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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.
Hope you enjoy your new and improved ceiling!
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.
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What is the easiest and safest way to get rid of cottage cheese ceilings?
You have to cover the whole room in a big sheet of plastic. Then use a cheap $12 garden pump-sprayer filled with water to saturate the whole ceiling and let sit overnight, then come back and saturate the area you are going to work on again and let that sit for half an hour or so. Then using a large, flat paint-scraper and start scraping the wet popcorn off the ceiling. You should be wearing one of those white paper cover-suits and and a dust mask. Put the white cover-suit into a plastic bag before leaving the room. It also helps if you add a squirt of dish soap to the water you are using to wet the ceiling. A sponge soaked with the wetting-solution can also be used to wet small areas.
More Info & Alternative Ideas:
Additional Recipes for Wetting Popcorn:
1) Add 1 part of vinegar to 10 parts water.
2) 1 cup ammonia, 1 cup of fabric softener to 1 gallon of water.
At least 50% of popcorn ceilings have asbestos in them. After a house fire, we had to pay the haz-mat guys to come in their white suits and respirators to remove ours. It's safest to first have some of it tested before you subject yourself and your family to the possibly of danger! I would call your local county Health Department and ask them for more info about testing.
* If you decide to go ahead without pre-testing for asbestos, remember that you need to keep the area soaking wet, because once it dries and turns to dust, it can easily be inhaled. Make sure children and pets stay out of this room until the whole room is completely cleaned (ceiling to floor) and there is no possibility of dust! Also, use caution when cleaning out your vacuum cleaner!
How do I determine whether asbestos is in my popcorn ceiling? We are planning to demo it and I want to be safe. I have heard that lab-testing is the only way to see if asbestos is present. I've also found online that since the asbestos ban, there have still been ceilings with it in it (I don't know how).
Does anyone have a specific tip on how to safely demolish popcorn ceiling yourself? And how to determine if it has asbestos? Is lab testing the only way?
By Erin813 from FL
I have "heard" that the times you have to be careful with it is when it is in dry form (like sanding it off). If you wet it, then it gets rid of the air-borne particles that you could inhale. I did my kitchen using a spray bottle and scraped it off but it would be best to ask at your home improvement store if this is correct. I probably read that somewhere and hope I remember right.
Do I just use a paint scraper and then sand the wallboard before repainting?
By Dan S
Popcorn ceilings most often have asbestos in them. Asbestos is carcinogenic. It is dangerous to disturb the popcorn particles. You need to have a small sample checked for asbestos, and if positive for asbestos a special crew needs to be hired. My husband died last year, partially due to asbestos exposure. Please be careful.
With or without asbestos, this is an awful job. You need to get some good advice and instructions about it if you are going to tackle it yourself. Try googling for information, or visit your library for some home improvement books which might have that information.
I live in a manufactured (double-wide) home. I want to remove the popcorn ceilings and paint them. I've seen remodel projects on HGTV, etc., but they never seem to explain the process. Do any of you have the directions?
My understanding is that spraying water on it will soften it and allow it to be scraped away. If it is oil based paint though it might be more difficult. But you just have to take it more slowly and get a start to it any way you can and then spray the edge of the popcorn, not the actual surface, thus getting water UNDER the surface of the oil based paint. Messy messy job and not at all easy on the arms and neck. You are to be commended to even start. Sometimes the popcorn is there for a good reason, i.e. a bad drywalling job in the first place. Putting up firring strips and then a thin and therefore light in weight wallboard to begin anew is not a bad idea. Good luck!
On Sell This House on A&E, they sprayed water on it and the popcorn came right off. They used a wide putty knife to take it off. they started with a hand-held spray bottle of water, but in the end the homeowner got the hose and sprayed the water on the ceiling with the hose. It was much quicker that way. Of course, they had plastic drop cloths over all the walls and the floors.
What is the best way to remove the popcorn texture from a ceiling?
By Ken from Phelan, CA
Most popcorn ceilings have asbestos in them and you should not paint or remove them yourself. Have a chip tested.
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Can anyone tell me an easy, or at least fairly easy, way to "un-popcorn" my ceiling? I want to take all the popcorn stuff down and paint it.
