Removing popcorn ceilings doesn’t have to be a total drain on your wallet. You can remove popcorn ceilings yourself fairly easily, with a bit of planning.
Popcorn Ceiling Removal in 9 Steps | DIY Tips & Advice
Popcorn and movies may go hand-in-hand, but popcorn and ceilings went out of style decades ago. Originally rising to popularity because of their easy installation and acoustic dampening effects (they’re also known as acoustic ceilings), popcorn ceilings aren’t very pleasing to the modern decorator’s eye and generally trap light, making a room appear dark and uninviting. The good news is that removing a popcorn ceiling — also known as a textured ceiling or, if you really aren’t fond of it, a cottage cheese ceiling — is entirely possible as a DIY project. And, in fact, making the decision to ditch the bumps not only impacts the modern style of any room, but also affects lighting, reflecting rather than bouncing around light to make a brighter, more open and inviting space.
Though the process is pretty straightforward, it’s usually tedious. Also, unfortunately, there’s one small caveat when it comes to removing a popcorn ceiling: those installed prior to 1980 may be harboring asbestos. If this is the case in your home, DIY removal is completely off the table. Otherwise, choosing to hire a pro may just be the best way to save yourself the time and hassle. Either way, understanding the ins and outs of removal is important for anyone looking to get rid of this design throwback from the 70s and 80s.
It cannot be stressed enough that self-removal of a popcorn ceiling can only take place safely if your ceiling is free of asbestos. If your home was built from about 1990 onwards, you’re probably safe. However, anything built prior to that harbors serious risk of asbestos, a common additive to paint and textured compounds prior to 1980, when it was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Asbestos Popcorn Ceilings: What Is Considered Safe?
Spray-on textured ceiling was popular from the 1950s to the 1980s because it was an easy way for builders to hide imperfections.
Unfortunately, this was during a period when asbestos was a high-demand building material in the U.S.
Known as “popcorn ceiling,” “cottage-cheese ceiling” or “stucco ceiling,” it was typically 1 to 10 percent asbestos.
To find out if your old popcorn ceiling contains asbestos, you can purchase a test kit or hire an asbestos abatement professional.
If you buy a test kit, you will have to collect a sample of the ceiling and mail it to a lab. Hiring a professional to do it is safer but more expensive. Many inspectors recommend testing your ceiling for lead paint while you are at it.
Tips for Popcorn Ceiling Removal | DoItYourself.com
While popcorn ceiling texture was once very popular, many people are now opting to remove it during renovations. The biggest challenge with this is the mess it creates. Follow these tips to minimize the stress and the mess.
If you have a high enough ceiling, you can actually just install a false ceiling under the popcorn texture. This does require more work and money, but it’s a way to renovate with no mess whatsoever.
Don’t think you can just cover your furniture before you remove a popcorn ceiling. The dust will get everywhere, and you will end up picking pieces of ceiling out of corners and crevices for months. It’s worth it to spend the extra time removing everything from the room.
It’s not common to find this, but older homes sometimes have asbestos in the textured ceilings. If you’re concerned about this, you can scrape a very small amount of the ceiling into a bag and send it off for testing. If it has asbestos, only a professional is qualified to remove it, so you can’t DIY.
How To: Remove a Popcorn Ceiling
For a significant chunk of the 20th century, from the 1950s through the ’80s, the ceilings in many new homes—particularly in bedrooms—came with a rough, stippled texture that become known as a “popcorn” finish. People tout the sound-dampening properties of popcorn ceilings, but I think they really caught on for a pretty simple reason: They hide imperfections and made life a little easier for professional builders. One major drawback is that, because they don’t reflect very much light, popcorn ceilings tend to eat up the light in a room. Another con is that many homeowners consider popcorn ceilings to be just plain ugly. Fortunately, it’s easy to remove popcorn ceilings, and although it can be a very messy and labor-intensive affair, the transformative results can make the effort well worth it.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS – Plastic sheeting – Masking tape – Dust mask – Protective goggles – Wide putty knife – Ladder – Garden sprayer – Metal file – Paint
STEP 1 Before doing anything else, it’s critically important that you get the popcorn tested by an EPA-certified laboratory. In homes built before 1982, asbestos was a main ingredient in spray-on ceiling textures. If yours turns out to contain asbestos, then I very strongly advise you to bring in trained professionals who are licensed to deal with hazardous materials. If, on the other hand, the test indicates that your ceiling has a paper-based popcorn treatment, you can handle its removal the do-it-yourself way. Because the process involves water, however, it’s prudent to cut electrical power to the room where you’re going to be working.
STEP 2 There’s no getting around it: To remove a popcorn ceiling, you’ve got to make a mess. By properly preparing the room beforehand, however, you can minimize the amount of cleanup required once the project is completed. After you have removed all furniture from the room, cover the floor—and the bottom 16 inches of each wall—with thick plastic sheeting. Secure that sheeting in place with masking tape. Upper walls too must be protected; do so by applying a strip of tape around the perimeter of the room, one quarter-inch below the ceiling. Then fasten plastic sheeting to that initial strip by means of an additional tape layer. Bear in mind that ceiling fixtures may hinder progress, so if there’s a ceiling fan, medallion molding, or hanging light fixture in the room, you may wish to take it down at this early stage.
STEP 3 Divide the ceiling into four-foot-square sections. Next, using the garden sprayer, thoroughly moisten the initial section, letting the water soak in for 10 or 15 minutes. After enough time has elapsed, position the ladder under the moistened section, put on your dust mask and protective goggles, then climb up. Holding a putty knife at a 30-degree angle to the ceiling, commence scraping the popcorn away. The method is to spray, wait, and then scrape. In this manner, work your way around the room, one section at a time.
Read More: How To: Remove a Popcorn Ceiling
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