In the 1970’s, spray finished ceilings became very popular since building contractors realized large savings by spraying the ceilings with a bumpy texture dubbed as “popcorn” texture.
Nowadays, it has lost its old popularity and many homeowners want to remove their popcorn ceiling texture. Builders have been returning to traditional ceilings and DIYers are searching for the steps for their removing the popcorn project.
Check for Asbestos First
This article looks at the manual removal of popcorn but also looks at the risk involved if yours uses asbestos as an ingredient. Many of the early mixes did include significant levels of asbestos. Get yours tested by a laboratory before proceeding. If the test is positive, consider hiring an asbestos removal professional.
Even if the ceiling in your home doesn’t contain asbestos, any scraping or sanding needs to be done carefully. Controlling dust is important because non-asbestos containing dust poses health hazards. The popcorn can contain lead which is another hazard, especially with children.
Prepare the Area
First, remove any furniture from the room you will be working in to remove the popcorn ceiling. Then, shut off any heating or air conditioning. Now turn off the electricity to all ceiling fans in the room.
Remove your smoke alarms and any other equipment attached on or close to your ceiling. Lay a layer of plastic on your floor. In big rooms, you will have to use more than one piece. Overlap these without taping them together. Hang plastic in doorways or case openings in order to keep dust from entering other parts of your house.
If your Popcorn Ceiling is not Painted
If the popcorn ceiling has never been painted, you should spray it with a water and liquid detergent mixture by using a sprayer. Mix a ratio of one cup of liquid detergent to five gallons water. Spray your popcorn ceiling two or three times to be sure your popcorn is completely wet. Popcorn texture is extremely porous and will absorb quite a bit of water.
After about fifteen minutes, test the popcorn by climbing the ladder and trying to scrape a section off. If it doesn’t come off easily, spray it again and re-test. As soon as it falls off in clumps, scrape the entire ceiling and mind your head when the clumps come down. Try to minimize the gouging of sheetrock to make skimming easier.
If your Popcorn Ceiling has been Painted
If your popcorn ceiling has been painted, it will probably not absorb the water and liquid detergent mixture. In this case you will have to proceed directly to the scraping. Still, try to minimize the gouging of the sheetrock. Since is flaking off dry, it is especially important to wear a respirator and safety glasses!
Once you are done, get rid of the debris by bundling up, taping closed, and removing the plastic on the floor. Then set out new plastic as before. When the ceiling is dry, you will need to get it ready for the finish you intend to apply, whether it is just painting or texturing and painting.
You will skim the sheetrock ceiling with sheetrock mud. Use a broad blade for this so you can cover a maximum amount of real estate. Once this is dry, use a pole sander equipped with a sanding screen to sand it smooth. If it needs another skim, do that and then re-sand. Now you are ready to apply your new finish.