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Hate Your Popcorn Ceilings? Albie Is Giving Us A Popcorn Ceiling Removal 101 (Plus A GREAT DIY Option)

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You know sometimes as creators and designers, we say, “I have a love/hate relationship with… *insert design thing here*…” followed by an explanation or rationalization for the ambivalence. 

When it comes to popcorn ceilings, however, it’s a design element that I’ve had more of a tolerate/hate relationship with. 

While I understand why popcorn ceilings were once upon a time a thing, no one can convince me now that they’re anything more than an eyesore…and sometimes a literal pain. I remember the basement of my sister’s house having popcorn ceilings — really LOW popcorn ceilings. I still have scars from many of the times my knuckles scratched the sharp popcorn ceilings every time I stretched. I am happy to report, by the way, that those popcorn ceilings have long been dealt with. 

When we bought this house, we noticed that many of the rooms had popcorn ceilings — not the sharp, jagged type, but popcorn ceilings nonetheless! We knew it was something we were going to want to deal with immediately or sooner; and by deal with, I mean get rid of. 

Oh, how naive we were!

Both my husband and I started to do some research on what our options are when it came to dealing with and/or removing popcorn ceilings. We quickly realized that it was not going to be the easy-peasy project we imagined. It was a crash course in all things popcorn ceiling — lessons neither one of us expected but information is power. 

WHAT IS POPCORN CEILING AND WHY WAS IT EVER A THING?

I’m sure all of us here know exactly what popcorn ceilings are when we see them. It’s a heavily textured ceiling treatment — think stucco — that’s most commonly sprayed on. While us millennials may not ever care for popcorn ceilings now, they had a purpose once upon a time. In most cases it was done for one of three reasons: 

  1. Aesthetic – because some people actually like popcorn ceilings
  2. Acoustic – since the heavy texture can have sound absorption properties
  3. Application – making it an easy solution for covering up imperfections

Because it’s such an old school technique, with it, now comes the added concern of asbestos aka the reason most people don’t even think about touching popcorn ceilings — the last thing anyone ever wants to do is disturb asbestos. 

ASBESTOS INFO: If you do end up having asbestos in your ceiling DO YOU RESEARCH (especially if you are going to DIY). Every state has different rules for how to properly dispose of it and you also have to wear a respirator.

Taking into consideration the house, we knew there was a slim chance that there would be asbestos in our ceilings — the Clean Air Act banned asbestos in ceiling treatments and the house is from the 80s…but anything is possible. 

DECIDING IF TO DESIGN AROUND OR REMOVE POPCORN CEILING?

The house has popcorn ceilings in all the bedrooms, the living room, the dining room, and the study (even though at the time, it was supposed to be the media room). The living & dining room (and entryway) share a high pitch, while the other rooms are simple flat ceilings. When we quickly considered all the removal/cover up options — I’ll get to that later — we knew that tackling all 5 spaces at once would be astronomically pricey & even more than that…inconvenient. In a perfect world, this is something we would’ve preferred to have done before moving in, while the house was still empty. Living in the house, however, changes what we wanna tackle. Since our timeline between closing and moving in was cut drastically short, tackling on the popcorn ceilings at once was off the table. Instead, we decided we would do it in phases…

Phase 1: Media Room (DONE!)

This room would be painted dark, so the popcorn ceiling would have to go to accomplish to look. It would not only look more seamless, the last thing we want to do is risk it looking janky trying to apply black paint over a heavily textured popcorn ceiling. 

the study before our DIY popcorn removal

Phase 2: Living/Dining/Entry

Since we have plans to eventually paint this area, getting the ceiling done along with the walls would make the most sense — cover the furniture one time & be done with it. This would also be the perfect way to punctuate other upgrades to the main level, including the kitchen renovation and pulling up the carpeting. 

photo by ellie lillstrom | from: what happens when you design your living room and then move?? you make it work… albie’s new living room round one!

Phase 3: The Bedrooms

This was a simple decision to be last because these are the rooms we sleep in — we are definitely in no rush to mess with ceilings in the rooms where we sleep. Asbestos or no asbestos, we want to enjoy our bedrooms for a long wall before having to be displaced from them for ceiling work.

obviously also before we moved in:)

Breaking it down this way made sense for us living in the house, to manage the scope and the costs.

