Blog Posts

10 Steps to Easily Removing a Popcorn Ceiling

10 Steps to Easily Removing a Popcorn Ceiling

Popcorn ceilings, also affectionately known as “cottage cheese ceilings” and a bunch of other names, have become a bit dated and ugly since their heyday in the ‘70s. In addition, their rough texture is great at attracting cobwebs and dust, something which no homeowner wants. However, fear not! As experienced Atlanta painting contractors, we can tell you how to easily remove a pesky popcorn ceiling. Follow the steps below to remove your popcorn ceiling quickly and easily!

1. Perform a scrape test

Try scraping an area of the ceiling to see what you’re dealing with. Initially try it dry, and then try it again after dampening the area with a little water. Although some textures come off easily with a dry scrape, others will require wetting before they budge. If the texture still doesn’t budge after wetting, it’s probably been painted over at some point, and you now have a huge job on your hands. If your popcorn won’t budge, it may be time to call an Atlanta painting contractor such as ourselves and get the problem seen to.

2. Perform an asbestos test

If your popcorn ceiling was installed before the ‘80s, there’s a chance it could contain asbestos, a substance which is potentially life-threatening. Get in touch with your local health care center and arrange for an asbestos test using a sample of the ceiling. If it comes back positive, you should cover the popcorn with new drywall or seek professional help.

3. Get ready for a mess

Be sure to cover your walls and floors with drop cloths, removing any valuables out of the room. Use plastic drop cloths instead of fabric ones, as they will catch any dripping water more effectively.

4. Get rid of ceiling fixtures

You’re going to be working with lots of water and stray popcorn, so it’s best to remove any ceiling fixtures while you work, especially if they’re electrical, such as ceiling fans. If you have recessed “can lights” in your ceiling, remove the bulbs and plug up the holes with newspaper for protection.

5. Wet the ceiling

A pump sprayer is the best option for popcorn ceiling removal – use a garden pump sprayer to mist the popcorn with water, allowing it to soak in for about 20 minutes before you start scraping. Only mist the ceiling lightly, and reapply the mist if the ceiling hasn’t softened enough after 20 minutes. If the popcorn texture won’t budge because it has been painted over at some point, you may have to dry-scrape it off and follow up with a wet-scrape afterward to get rid of any excess. In the worst case scenario, you may have to cover up the ceiling with drywall or something similar.

6. Cover up electrical junction boxes

If you have any electrical junction boxes in the ceiling, cover them up with painter’s tape so as to keep them protected from water. Be careful not to accidentally cut the wires as you cut your box-coverings to size.

7. Work in small sections

You should only work on small areas at one time, somewhere around 4 x 4 feet. This is because the popcorn could dry too quickly if you try to work on a larger area at once.

8. Use a mud pan to catch the mess

A mud pan can be easily used to catch the stray pieces of wet popcorn as they tumble toward the ground, so be sure to bear this in mind. It’s better to catch the pieces straight away than it is to track them around your house on your shoes. Conveniently, the rim of the mud pan can also act as a scraper for your… scraper!

9. Prevent gouging

Consider dulling and rounding off your scraper’s edges before you commence, as this will prevent you from accidentally gouging your ceiling and leaving it with multiple stab wounds. You can use a sander, grinder, or file in order to round off your scraper effectively.

10. Post-scraping treatments

Although scraping off your pesky popcorn is the start, there are still many things you need to do before your ceiling is completed and ready for new paint. Despite your best efforts and precautions, there are probably some small gouges and nicks which need fixing before you can paint over them. Sanding the ceiling is also usually a good idea if you’re looking for a smooth finish too, whether you’re painting it yourself or hiring a professional contractor to do it.

Are you looking to transform your dated popcorn ceiling into something stylish and chic? Why not hire an experienced Atlanta painting contractor to do the job for you? J Stevens Painting has many years of experience in popcorn ceiling removal projects, guaranteeing a seamless finish and thorough clean-up effort after every single job. You won’t find an Atlanta painting contractor with better prices!

Recent Posts


Benefits of J. Stevens Painting

  • 20 years experience
  • We warranty our work
  • Licensed & Insured
  • Top-of-the-line paints, stains & caulks
  • Detailed FREE estimates
  • Competitive pricing
  • Owner oversees every job


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Powered by Blueprint