Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Removing Popcorn Ceiling Texture

Texture Removed

What kind of ceilings do you have in your house?

Over the years, there have been many different styles and fads in texturing drywall (sheetrock).  The styles typically range from a Knockdown, Orange Peel or even no texture at all on the walls.  Ceilings can have the same options, with the addition of an Acoustic texture (sometimes called "Popcorn"ceilings).  This is the particular one I'd like to talk about right now.  

The acoustic texture became wildly popular in the 70's & 80's, and is still used today.  Probably the main advantage of this texture is its ability to hide imperfections in ceilings.  Even newer homes can have imperfections, but in remodeling older homes, this can be a big help.  Regardless of its ability to mask problem areas, there is one major disadvantage to this method.  Because of it's roughness, it's easy for cobwebs to attach to it, and when you try to get these webs down what happens?  That's right, texture falls down.  Anybody that has had this texture on their ceilings know what I'm talking about.  It's not fun cleaning it up all the time and can be a real pain.  OK, enough of the history lesson, let's talk about how to remove this texture from the ceiling.

I'm going to explain the process for one individual room.  Obviously this can be done to multiple rooms at once, but if this is your first time to tackle something like this, I'd recommend starting with just one room first.

What you will need:

  • 10" or 12" Drywall knife
  • 2" Masking Tape 
  • Heavy mil plastic (covering the floor)
  • Light mil plastic (covering the walls)
  • Spray bottle
  • Step stool
  • Dust mask

The first thing you'll need to do is remove all the furniture from the room.  If certain things aren't very big, you may be able to leave them up against the wall.  Just remember, you will need to reach all areas of the ceiling so make it easy on yourself!  Some people may remove the light or fan from the ceiling, but I prefer to leave it there (I do enjoy light in the room I'm working at!).  If you have a ceiling fan, just remove the blades (usually a long screwdriver is all you need).  Also, remove the H&A vent cover (grille) if you  have one on the ceiling.  There again, just a screwdriver will take care of this.

Wall & Floor Prep
Walls & Floor Covered
Now that everything is out of the way, let's use some heavy mil plastic for the floor.  I suggest heavier plastic on the floor because you will be walking on it and this will help keep it from ripping on you.  Spread it out over the entire floor of the room.  It may be helpful to tape it to the floor at the edges of the room to ensure that it won't move around on you.  Using the step stool and some 2" masking tape, apply the tape to the top edge of the walls (where the walls meet the ceiling).  Painter's tape works really well because it will release without removing paint from the walls when your done.  When applying the tape, make sure to only stick the upper half of the tape to the wall.  Leave the bottom half to where you can stick the plastic onto.  Another option for you would be to buy the rolls of plastic that have the tape pre-attached to it.  It would cost more, but can make it easier for you if you need.  II prefer to do it the first way so I guess I'm just old school!  When covering walls, I like to use a roll painter's plastic.  It usually comes in a roll 400' long x either 9' or 12' (depending on how tall your walls are).  This may be more than you need, but you end up with one continuous piece of plastic without multiple seams to seal up (like you would have by using individual drop cloths), and you'll have plenty of plastic left for any other projects you may have.  If you're like me, you never know when you need some plastic sheeting for something.  Measure the length around your room and cut a continuous piece of plastic to match, making sure to add a couple of feet so the plastic overlaps at the seam.  Unfold the sheeting and, using the step stool, work your way around the room attaching it to the masking tape you previously applied to the walls.  At this point, you should have all the walls and floor covered and now you're ready to make a mess!!

Scraping Texture Off
Just removing pebbles!

Before we talk about how to remove the texture, let me suggest that you wear a dust mask.  This is a very dusty job.  It may seem uncomfortable at first, but you will get used to it.  Also, when you're done you'll appreciate not having breathed in all that dust!  You'll need a drywall knife to remove the popcorn texture.  I recommend a 10" or 12" drywall broad knife.  You may think to go with a wider knife, but I've that I have more control with a 10" or 12" knife than I do with any other.  By control, I mean that I can more effective at scraping off the texture and not damaging the drywall ceiling.  If you damage (tear or gouge) the ceiling, you'll need to repair the drywall before you can paint or apply the new texture.  Using the drywall knife, hold it at an angle, approximately 20-25 degrees from the ceiling and scrape the texture away.  This angle is important because if it's not right, you could damage the drywall.  Once you do it a little, you'll figure out the angle!  The purpose of this step is not to remove everything completely, but just the pebbles themselves (popcorn stuff). 

Spray Texture with Water
Spray lightly with water
Removing all of Popcorn Ceiling texture
Removing the rest of texture-
Keeping proper angle with knife
After all the pebbles have been removed, use the spray bottle and apply a light amount of water to the ceiling (work in small areas, one at a time).  Be careful not to apply too much water to the ceiling because if the paper face of the drywall gets too wet, it will rip easily and more repair will be needed.  Still using the drywall knife, just a light amount of water should allow the rest of the texture to be scraped away relatively easy.  

Texture Removal Complete
Texture Removed!

Once you have all of the texture removed and all drywall repairs (if any) have been made, give the ceiling a light sanding.  You are now ready to either apply a different texture and paint, or paint the ceiling as is (smooth, with no texture).  Hopefully it wasn't too dusty and messy for you, but just think....You did this yourself!  And without the need to call someone else and PAY them to do it!  Great Job!  
Be looking for my upcoming post about the different textures and how to apply them!  As always, feel free to leave me a comment with your thoughts about this post and don't hesitate to add any input to it, as well!  Thank you for visiting!