TO REMOVE OR COVER UP?

After some research we discovered there were a few ways to deal with the popcorn ceiling for phase one — 

  • Have it sprayed and scraped off – the most permanent (and maybe messiest) of the choices — by literally scraping off the texture for a fresh start 
  • Apply putty to smooth over the popcorn texture – the most arduous technique — making it ready to prime & paint; but the texture is still there making the ceiling thicker
  • Drywall over the entire ceiling – likely the quickest technique — in effect creating a drop ceiling and an instant new, smooth surface for the 5th wall

To tackle it ourselves, only the first two options would be an option for us — we do not mess with drywall work! — and to hire it out, we’d likely have it drywalled. Having a professional drywall for us would give us peace of mind for the living & dining rooms, considering the height of the ceilings; and for the bedrooms so that they could get in and out. 

The media room, on the other hand, we decided we’d tackle ourselves since it’s one of the first projects we wanted to cross off our list & it has a manageable square footage. 

DIY POPCORN REMOVAL

My husband looked into a few different techniques, which is how he decided on either scraping it off or applying putty. His first vote was for the latter — putty over the popcorn ceiling — to avoid having to actually scrape the ceiling. Plus it meant we wouldn’t be disturbing the popcorn ceiling — it had already been painted over, so continuing to cover it up would be a problem when it comes to asbestos. With a lightweight ready to use joint compound, my husband began the experiment. Of the three choices, I mentioned it is TRULY the most tedious. The application is pretty straightforward though — like spackling — so that made it relatively easy; but because of how tedious it is after a day, he knew this was not going to be as quick as he’d like. 

Full disclosure: my husband has a full-time job outside the house so we try to budget his time on projects in a way that keeps him from feeling burnt out & overworked.

After scouring the internet a little more, he found what seemed like another “to good to be true” DIY solution. He picked up a 2 gallon pump sprayer, filled it with a vinegar & water solution, and got to experimenting. I can’t say exactly what the vinegar to water ratio was, but the internet says 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water, and that feels about right. 

Before he could do anything though, since now we would actually be messing with the popcorn, we had to test it for asbestos. We purchased a testing kit to test a small sample. We received the results about a week later & as we suspected, there was no asbestos present.  

To prepare, we had to cover the floor and plastic off the room to keep dust as contained as possible. Starting at the opposite side of the ceiling — opposite to where he’d applied the putty — he sprayed & saturated sections of the popcorn ceiling then used a scraping tool to remove the texture. Once the texture fell off, he’d sand the area (hence the dust concern) then rinse & repeat. 

You guys! You guys! I dunno that I can fully express how easy this was! 

His only regret at this point was not trying this sooner because he eventually had to go back and scrape the part of the ceiling that he’d already puttied.

But you live to learn. 

Going section by section, he was able to remove nearly all of the popcorn ceiling in the room as a weekend project. 

And I say nearly because he hadn’t removed the crown molding, which was applied after the popcorn ceiling so that perimeter was still there. The removal was followed by priming and painting the ceiling. 

WHEN TO HIRE OUT AND WHEN TO DIY

I have said on more than one occasion that we are not DIYers so our first instinct will always be to hire a professional, but we are always mindful of what’ll cost us in terms of time & money. 

In asking around, hiring a professional could cost us anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to thousands depending on the method and square footage. This room being around 350 sq. ft. could easily cost us close to $2,000 on the low end, just over $9,000 on the high end. Instead, it cost a weekend and less than $50. Pretty worth it right? 

But this was only one room! One room that wasn’t in use… one room with flat ceilings… one room that confirmed that for the other rooms, we’ll be hiring it out & you’ll see why. 

The remaining popcorn ceiling spaces, as I said, we’re going to tackle in phases; but having done one room ourselves gave us insights into why the cost of professional removal is what it is, and helped us better assess which methods we’d want in the other rooms. As it stands, considering how messy scraping really is — the dust from sanding is like sand after a trip to the beach… it gets into everything, everywhere! — we’re thinking drywalling over it will make the most sense. The remaining rooms all have higher ceilings, even if only by a little, than the room we did; so the additional drywall still wouldn’t make the ceiling feel too close. 

