How to Quickly Remove Popcorn From A Popcorn Ceiling

Removing the popcorn from the ceiling is labor intensive.
Removing the popcorn from the ceiling is labor intensive. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Popcorn ceiling texture is still in wide use as a way to hide ceiling deformities like wavy bumps and uneven areas. The removal of a popcorn ceiling will give it a nice new flat appearance after painting it, but be aware that there was a reason for that type of texture to be installed in the first place. Removing popcorn from a ceiling is a messy job and it requires considerable physical effort. If you are uncomfortable with messy working conditions, you should hire someone to do the job.

Things You'll Need

  • Large taping knives for scraping
  • Dust mask respirator
  • 4-8 ft. step ladder, a roll and fold cart or scaffolding
  • Sand paper
  • Sanding blocks
  • Painters extension pole
  • Sanding head
  • Protective glasses
  • Gloves

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Prepare the area first. Move everything out of the room where the popcorn is going to be removed. If items cannot be removed, cover them in plastic.

Begin scraping the popcorn ceiling. Wear a respirator when scraping and sanding. Use a painters extension pole and tape a large scraper or taping knife to the end of it if you need to. Wrap tape around it tightly so it doesn't fall off. From the ground, extend the pole to the desired height and begin scraping the popcorn ceiling back and forth. Use a step ladder, scaffold or a cart to work on the popcorn ceiling. The roll and fold carts are the best to use because they save time and energy.

Sand the popcorn ceiling after scraping it. To make the sanding easier and faster, sand it from the ground, using a sanding head on a painters pole. Use 80 grit sand paper for faster results. You only have to sand it enough, so it's smooth and ready for skim coating.

Begin skim coating the popcorn ceiling. Use drywall mud patching plaster compound to skim coat the popcorn ceiling. Use a pre-mixed type for added convenience. This will save time because it's already mixed and it's also easier to sand.

Once everything is dry, start sanding and smoothing the popcorn ceiling for the final time.

Dust down the ceiling and paint it.

Tips & Warnings

  • use a cart on wheels to finish sanding the popcorn ceiling
  • use a scraper attached to a pole for easier scraping
  • use yellow Plus 3 for faster and easier sanding
  • wear a respirator at all times when scraping or sanding
  • sanding dust is hazardous for breathing
  • watch out for light fixtures on the ceiling
  • make sure everything's covered with plastic before scraping
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