How to get rid of popcorn ceiling – Detail Guide

Popcorn ceiling is one of the biggest issues homeowners face. It totally diminishes the look and also creates a sense of dirtiness. It’s very important to treat this popcorn ceiling issue quickly in order to keep it from increasing. 

 First, always test for asbestos before attempting DIY popcorn ceiling removal (use of asbestos in textured paint and in patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints was banned in 1977). You can use an EPA-approved test kit sold in home improvement stores or have a professional come test the ceiling for you. 

For the test kit, you’ll want to wet a small area with a sponge, and then scrape off a sample.

If the test is positive for asbestos, leave this job to the professionals. Learn more about asbestos from the CPSC, which says the best thing to do with asbestos material in good condition is to leave it alone.

Following are the Materials and Tools needed to get this done 

  • wide drywall scraper
  • drywall knife
  • paint roller and extension handle
  • paintbrush
  • protective eyewear
  • ladder
  • water
  • spray bottle
  • drop cloth
  • plastic sheeting
  • painter’s tape
  • drywall compound
  • 220-grit sanding block
  • rags
  • primer/paint
  • dust masks

1. Prep the Room

Remove furniture from the space, or move it to the center of the space and cover it with plastic sheeting. Also, cover any light fixtures. By laying down a drop cloth and using plastic sheeting, you’ll protect flooring and furnishings from dust and debris, and it will be easier to clean up.

2. Spray the Ceiling

Fill a spray bottle with warm water, and then spray one small section (10 square feet) of the ceiling at a time. Let it sit for about 20 minutes. Don’t oversaturate the popcorn coating as it could damage the underlying drywall surface.

3. Scrape the Ceiling

Put on your protective eyewear and dust mask, then slowly remove the popcorn coating from the drywall with a wide drywall scraper, working one section at a time.

4. Clean Up Debris

Before touching up with drywall compound, roll up the drop cloth and plastic sheeting. Take them outside, and shake them out into a garbage bin. Lay the plastic sheeting back down, or lay down drop cloths before proceeding.

5. Touch up Ceiling

Apply drywall compound to any problem areas using a drywall knife to get a smooth skim. Allow to dry overnight, then lightly sand and wipe clean with a sanding block and damp cloth.

6. Prime and Paint

Paint the ceiling using a roller with an extension attachment. Flat or matte finishes will hide imperfections, so they are most often used for ceilings. Ceiling paint is made specifically to roll on with minimum splatter and will resist yellowing over time. There are plenty of color options, but white is a popular ceiling color as it reflects light into a room.

Reasons for cleaning popcorn ceiling 

As the years passed, the truth about acoustic ceilings started to emerge, and it was shocking. There are quite a large amount of issues that come with textured ceilings. Unfortunately, these ceilings already took over in popularity by the time these facts came out.

There are numerous reasons why you may want to remove the popcorn ceiling and replace it with something more appealing.

 These include:

Removing the Threat of Asbestos

It’s true that in many cases, popcorn ceilings were created with asbestos. The practice was stopped in 1978, by the Clean Air Act. If your ceiling was installed before then, it’s very likely that it contains the substance.

Asbestos is very much a safety hazard, but you may not actually need to remove it because of that. The EPA states that if the ceiling is still intact, then you’re not in danger of inhaling the substance and so the ceiling should be left as it is.

You are going to want to remove the popcorn ceiling throughout your house:

  • If the ceiling has been damaged at all
  • If the interior of the ceiling exposed

It’s best to do this as quickly as possible, ideally before you move in. This should keep everyone safe while it’s removed.

It Creates Better Lighting

One of the problems with popcorn ceilings is that they affect the lighting in the room. Thanks to the bumpy surface, light bounces off it and causes some harsh shadows in the room. It’s less than ideal when you’re trying to create a relaxed atmosphere in the room with the popcorn ceiling, and so you may want to remove it.

If you don’t have the budget to remove it, then you can mitigate the effect with the right type of lighting. Rather than using recessed and flush wall lights, stick to table and floor lamps. These create a softer glow, making the room much more relaxing.

It can Stop Discoloration

The problem with popcorn ceilings is that they discolour over time. It really dings the appeal of a room, as you can make it as clean and inviting as possible, but the ceiling will still make it look dingy. If you’re sick of dealing with the look of it, then you can remove it and replace it with something better.

If again, you’re not able to remove the ceiling right now, you can simply freshen it up with a coat of paint. This is a simple fix that will help get rid of the dinginess and make the room look fresher.

It can stop ceiling from Catching Dust

Keeping your home clean is a challenge on its own. You clean and clean and you still feel like you can never keep up. It’s annoying when you have a popcorn ceiling, as it is a magnet for dust and dirt in your home.

As well as having polish and dust your furniture, you’ve got to take a broom or brush and dust the ceilings, too. It’s time consuming and annoying, so if you’re bothered enough by it you can have it removed.

It’s worth remembering that removing the ceiling in itself will cause a lot more dirt and dust around your home, at least while the work is being carried out. If you’re ok with that, then removing the ceiling is a good idea.

It can stop it from Disintegrating

Like any other renovation in your home, a popcorn ceiling just won’t last forever. No matter how hard you work at maintaining it, eventually it will start to disintegrate. In most cases, you’ll see white flecks start to fall from the ceiling onto your floors and furniture.

If not caught in time, they can actually damage surfaces. If this is happening, it’s very much time replace or remove the ceiling altogether.

It can Fix Damage To The Ceiling

No matter how careful you are, accidents happen:

  • Holes get punched into the ceiling
  • Something scrapes it
  • There is a dent, hole or mark on the ceiling

The problem with a popcorn ceiling though is that you can’t really patch it up, not without redoing the whole ceiling to match.  That’s expensive and time consuming, when all you want to do is repair the damage.


If you really want to make life easier for yourself, you’ll have to replace the whole ceiling and get rid of that popcorn effect. Then, if there’s any damage in the future, you’ll be able to patch it up much more easily.

It can Make A Room Feel More Modern

When decorating a room, you need to take a look at it from every angle. Everything about the room will affect the final look of it. Have you done everything to make that room look modern and inviting, but the popcorn ceiling is affecting it?

No matter what you do, that ceiling is going to look dated, and cramp your style.

In these cases, it’s much better to remove the textured ceiling entirely and replace it with something much more with the times. It’s amazing how much of a difference it’ll make, replacing that ceiling and making it look better in the process.


How do I know if my ceiling tiles have asbestos?
Look for the manufacturer’s stamps on ceiling tiles or packaging. Tile that was built or installed before the mid-1980s requires further asbestos testing. Determine the age of your home. If your home was built before the mid-1980s, your textured ceiling or ceiling tiles might contain asbestos.
Does 1970 ceilings have asbestos?
Yes it does have asbestos and it is hazardous for health.
Can you vacuum popcorn ceiling?
Yes if you’re ceiling is extremely dirty than you should vacuum it . That is going to give you great results.
What is the cheapest way to cover popcorn ceiling?
A farmhouse styled wooden plank can be a cheapest option for popcorn ceiling issues.
Does removing popcorn ceiling increase value of the house?
Yes it definitely does increase the value of the house.
Is there a tool to removing popcorn ceiling?
A scraper: Any 6- to 10-inch drywall knife will work as a scraper, but to make life easier, a special popcorn scraper tool from Homax which has a loop to attach a garbage bag, so you can scrape right into the bag instead of onto the floor.

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