One Step Forward…More Tips for DIY Popcorn Ceiling Removal

By | April 22, 2015

Two steps backward…right? It’s been one of those weeks, and it’s only Wednesday.

But, we do have some progress to report. We’ve been busy in the basement guest room…

Removing Popcorn Ceilings Guestroom Mess 2

…and the nursery.

Removing Popcorn Ceiling DIY Nursery 2

Which is why the rest of our house is currently a mess of furniture and such. Oh, and we have a giant garage sale coming up in a couple weeks so there’s junk all over the basement with price tags stuck on…yay…

Removing Popcorn Ceiling DIY Mess in Other Rooms

Anyway, for the past two nights, we’ve been working on our popcorn ceiling removal project. It’s a small project this time around, considering how many big rooms we did the first time around. We’ve talked about removing popcorn ceiling before, in this post. We did all the main living areas on the main floor before we moved in. In fact, that’s one of our most popular posts.

popcorn ceiling b-a

So, since we’ve already covered our preferred method for removing this stuff…I figured we’d just share a few more tips we’ve learned after doing this project in 7 large areas of our house now. If you want the basics, go back and read the initial instructions we gave.


1. Get the room as empty as possible. Trust me, this is a messy process and will get gross wet plaster and popcorn gunk all over everything you don’t protect. I’d recommend taking out all the furniture if possible, as well as window treatments. Wyatt wanted to leave the blinds on the windows but I flat out refused to that because I knew it would take about 5 minutest to remove the blinds and an hour to get all the popcorn residue cleaned off each slat of the blinds if we left them on. Seriously, get that room empty!

If a tiny ledge like a light switch gathers a bunch of mess, imagine cleaning that off blinds!

Removing Popcorn Ceiling DIY Mess Light Switch

Plus, it’s way easier to work without a bunch of tarp-covered furniture to move around. Unless it’s a ladder or a step stool, I’d get it out of the room if at all possible. You don’t want to be spraying water on or even around your furniture anyway. Which reminds me, also be careful to avoid getting water on anything electrical…like breaker boxes…

Removing Popcorn Ceilings Guestroom

2. Use a big tarp. Or a small tarp and only work in sections that are smaller than your tarp. We did this pretty well at first, but you can see we didn’t get the tarp all the way to the edge of the wall and we sometimes got a little overzealous with scraping before moving the tarp. The mess will clean up off the carpet pretty well (see my tip on that below) but it’s still way faster to dump a tarp than vacuum an entire room.

Removing Popcorn Ceilings Guestroom Mess

3. If you aren’t planning to repaint, protect the walls! We’re repainting both of these rooms, so we didn’t mess with this step…but beware, it will get messy if you don’t use plastic sheets on the walls.

Removing Popcorn Ceiling DIY Mess Walls

4. Set up a “staging area” outside of the room before you start. You’ll need this for shoe removal and to shake the excess popcorn off your clothes. It will save you a lot of clean-up time.

Removing Popcorn Ceiling DIY Mess Staging Area


1. Work in sections. It would be silly to wet the ceiling of the entire room at once if you’re working with a small crew. If you have a giant tarp and 7 suckers  friends to help you, be my guest and do the entire room at once.

Removing Popcorn Ceilings Guestroom 2

2. Use enough water. If you try scraping after wetting the ceiling and it doesn’t fall off cleanly, stop and spray everything again. Trust me, it is WAY better to have semi-wet ceilings than to spend twice as long scraping. Of course, don’t wet the ceilings until they are dripping wet like you just turned a fire hose on them or you’ll be left with a mess and some ruined drywall.

Removing Popcorn Ceiling DIY Nursery

I’d suggest doing a small test scrape each time you wet a new section down to be sure you have enough water. It should come off very cleanly in a neat, easy, line. And if it takes you awhile to scrape and things start to dry, don’t worry. You can always re-wet the area if it starts to dry out.