In the meantime, the ceilings are basically out of sight, out of mind… well except in the bedrooms where the ceiling fans are also an eyesore. In the dining room, on the other hand, we’ve replaced the chandelier so it takes away from the popcorn ceiling — we welcome distraction. 

Since the ceiling was previously painted over — which was likely done to refresh the look of the ceilings — it makes the textured look and feel slightly less obnoxious…about as annoying as the textured walls. Translation: they’re not on our 2021 design bucket list. 

How do you feel about popcorn ceilings? Love em? Hate em? Willing to live with em? 

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Ellie Lillstrom | From: What Happens When You Design Your Living Room and Then MOVE?? You Make It Work… Albie’s New Living Room Round One!

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I’m looking to do this for my living room, dining room, and kitchen area. First source I’ve come across that warned me that I might want to check for asbestos. Thank you for the heads up! You did great job!

Ally

Just and FYI for anyone else thinking about this, if your house was constructed before the early 1970’s, the chance that your popcorn ceiling has asbestos is very very high! Definitely test before messing with that stuff.

Also, when I had my popcorn ceiling professionally removed (because of the asbestos), I was left with a flat ceiling that ended up showing the drywall tape and nail indentations through the paint… which meant I had to spend another $2k on having the entire ceiling skim coated. It’s another problem with older houses – they often used nails to secure the drywall to the structure instead of screws. The nails and tape will “pop” with the moisture of the paint! I have no regrets, but it’s important to realize it can be an expensive endeavor.

Jenica

Just FYI, the asbestos test kits are a bit of a racket-you’re paying for a plastic baggie and some instructions. In my experience, it’s faster and cheaper to follow the collection instructions from a local testing lab and deliver yourself. My local lab will even test up to 5 layers for $40 so if you’re sampling multiple layers of flooring, you can pinpoint where the asbestos might be. You might want to save wood floors that have sheet asbestos over them for instance, but if the mastic also has asbestos it would have to be taken down to the subfloors or covered up.

Judith Hume

When I downsized to a tiny condo the first project on my list was getting rid of the popcorn ceilings. Almost all of the ceilings in my condo are high with a high pitch, so no one who provided estimates wanted to remove the popcorn. In the end, I opted to have shiplap installed over the popcorn, because the cost (in Dallas, TX) was only slightly more than if I’d had a contractor install new sheetrock. The only wrinkle encountered (and it was a doozy) was that while installing shiplap on the living room ceiling, a feed line to the AC was punctured. That created a slow leak which drained all the freon (or whatever coolant is now used) from the AC before it was detected. To repair the line, a few feet of sheetrock running the entire width of the room had to be removed, so that the AC tech could locate and repair the leak, but once that problem was discovered and corrected, everything else went smoothly. Shiplap was the perfect solution for me to deal with the ugly popcorn ceilings in my condo.

Rusty

I like this idea!😊
I guess shiplap or any sheeting over the top is dependent on the height of the ceilings. I love love love high ceilings, but if my home had standard height ceilings with popcorn, I’d be removing it to jeep the full height.

Suzy

Thanks for sharing! I’ve been toying with having shipman installed over our popcorn ceilings for years but couldn’t find an hour wet opinion on it

Suzy

Shiplap 🤦‍♀️

Tessa

I second the shiplap! It would have been so messy and costly to have our popcorn ceilings removed so we had someone shiplap over it. My husband gets lots of compliments on our ceiling during his work calls haha.

Sara Ditchek

Just bought a home all rooms have pop corn ceilings… what was the cost of the shiplap?

Megan

It looks amazing. This is (also) the first place that I’ve heard asbestos mentioned. Thank you! That is good looking out!

You all made that look really easy. First thing on buying my (first) house a couple of years ago, I started waking up at 5a to spray and scrape before going to work. I had what is called stippled ceilings. They are large dabs/gobs of stucco. Of course, I didn’t know that it was different and needed to be handled differently. So, I diligently scraped into my eyeballs for two weeks… before hiring out drywall if over everything. Womp-womp. Anyway, it’s worth knowing what kind of textured ceiling you have before getting all Michelangelo with it.

