Popcorn is Only Good When It’s Edible: A Guide to Popcorn Ceiling Removal

We’ve all had it and ignored it. Because who really wants to spend days of their lives and thousands of dollars trying to remove sparkly gritty popcorn ceilings. But you’ve looked up and you’ve seen them collecting dusty and wondered to yourself if you should just spend the weekend and do them. The answer is most definitely yes. First and foremost popcorn ceilings are gross. Maybe not now but if you own dogs like we do inevitably, even the highest cathedral ceiling collects dust like its its primary mission in the world. The  popcorn ceilings make even the highest room look shorter and absorbs light like a black hole.


We purchased our new home which had very dated popcorn ceiling with the idea that as soon as we moved in, the ceiling gotsta go. So before we unpacked a single solitary thing besides underwear and a toothbrush, we went to work on the ceilings. We removed the popcorn from the major areas including entryway, living room and the bedrooms. We left it alone -for now- in the hallway, kitchen and bathrooms. Even I can admit that the popcorn hides a multitude of sins and these are the areas that the dogs don’t go in and also experience a high degree of moisture so we didn’t want to expose the drywall in these rooms if we don’t have to.

Husband and I are all about cutting a corner when we can. Which would explain why we tried about four methods of removing the popcorn ceilings before we did it “the right way”.

We tried doing the shop vac scraper technique seen here. We quickly scrapped that idea because it was a straight up Pinterest fail. The sheer amount of ceiling falling could never make it into the vac and it made for a very slow process because the vac just wasn’t long enough. Add the fact that it was a one person gig since we only had one shop vac and we realized 50 sq ft into a room that it was a total waste of our time.

Next we tried the spray pump method recommended here. The spray pump just wet the ceiling and bounced off without any account for if it was actually saturating the popcorn or not. Add that to the fact that we were doing this at night where we couldn’t see if the popcorn actually saturated and Im 5’4″ and we didn’t have a ladder (face palm at trying to do this on top of a vintage piece of now very chalky furniture) and it was just a hot mess. So here’s what we actually ended up doing and what we needed to complete it.


2- hand spray bottles

1- 12″ scraper

1- 5 gallon bucket

1- ladder

2- drop clothes

1- 4 foot ladder

1- bottle of purex laundry detergent

1- Abesthos/Lead test kit ( If your home was built before the 1980s then you need to test the ceilings for any abesthos and lead both of which are a possibility)

1. Run incredibly hot water into a five gallon bucket that has a cap full of detergent in it. We saw this earlier in a guide and found when we neglected to use detergent it was harder to tease off the popcorn  I’m not sure what the detergent does and I’m not sure that it leaves no residue so proceed with caution.  We just used purex because it’s what we had on hand but a no dye detergent of some sort would probably be better just in case there is an issue with color.

2. Cover floors in the area that you are working. We also draped a towel and some plastic over our ceiling fan after doing our first room and realizing what a mess this project could be.

3. Fill spray bottle with water from the five gallon bucket. Spray 5×5 patch of ceiling with spray bottle from about a foot away. Beware you are about to get one heck of an arm work out. I fully support you attempting to go back to the sprayer method and seeing if you can make it work.

4. Scrape sprayed patch with LONG SLOW EVEN strokes at a 45 degree angle. I repeat LONG SLOW EVEN motions. We were concerned about gouging the drywall because we didn’t feel like replacing it (like I said corner cutters) so we made sure to be extra specially careful.

5. We had a few areas that were a bit sticky and couldn’t be bought down in this way so we ended up scraping as much as we could and then gently sanding those patches down with a 100 grit sand paper block.

5. Let ceiling dry and roll with white ceiling paint.


This photo is a small area of our living room that we managed to tackle in under a half hour once we stopped being lazy. We didn’t think very highly of the canvas drop cloths, moving them only where we absolutely needed them, because we had every intention of pulling this carpet up the next day. If you are someone who, you know, actually lives in your house, this method with plastic sheeting covering all of the walls and floors would probably be a life saver. I could only imagine doing this task with furniture and kids and dogs afoot.

All in all this project took us a weekend and was incredibly high impact. Definitely worth the time. Final product pictures will absolutely appear after we finally design a complete room in our home. Keep in mind, this project will take more time if you have painted ceilings or if you do in fact find the aforementioned asbestos is in your ceilings. If that is the case, call in the pros and start shelling out some cash.

So, are you feeling confident about removing the popcorn ceilings in your home?

XO Prepford Wife

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s