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How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings

July 28, 2014

Popcorn ceilings were a trend in home design from the 1950s-80s, but like most things from that era, the trend has long since died. If you’re stuck looking up at the aftermath, don’t fret. Popcorn ceilings can be removed, albeit you have a little patience and a few hours to kill.

Removal Process

Also called cottage cheese ceilings for their bumpy texture, the treatment is actually just spray-on paint. Although the process is messy, spraying with water to soften, and scraping with a large trowel or putty knife can easily remove popcorn ceilings. There are four basic steps, the first of which is the most important. You’ll need to check for asbestos by taking a small sample of the ceiling and sending it into an EPA testing lab. If it comes back positive, for safety reasons, you will need to have a professional licensed contractor do the job for you. If there’s no danger, you can begin prepping by turning off the electricity and removing any light fixtures since you’ll be using water and we don’t want to risk electrocution. Once you’re ready, cover the floor and walls with thick plastic sheets and tape smaller pieces over the electric outlets.

Finally, it’s time for the dirty work. Grab a garden hose and wet the ceiling, working in four to five feet squares at a time. Once sufficiently damp, scrape the material off with a joint knife. If it’s not coming off very easily, keep wetting it and using that muscle. You can fix any accidental holes with joint compound and a putty knife. When you’ve got as much off as you can, you’ll want to sand the area to smooth it out. And voila! Just like that you’re back in this century.

A Better Solution

You also another option. If you like the look of tin ceilings, our SnapLock™ panels screw right over popcorn ceilings so you don’t have to go through the headache of trying to remove them. The only patented interlocking metal tile system; you can have a beautiful new ceiling in hours, mess-free.


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