Project Guide

How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings

Gather Tools and Materials
Man turning off the power.
  • Ladder – Use a ladder to reach high ceilings and tight corners. Have a partner stand nearby for added safety.
  • Tarp – Cover your carpet, furniture and belongings to protect them from debris.
  • Painter’s tape – Use to secure drop cloth or tarp along the floor.
  • Plastic sheeting – Use to cover nearby walls and lighting fixtures.
  • Safety gear – Protect your eyes, nose and mouth from excess dust and debris.
  • Paint scraper – This is the tool used to physically remove the popcorn texture from the ceiling.
  • Primer – Prime your newly uncovered ceiling before applying a fresh coat of paint.
  • Paint – Paint your newly unveiled ceiling for an even color throughout your space.
Prepare the Workspace
Two people tape off a room.
  • Move small furniture items from the immediate area and cover larger pieces and other personal belongings with a tarp to shield them from dust and debris.
  • Turn off the heating and cooling system and cut the power to all ceiling fans and lighting fixtures. 
  • Use painter’s tape to run rosin paper or drop cloth with a waterproof backing along the floor, then apply plastic sheeting to walls and fixtures. 
  • Make sure to keep the room properly ventilated to allow fresh airflow. 
Remove the Popcorn Ceiling
A man scrapes the popcorn texture off of the ceiling while standing in the middle of the room.
  • Prepare to scrape off the textured material. Make sure to wear the proper safety protection when removing popcorn ceiling. 
  • Paint scrapers help extend your reach when paired with a handle or painters pole. 
  • You may scrap each section while it’s dry, but applying a bit of water often helps moisten and remove the material if the process becomes difficult. For dry scraping, work in small sections of about four to six square feet. 
  • If you prefer to moisten the area, saturate a small section of the material with a bottle of warm water mixed with few drops of dishwashing soap. Apply enough to loosen the material without causing damage to the drywall underneath. Make several passes if necessary. Wait 15 to 20 minutes for the material to absorb the solution, then begin scrapping. If the material is still difficult to remove, repeat the moistening process.
  • Whichever method you choose, use a small putty knife to scrape corners, crown molding and extra residue. Remember to tidy the spots around fixtures that are left hanging, but be careful not to gouge the drywall or tear joint tape throughout the removal process. 
Patch the Ceiling
A man patches a hole in the ceiling.
  • You may need to patch some areas of drywall after the texture has been removed. Popcorn ceilings conceal imperfections that will become visible once the surface is uncovered. 
  • Sand the ceiling once the repair work is dried but keep the sanding to a minimum so that you don’t damage any areas. 
  • If you come across a visible nail or screw below the surface, cover it with joint compound. Allow it to fully dry, then sand the area. 
  • Prime and paint your ceiling as desired.
  • Once dried, restore the power and arrange room back to normal.