Mike’s Guys: 3 Options for Getting Rid of Popcorn Ceilings

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One of the top requests we get from our clients – whether they are remodeling their current home or have recently moved into an older house – is to have the popcorn ceilings removed.

These textured ceilings, also known as popcorn ceilings, acoustic ceilings or even cottage cheese ceilings, were very popular in the 1970s and ’80s as a quick and easy way to hide imperfections. Unfortunately, this texture can be very difficult to match if you have cracks or holes in need of patching. The uneven surface also catches more dust, allows for cobwebs, and really makes a home’s interior look stale and dated. These reasons alone are enough to make a homeowner opt for removing the texture! This is why we include popcorn ceiling removal in just about every home remodeling project we complete.


Dangerous Asbestos in Popcorn Ceilings

The first step prior to removing a textured ceiling should always be to test it for asbestos. This substance was often used in homes built prior to 1980 but was banned after it was found to cause lung disease and cancer. Scraping a ceiling that contains this substance could be very dangerous for your health.

To find out if your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos, scrape a small sample from the corner of your ceiling and send it to an accredited lab for asbestos testing. You can also pick up a home test kit from a home improvement store. You can also contact your local health department for assistance with testing. If the test is positive for asbestos, contact a company that specializes in asbestos removal. Do not attempt to remove the asbestos yourself!

Even if your home was built after 1980, it’s still a good idea to have a sample tested. Building materials containing asbestos continued to be used until the late 1980s in disregard of the new regulations. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to hazardous materials!



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1. Scrape Popcorn Ceilings Yourself

In the absence of asbestos, a brave homeowner can remove popcorn ceilings themselves with the help of a spray bottle, a sturdy scraper and plastic floor coverings. This might sound easy, and it is the least expensive option, but this DIY project takes a lot of time and hard work! You don’t realize how strenuous it can be to stand on a ladder scraping the ceiling for several hours. Not to mention the mess you’ll have to clean up after scraping! It’s a much bigger job than you might think, but it certainly can be done.

It’s a good idea to do a small test section first to get a feel for the process and learn how it needs to be done. Try scraping a dry section first and then a section dampened with a spray bottle to determine the more effective method. In most cases, wetting the texture allows for easier removal. A helpful tip is to use a garden pump sprayer to lightly dampen the ceiling and let it set for 15 to 20 minutes prior to scraping. If wetting the texture and letting it set doesn’t help, you may want to consider other options for removing or covering the texture if you’re not up for a tough scrapping job on your own!

If the test section isn’t too daunting, proceed to cover the room with plastic drop cloths (not fabric) and be sure to secure them in place with tape. You definitely don’t want to skip this step because this is a very, very messy job! You’ll also want to remove as much furniture as possible from the room and cover any furniture you cannot move. It’s also a good idea to take down any ceiling fans or light fixtures that might be in your way. Turn off the power to any lighting at the circuit breaker prior to starting and stuff any recessed can lights with newspaper or cover with painter’s tape to keep them dry.

Once the texture has been removed, you will have to mud over most of the ceiling or do plenty of sanding if you want it to be smooth. Be sure to factor in these hidden costs if you choose to take down your popcorn ceiling yourself.



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2. Hang Drywall or Install Beadboard over the Popcorn Ceiling

A cleaner, somewhat easier alternative to scraping the popcorn ceiling is hanging drywall or beadboard over it. There are quite a few tutorials online explaining exactly how to do this yourself. You’ll need to use a stud finder to make sure you know where the joists are, and then you can use lightweight drywall or beadboard and extra-long screws to get through the original ceiling to the joists. You will also have to do the finishing work of taping, mudding, and sanding to prepare it for paint. Any crown moulding or fixtures in the ceiling will need to be removed and reinstalled after the new drywall or beadboard is in place.



3. Hire a Pro

The safest, cleanest, and easiest option to remove popcorn ceilings is, of course, to hire a reputable contractor (like Mike’s Guys!) instead of doing it yourself. Hiring a drywall professional, handyman, or remodeler is essential if asbestos is a factor, and it will also result in the smoothest, best-looking result!




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If you’re ready to remove your home’s popcorn ceiling and reveal a sleeker, more modern look, there are several ways to get the job done. Of course, you can always contact us if you have additional questions or need help with the project!


Warm Regards,

Mike’s Guys

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