3. Do a thorough check after you think you’re done scraping, to make sure you’re really done.

Removing Popcorn Ceilings Guestroom 5

Unless you have a secret love for sanding, you want to get rid of all these leftover ridges and bumps while they’re still semi damp and easy to scrape off. If you wait until they are try, you’ll spend WAY longer sanding than scraping. (Sorry about the awful photo…I’m still learning manual mode…)

Removing Popcorn Ceilings Guestroom Residue

4. When you get to the corners, go slow and be careful to not disrupt any of the drywall tape. We found it helps to turn your scraper parallel to the tape and attempt to run the blade over it instead of going perpendicular to the edge of the tape and likely peeling up the edge with each swipe of your scraper.

Removing Popcorn Ceilings Guestroom Tape

If you get the tape edge pressed up just a little, you can try and smooth it back down. If it dries in a weird, bent position, it will be harder to smooth out later on with new drywall mud. Trust me, you want to spend as little time remudding the ceilings as possible.

5. If possible, avoid denting or gauging the drywall and mud. It will just be more work to patch it later. You’ll probably have a few areas to fix, so don’t stress it too much, just be aware of what damage you’re doing to the ceiling and try and prevent it.

Removing Popcorn Ceilings Guestroom Drywall

Clean Up

1. Even with your staging area I discussed earlier, you’ll probably need to clean the floors when you’re done. Do this as soon as possible to avoid tracking it all over the house. (Lesson learned…but I still make a huge mess every time.)

Removing Popcorn Ceiling DIY Clean Up

2. If you can, save clean-up in the room until the removed popcorn shavings are dry. This will keep you from accidentally mashing the wet plaster into the carpet and dry dust is easier to sweep up than sticky, heavy gunk. Plus, it will help save your vacuum filter/motor and you won’t have to lug a really, super heavy Shop Vac up out of your basement. Also, be sure you follow any local regulations for disposal.

3. Clean your vacuum asap when done. Trust me, you don’t want that mess around any longer than necessary. The dust gets everywhere and there’s no need to lug it around in the vacuum for no reason.

Removing Popcorn Ceiling DIY Mess Vacuum

Now, get to work and get those ceilings scraped! It’s a lot of work, but worth it, in my opinion.

Removing Popcorn Ceilings Guestroom Done

As I said in our initial post about removing popcorn ceilings, the specifics of your popcorn ceiling will affect how easy it is to remove. Some is simply more “stuck on” than others. And if it has been painted, it will be MUCH harder to scrape off. We had that in a few areas, and it isn’t fun. And for goodness sake, if it is at all possible your popcorn ceiling has asbestos in it, get it tested! 

If you have an older house, check, please! They stopped using it in the mid 1980s and our house wasn’t built until much later than that, so we were confident we were fine. But please, better to be safe than sorry, people. 

As a side note, Wyatt is concerned that like all fashion trends, textured ceilings will come back in style and one day I’m going to come to him with a plea to “put the popcorn back up.” I assured him that certainly will not happen. Just as I’m committed to not doing another full kitchen remodel in this house, we will also not be re-texturing our ceilings. I solemnly swear by the blogging world and all that is holy to it that I will NOT put popcorn back on my ceilings.

Removing Popcorn Ceilings Guestroom 3

Alright, tell me your horror stories of popcorn ceilings, or maybe you fall into the camp that it’s just not worth it to remove. Or maybe you have the glitter kind and appreciate the festive sparkle it adds to the room? Let’s talk ceilings!

2 thoughts on “One Step Forward…More Tips for DIY Popcorn Ceiling Removal

  1. donita

    I noticed you said you were committed not to do another full kitchen remodel in “this” house…

    1. Melissa Post author

      Ha! Well, I try not to eat my words whenever possible so yes, I can’t say I will NEVER do another kitchen…just that we won’t be doing it here. I don’t see us leaving any time soon…but you never know!


Join in with a comment! (Let's all agree to be constructive here, okay? Thanks!)