Removing Popcorn Ceiling- DIY

How To Remove Popcorn Ceiling

We bought our first house! Yippy! As soon as all the excitement set in, it was time to start making this house our home. What we decided was to remove the popcorn ceiling first before we moved any furniture into the home. Which was a great idea, because it is a messy job. A very, very messy job..

It sounded easy enough, just scrape it off and clean it up. But nothing is that easy! There is a lot more to it then that. It is a pretty labor-intensive affair, but after completing the project, the results made our efforts well worth it.

Materials and Tools


It is important that you get the popcorn tested by an EPA-certified laboratory. Asbestos was a main ingredient in spray-on ceiling textures in Homes built before 1982. If yours turns out to contain asbestos, then I would advise you to use a trained professional who is licensed to deal with hazardous materials. If the test indicates that your ceiling has a paper-based popcorn treatment, you can handle this removal yourself.


Get ready to make a mess! There is no way around it (even with those scrapers that have bags attached). You will need to properly prepare the room beforehand to minimize the amount of cleanup you will have. Remove all the furniture in the room, cover the floor and the bottom foot of each wall with you plastic sheeting. Secure the sheeting in place with your tape. Use duct tape to join any plastic sheeting, making sure there are no gaps around the wall or with the joining seams.  Because the process involves water it is recommended to cut electrical power to the room where you’re going to be working.

Upper walls too must be protected; do so by applying a strip of tape around the perimeter of the room, one quarter-inch below the ceiling. Then fasten plastic sheeting to that initial strip by means of an additional tape layer. Now is the time to take down any ceiling fans, lights, and crown molding that will get in the way or to avoid any damage.

Next, using the pump sprayer, thoroughly moisten a section of the ceiling, letting the water soak in for about 10 minutes. After enough time has elapsed, position a ladder under your moistened section. Put your dust mask and protective goggles on and climb onto your ladder. Holding a putty knife at a 30-degree angle to the ceiling, start scraping the popcorn away. The method is to spray, wait, and then scrape. In this manner, work your way around the room, one section at a time. Don’t rush to scraping after you spray, the water is your friend and letting the popcorn soak it up will make scraping it WAY easier.

Continue until you have removed the popcorn ceiling to reveal the drywall surface beneath. You can take drywall sandpaper to get any leftovers that remain. Repair and damage to the drywall by filling in gouges and scrapes will joint compound.  Given that you’ve put so much work into preparing the room, now would be an opportune moment to prime, texture and paint the ceiling. If you decide to go this route, wait until the final coat has dried before removing the sheeting. Carefully remove all the plastic sheeting being cautious to keep all the contents inside the plastic and dispose. Clean any debris that may have escaped. Don’t forget to reinstall your lighting fixtures, crown molding, and restore the power to the room. You now have a popcorn-free space, you should notice it seems a lot brighter! Enjoy!

Our ceiling after scraping and sanding. Next we will repair any imperfections with joint compound. Followed by prime and paint!