Ooo, so excited for you, Albie. I live in a baby boomer neighborhood. The flat ceilings were one of the first things that the appraiser noticed (both validating and hilarious). You guys put some sweat equity in with that weekend work. It looks awesome.

Megan

*before hiring out drywalling over the whole thing.

Rusty

“I diligently scraped into my eyeballs for two weeks…” OMG!🤣😂

J R

“Information is power” 😀
P.S. love the clock camoflogued with baskets.

Julie

Something about reading, “You guys! You guys! I dunno that I can fully express how easy this was!” just made my dayyyy!!

karen

I have 12 foot ceilings. 1930’s house. I like my popcorn ceiling for the reasons you mentioned – acoustics and to hide imperfections.

Christa

So funny, I love your writing style. I think they only people who appreciate popcorn ceilings are musicians that live in apartments. When contractors drywall a ceiling over popcorn they use 1/4″ drywall, so it’s not a noticeable difference in ceiling height.

Amelia

Word of warning – not sure if this is regional or not, but in many locations popcorn ceilings are applied only after drywall seams have been taped but not mudded. So you may remove popcorn only to find you have to smooth and spackle every single place drywall is joined (including the entire perimeter where ceiling meets wall). Test a small corner before you start. Majority of the time removing the popcorn is literally the easiest step. There is a whole massive prep step in between removal and painting.

Alexandra

THIS. We removed 675sq ft of popcorn ceilings in our previous house and the ceiling below was awful. That lead to applying a “skim coat” of mud over the whole thing, which is the worst home reno project I’ve ever done in my entire life. The mudding, the sanding, thinking it looks good only to paint it and realize it looks terrible because you are not a professional. Seriously, have you ever tried to spackle and sand over a hole in the wall and despite what you do you can still see where the hole is? Imagine that, just your entire ceiling. Eventually I just stopped looking up.

And the gap between the ceiling and the wall? Congratulations, now you need crown moulding.

I understand that professional removal is expensive (even more so if there is asbestos) but as someone who has done this project I would never ever ever do it myself again. Ever.

Rusty

I wonder if popcorn ceilings were a much bigger thing in the US, than Australia?
I’ve seen plenty in old office buildings, but maaaaaaaybe 3 in total, in homes!

I personally couldn’t handle them. It might even be a deal breaker if the majority of a house had them.
If I had them and could afford it, I’d remove them.
I also really like the comment about shiplapping over it on high ceilings.

Feeling blessed, sitting here with my highly ornate, very high ceilings in my Old Girl.
Grateful 🤗

Brigitte

I don’t like popcorn ceiling per se but I have it in my home in a relatively small area (upstairs hallway) and I have learned to live with it. My house is almost a hundred years old and I am positive there is asbestos in the popcorn and the main reason I don’t want to disturb it if I don’t have to. That said I’m glad to learn about the sound absorption function. The ceiling is the stairwell hallway ceiling and two stories high so sound definitely echos and travels. I’m glad to learn the popcorn helps absorb the sound. So thanks for giving me a reason to kind of like it. 🙂

Oh my goodness Albie- this is such a huge undertaking, but it looks amazing so far!! I am so grateful that the previous owners of our house took care of all the texture issues our home had- our ceilings and walls are completely flat, but when I remove old intercoms off the walls I see the old wall texture and whoever took on that project in this house- I could kiss them.

Roberta Davis

I live in the Seattle area, too, and when we bought a 1973 townhome here, it had popcorn ceilings. All of the 150 townhomes in our association did. It was a 70’s thing, I guess. We were doing a bigger reno with a contractor and the contractor just wanted to dry-wall over all of it, saying the cost would be the same as removing it. Our city does have regulation around removing it- I’d guess all cities do- so everyone should check the rules before removing. Since our ceilings were kinda low anyway, so we had them remove the entire ceiling and put new drywall up. Except for the very large and high vaulted ceiling- they just put new drywall over it. I’m so glad we did that!

