How to Remove Popcorn Ceiling in 7 Easy Steps

Olu Ojo
Advertiser Disclosure

Hey there! We just wanted to let you know that some of the links on this site are affiliate links. That means we may get a commission if you click on the link and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. You can read our affiliate disclosure in our privacy policy. Don't worry, though - we only recommend products that we personally use and love, and we promise to drink all the coffee from the money we make from affiliate sales. Thanks for your support, and we hope you find our content helpful! Read our disclosure.

Popcorn ceilings were once the height of home decor fashion. But trends change. Today, these textured ceilings are seen as outdated and can even pose health risks.

Popcorn Ceilings

A Brief History of Popcorn Ceilings

Popcorn ceilings emerged in the 1950s. They were popular because they hid imperfections and provided sound insulation.

However, by the 1980s, their appeal had waned. Smooth ceilings became the new standard, and popcorn ceilings began to look dated.

Asbestos Health Concerns

One of the biggest concerns with popcorn ceilings is asbestos. Homes built before 1980 often contain this harmful material. Asbestos can cause serious health issues when disturbed.

Testing for asbestos is important before any removal work begins. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides guidelines for safe asbestos testing.

The National Library Of Medicine evaluated the K2 asbestos screening test and found it unreliable due to high false-positive rates.

If your home was built before 1980, your ceilings must be tested for asbestos. It’s imperative for your safety. You can find certified asbestos inspectors through the EPA’s website or local health departments.

Essential Preparations

Asbestos Testing

Asbestos Testing
Courtesy Of Alexey Emelyanov


Before you do anything:

  1. Test your ceiling for asbestos.
  2. Collect a small sample and send it to a lab for analysis.
  3. If you need help with this, hire a professional.

Certified inspectors can ensure safe and accurate testing.

Gathering Your Tools

You’ll need several tools for this job. Ensure you have drop cloths, a garden sprayer, a wide putty knife, safety glasses, a mask, and plastic sheeting. Each of these items is essential for a safe and effective removal process.

Protecting Your Workspace

Cover the floor and any furniture with drop cloths and plastic sheeting. This will protect your belongings from dust and debris. Proper ventilation is also important. Open windows and use fans to keep the air flowing.

How to Remove Popcorn Ceiling

Step 1: Test for Asbestos

Safety must come first. Scrape a small ceiling area and send the sample to a lab for analysis. If asbestos is present, hire a professional to remove it. Don’t take any risks with your health.

Step 2: Prepare the Room

Protect your space. Cover floors and walls with drop cloths. Remove or cover all furniture. Ensure you have safety equipment like gloves, masks, and goggles ready.

Step 3: Moisten the Ceiling

Fill a garden sprayer with water. Spray the ceiling evenly, making sure it’s thoroughly damp. Let the water soak in for 15-20 minutes. This will loosen the texture and make scraping easier.

Step 4: Scrape Off the Popcorn Texture

Use a wide putty knife to scrape off the popcorn texture gently. Work in small sections to keep the task manageable. Be gentle to avoid damaging the drywall underneath.

Step 5: Smooth the Ceiling

Inspect the ceiling for damage. Use a drywall compound to fill in any imperfections. Once dry, sand the ceiling until smooth. A pole sander can help you do this without making a mess.

Step 6: Clean Up the Mess

Dispose of the removed popcorn material in sealed trash bags. Follow local regulations for disposal. Thoroughly clean the room to ensure no residue is left behind. Dust and debris can settle in hidden places, so be diligent.

Step 7: Prime and Paint the Ceiling

Apply a high-quality primer to the ceiling. This ensures the paint adheres well. Once the primer is dry, paint the ceiling evenly. Use a roller for a smooth finish, and apply at least two coats for the best results.

Common Issues And How To Deal With Them

Dealing with Stubborn Popcorn Texture

Use a stronger scraping tool if the texture doesn’t come off easily. Be cautious to avoid damaging the drywall. Alternatively, chemical popcorn ceiling removers can help. Follow product instructions and safety precautions carefully.

Uneven Surfaces After Scraping

If you notice gouges or uneven areas, use a joint compound to smooth them out. Apply the compound thinly and evenly, then sand it smooth once it dries. This step is important for a polished finish.

What to Do with Removed Popcorn Material

Seal the popcorn debris in trash bags and dispose of them according to local regulations. Be mindful of potential asbestos contamination. Always err on the side of caution and handle the waste appropriately.


These seven steps will help you transform your home and modernize its appearance. Start by testing for asbestos.

Prepare your workspace carefully. Then, follow each step methodically to achieve a smooth, stylish ceiling. A little effort goes a long way in creating a fresh, updated look for your home.


  • Olu Ojo

    My name is Olu. I am a passionate entrepreneur who loves to write about Pets, Home Improvement Hacks & Products, Fitness, and Travel Lifestyle. I have two bachelor's degrees in Veterinary Medicine and Applied Accounting with a CPA designation. I currently shuffle time between completing a Master of Business Administration Degree Education, Professional Practice, and Content writing. I have freelanced lifestyle content and posts for many top authority websites like MSN, and Wealth of Geeks.

    View all posts
Spread the love

Leave a Comment