Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, January 23, 2015

Popcorn ceiling removal

Do It Yourself

April Sherrill

In a previous article I mentioned I had the privilege to renovate a client’s bathroom last year that was stuck in an ‘80s time-warp. I was more than ecstatic when I was asked to do this project even though I knew it would be extensive because of the work involved. I found out, however, it was much more work than I could of ever imagined.

Doing this bathroom meant I was going to need to bring the popcorn ceilings up to date with nice, smooth ceilings. I am not going to sugarcoat this: scraping popcorn ceilings is not for the faint of heart. This project can easily be a DIY job that anyone can handle as long as you are prepared for a messy and wet couple of days.

This best part about DIY-ing this project is the money saved by not having to hire a contractor. Depending on the size of the space, I have heard of estimates of $1000 for 500 square feet. Most of the cost when hiring a contractor is due to the tediousness of the job, not the fact that it is hard.

If you are willing to actually do it yourself, this project can easily be completed for a couple of hundred of dollars. 

Items needed:

• Putty knives

• Garden water sprayer

• Plastic tarps (enough to cover the walls and floors)

• Joint compound

• Wallboard primer

• Paint color of choice

• Sandpaper

• Sanding block

• 2 inch painters tape

• Safety eyewear

• Shoe protectors (optional)

To begin the entire room needs clearing by removing as much of the furniture as possible. Once the room is emptied out, then the walls and floors will need tarps covering them. Tape the plastic tarps at the edge of the wall where it meets the ceiling, and cover the floors in plastic tarps. I also found it easier to tape the tarps from the walls to the tarp on the floor to avoid any open gaps. This was mainly for easier cleanup. Ideally, you want to simply roll all of the popcorn up in the tarps to throw it away.

Once everything has been covered and taped, it is time to grab the ladder, spray bottle, and scraper. As with most DIY projects the key to this one is working in small sections. The popcorn texture will need to be sprayed with water, left untouched for a few minutes, and then scraped. If the water is left to saturate too long then it will dry out and you will need to re-wet it – a couple of minutes should do the job.

This is the main step of the project and the most time consuming. It will literally seem like it is going to take forever, but once you are in a rhythm of spraying, setting, and scraping it will go by faster than expected. Be sure to scrape with even pressure to avoid gouges. 

After all of the popcorn texture is removed, go back and repair any inconsistences. The process for this is the same as repairing nail holes in the wall. Using the joint compound and scraper, cover the areas needing repair, let set, and then go back and sand smooth. 

Again, I think it is a smart idea to repair as many spots as can be seen, then paint a coat of primer and look for any more spots needing repair; the primer allows any spots to show thru. If there is more that needed to be fixed make sure you re-prime those areas well before proceeding to paint. 

The most important step to this project is checking for asbestos. You can purchase a kit to check for this for around $12 at a hardware store, however the labs charge around $30 to check the sample. DO NOT proceed with this project if there is any chance your home contains asbestos. I have my fingers crossed for you that this is not the case, if so then the job just became much more expensive.

Many people have popcorn ceilings and despise them as much as I do, I hope that reading how easy, but time consuming, this project is will allow anyone to work up the confidence to rectify the problem without a contractor. There is truly something to be said for realizing you can do these projects on your own. Happy scraping!

April Sherrill is a staff writer for the Hamilton County Herald. Contact her at april@dailydata.com.