Popcorn ceilings are just so annoying. As a fair warning, it is MUCH harder to scrape off once it’s been painted over with oil paint — like, nearly impossible, honestly, unless you have quite a strong arm and a lot of patience. If they’re painted with regular latex, it’s still more difficult if they’ve been painted but not quite as bad.

Sallie Yeager

Our entire house came with (asbestos-free) popcorn ceilings. We’ve been here for four years and I have tackled 5 rooms so far. The vinegar/water solution works wonders. The hardest part that I have discovered is that the drywall tape and nail holes need to be skim coated after scraping. I skipped that step on my first room and I can see the drywall tape, especially around the perimeter. I don’t mind skimming but sanding it is such a pain. But it’s totally doable and the results are so worth it.

Devon

Ugh, living with popcorn over here too. I hate it and have been debating what route to go. I wish it could be scraped and then just miraculously be a flat beautiful ceiling, but I know that won’t be the case. What are your thoughts about scraping popcorn and replacing with knockdown texture? That’s a popular solution around here and I know at least it looks better, but I’m conflicted because it seems strange to replace one textured ceiling with another?

Cindy

I did that in my old house. The dry wall tape was so visible that thinking of pasting and sanding ourselves was overwhelming. We eventually scraped it ourselves and then hired a guy to put up the knock down ceiling. I am so glad we did. It totally changed the look for the house and was way more cost effective than having the ceilings made flat.

Katy

So maybe my husband and I are nuts but we have a 2,000 sq ft home that had popcorn on every single bit of the ceiling and we’ve re-done a little over half of it ourselves. Let me start by saying that we’re not really handy and my husband hates every minute of home remodeling. The problem is that I LOVE smooth ceilings and could not live with popcorn at all, especially since I work from home and had to see it 24/7. We started by tackling a 5×6 powder room to see if we could do it. It’s crazy messy but it’s even more crazy expensive to hire out. Here’s each step we took with almost each step needing a day to dry or cure: scraping, dry sand, wet sand, first skim coat, second skim coat, dry sand, wet sand, primer, ceiling paint. It’s basically a two week job per room but each room we’ve done looks better than the open concept downstairs that we paid to have done. We’ve saved over $10k by doing one room at a time during the doldrums of quarantine last year. I not only saved some serious cash (materials are next to nothing-… Read more »

Merry

This is a great post. I’m a little jealous of the diy-ability of your 1980s house. We just bought a 1970s house and all of the main-level ceilings were popcorn. We had to have them professionally abated because they had asbestos.

We expected the removal to be astronomically expensive because of the asbestos, the size of the house and the 14 ft vaulted ceilings, but were pleasantly surprised with the quotes we got back. Our licensed, highly rated, abatement specialist charged about $2.50/SF plus the state’s $600 permit fee. It was still a lot of money, but about half of what the online estimates were predicting.

I’d echo the person who said drywall under the popcorn was in pretty rough shape after it was removed. Skim coating was another necessary expense for this place (level 4 finish). We found that the zinsser guardz primer really helped stick down the scuffed up paper between the joints too.

The expense and time were TOTALLY worth it IMO. The house looks so much more modern, clean and polished. Plus the peace of mind about not having asbestos in the house anymore is huge.

Brittany

I live in a condo that was built in 1987 and every room has popcorn ceilings. I don’t like it, but I grew up with it in my house as well, so I am very used to ignoring it! Especially in my cathedral ceiling living room – it’s so far away I can’t even see it without my glasses 😉

KS

I had NO IDEA it was so expensive to remove popcorn ceilings professionally! They always do it on the home improvement shows like it’s no problem. We have texture on our ceilings (not popcorn) that I can deal – with but the house I grew up in (and the neighbor’s house because I baby sat for them) had HEAVY POPCORN with GLITTER!!! GLITTER?!?!?!?! What the heck was that all about?

CW

One of my friends built a house in 1970 and paid good money to have her ceilings popcorn sprayed with glitter. She loved bling and loved those fugly ceilings.
I’m embarrassed to admit we had our imperfect drywalled ceilings popcorn sprayed in 1972 or so – thank heavens we didn’t add glitter. Our new house has no popcorn and no glitter. Goodbye, 70s!

