How to remove popcorn ceilings

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This tutorial is all about how to remove popcorn ceilings without losing your mind!

Let me just start by saying this is not the most fun, clean or exciting DIY project but it is soooooooo rewarding and a total money saver!! We have officially removed all of the ugly and dated popcorn ceiling from the main level of our house. Woohoo! We did our home room by room because it is hard enough to get motivated to do one room let alone the entire floor all at once. I will detail what worked, didn’t work and what products we found most helpful.

Shopping List:

  • Cheap Bug Sprayer – $9 at Home Depot
  • Scraper – I used this Flexible Scraper – they sell popcorn ceiling scrapers but they are $18
  • Plastic Drop Cloth – multi pack Drop Cloth
  • Tape – I used Painters tape because I had it at home
  • Protective eye wear
  • drywall sander
  • face mask (for sanding)
  • extendable roller
  • paint brush- angled
  • Flat ceiling pant – i recommend Valspar – excellent one time coverage! Valspar Ceiling Paint

I highly recommend two people for this. One can do it but it’s way more work and way more time consuming. Make sure the popcorn ceiling does not contain asbestos (it was banned in 1979 so homes built after 1980 shouldn’t contain any) and be sure that it hasn’t been painted before. If it has been painted before it will be much more difficult to remove.

First step is prep work. Trust me do this well!! The less mess to clean up in the end the better. Tape the drop cloth up as close to the ceiling as you can so you have less cleanup on the wall when you are done. Do this around the entire room and then lay down drop cloths to cover the entire floor. The easy part is done! 🙂 Looks slightly creepy and like a scene out of Dexter but this gives you an idea of what it should look like!

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Next step is to have 1 person use the bug sprayer to start wetting sections of the ceiling. Wetting it will make it come off so much easier. Once it is wet the other person can start scraping it down. Hold the scraper at an angle and try not to gouge the ceiling. You don’t want to damage the dry wall above. If you do have some small gouges it is easy to patch it with spackle. The popcorn will just fall right off! Keep doing this all around the room until it is all removed! Tip: try not to spray too much water too close to the tape, we had some issues with it falling off the wall when we got too much water too close.

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After we had the popcorn ceiling all removed we cleaned up all the drop cloths full of goop. We called it a night after that. Just roll it all up and take it to the garbage. Clean up was easy, messy but easy. If any does get on your floor, just clean it up with a mixture of hot vinegar water, I also added lemon essential oil. It should clean right up. We had some of the remnants of the ceiling stuck to the wall and I used the same water/vinegar/lemon oil mixture to clean that up to. It wiped right off.

This next part is my least favorite. The sanding of the ceiling. It is super necessary though because I wanted a super smooth flat finish and it really does make a huge difference. This is where you will want to learn from our mistakes :). Cover everything again, not necessary to do the walls but cover any furniture and flooring in the room and tape off doorways so the dust doesn’t fly everywhere. I didn’t do this. 🙁 I only put drop cloths down on the furniture and tables and we had a huge dusty mess! My husband did the sanding while I ran the vacuum the entire time, constantly cleaning up the dust. We just went over areas that looked rough and sanded them smooth. Made a huge difference in the appearance of the ceiling. Once he was all done I vacuumed everything including the ceiling to remove as much dust as I could. Thank goodness for my awesome Dyson!

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I let my husband be done after that part. He was a trooper and helped me out even though he hates everything DIY. We survived the hardest part and are still happily married :).

I love to paint so painting the ceiling for me was super rewarding and fun. I used an extended roller and easily got the entire ceiling painted very quickly. Like I said use Valspar Flat Ceiling Paint! I only had to do one coat of paint and the coverage is amazing! Then I went around the trim and finished it all up.

Can you hire this out to be done? Absolutely!! For us it would run about $1500 just for 2 rooms so for me doing it ourselves was well worth it considering I only spent around $175. SOOOO Worth it!

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This truly made the biggest difference in the appearance of our home. Just look at those smooth ceilings! It is so much brighter now and doesn’t look like a house from the 80’s (which she totally is) at least on the main level. Next up will be finishing the second floor! Just have to give my husband a few months of buffer time before starting our next room. 🙂

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