Call For Your No Obligation Offer Today: (301) 683 7899

Popcorn Ceiling Removal: DIY Methods


Popcorn ceilings, also known as acoustic or stucco ceilings, have had a long history of popularity in home construction, with their peak in popularity being from the 1950s to the 1970s. However, due to concerns about asbestos in the material, they have declined in popularity over time.

Many people today view popcorn ceilings as outdated and prefer smoother, more modern-looking ceilings.

Why Remove Popcorn Ceilings? 

It's important to note that popcorn ceilings installed before 1977 may contain asbestos, which can harm your health if it becomes airborne. If you suspect that your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos, it's recommended to have a professional test it before attempting to remove it. If the test confirms the presence of asbestos, it's best to have a professional remove it to avoid exposure to the harmful fibers. Symptoms of asbestos exposure can include shortness of breath, dry cough, chest pain, pleural effusion, asbestosis, and more. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

How To Remove A Popcorn Ceiling


Here are the steps for removing a popcorn ceiling:

  1. Test for asbestos: If the popcorn ceiling was installed before 1980, it might contain asbestos. Have it professionally tested before starting any removal work.
  2. Protect the floor: Cover it with plastic sheeting to protect it from debris.
  3. Wet the ceiling: Use a garden sprayer to lightly spray a 5 x 5 feet section of the ceiling with water. Wait 10-15 minutes for the water to penetrate the popcorn.
  4. Scrape the ceiling: Use a putty knife to scrape the wet popcorn material off the ceiling gently. Work in small sections and be careful not to gouge the drywall.
  5. Sand the ceiling: Once all the texture has been removed, sand the ceiling to remove any rough spots or damage.
  6. Make repairs: If ceiling damage occurs, repair them with a joint compound before sanding.
  7. Paint the ceiling: Give the ceiling a fresh coat of paint.
  8. Reinstall lights and fans: Once the paint is dry, remove the plastic sheeting, reinstall any lights and ceiling fans, and admire your newly smooth ceiling.

Most efficient method for removing popcorn ceiling


While this process is time-consuming, the results are smooth. It won't require many purchases; even then, they won't exceed $50. It's the best, most effective, most widely used method for taking down popcorn ceilings.

What you'll require

A paint sprayer, a lawn sprayer, etc.

Sticky knife (and floor scraper if needed).


Pan or tray, catch.


Prepare The Area

To prepare the area for removing a popcorn ceiling, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Cover the floor and furniture with plastic sheeting to protect them from dust and debris.
  2. Turn off the power to the room by switching off the circuit breaker or removing the fuse.
  3. Remove any light fixtures or ceiling fans, and cover the electrical boxes with tape to prevent debris from getting inside.
  4. Wet the popcorn ceiling with a pump garden sprayer to soften the material. Work in small sections, and avoid soaking the ceiling as it can damage the drywall.
  5. Wait for 10-15 minutes for the water to absorb fully.


Spray The Ceiling

Once the area is wet, use a scraper or putty knife to scrape off the popcorn texture. Start from the corner and work your way across the ceiling. Use gentle, upward motions to avoid damaging the drywall underneath.

Be patient and work slowly to avoid damaging the drywall. If you encounter any stubborn spots, respray the area and try again. After you’ve removed the popcorn texture, let the ceiling dry completely before proceeding with any sanding or repair work.

Start Scraping

Start scraping the ceiling with a putty knife or floor scraper. Work in small sections, starting from one corner and moving across the room. Be gentle and apply minimal pressure to avoid damaging the drywall underneath. When you have removed most of the popcorn texture, use a putty knife to clean up any remaining bits. Repeat this process until the entire ceiling is scraped clean.

Easiest And Cheapest Method

This approach is more straightforward, but the texture is harsh and resembles trampled drywall. It can be done quickly and cheaply, but it won't leave a smooth ceiling. If you like texture, you'll adore how it seems.

Tool for removing popcorn ceilings:



Drywall Includes filters for a hand sander.




Prepare The Area

Preparing the area properly is important to minimize dust and debris spreading throughout your home. Cover the floor and furniture with a drop cloth to catch any falling debris, and place a fan near an open window to help ventilate the room. If you have asthma or are particularly sensitive to dust and debris, it's best to avoid the room during removal.

Scrape The Ceiling

To scrape the dry popcorn ceiling, you will need a ladder, a putty knife, and a scraper. Start using the putty knife to scrape off the top layer of popcorn texture gently. If the surface is stubborn and won't come off easily, you can try a scraper or a drywall knife to loosen it and make the removal process more accessible. Just be sure to be gentle and avoid damaging the drywall underneath.

Sand The Ceiling

Sanding will remove any remaining popcorn texture and smooth out any rough spots created during the scraping process. It's important to use fine-grit sandpaper and to work slowly to avoid damaging the drywall beneath the ceiling. Once you've sanded the entire surface, vacuum up the dust and debris, and then wipe down the ceiling with a damp cloth to remove any remaining particles.

Mess-Free Method


Even though this method requires extra setup work, it is simple once you correct it. This may not be perfect if you don't already own a ShopVac because you'll have to make a purchase.

Caution tape.

Knife for taping drywall.


ShopVac Wet/Dry Nozzle, wide.

Tube Extension.

Additional ShopVac filters.

Stilts or a ladder.

Wet The Ceiling

It is recommended to wet the ceiling before scraping to make it easier to remove the popcorn texture. The moisture will not harm the machine being used, such as a ShopVac, as long as it is appropriately used. This will help to ensure that the popcorn ceiling scrapes off easily.

Create The Tool

This step is important because it helps direct the debris into the ShopVac for efficient cleaning. Tapping the knife under the nozzle and positioning it above the vacuum opening ensures that the debris falls directly into the ShopVac, making cleanup much more accessible.

Start Vacuuming 

Start vacuuming by slowly moving the nozzle along the ceiling, covering all areas, and scraping the debris into the vacuum. Move the vacuum slowly, so it picks up as much of the debris as possible. Keep the knife close to the ceiling but not touching it to avoid damaging the drywall. Work in sections and repeat until the entire ceiling has been scraped and vacuumed.

Cost Of Popcorn Ceiling Removal 

The cost of removing a popcorn ceiling varies depending on several factors, such as the size of the room, the cost of materials, and whether you do it yourself or hire a professional. If you do it yourself, the cost will primarily be for materials and can range from $1 to $2 per square foot, with an average cost of $500 for a 20x20 room. If you hire a professional, you will pay for materials and labor, with an average price of no less than $1,000.

The cost will also depend on whether or not the ceiling contains asbestos, which will require special handling and removal procedures.

It is important to note that while removing popcorn ceiling can be a DIY project, it can also be messy and time-consuming. Consider whether you have the time, skills, and patience to complete the project before starting. Hiring a professional to handle the removal may be best if you're not confident in your abilities.