Can Popcorn Ceilings Be Removed After They Have Been Painted?
Yes, popcorn ceilings can be removed after they have been painted. Removing the ceiling is much easier if it has never been painted, but it can be removed either way. Here are a few simple steps to quick and easy removal.
Removing Unpainted Popcorn Ceilings
1. Remove all furniture from the work area.
2. Roll out plastic to cover the floor.
3. Use painter's tape to tape more plastic along the edge of the ceiling so that it drapes the walls.
4. Use either tape or spray adhesive to attach the wall plastic to the floor plastic. You are basically turning your room into a pool liner. Be sure to wrap any ceiling fans or light fixtures you don't want to clean later.
5. Place water in a spray container. You can use small spray bottles, but the simplest solution is a pump sprayer (see picture) which you can find at your local home improvement store. Spray an area of the ceiling until you see the popcorn turn a dull gray color. If the popcorn texture does not change colors, your ceiling has been painted.
Safety first! Popcorn ceilings built before 1978 may contain asbestos. If you are concerned about asbestos, have your ceiling tested before proceeding. Thoroughly wetting the popcorn should help keep asbestos fibers from becoming airborne. Make sure you wear an appropriate dust mask and safety glasses.
Another safety tip! As the "popcorn" begins to fall, the plastic may become slippery. Use rolled-out rosin paper if you need help keeping your balance.
Drywall Finisher Knife
6. Use a finisher's knife. Any width will do, but keep in mind that the wider the knife, the more area you cover with each scrape. Hold the knife flat against the ceiling and push away from you. Be careful not to gouge the drywall.
7. Take time to clean up and let the ceiling dry out. Simply pull the plastic off of each wall and roll the edges up as you head towards the door. By the time you get to the door, you should have a big ball of plastic and a clean room. Turn on ceiling fans or lights and let the ceiling have a few hours to dry.
8. If you made any gouges in the drywall as you were scraping, use a sanding sponge to sand the area lightly. Place some spackle (also known as drywall mud or drywall compound) on the damaged areas, and feather it out smooth with a finisher's knife. Take a look at your ceiling and touch up any uneven areas, such as nail heads or seams, that may need an extra coat of mud. Let dry, sand, and repeat if necessary.
9. If you are applying a new textured finish, such as stippling or knockdown, this sanding step may be skipped. But otherwise, using a sanding pole and some 120 grit sanding paper, lightly sand your entire ceiling for any rough spots. Your ceiling is now ready to paint.
Removing a Popcorn Ceiling That Has Been Painted
Don't despair, your popcorn ceilings can be scraped and brought up to date also. Begin by following steps 1) through 4) listed above.
There are a few things you can try as you go through the rest of the process:
- Mix one part vinegar to ten parts water and spray it on the ceiling. The vinegar should help break down the paint.
- Use a large pole-type scraper and more muscle. Wet the ceiling, scrape as much as possible, and then wet and scrape again. Only the areas where the liquid has penetrated through the paint will scrape away easily.
- Use wallpaper stripper, or other paint strippers (though some are quite toxic).
If All Else Fails
If all else fails, or you are concerned about asbestos in the popcorn, laminate over the existing popcorn with a 1/4" layer of new drywall, or some decorative 2 x 2 ceiling panels from Armstrong or USG.
Using a Sprayer and Scraper to Remove "Popcorn"
Removing Wallpaper Can Also Be Complicated
- How to Repair Drywall Damaged During Wallpaper Removal
Removing wallpaper can be complicated, if the wallpaper was not properly sized or it was applied in multiple layers. Your drywall may end up scarred by fuzzy brown patches. But these patches can be fixed easily.