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How to Remove Popcorn Textured Ceilings

In the past, popcorn ceilings were a widely popular trend for a couple of reasons. Contractors found that it was an easy way of covering up imperfections in the ceiling. It also saved time on completing a new construction because the ceiling’s finish wouldn’t have to be smoothed out to perfection. Unfortunately, this trend hasn’t aged well, and many modern home buyers want to get rid of their popcorn ceilings. The following guide can help you.

Test a Small Area

In most cases, older popcorn ceilings can be easily removed by using a paint scraper and a little elbow grease. Use the scraper to try to remove a small area. If the popcorn isn’t coming off, you’ll have to try spraying the area with lukewarm water before scraping it. The moisture should make it easier to scrape the popcorn off of the ceiling. If the popcorn still seems resistant, it’s likely that the original contractor painted the ceiling before adding the popcorn texture. In this situation, you’ll be faced with a more labor-intensive process, so you may not want to proceed.

If you do decide to proceed with removing the popcorn texture, your next step should be to schedule asbestos testing for your home. Scraping the popcorn off in a home that was built with asbestos will release that hazardous compound into your home’s environment. Asbestos is widely known as a carcinogen that causes lung cancer, so it’s better to keep that material concealed. Consider adding an extra layer of protection by using drywall or wood paneling to cover the ceiling.

Preparing For the Project

There are a few steps to take in preparing for this project and doing so can help you avoid a messy cleanup project later. To begin, you should remove all the furniture from the room. If you can’t remove furnishings, they will have to be wrapped in plastic sheeting to prevent them from being damaged. Similarly, you should cover the walls, windows, and flooring in plastic sheeting. The final step in protecting your home is to remove ceiling fans. Once the fans have been removed, wrap exposed wires in plastic to protect them from getting wet. Similarly, light switches and electrical outlets should be protected with plastic wrap. This will help guard against shorts caused by your home’s electrical wiring.

Now that you’re ready to begin, determine if you’ll need to wet the popcorn ceiling before scraping. If so, spray it lightly by using a garden hose. Once the entire ceiling is damp, let the water sink in for about 15 minutes.

Scraping Away the Popcorn

As you begin scraping off small sections of the ceiling at a time, keep a mud pan with you. This will help you catch drippings that may come from the wet ceiling, and it will give you someplace to scrape residue off your scraper. You should also keep the hose nearby so you can dampen the ceiling as you go. Since the ceiling will dry over time, wetting your work area may be necessary.​

Once the popcorn has been completely removed, you should sand your ceiling. This will help remove any excess residue and it will help smooth out imperfections in the ceiling. Wipe the ceiling with a damp cloth and wait for it to completely dry before you add the first coat of paint.

While this is a labor-intensive project, getting it done will leave you with a ceiling that will fill you with pride. More importantly, it will increase the value of your home.

When you want to build your dream home, KCI Homes can help. See samples of our work by visiting our gallery page!

By KCI Homes 11-17-2021


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