Removing Popcorn Ceiling That Has Been Painted – The initial plan was to DIY our popcorn ceiling for the whole stove, to start our home office renovation project. When the dust settled, we reduced that goal to just one-quarter. Here’s what we learned:
Luckily, we weren’t affected by this because our house was built in the 1980s, but if your ceilings were made before 1978, your DIY popcorn ceiling project might be dead before it even starts. If your ceilings were made in that earlier era, you will need to get the popcorn asbestos tested (via a mailed kit or bring in a professional).
Removing Popcorn Ceiling That Has Been Painted
If you discover that your popcorn contains asbestos, your DIY project is essentially finished before it even begins. You will need to bring a professional asbestos remover if you still want to remove it, and it will also cost you a penny. Alternatively, you can cover your popcorn with an additional layer of drywall – but it’s still a good idea to bring in a professional for this job who can ensure you properly encapsulate existing asbestos.
Painted Popcorn Ceiling Removal
We did a lot of DIY jobs around our house, including replacing toilets, adding wallpaper, tile, painting, replacing light fixtures, etc.
You will want to place plastic sheets over your entire floor area and secure it. Unless you’re going to repaint your walls later, you’ll want to cover them with plastic as well. You should assume that wet, sticky, soggy plaster will get on ANYTHING that isn’t specifically covered with plastic. Because it goes. Including, by the way, your shoes – you’ll want to wear protective boots.
And while it helps to moisten, this is still a dusty process. So you want a good quality breathing mask and safety glasses too.
If you have “blue” popcorn on the ceiling, count your lucky stars. Your process will be very simple: spray and then scrape. But if your popcorn was PAINTED, especially if it was painted with oil-based paint, your popcorn ceiling project just got a lot more difficult.
House Adventures // Removing Popcorn Ceilings
That was the situation we found ourselves in. The water we spray simply fell from our ceiling, refusing to penetrate it. As such, we had to tweak our process: scrape, spray, sit, scrape, repeat.
First, we did a “dry” scrape to get as much paint out as possible and create small holes where the spray could enter. Then we add vinegar to our spray solution to help us eat the paint. After spraying, we have to wait a while to absorb as much of the material as possible. And then, finally, the popcorn itself would start to come. But even so, it wasn’t like the long, beautiful ribbons of popcorn seen in many You Tube videos… our popcorn came off in pieces, with the paint helping to stick to the drywall. So we had to go through the same areas many times.
This more than anything led to our decision to complete just one room which we redecorated – after 4.5 hours of scraping a single room it just wasn’t worth it for us to try to get the other 3. upstairs are also finished. We are waiting until we plan complete renovations of these rooms as well.
When I thought of popcorn ceilings, I thought of spray cans and screws. Period. History end. I haven’t really thought much about what comes after that part.
The Dreaded Popcorn Or Textured Ceiling
But it turns out that there are a few steps after the bolting is done as well. First you need to sand the newly exposed drywall, paying attention to the seams. After you’ve sanded everything down, you can get an idea of how good or bad a drywall job is: if it’s good, you can go ahead and apply the texture and then a drywall sealer/primer right away; if not, then you need to apply mud over the drywall to level it out and make it smooth and even.
Next comes the new texture, if you add one, and finally paint. So even after you’re done screwing, you still have a few more days of work ahead of you.
All in all, I’m still glad we tackled this project ourselves, and it helped us save about $500 on the quotes we would have received had we hired instead of a professional company. But if one of our friends is considering removing the popcorn ceiling in their own home, let’s just say we’re not thrilled to be volunteering to help.
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Secret Tricks To Removing Popcorn Ceilings
Textured popcorn ceilings were somewhat popular in the 1960s and 70s and, surprisingly, are still applied today, especially in condominiums. The problem is, people don’t seem to like popcorn ceilings anymore – assuming they ever did – and most homeowners now want to get rid of them.
You can hire a professional painter or drywaller to do this, but it will likely cost between $1,500 and $2,000. Or you can do it yourself for around $50. Here’s how in five relatively easy steps:
Acoustic spray coatings, including popcorn texture, manufactured before 1980 may contain asbestos, a known carcinogen. If you think your ceiling contains asbestos, it’s important to test it before proceeding.
Put on a dual cartridge respirator and take a small amount of popcorn from the ceiling in a resealable plastic bag. Contact a local EPA office for the location of the nearest asbestos testing laboratory and submit the sample. If the popcorn ceiling contains asbestos, hire a licensed asbestos reduction company to scrape the ceiling. This is not a do-it-yourself job.
Popcorn Ceiling Removal Richmond Hill
If lab results show no evidence of asbestos, it is safe to return to work.
Scraping popcorn off the ceiling can be quite messy, so start by emptying the room of all furniture, rugs, and lamps. Turn off the heating and cooling systems in the room and turn off the electrical power. Lower the canopy (the inverted bowl-shaped light fixture that goes against the ceiling) over any ceiling-mounted light or ceiling fan, then cover the lights or fans with a plastic bag. Finally, cover the floor with tarp or plastic sheets and cover the walls with lightweight plastic sheets.
The best way to remove the popcorn texture without damaging the drywall surface is to first spray the ceiling with water to soften the popcorn. However, once the popcorn is ground, it cannot absorb water, making it difficult to remove. If you are not sure whether the ceiling is painted or not, spray a small amount of water and see if it penetrates the surface. If it doesn’t, you’ll either have to scrape the popcorn dry – a much more complicated and difficult job – or apply a chemical paint remover first.
Okay, let’s assume your popcorn ceiling isn’t painted, which is usually the case. Then take a three gallon garden sprayer, fill it with warm water and add half a cup of liquid fabric softener, which keeps the water from evaporating as quickly.
Removing Old Popcorn Ceilings
Use the pump sprayer to mix the entire ceiling with water. Let it sit for about ten minutes and then spray again. Wait another ten minutes or so, then use a ten-inch-wide drywall knife to scrape the popcorn texture from the ceiling.
You can also use a specially designed popcorn ceiling scraper which has a 12 inch wide blade fitted with a metal frame. Attach the scraper to any standard extension rod (or broom handle) and place a small plastic garbage bag on the frame. Now, when scraping the ceiling, the wet popcorn falls into the bag, which makes cleaning a lot easier.
To avoid the ceiling, hold the drywall knife or popcorn scraper at a very shallow angle. If you use a bench sander to finish off the sharp corners of the tool, you will reduce the chances of cutting into the drywall.
After cleaning the ceiling, stop and shake the popcorn off the floor, but leave the cloves in place.
Mike’s Guys: How Do I Refinish A Popcorn Ceiling Myself?
No matter how carefully you work, the ceiling is likely to have some small scratches and grooves. Fill in all gaps with common compost. Once the repairs are dry, sand lightly, then apply a coat of primer, followed by two coats of ceiling coating. Then you can remove the teeth and admire your work.
Joe Truini is a former carpenter and woodworker who writes extensively on remodeling techniques, woodworking and tools. he is the author
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