How To Remove a Popcorn Ceiling Quickly | BC Brushworks

Jan 20, 2024

Hey there, fellow homeowners! Tyler B here, owner of BC Brushworks, with over a decade of experience in the painting business. Today, let's dive into the nitty-gritty of a common home improvement quest: getting rid of those dated stucco and popcorn ceilings.

Process of ceiling house construction

Understanding Popcorn Ceilings

Alright, let's kick things off with a bit of history. Popcorn ceilings, also known as stucco or acoustic ceilings, gained popularity in the mid-20th century. Initially, they were a cost-effective solution to hide imperfections and dampen sound in residential and commercial spaces.

asbestos panels in the city

Testing for Asbestos

Now, a crucial concern – asbestos. Popcorn ceilings installed before the 1980s may contain asbestos, a hazardous material. It's vital to get your ceiling tested before any removal plans. Safety first, folks!

Before removing any popcorn ceiling texture, contact your local health department and ask about getting a sample tested. If it does come back positive, cover the popcorn ceiling with new drywall or covering. 

Alternatively you can hire an asbestos abatement contractor, which will cost you a pretty penny but will get the job done properly. 

Do You Need To Refinish Your Popcorn Ceiling?

Wondering if you can just leave it be? A quick way to tell if you need to refinish your popcorn ceiling is called the "rub test". Essentially where you wall glide your hand over the ceiling to see if any drywall comes down alongside it. 

If drywall comes down with the "rub test" good chance it needs to be completly refinished as either it was not finished properly or is aged.

Closer shot of a popcorn ceiling.

Can I Remove a Popcorn Ceiling By Myself?

You can remove popcorn ceiling yourself, being more cost-effective but it has its downsides. You will need to prep, soak, scrape and finish which typically results in a unsatisfactory job being completed. 

It is totally possible to get results. You will need to spend time and money to do so even with yourself.

Steps To Removing Your Popcorn Ceiling

white painted ceiling

There are a couple steps to removing the popcorn ceiling yourself but in short, you will be preparing your living space by covering everything, you will soak and scrape your ceiling, then refinishing the uncovered area. 

It will take you depending on the living space about 2-5 hours per room. 

What Tools Do I Need To Remove Popcorn Ceiling?

Alright, let's talk tools – the essential arsenal for taking on that popcorn ceiling. Here's a straightforward list of what you'll need to get the job done:

Protective Gear: Safety first! Grab a dust mask, safety goggles, and gloves to shield yourself from dust and debris.

Drop Cloths or Plastic Sheeting: Cover your furniture and floors with drop cloths or plastic sheeting to prevent any mess during the removal process.

Painter's Tape: Secure the plastic sheeting in place with painter's tape to create a barrier between the work area and the rest of the space.

Spray Bottle: Fill a spray bottle with water – you'll use it to wet the popcorn texture, making it easier to scrape off.

Ceiling Scraper: The hero of the operation! Get a sturdy ceiling scraper to effectively remove the wet popcorn texture from the ceiling.

Putty Knife: A putty knife comes in handy for detailing and getting into those hard-to-reach corners.

Trash Bags: Keep the cleanup efficient with trash bags for collecting the scraped-off popcorn bits.

Step Ladder: Ensure a safe reach with a sturdy step ladder. Safety is key when working at heights!

Plastic Bucket: Use a plastic bucket to hold your tools and catch any excess water during the wetting process.

Remember, having the right tools makes all the difference. Now that you're armed with this simple toolkit, you're ready to tackle that popcorn ceiling like a pro!

Cover and Preparing The Space

Alright, let's set the scene for preparing your space to bid farewell to that pesky popcorn ceiling.

Clear the room of furniture or cover it up, shield your floors with protective cloths, safeguard walls with painter's tape, and don your safety gear. Secure hanging fixtures and create a barrier with plastic sheeting to contain the mess. Ventilate the space by opening windows and doors. With tools at the ready and a deep breath, you're set to transform your space, making it a fortress against popcorn debris.

Now, let's dive into the popcorn ceiling removal journey with confidence! 

Ceiling Fan and Electrical Precautions

Electricians hand holding electric wires, electric socket on the wall - renovation, in construction, new apartment

Start by turning off the power to the room at the circuit breaker to eliminate any electrical hazards.

Secure the fan blades with plastic sheeting or tape to protect them during the removal process. Cover light fixtures and electrical outlets with plastic sheeting or bags to prevent water and debris infiltration. Ensure both the ceiling and surrounding area are dry before you begin. Opt for battery-powered tools to steer clear of cords near potential wet areas.

Mindfully navigate around any wiring in the ceiling, and consider wearing insulated gloves for an added layer of protection.

Wetting and Scraping Technique

Color plastic spray bottle isolated on white background.

Fill your garden sprayer with warm water and a small amount of dish soap. Spray a small section of the ceiling until it's thoroughly damp. Allow the water to soak in for about 15 minutes. This will soften the stucco, making it easier to scrape off.

Using your wide scraper, gently scrape off the stucco. Be careful not to damage the drywall underneath. If the stucco isn't coming off easily, spray more water and let it soak in before trying again.

Clean Up

Once you've scraped off all the stucco, clean up the debris and remove the plastic sheets. Be sure to vacuum the floor to get rid of any remaining dust.

Getting a Smooth Finish On Your Ceiling

After removing the stucco popcorn ceiling, you may notice that the ceiling looks uneven or has some damage. Don't worry, this is normal and can be fixed with a bit of drywall compound and some sanding.

Just some medium to high finish sand paper, repairing any drywall you see needs it. Once you're satisfied with the appearance of the ceiling, you can paint it to match the rest of your room.

Value & Costs

Cost For Professionals To Remove Popcorn Ceiling

While removing a stucco popcorn ceiling can be a DIY project, it can also be time-consuming and messy. If you're not comfortable doing it yourself, consider hiring a professional. They have the experience and tools to get the job done quickly and efficiently. 

Typical cost for a team of experts to refinish your popcorn ceiling would be from $2500 to $6250, with hourly rates from $25 to $60.

The Cheapest Way Be To Remove The Popcorn Ceiling

The most cost-effective method for removing a popcorn ceiling involves a bit of elbow grease and some DIY magic. Start by testing for asbestos, ensuring safety is your top priority. If the test comes back negative, you're good to proceed.

Removing a stucco popcorn ceiling can give your home a fresh, modern look. While the process can be a bit messy, the results are often worth it. Whether you choose to do it yourself or hire a professional, you'll be pleased with the transformation of your space.

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