KS

HAHA! The 70s were very glamourous!

Michelle

This was a great , and super relatable post!!!

Kathy

Thanks for the post. We’re planning on removing the popcorn ceilings in our new house. Our contractor says the living room/dinning room ceiling will not come out smooth due to minor slopes on there. He says he can texture it or I was thinking what if we put some decorative bims to hide the imperfections. Don’t know about the cost yet, but you think it can work?

Allie

When we bought our 1911 farmhouse it had an unfortunate 1970s renovation and at some point popcorn ceilings were added to the main living areas downstairs and the hallway upstairs (and we suspect maybe under drywall ceilings in the bedrooms – something to look forward to at a later reno phase). We had not moved in yet and had a lot of other reno (mostly cosmetic – removing gross carpet, repainting, etc…) work to do, so we actually found someone on craigslist to scrape a significant area for about $500. We were lucky the ceilings were in good shape underneath – not perfect, but not so bad to need to skim coat, we are thinking of revealing the support beams at a later phase, so glad to have that savings for now). One thing we learned is that it was a lot easier to remove because it had never been painted. It literally scraped off with a little scraper and was very superficial. So if it’s something you really don’t like or want to change, I highly recommend doing a little investigation into how hard it will be to remove, before you do any cosmetic work that will make it… Read more »

We had to remove a few popcorn ceilings in our house too and I actually loved it. It’s so satisfying!!!! It’s definitely something easier done before you move in but we had a fun Saturday getting everything nice and wet and scraping away.

Sam

We had popcorn ceilings in our first house. It was built in the early 70s. I hated the ceiling but I was worried that if it came back positive I would have to disclose it when it came time to sell our house. I knew we would be selling the house within 5 years so we just lived with it. I don’t know if it’s true or not that I would have to disclose it but I didn’t want to risk it.

Rachel

Thanks for sharing! Very interesting about the water/vinegar, what can’t that combo do at this point? We have popcorn in 1 room and we’re about to take the easy way out by throwing some shiplap over it. Hiring someone to scrape it seemed like the only other option, but good to know you can diy it too!

Loathe popcorn ceilings, so we’re lucky that our house only has them in the basement. I just finished scraping them off of a section for a little home office we’re walling off (covid cloffice, baby). Already-low basement ceilings meant I didn’t even consider options other than scraping. The space is about 6 1/2 by 11 feet, and it took me a couple of tiring hours with a spray bottle of water and a drywall knife to scrape it off, and then we sanded a bit. It wasn’t hard at all, though. (I have photos of the space in progress on my blog, if you’re interested.)

There’s a popular technique (google the youtube video) where a guy tapes a putty knife to a shopvac, thus vacuuming up debris while he scrapes, and I tried that, but it was more trouble than it was worth for me to drag around the shop-vac while I scraped. Maybe it would work for you if you have a shop-vac with a longer hose, though!

Emily

Oh my goodness – my dad is totally that guy! I grew up in a 70s ranch with popcorn ceilings everywhere, and mid-90s my dad MacGuyvered his shop vac to a putty knife and vacuumed up most of it! My sister and I had the job of using the second, smaller, shop vac to finish up the stuff that made it to the ground. Memories …

Hah, the guy in the video I watched seemed to think he invented the idea, and that home improvement shows stole it from him. Obviously he wasn’t the first to think of it!

Sounds like fun times, Emily. My dad had us four kids helping re-roof our house, and build a big deck, so I was child labor, too. Probably kept us out of trouble, right? 🙂

Amy

Our beach place has the very sharp, stalagtite type of ceiling spackle on it and I am just living with it. Too much work/cost to fix and I am happy to let it be someone else’s problem when we ever sell. The ceilings are not tall as is, so covering over would also visually constrain the rooms even further.

Dena

Your husband did some hard work!!
We, and when I say we, I mean my husband after purchasing our house bought a pair of stilts and sprayed, removed and painted our whole ceiling that was also vaulted in the living room. Yes, we saved so much money doing it ourselves but it was soooo tedious and hard on his neck. He also did it after work and on weekends but I think if he had to choose, he would hire it out next time.
One thing to consider is testing a portion of it first to see what condition the ceiling is like underneath. We got lucky that it was in perfect condition- he didn’t have to tape or fix any drywall. I think also testing to see if the popcorn has been painted over because that makes it harder to come off.

