Hi, I am TwoPlusCute and I have popcorn ceilings throughout our house. There; I said it.
To be honest, popcorn ceilings don’t seem as annoying to me. However, they are hard to patch and I wanted to see how easy it is to remove them. So, I did a test in our second bathroom (for which I have grand future plans). The test came out positive: Popcorn is a piece of cake to remove. Really, really easy. What is hard, is to sand and plaster (to a nice flat result) after removing the popcorn. Let me digress a bit to talk about sanding.
In my own personal hell, I am pregnant, with a toothache and I am sanding. Seriously, if I am to go to hell, I won’t be thrown in a fiery pit. I will be placed in a huge room, with rough, pitted, dripped and damaged walls, that need sanding.
Disclaimer: I am not currently pregnant and I don’t have a toothache (thank goodness). Seems the way I phrased it, I caused a lot of misunderstanding. Sorry about that! I was describing what constitutes hell for me, in general. I did sand the ceiling, though. 🙂
IMPORTANT CAUTION: It was mentioned in the comments by my blogging friend Christine of So Domestically Challenged that popcorn ceilings sometimes contain asbestos. I googled and found that, while it was banned in the late 70ies, they allowed the sale of existing production (<- I have some choice words to say about that) well into the 80ies.
If your house is that old, please test for asbestos before removing the popcorn texture!
The Cute was scheduled to be out all day when I removed the texture and sanded – visiting the zoo with her grand parents. If I knew asbestos was still in use well into the 80ies, it goes without saying that I wouldn’t have touched a thing before I ran tests. Now, all I can do is crossing my fingers that no asbestos was used in our mid-80ies home.
This is the test in our second bathroom. I wet the area and scraped. Easy peasy and first lesson learned: Scrape with the joints (like we say “sand with the grain”) so you don’t scrape away the joint tape. The joints are where the drywall pieces meet and where they meet the vertical walls.
The only tools you will need are a spray bottle with water and a 6″ wide putty knife. You can get one from any home improvement store. You can do it with smaller or bigger putty knives but for me, 6 inches width is ideal – not too much effort and much easier application.
As for the water bottle, I got a dollar store one. Works just fine and I didn’t need a stronger sprayer. But there is a trick: spray and wait. Give 5 minutes to the water to get the texture saturated. You don’t need to spray excessively. Test in a small area to see if it is ready; if it comes out easily in big chunks, you are good to go. If it feels like you are sanding instead, spray more and wait.
This is how it will look when it is properly wet. It will feel like as easy as spreading soft butter and it will come out in large chunks like in the next photo:
I should add I used a professional respirator mask (with filters – the kind that looks like you are prepping for a nuclear war) and safety glasses. However, 15 minutes in the job, I couldn’t see a thing (due to condensation inside the glasses – it was a hot day) so the safety glasses had to go. The mask stayed on for the whole process and it was invaluable when I started sanding.
Work small areas, it will be much easier. Wet, wait, scrape, wet, wait, scrape. There will be a mess but not as much as you’d imagine. I barely filled a small grocery bag with the debris.
If you work in a small room, here is what to do:
– Close the doors.
– Put a wet towel at the bottom of the door(s) to keep the dust inside the room.
– Cover e-ve-ry-thing. You can stick (with painter’s tape) plastic covers to all the walls (and over the floor) so all dust falls in.
– Cover any electric outlets with painter’s tape. Child safe outlet covers work greatly, too.
-The real dust comes with sanding. And it will travel everywhere. Including yards away, in your bedrooms – even if you have the doors closed like I did. Having said that, I am still impressed with the amount of joint compound that was on our ceiling.
– Please, don’t use little paper dust masks. This dust is super fine and will clog your bronchi. You will need a serious painting mask.
I was working in our living room that has an open floor plan so I didn’t cover anything. I only removed all furniture underneath the working area. I did close the doors far to the other rooms but the fine dust (from sanding the joint compound) found its way in.
This is how the ceiling looks like after removing the texture. Many constructors apply the popcorn directly to the drywall without even priming it because nobody will see it. In my humble opinion they should prime everything.
Photo above: Notice the – easy to clean – pile of debris and then compare with the next picture.
Photo below: This is after I started sanding. Clingy dust everywhere.
It was bad. Like I wrote in the beginning, hell=sanding.
(By the way, the walls are not that dark color anymore. I painted them with
a gorgeous DIY grey that I am in love with!)
It was well worth the result though:
The difference between the two textures can be seen in the next photo:
COST: zero, I already had the putty knife and the water bottle. Quite an economic project even if you have to buy the tools.
TIME: to remove the popcorn, took me about an hour for ~100 sq feet (including the waiting after the spraying). In stark contrast, it took me five hours to sand (and I am still not done).
DIFFICULTY: it’s super easy to remove the texture. However if you want a silky smooth finish on your ceiling, you will have to do all the work the construction workers skipped – like applying putty/compound, leveling and sanding. And leveling and sanding. Did I mention sanding? 🙂
ps. The wall color in the photos is not the fault of the camera. It does change from brownish to oily green depending on the light. Not a color I feel love for and it has to go so I can happily say “Hello Gorgeous“ to more blue in our living room.
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