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How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings

Let’s face it- you may have a couple of details in your house that aren’t as “trendy” or “modern” as some in other houses. And that’s okay! It’s nice to have the option of keeping your tried-and-true, well-lived-in home, or deciding to try something new. If you choose to go for the latter, one of the things that can sometimes date a house are those once-commonplace popcorn ceilings. Here is a step-by-step guide for how to remove them.

  1. If the popcorn was added before 1979, be sure to get it tested for asbestos before you proceed with the removal process.
  2. Remove all furniture, rugs, and decorations in the room which could potentially get popcorn dust and debris on them.
  3. If you don’t have a canvas drop cloth, put a plastic covering down on the floor, but be sure to create a few overlapped, taped layers. If you’re all for the extra protection of your room, you could hang plastic sheets from the crown moldings down to the floor to cover your walls. 
  4. Place a fan or two in the room to be sure and ventilate enough; don’t face it to the ceiling. 
  5. Use a gardener’s portable hand-sprayer, a.k.a a Hudson sprayer, to spray and soak into portions of the ceiling. Be sure to stick to portions of about 3-5 feet, as to not damage drywall underneath by spraying it with TOO much water.
  6. Wait about twenty minutes, and then start scraping the popcorn ceilings down with a ceiling texture scraper, or a putty knife. If it doesn’t come off easily, spray it with water some more.
  7. Once all of the popcorn is removed, buff and sand the entire ceiling down with a sanding pole and screen. 
  8. Optional: do a skim coat for best results, which is a topping compound applied to the entire ceiling with a drywall knife. Sand this down before the next step.
  9. Choose the best aesthetic for your ceiling: prime and paint it, add texture to it, put planks over it, tile it…there are so many options!

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