Popcorn ceilings are sometimes called cottage cheese ceilings and have a bumpy like appearance that is very familiar to Boomers and Gen X’ers.
Some people in those generational categories aren’t bothered by popcorn ceilings, while others find them outdated, difficult to clean and potentially hazardous and downright repulsive.
As a word or warning, popcorn ceilings that were installed as late as the mid 80s may contain asbestos and that’s never a good thing to have hanging over your head. Important to note that popcorn ceiling is a friable material, which means it is very easy to damage. Friable asbestos materials release toxic dust anytime it’s disturbed even a little bit. Here’s the fun part; inhaling asbestos dust can lead to serious diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Before starting any popcorn ceiling removal project, it is wise to check the texture for asbestos small mineral fibers that can build up in your lungs and cause health problems if you breathe it in.
You test for asbestos by following safety precautions and using an EPA approved test kit commonly available at the Home Depot, or you can have an asbestos specialist test it for you.
The sample collected with the kit must be mailed to a lab for testing. For a list of specialists in your area, contact the US Environmental Protection Agency or go to www.epa.gov/asbestos.
If you find asbestos, you can (relatively) safely leave it in place if it’s in good condition. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the mere presence of asbestos in a home is not hazardous, but disturbing the asbestos may release asbestos fibers into the air and at that point it becomes a health hazard.
Most people will want to have the popcorn removed, especially if asbestos is present and this should only be done by a certified asbestos abatement contractor. The guidelines in this DIY article are suggested for those who do not have asbestos present.
It can be difficult to remove popcorn ceilings that are covered with paint because paint can prevent the texture from absorbing water which is necessary to loosen the material. In this instance, you’ll likely need a chemical stripper to break down the paint barrier. Follow the guidelines of your manufacturer when applying the chemical stripper. We’re focusing on unpainted material in this article.
It’s a great idea to set aside a couple of days to complete each room that you want to remove popcorn ceiling from. When removing popcorn ceiling, you always want to protect yourself and your personal property. As a safety precaution, turn off the heating and cooling system and the power to ceiling fans and lighting fixtures. Remove furniture and other personal items that are at risk of damage during the project.
You can cover your floor by running rosin paper or a drop cloth along the floor and apply plastic sheeting to walls and fixtures. Make sure the rosin paper has a waterproof backing if you go that direction. Keep a steady flow of fresh air in the room during this project to allow some comfort and ventilation, especially if you or someone in your household has respiratory allergies.
Once you prep the room, prepare to scrape off the textured popcorn ceiling material. You want to make sure to wear a dust mask or respirator and safety glasses when you do this part. There are all kinds of multifunctional ceiling texture scrapers are on the market that allow you to extend your reach using a handle or painter’s pole and capture some debris before it hits the ground so you can prevent much of the mess associated with this project.
You can try a dry scrape or apply a little water to help moisten and remove the popcorn material if the process is too difficult. For a dry scrape, work in small sections of about four to six square feet. For a moistened scrape, it’s a good idea to saturate only a small section of the material with a bottle of warm water mixed with a few drops of dishwashing soap. Apply enough of the mixture to loosen the material, but not so much that it causes damage to the drywall underneath the popcorn material.
Make several passes to remove the popcorn if necessary. We always wait around 15 to 20 minutes for the material to absorb the solution before we begin scraping. If the material is still too difficult to remove, you can moisten the ceiling again, just make sure the drywall is not getting too saturated. Whichever method chosen, use a small putty knife to scrape corners, crown moldings and residue and around fixtures that are left hanging.
Always be careful not to gouge the drywall or tear the drywall joint tape throughout the removal process or you will have a drywall repair project on your hands. You may need to do some drywall finishes after the texture has been removed. Popcorn ceilings do a great job of hiding ceiling imperfections that will become visible once the material is removed. Be prepared to sand the ceiling once the repair work is dried to take care of these issues. Keep the sanding to a minimum so that you don’t damage the ceiling drywall. If you any nails or screws below the surface, cover then with joint compound and allow it to dry before you sand the area.
Once all that work is done, you are ready to prime and paint your ceiling. After the final coat of paint dries, you can turn the power back on and get your life back to normal!
If all of this sounds like a too much of a pain for you, give us a call! We’re here to help and are experts at removing textured popcorn ceilings. Our integrity is why we’re considered the very best drywall contractor in the DFW area!
At DFW Drywall Installers, we are so confident that we are the best drywall contractor in the Dallas area, that we guarantee our workmanship to your satisfaction. We are recognized for our integrity and have been awarded for our superior satisfaction to our customers.
Phone (424) 903-2668