Morgan

We went through this same issue in our home. We decided to tackle our master bedroom ceiling with the spray bottle/scraping method. It was so much more difficult than anticipated because the popcorn had been painted over and it made it super hard and difficult to scrape. We did get it done in the end and I’m so happy it’s gone but it was a harder project than anticipated. There are also some areas where you can see imperfections in the drywall but it’s better than having popcorn and something we can probably skimcoat/patch at some point.

As a second project we scraped the ceiling going down to our basement, and because that had never been painted over it was a super easy hour project. Whereas the bedroom was a 1 week project. FYI.

Kate m

I echo the poster who loathes popcorn ceilings; they date your home terribly and depending where you live, can hurt your RE value. About 20 years ago my dad added onto his 1985 build (he built) and did smooth ceilings…what a difference! The rest of the home still has popcorn, so you really notice. My current 1990s 4K sq ft house has popcorn on 3 floors. We moved in a few months ago and are going to start getting estimates soon, I’m afraid to see the numbers. I did a few tests to see the technique below the stuff bc I’ve heard similar stories about the issues below (above?) the popcorn. I think we could do about 60% of it ourselves but we have 12 to 25 ft ceilings in some of the house so, no thanks there.

Thank you for this post. My whole house has popcorn ceilings. I don’t know if it’s a regional thing, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever lived somewhere that didn’t have popcorn ceilings except in Spain. (I’m from Nebraska, but live in the country in Iowa now.) As kids we used to lay on the couch and find figures in the popcorn texture, just like people do with clouds. That said, I really don’t like the texture, and I definitely have some spots on my current ceiling that need repair anyways. I like the idea of having a 1/4″ of drywall go up. Not sure if that’s quite as diy as I have slightly vaulted ceilings. Thank you all for the discussion!

Laura Hubert

But back to that beautiful sofa…
I went back to the old post to find it, is this truly Apt2b cloud velvet? I got a swatch and it looks greener and less of a clean light blue then this picture. Is it the lighting?

kk

PLEASE ALWAYS check for asbestos and if you have asbestos PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO REMOVE ASBESTOS YOURSELF! Sorry to yell, just in some states its legal for homeowner to do DIY asbestos removal, BUT just because its legal doesn’t mean it advisable. Its is SO bad for you, it goes everywhere in invisible shards, it can leach into your soil, and if you have disturbed asbestos in your home it affect the resale value. So many threats are overblown, but asbestos is a threat that is underplayed!! I just DIY removed huge sharp heavy popcorn ceiling, 250 square feet it took me like 5 days off and on , it was hellish work but I couldn’t stand to move in with it like that. Ceilings are already very low and walls are already grooved boards so beadboard/ covering was not an option. Yes it left a textured brain like pattern behind, but it was so much better than the original I don’t care. I added sand additive to ceiling paint to knock it down and its fine. Some texture is better than than all the texture. 1. I sprayed with LOTS of hot water and scraped, but it turns… Read more »

sona

When we remodeled our 1970s-built home we had popcorn ceilings only in the living and dining rooms, which are open to one another. The ceilings are 8 foot and we opted to have the popcorn sheet rocked over even though the ceilings are relatively low by today’s standards. They used 1/2″ sheetrock attached directly to the ceiling. We also had a very simple, low profile molding applied to cover the edge where the wall and ceiling meet. The ceiling doesn’t feel any lower than it did before and it looks great. We also had some can lights and spot lights for art installed at the same time which gives the ceiling a more modern vibe.

Shannon

My one bedroom condo had popcorn ceilings that had been painted. I got two bids for removal and they were both $4000 to $5000. This was not in my budget so I decided to experiment with solutions myself in the small bathroom. I discovered that if I scraped it dry with a putty knife I could slice the big chunks off. Then I cleaned off the jagged bits with a drywall sander attached to a vacuum, primed, and painted. They ended up somewhere between small popcorn and that “orange peel” knockdown texture. It was still a lot of work and made a big mess, but it only cost about $100. And it gave me something to do while I was quarantining last spring. I’d love perfectly smooth ceilings, but I decided smoothish is good enough.

