Popcorn Ceiling Removal
Popcorn ceilings are also known as stucco or textured ceilings. There are many different types and methods of texturing walls and ceilings, but the stereotypical spray on stucco, widely known as popcorn, is the topic of this post, and popcorn ceiling removal explained.
Facts, popcorn ceiling removal.
Why remove a popcorn ceiling?
It’s out of date.
Allergens and dirt can stick to its surface.
It can lower the value of a house.
It may contain asbestos (If older than approx. 1977)
It is not cleanable. Needs to be repainted.
It is generally not repairable. A drywall patch can be performed, but it is extremely difficult to seamlessly match the popcorn texture so the patch cannot be seen.
How to do popcorn ceiling removal?
Before attempting to remove a popcorn ceiling make sure it does not contain asbestos. According to the EPA, the use of asbestos in textured ceiling paint was banned in 1977. If you think the popcorn ceiling might be from prior to 1977 then get it tested. Pro-lab is one company that offers an EPA approved asbestos test kit.
Dry scraping is the preferred method if the popcorn has never been painted and is loose enough. You might get lucky and be able to dry scrape an entire ceiling in no time.
Wet scraping takes a little more time. If the popcorn has been painted it is often too difficult to dry scrape. Spraying the entire surface area with a mist of water (a garden sprayer or spray bottle will work) and allowing the water to absorb into the popcorn (usually about 10 to 15 minutes) often is enough to loosen the popcorn allowing it to scrape off easily.
With both of the above methods, you have a choice of covering the floor and allowing the scaped popcorn to fall freely. Or there are several methods that attempt to capture the popcorn as it is being removed. Several tool makers have a texture ceiling remover that is essentially a 6 to 10-inch scraper attached to a painters pole with a catch bag attached to the scraper end.
I’ve also seen highly effective two-man crews where one guy scrapes the ceiling and the other guy slides a garbage bin along the floor catching the popcorn as it gets removed. Or where the second guy attempts to vacuum up the scrapings at the ceiling in real-time with a shop vac.
Dust Free Power Sanding is by far the cleanest, quickest and most professional way to tackle the job. At Mississauga Handyman we use a Festool Planex dust extracting power sander to both remove popcorn and sand out freshly skim coated ceilings and walls.
After Popcorn Removal
After the popcorn is removed you can either sand out the ceiling as it is and paint it. Or for a more uniform finish, it can be skim coated with wall compound (2 or 3 coats), sanded out, primed and painted.
Painting or re-painting a popcorn ceiling?
An alternative to removing an old looking popcorn ceiling is to paint or re-paint instead. This is a much smaller job, less expensive, and a lot less messy. The challenge with painting a popcorn ceiling that has never been painted before is that the popcorn is dry and chalky and easily breaks off contaminating the paint roller and potentially the paint. If this is the case use a shorter pile roller (finishing roller) and apply several light coats being careful not to get the popcorn too wet and saturated at one time.
Since popcorn absorbs water it is a good idea to use an oil based primer (like Kilz Odourless) on the first coat of unpainted popcorn.
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