 5 - Scrape Joint Seams

You may need extra water when you loosen popcorn attached to joint seams because the material adheres strongly at the joint. Make sure the trowel is flush with the ceiling as you scrape. After a little work, you should discover the correct amount of water to apply.

Step 6 - Repeat Throughout the Room

Continue throughout the entire room, but pay particular attention to disposing material as you work. Make sure you place the drop cloth directly beneath your work area. Once removed, the soaked popcorn material can become heavy in both the cardboard flat and the garbage bag. Be careful not to overload either one.

Step 7 - Clean Up

Pieces of removed popcorn will find their way onto the drop cloth and even the ladder. Using a shop vacuum, carefully suck up all stray popcorn material and dust created during removal.

Carefully fold the drop cloths toward each center; place them in garbage bags to avoid making a mess. Use the shop vacuum on the carpet or other flooring once you have removed the drop cloths.