Samantha

We purchased our 1978 home in the summer of 2019. I had done a ton of research before we offered on the house and added a contingency that we test for asbestos in the popcorn ceiling. The seller agreed after his realtor assured him that asbestos in ceilings was outlawed in 1977. If you really do your research the law outlawed the manufacturing of asbestos ceiling products but contractors could continue to use any stockpile they had. I read it’s not unheard of to have a home built into the late 80’s and find asbestos in the ceiling. The test came back positive and after a lot of back and forth the seller agreed to a $1500 credit to abate. We got 7 quotes for a full house abatement and the least expensive was $9000 (the ceilings had been painted and we have a vaulted living space) for a 1200 sq. Ft. House. We made the decision to encapsulate the ceiling under putty and our contractor charged $3500 for all materials, labor, and to retexturize. So after the seller credit it was still $2000 out of pocket, but aesthetically it is so much more pleasing. Always, always test a popcorn… Read more »

Sandberg

We had a “dripping stucco” ceiling which is only slightly more attractive than hideous popcorn. The sad day my son’s balloons popped from floating into the sharp edges of the stucco was the last straw. Ultimately, it was cheaper and faster to hire someone to tear it out completely and build a brand new ceiling. Plus, we could add/move electrical while it was torn out.

Laura Sennott

I covered mine with tongue and groove slats and painted them, only cost about 300.00 for one room and I love them!

Kim

I just did this in my office. I ended up taking off a lot of the drywall paper in the process (maybe I was too aggressive with my scraping) so had to do some skim coating with drywall mud. But I don’t regret a thing. I love it. A good quality sprayer is key!

Kim

We sent in a small sample (inch whole saw cut out of drywall/popcorn to a lab and had the results back with 24 hours.

Monica

My 1950’s ranch had popcorn ceilings with glitter! So beautiful! Anyway, asbestos is only harmful when dry, is my understanding. So my approach was to keep it wet. Plaster walls truly made this removal so easy. I used plastic on the wood floor, brought in a hose and used a misty spray till it was soaked. Scrapped it, rolled up the plastic and contained the waste inside. I mopped and cleaned very thoroughly afterwards.

Monica

I should add, by ‘dry’ I really mean airborne. When the asbestos is airborne is when you breathe it in and it can harm your lungs. Keeping it wet prevents the dust which is harmful. I would never recommend scraping dry for this reason.

Kj

Monica, this is some of the most dangerous advice I have ever read. Please, NOBODY listen to this and do real research at scientific websites. Asbestos is always dangerous when it is disturbed or broken down which is exactly what scraping it does.

kk

YES KJ Asbestos is SO DANGEROUS! It is NOT a DIY job! ! Additionally, Asbestos must be disposed of properly, it cannot be put into normal trash. Asbestos fibers stay in your home, your lungs and body forever and cause serious illness. The smaller the fibers the more dangerous they are.

Julie

My son just bought a 1924 house in Portland, OR. Three of the rooms had heavy popcorn and the other 2 adjacent did not. We assumed it was added when the original plaster ceilings cracked. We took a sample to a lab and had it tested for asbestos and did not have any. I was pleasantly surprised that it only cost $1,700 to remove, haul away and touch up the plaster. It was about 500 sq feet. His ceilings were coved so drywalling over was not an option. It was a very very messy project but I am SO glad we did it – the ceilings are beautiful.

Tammy

After reading how much work this is l would definitely research if it is possible to wallpaper the ceilings with a layer of wallpaper liner underneath. Depending on how rough the texture is.

Jody

We moved into our house at the end of July and I reaaalllly wanted to be able to have the popcorn removed before moving in because it is so much easier when the house is vacant. Alas, it has asbestos which makes the cost to remove double and we opted to prioritize replacing the floors. I am not exaggerating to say I think about the ceilings and daydream about them being scraped every single day 😆 We are having them done in March and replacing lighting at the same time. It is expensive and we have to move everything out before it’s done, but goodness gracious I cannot wait!

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