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By Catie Shives

How to remove a popcorn ceiling

Once you've removed the first of your popcorn ceilings, you'll wonder what took you so long. It is one of the easiest and least expensive transformations for your home.

Before we get into what you will need on hand for removing a popcorn ceiling, let's talk about why you're going to put an effort into reclaiming your "fifth wall."

  • Lighting – Removing your popcorn ceiling will brighten up your home. The popcorn actually absorbs light, therefore dimming your room.
  • Painting – Because of the texture, popcorn ceilings cannot be repainted without using a brush. This can be very time-consuming and is sure to cause frustration.
  • Outdated – This trend was popular in the 70s. Let's move on to better days.
  • Resale value – If you're putting your home on the market, give it a leg up. You might be surprised to find out that the lack of a popcorn ceiling is on home buyers' radars.

Materials Needed

  • Plastic sheeting (finding the pretaped type can save you some time)
  • Painter's tape if you are not using pretaped plastic sheeting
  • Fabric softener
  • Pump sprayer
  • Putty knife, or you can buy a specialized ceiling texture scraper. Some even have attachments to catch the falling popcorn
  • Safety glasses
  • Ladder or scaffold

Before starting you will want to find out if your home was built before 1980. If it was, it is recommended that you have your popcorn ceiling tested for asbestos before beginning, since asbestos can be dangerous to come in contact with. You can find a local company that will come and test, or you can purchase an asbestos testing kit online.

Step 1 – Remove furniture from the room you will be working in. If this is not an option, or if you can easily work around your furniture, you will want to cover everything with your plastic sheeting — see step 2.

Step 2 – Tape your plastic sheeting at the top of the ceilings; be sure it is covering the floors as well. Cover any furniture that you did not remove from the room. You can purchase the pretaped sheeting if you're looking for a way to make this even easier.

Step 3 – Fill your pump sprayer with warm water and a couple of drops of fabric softener. Spray your ceiling to just dampen the popcorn. This will help to loosen it and will ease your scraping.

Step 4 – Start scraping the popcorn off. Remember to make long, smooth, even strokes, as short back-and-forth motions can end in gouges in your ceiling. If you do end up with a couple of nicks, fill them with spackle, and then sand it off before you begin painting.

Step 5 – Now that your popcorn is removed, and any nicks have been filled and sanded, you will be able to paint your ceiling. You can use any latex paint for this, but if you are going with white, you can just request "ceiling white" from your paint supplier.

If there were a step 6, it would be to enjoy your newfound flat ceilings.

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