Removing Texture From a Ceiling

Back in the fifties and sixties it was really popular to put a texture on ceilings called a popcorn ceiling. One of the remodeling shows I am a big fan of, gave instructions on how to remove this bumpy, ugly, hard to patch popcorn ceiling.


if you are like me, living in a older home with popcorn ceilings and hate them as much as I do, this might just be the home repair you would most like to do. Removing a popcorn ceiling is a very easy job but it is very messy and it is not the kind of project that you can do with moving the furniture from one side of the room to the other as you will be sure to get it all over. First, make sure to clear your room of any, and all furnishings.

I also, must tell you about a tool that I bought to do the job and it turned out to be useless.

I paid 16 or so dollars for a scraper on a long pole that you attach a bag to. It was supposed to minimize mess. The scrapings from the ceilings were suppose to go into the bag as you scraped.

It was very hard to get the right angle on this scraper so my son made some pretty bad gouges in the ceiling. The bag filled up alright but it got too heavy and started to tear.


You are better off using a wide blade scraper and a ladder. Less strain on your back and you get a better result.


  • garden sprayer (bottle with a pump to build up pressure and a hose to spray with)
  • 10 to 12 inch scrapper
  • tarps or plastic to protect your flooring
  • joint compound (also known as drywall mud)
  • respirator or mask
  • a ladder
  • paint roller
  • primer
  • paint
  • paint tray


  1. First fill your sprayer with some warm water. Now starting in a small section (3ft by 3 ft) spray down your ceiling with the warm water.

  2. Make sure you get it nice and wet. Wait a few minutes and then with your wide blade scrapper start scrapping.

  3. You want to get the ceiling right down to the drywall but be very careful that you do not gouge it. Continue on until you have removed all of the popcorn ceiling texture.

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  5. We found that this process went even faster if one person sprayed sections of the ceiling and the other person did the scrapping.

  6. Depending on the size of your room and if you have two or more people working you can easily have that popcorn removed in a couple of hours.

  7. Now is clean up time. You can sweep the debris into piles and then put them in trash bags.

  8. When we were done I was pretty impressed with the swirls and un-even texture of my ceiling. So we just primed and painted it.
    If, however, you would like a nice smooth ceiling you will need to use joint compound to put a new texture on your ceiling. This is very easy. You are going to make a skim coat on the ceiling.

  9. With a wide scraper apply a thin coat of dry wall to your ceiling working in one direction only. Again work in small sections.

  10. Joint compound has a long work time so don't be afraid that it will dry out.

  11. There are many patterns you can make for your ceilings or you can just keep it smooth.

  12. If you want you can have another person go over the joint compound with a broom or a sponge to make a unique texture. Keep doing this until your ceiling is completely covered.

  13. Let this dry for 24 to 48 hours.

  14. Once your ceiling is dry you are now ready to prime your ceiling. Any good primer will do. Some of the bigger name paint companies have even come out with a paint/primer combination then, you only have to paint once. Behr is one of these companies.

Hope you enjoy your new and improved ceiling!

Debra Frick

Editor's note: Popcorn Ceiling texture can contain asbestos, make sure to keep your respirator/mask on for removal and clean up. Use moist towels and sponges that you don't mind throwing away to clean up excess dust.

Removing Texture From a Ceiling

About The Author: Debra Frick is a mother of 5 and a grandmother to 8 grandsons and one granddaughter. She is a published author and poetress. Recycling and saving money are her passions. She also loves crocheting and cooking. She is also a pet rescue volunteer and has many pets of her own.

November 20, 20090 found this helpful

Safety glasses are also a good idea. Getting that stuff in your eyes would certainly be regrettable. My husband and I did the ceilings in our whole house. We covered the floors with plastic for easy clean up.

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November 21, 20090 found this helpful

Warning! Many popcorn ceilings have asbestos in them & can only be removed by hazardous waste teams. You need to get a piece of ceiling tested for asbestos before beginning this job. Even a small amount of asbestos can be deadly. My husband has asbestosis from working in power houses. It is a miserable disease.

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November 21, 20090 found this helpful

I did my whole kitchen before I realized you should be aware of asbestos. My popcorn is not very thick like some so I have just learned to live with it in the other two rooms that have it.

Mulberry, what are the symptoms of asbestosis?

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November 22, 20090 found this helpful

Asbestos in popcorn ceilings was banned in 1977-1978 if this helps decide if the ceiling in your house does/does not contain asbestos. If you're still not sure; have it tested before removing to be on the safe side.

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November 23, 20090 found this helpful

Another safety tip on doing the ceilings this way is to make sure that any overhead lighting/ ceiling fans are not only off, but off at the breaker box when you're spraying away with the water.

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March 16, 20100 found this helpful

Thank you so very much for your article! I am wanting to do my ceiling and you've (and the people who responded) given me everything I need to get the job done! Thank you and all the responders so much!

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In This Article
Removing a Popcorn Ceiling
Removing a Popcorn Ceiling
Home and Garden Home Improvement RemodelingNovember 20, 2009
Photo of a ceiling fan.
Cleaning a Ceiling Fan
Refurbished a Ceiling Fan
Refurbishing a Ceiling Fan
A textured popcorn ceiling
Cleaning a Textured (Popcorn) Ceiling
Ceiling Fan
Repairing a Wobbly Ceiling Fan
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