Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

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Tips for DIY Textured Popcorn Ceiling Removal


Removing a textured popcorn ceiling isn’t that hard, if you know how to go about it, but it can be messy. Watch this video for some tips on how to remove a popcorn ceiling using a special scraper that can reduce the mess. ...More




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Tips for DIY Textured Popcorn Ceiling Removal

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Removing a textured popcorn ceiling isn’t that difficult, if you know how to go about it, but it can be very messy. If the texture was applied before 1980, have it tested for asbestos first. If the texture doesn’t contain asbestos, you can proceed with removal.

How to Remove a Textured Popcorn Ceiling

To remove a textured popcorn ceiling:

  1. Cover all the walls and floor with plastic sheeting.
  2. Mix hot water with a little fabric softener in a pump up sprayer.
  3. Wet down a section of the ceiling with the sprayer.
  4. Allow the solution to soak in and loosen the texture.
  5. Use a drywall knife or a special scraper that collects the texture in a plastic bag, such as the Homax Ceiling Texture Scraper (available at The Home Depot), to scrape the texture off the ceiling.
  6. After the ceiling has dried, repair any damaged or uneven areas with drywall joint compound.
  7. Allow the joint compound to dry, then sand the ceiling smooth.
  8. Prime and paint the ceiling using latex paint.

Watch this video to find out more.

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  1. Donald Savoie Says:
    July 21st, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Dear Mr. Lipford, I was recently asked to remove and paint a textured ceiling. You stated that homes built before 1970 had asbestos in it, so I was wondering, if it was safe to say that homes built around 1993 are asbestos free? Just wanted to say thank you, your article was very helpful to this weekend warrior.

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Danny Lipford: Removing the texture, sometimes called popcorn, from a ceiling is a fairly simple process, but one that can be very messy. If your home was built before 1970, there’s a chance the texture could contain asbestos, so have it tested before you attempt this.

This is something we get so many emails about and we’re going to show you a few tricks that will make it a little bit easier. Number one, cover everything up, that’s really important. And then, what Mike did, he took pump up sprayer, filled it up with really hot water, and then just a little bit of fabric softener, which keeps the water from evaporating so much, so that it can really help to release all of the texture from the ceiling.

Now this is a little bit different, because normally when you’re scraping texture off the ceiling, you want to minimize all damage possible. Here it’s a little different, in that because of the trench we have from the electrician, we have to do a little bit of drywall work anyway, so it’s not as crucial. But still, you want to minimize that amount of work as much as possible.

But the number one thing in removing texture is getting it as wet as possible. So take off, Mike.

Mike: Here we go.

Danny Lipford: You’ll want to spray the whole ceiling with a fine mist of the mixture, and allow it to soak in. Then do the same thing all over again. The thicker the texture, the more time and water will be required to loosen its hold on the ceiling. Then you can begin gently scraping with an ordinary drywall knife, held at a shallow angle to remove the texture. If you don’t mind buying a special tool for this job, there’s another alternative.

See, that’s the problem with using just the regular drywall knife, you end up with that mess everywhere all over your feet. Now, this is supposed to address that concern. Here, hold that. What this is is a frame that’s supposed to hold that bag, and then this is the scraper, so as you’re scraping it falls right over in the bag. What do you think?

Mike: Well, let’s give it a try.

Danny Lipford: If it works, it makes this whole process a lot easier.

Mike: I’m all for that.

Danny Lipford: So, put it on the inside, and bring it out like that. Okay, hold that one, and put the clip on.

This scraper actually works really well, and because it has a longer handle you don’t have to constantly move a ladder. But the big advantage is that bag, which catches almost all of the texture coming off the ceiling. You do have to pay more attention to the angle of the scraper blade, since you’re further from the ceiling. And the tool gets heavier as the bag fills up. We found it quicker and easier to dump the debris out of the bag, instead of replacing it each time it got full.

Whenever possible, you want to scrape along the drywall seams, instead of across them. That means less chance of scraping up the tape that covers the seams. Around the edges you’ll have to use an ordinary drywall knife to get close to the crown molding and clean up the caulk line between the ceiling and the crown.

When the ceiling is dry, you’ll need to coat any damaged areas with drywall joint compound. In this case we had to repair the trench cut by the electrician first, but we’re also coating the all the seams. Ceilings with texture on them often weren’t finished too smoothly because they knew the texture would cover up any rough spots.

When the joint compound is smooth and dry it will need to be sanded before you apply two coats of paint to finish the job.