How to Repair Drywall After Removing a Popcorn Ceiling

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Sprayed-on acoustic, commonly referred to as a "popcorn" ceiling because of its appearance, was a widely used ceiling treatment in the 1960s and 1970s, popular for its sound and heating insulating value. Over time, popcorn ceiling material discolored and flaked, and often contained asbestos, making its removal a standard step in most remodeling projects. As the popcorn material is removed from the ceiling, minor scrapes or surface blemishes result that must be patched and the procedure is a simple one to complete in preparation for the new ceiling finish.

Things You'll Need

  • Safety glasses
  • Air-filtering breathing mask
  • Drywall pole sander & pads
  • Stepladder
  • Utility knife
  • 6-inch putty knife
  • Lightweight latex putty
  • Lightly sand the ceiling surface using a drywall pole sander to remove any remnants of the acoustic "popcorn" material from the ceiling. Due to the potential health hazard of the material, eye and breathing protection should be worn until the material is no longer present.

  • Access the ceiling from a stepladder and apply a thin coat of lightweight latex putty to each surface blemish using a wide-bladed putty knife. Build up the coating slightly to improve the coverage and fill for sanding.

  • Allow all of the patched blemishes to dry thoroughly. Sand each patch lightly using a sanding block or pole sander to smooth the patch.

  • Blend the filled area to flush with the ceiling surface. Additional coatings can be made to level and repair larger gouges, scrapes or other damaged spots, if necessary.

Tips & Warnings

  • The traditional method of removing popcorn acoustic ceiling texture utilizes water saturation of the material to expedite removal. Allow the ceiling surface to dry thoroughly, if applicable, prior to beginning the repair procedure.

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