How to Remove Popcorn Cap: 5 Steps for Easy Removal


Is there an old trend more despised than a popcorn ceiling? If you find yourself looking up, wondering how to remove the popcorn ceiling, you are definitely not alone.

A favorite interior design trend of the 70s, popcorn ceiling is also known as acoustic ceiling or stucco ceiling. They were originally installed to help absorb sound from above or to cover pre-existing flaws and imperfections in the ceiling. But like many trends of this period, the popcorn cap fell out of favor, and many homeowners wondered how to remove a popcorn cap or how to simply conceal this now hated design feature.

Ready to tackle the home renovation job yourself and learn how to get rid of a popcorn ceiling? We asked how to remove popcorn caps safely and easily.

How to remove the popcorn ceiling

If you’re tired of staring at your existing popcorn ceiling and ready for a makeover, there’s good news to be had. Removing a popcorn ceiling is an easy DIY project that just requires time, muscle, and minimal expense.

Could your ceiling ideas be ripe for rediscovery? The ceiling offers endless possibilities for creativity and should be treated with the same consideration as any other wall in your home. If you can’t remove your popcorn ceiling, you can also try covering it with trendy wood paneling ideas for walls, plaster, tin tiles or glass.

1. Asbestos test

Before you begin, it’s important to make sure your ceilings don’t contain asbestos. Prior to the early 1980s, asbestos was an ingredient many used in textured popcorn ceilings. The popcorn-like texture was used to help home builders deal with sound travel, and it was an excellent fire retardant.

We recommend having that “fifth” wall tested by a professional, or you can also purchase a do-it-yourself test kit at the hardware store, which will require you to send the samples to a registered lab. If you opt for the DIY test, be sure to use the proper safety gear, such as gloves, a fan or twilight mask, and eye protection.

If your ceiling is positive, you should hire a licensed asbestos removal professional to remove the texture, or you can have them cover the entire ceiling with paneling, drywall, or plaster.

2. Prepare for withdrawal

If your popcorn ceiling does not contain asbestos, you can prepare to remove it, but take the proper safety precautions. “It’s always best to wear a particulate mask when removing,” says Jeremy Hume, president and CEO of Phoenix CR Pro. Also wear goggles to protect your eyes.

Prepare the room by removing all furniture, paying close attention to anything that has value or sentimental value. Mask the walls with painter’s plastic and cover the floor with plastic sheeting. “It’s best not to use a fabric tarp to cover the floors because the fabric isn’t waterproof,” says Jeremy.

It is imperative to turn off the electricity in the room and open the windows in the room to ensure good ventilation.

Fortunately, the project does not require any special or particularly expensive tools. Essential popcorn ceiling removal tools include:

  • Putty knife or tape knife
  • Drop cloths or plastic sheeting (plastic sheeting is considered a better option due to its waterproof nature)
  • garden sprayer
  • Safety glasses
  • Anti dust mask

4. Spray the ceiling with water

Not surprisingly, a damp ceiling will be easier to scratch than a dry ceiling, so start by using a garden sprayer to wet the ceiling to soften the material.

“Using a pump garden sprayer, lightly spray an approximately 5 foot by 5 foot section with water and wait 10-15 minutes to allow water to penetrate the popcorn “, explains Jeremy Hume. ‘Do not soak the ceiling as this may damage the drywall.

You’ll want to work in small sections; otherwise the areas will dry out before you reach them. After spraying with a garden sprayer, wait about 10-15 minutes to allow the water to be fully absorbed.

You are now ready to start scratching. “Use a putty knife and run it gently along the damp ceiling,” he says. Be careful not to dig into the ceiling material underneath.

Go around the room until all the texture has been removed. You may need to go over stubborn areas several times. Patience and persistence are a virtue when removing the popcorn cap.

5. Sand, prime and paint

Once the popcorn ceiling has been successfully removed, the ceiling can be sanded down and any necessary repairs made. If there is any damage to the ceiling, such as gouges, repair with joint compound before you start sanding.

After sanding the ceiling, apply a fresh coat of paint. Once the paint job is complete and dry, remove the plastic sheeting, reinstall the lights and ceiling fans, and marvel at your newly smooth ceiling.


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