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How to Safely Remove Popcorn Ceilings: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

At Utah Drywall & Repair, we often hear from homeowners frustrated with their dated, Popcorn-style ceilings. Removing these textured ceilings can transform your living space, but safety and precision are crucial. This tutorial is designed to show you how to remove popcorn ceilings safely and effectively so you can achieve the smooth, modern look you desire.

Understanding the Popcorn Ceiling

Popcorn ceilings, also known as acoustic ceilings, were popular because they hide imperfections and dampen sound. However, their outdated appearance and potential for containing asbestos have led many homeowners to opt for their removal.
Removing a popcorn ceiling may seem daunting, but with careful preparation and the right tools, you can do it yourself. Let’s guide you through the process step by step.

Gather Necessary Supplies

Before starting, it’s essential to be well-prepared with the right supplies. Having everything you need on hand will make the process smooth and efficient.

  • Protective Gear: Wear gloves, goggles, and a dust mask to protect yourself from dust and debris.
  • Spray Bottle: A spray bottle filled with water will help soften the ceiling texture for easier removal.
  • Scraper: Use a large drywall or paint scraper to remove the popcorn texture.
  • Plastic Sheeting: Lay plastic sheeting on floors and furniture to keep the area clean.
  • Drywall Compound: For any repair work needed post-removal, have drywall compound ready.

Test for Asbestos

Before you start scraping away, it’s crucial to test a small section of your ceiling for asbestos. Asbestos was commonly used in building materials until the late 1970s, and disturbing it can be hazardous.
We recommend hiring a professional to conduct an asbestos test. If the test is positive, it’s best to contact asbestos removal experts. If your ceiling is asbestos-free, you can proceed with the removal process safely.

Prepare the Room

Preparation is key to a successful popcorn ceiling removal. This step involves making your work area safe and easy to clean afterward.
Remove all furniture from the room or cover it thoroughly with plastic sheeting. Cover the floors with plastic sheeting as well, securing it to the baseboards with painter’s Tape. Turning off fans and heating/cooling systems will prevent dust from spreading throughout your home.

Soften the Popcorn Texture

To make scraping easier, spray a small section of the ceiling with water using your spray bottle. Be careful not to over-saturate; the goal is to moisten, not soak the texture.
Allow the water to absorb for about 15 minutes. The ceiling texture should soften, making it easier to scrape off. Work in small sections to prevent the area from drying out before you can start scraping.

Scrape the Ceiling

Here comes the messy but satisfying part. With your scraper, gently scrape off the popcorn texture. Hold the scraper at a slight angle to avoid gouging the ceiling.
Continue working in small sections, spraying and scraping as you go. Patience is key during this step; rushing can damage the drywall underneath.

Address Any Imperfections

Once you’ve removed all the popcorn texture, you might notice imperfections or damage to the drywall. This is where your drywall compound comes in handy.
Inspect the ceiling for any dents, holes, or uneven areas. Apply a thin layer of drywall compound to these spots using a putty knife. Allow it to dry completely before lightly Sanding it to a smooth finish.

Prime and Paint

With the repairs done, it’s time to prepare your ceiling for fresh paint. Start by applying a coat of primer to seal the drywall and prepare it for Painting.
Choose a high-quality ceiling paint in the color of your choice. Apply paint evenly with a roller, following the manufacturer’s drying times between coats. This final step will give your ceiling a smooth, updated look.

Clean Up

After finishing your ceiling, it’s clean-up time. Carefully remove plastic sheeting from the floors and furniture, taking care not to spread dust and debris.
Dispose of the plastic sheeting and any other waste properly. Vacuum the floors and wipe down surfaces to remove any remaining dust. Your room should now be clean and ready to enjoy with its new, modern ceiling.


Removing a popcorn ceiling can be a rewarding project that greatly enhances your home’s appearance. However, always prioritize safety and preparation to ensure the best results.
If you need professional help or have any questions, don’t hesitate to Contact Us at Utah Drywall & Repair by phone at 801-406-6350 or Request a Free Quote.