By Cricket from Parkton, NC
Try here: www.ehow.com/ how_4524209_remove-popcorn-textured-finish-from.html (03/14/2010)
Is it possible to just take a sander and sand it down? If so, what do I coat it with before painting it? (03/15/2010)
Many of the popcorn ceilings have asbestos in them and they shouldn't be disturbed, except by professionals. A small piece of asbestos (less than the size of a dime) can cause mesothelioma (cancer). You can read about this danger at many websites. They recommend that you do not even disturb the ceiling by painting! (03/16/2010)
Depends on how old the place if as to whether it has asbestos in it. I'd call around a few professions and ask their advise. Tell them you do not have the money for a professional but would he please advise you. I've gotten really good advice from professionals who are willing to advise me without having them do the job. Also, you maybe could call places like Sherman Williams paint. Hope you find the answer; I too hate the popcorn ceilings. (03/16/2010)
Cricket, please have it tested before you even attempt to remove it unless the popcorn is less than about 15 years old! Even though asbestos products were banned in 1978 the existing supplies at that time were not banned and could continue to be used!
Call a local hardware, paint store, etc to see if they carry test kits. If it turns out the test says 'yes' then you truly need to have a professional come in and remove it or there are special ceiling tiles that you can purchase and place over the popcorn.
Please be careful, Sweetie! Asbestos can cause Emphysema and Mesothelioma. :-( Better safe than sorry! (03/16/2010)
Sorry just getting around to reading TF. I saw this done on Trading Spaces or some show on HGTV.
The trick was using a water hose and scraping it off. It just slides off when wet. They covered floors with plastic tarp and had a shop vac ready. It seemed to go pretty fast. Oh, you might try spray bottles, the big kind that you get in lawn and garden, and fill that with water and do small sections. Good luck. Not sure about asbestos. (03/16/2010)
Everyone else is right, you have to be concerned about asbestos! That being said- our house was built in early 1970s and has original tiles on the floor. I was pretty sure by their look that they were asbestos. Called Health Dept. for advice on testing and removal. Their expert told me I could bring a small piece in to have it tested for free if I wanted to, so that's an option. He also said that to remove something that has asbestos in it, like floor tile, it is important to get it wet so that it keeps the dust down so you don't breathe it. Wear protective clothing, gloves and mask over mouth, nose and eyes.
Now, as to the ceiling, ours probably has it there too, but we removed it from the kitchen anyway. We went to the hardware store and bought a NEW thing that you use to mix and spray your own pesticides. I don't remember what they're called but it's a plastic canister you pump with air that has a hose and trigger to spray (DON'T use one that's been used for that purpose, buy a NEW one!). Put painter's plastic over floors and counters. Put warm water in the sprayer and use it to spray the ceiling (maybe 5'x5' section at a time).
We let it sit for a few seconds and then used a plastic paint scraper/drywall applicator to scrape the wet stuff off the ceiling, holding the scraper at an angle. Don't scrape too hard or you can tear through the drywall. When done with each section, wipe it down well with a damp rag. Be sure to put a good primer like KILZ over it to seal the drywall that might still have asbestos in it from the popcorn. (03/16/2010)
I am a female remodeling contractor, I would say getting the popcorn down is not hard but one of the messiest things you can do. Empty the room if you can, cover the floor from corner to corner with plastic. Fill a garden sprayer with warm water (not one you sprayed poison with). Spray generously, has to be pretty wet. Let it sit for 15 minutes or so. Use a flat head shovel and scrape it across the ceiling, wear SAFETY GOGGLES. We had two people. I used the sprayer, my son-in-law scraped. After it dried, the ceiling had to be sanded and re-textured, and of course repainted. (03/17/2010)
By Lisa Kay
Check this ThriftyFun post: http://www.thriftyfun.com/tf83829211.tip.html for a step by step article on removing ceiling texture.
Can you scrape off popcorn from a ceiling?
You should be able to. All the pop corn stuff is either plaster of Paris or most likely joint compound spayed on mechanically. Try wetting an area with water, let it soak in and use a putty knife. If you have a closet with the pop corn ceiling try it there. Then if you don't like the results it will not show. My other suggestion is to visit a big box store or someone like Sherwin Williams paint store and ask them for some other ideas. (02/25/2009)
Yes the popcorn finish can be removed. You need to wet it down with a spray bottle of water, allow to set for about 10 minutes and then scrape off with a putty knife. You definitely need to put down drop cloths because the stuff goes everywhere. My husband and I have removed almost all of it from our ceilings. (02/26/2009)
Often the popcorn ceilings are asbestos which is very toxic and needs to be removed by professional hazmat people. (02/26/2009)
Can you take a sample of it to be tested? Sometimes the texture is just part of the paint, sometimes the popcorn stuff contains asbestos and sometimes it doesn't. If it does have asbestos, even painting it can release some asbestos fibers. A small amount of asbestos (the size of a nickel) can cause serious problems. My husband has asbestosis which is really lung cancer, from asbestos exposure as an electrician. There are whole web sites dealing with popcorn ceilings. Good luck to you. (03/01/2009)