If you have a house that was built in the 80’s, like we do, you probably have that popcorn texture on your ceiling. You know, that super bumpy cobweb filled mess with edges that are impossible to paint cleanly.
Well, I have good news, my friend! You don’t have to live with the popcorn anymore. Hooray!
We have successfully removed the texture from the ceiling in two of our rooms, with many more to come. So I’d thought I would share what we’ve learned along the way. And when I say “we”, I mean “my husband”. I had the idea to take it down, he learned how and did ALL the work. So I will share with you what HE learned.
First and foremost, make sure there is no asbestos in your ceiling. If you house was built after 1978, there most likely isn’t – but be sure! Our popcorn ceiling was made of newspaper and paint.
Large Putty Scraper
Spray Texture (with or without hopper & compressor)
Primer & Paint
Step 1: Prep the Room
Prep the room by clearing out the furniture (you’ll be so thankful you did this) and covering the floor and walls with plastic. It should be completely and totally covered because this process makes a huge mess. With everything covered, clean up will be much easier.
Tape the plastic sheeting up to the walls just under the ceiling line. Make sure the floor is covered wall to wall and tape down at edges. Then tape the wall sheeting to the floor sheeting.
You’ll also want to remove any light fixtures, heat vents, etc…
You’ll need to use a pump sprayer for this job (like the kind you put weed killer in for the yard). Make your vinegar mixture in the tank. We have a one gallon sprayer. We put in one cup of white vinegar, then filled it up to the one gallon line with hot water. Make sure it’s H-O-T. That would make the measurements for the mixture 1 cup vinegar to 15 cups hot water.
Step 3: Spray and Scrape
Now is when you start spraying. What you are doing simply is wetting down the popcorn so you can easily scrape it off. Spray a patch that is about 3 feet by 3 feet with your vinegar/water mixture. Let it soak in for 3 or 4 minutes, then scrape it off carefully with long smooth strokes. If you spray ahead a section it will be soaking in while you scrape the current section.
The amount of mixture you spray is very important as too much spray can soak the sheetrock, causing you to scrape out chunks of the ceiling itself (big problem). It also will make your ceiling very wet and you’ll have to wait a long time before you can add texture and paint.
However, too little spray can make it hard to scrape. Start on the light side and adjust accordingly. If it’s too hard to scrape, spray a little more, until you have figured out the right amount for your ceiling.
You should be scraping down to the sheetrock, but not into it. When the texture comes off you should be able to see the mudding and patching in the sheetrock seams.
**Wear safety glasses and a mask for this part as it’s very messy and the ceiling texture will be falling on your head and face.**
Have patience with this step. Go out to dinner. Get a good night’s sleep. Take your kids to the park. If you start step 5 before the ceiling is dry it will be a nightmare.
While you are waiting, you may want to sweep up some of the popcorn texture and put it in the trash. You have plastic down – true, but do you really want to track it all over the house?
Step 5: Spray On New Texture
Most ceilings (even flat looking ones) have some kind of texture. Hardware stores have many different kinds of spray texture. The most fine and flat one is usually called “Orange Peel” texture.
When we did the ceiling in our dining room we used these cans of spray texture. It ended up costing us about $60 for the whole ceiling. That’s too much for me.
When we did the ceiling in my daughter’s room, we decided to get a big jug of texture and a hopper gun that we could attach to our compressor. It cost about $65 ($15 for the texture, $50 for the hopper), but there is 2/3 of the container left. We know we’ll use it all and more since we’re planning to remove the popcorn ceiling in each room of our house. It also made the process go much faster.
Whichever way you go, read the directions on the texture sprayer carefully and follow them closely. You want to use smooth, even strokes as you spray the ceiling so the texture spreads out evenly.
Make sure you have proper ventilation as most texture products have harmful fumes.
Here’s an example of Orange Peel texture (this has already been painted):
Step 6: Let it Dry
Yes, there is a lot of drying time in this process.
Step 7: Prime and Paint
I think this step is self explanatory. But just a note: Remember that it’s a ceiling. Don’t waste your money on fancy paint.
Step 8: Clean Up
What your floor will look like if you haven’t swept yet:
This is where you are happy you did step one. Start with the top of the wall panels and remove the tape. Lay plastic across floor, covering up the big ole’ mess. Fold in all sides to the middle like you are wrapping toast crumbs up in a napkin. Pick up your big ball of plastic wrapped popcorn ceiling and throw it in the trash. Clean up – DONE!!
If you have any questions about the process, feel free to post them in the comments section below. I’ll try to answer them as quickly and clearly as I can.
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