One of the no-no’s in the house is the popcorn ceiling in the living room. Popcorn ceiling (also known as Stucco ceiling) is a term for a spray-on or paint-on ceiling treatment used from the late 1950s into the 1980s. It was the standard for bedroom and residential hallway ceilings for its bright, white appearance, noise reduction qualities and ability to hide imperfections. The disadvantage of such texture is that it creates a lot of shadows on the ceiling and thus, causes the room to be darker.
If you have popcorn ceilings and are not entirely thrilled with them, you have some options. Local contractors would be happy to help you remove the texture for a
fortune fee but you can also watch some videos and consider scraping some ceilings yourself. And as for us, we decided to go with the DIY route.
And so, we took on this messy project as our first DIY project to the house. Unfortunately as it seemed, I could not assist Mike in this project as I hurt my left foot in the process of moving some boxes and was ordered by the doctor to rest my foot as much as I could. What a bummer, right?
Use a basic garden sprayer to wet down the ceiling. This will soften the ceiling texture and help to break down the adhesive bond making scraping easier. This also controls the dust, which none of wish to inhale.
Before wetting anything, do remember to remove all the ceiling fixtures and seal the openings with plastic and tape.
It was really tough to remove a ceiling fan all by himself. Poor Mike. In hindsight, we could (should) have asked the neighbors for a hand.
Protect the walls with a drop cloth and painter’s tape.
Also, completely cover the floor with plastic covering. Although a canvas drop cloth is the professional gold standard, several pieces of overlapped cheap plastic is actually preferable for this job since it is very wet and muddy. It is much easier to roll it all up and throw away.
Remember that any plastic covering that isn’t taped together has a chance of leaking. If you want to be absolutely sure that your clean-up job will only require throwing away the plastic covering, tape it together completely.
It took Mike almost 2 hours to tape half the room by himself. I really felt bad that I could not help him.
Protect your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Spray about 3-5 square feet at a time. The trick is to get it just wet enough for scraping, but not so much that it damages the drywall.
Let the water soak in for one minute and then spray a bit more. Then, start scraping with a large putty knife or dedicated texture scraper tool. Use even pressure, being careful not to gouge the drywall.
It should come off relatively easily like a thick mud. If you’re using enormous effort to scrape off the layers underneath, or if there is dusting, try spraying a bit more. Again, be careful not to over wet the drywall. It’s a bit tricky to get the right amount of water at first.
You can also use a wet sander sponge to remove any imperfections, creating a smooth surface. You might as well do this while the room is protected.
The picture above was taken the next day before Mike resumed the hard work. It took him about 4 hours to scrape off about 1/3 of the ceiling.
It had taken Mike another 5 hours to scrape off another 1/3 of the ceiling.
By the time the popcorn ceiling was completely removed, Mike had spent almost 14 hours in spraying, scraping, and sanding alone.
As you can see from this picture above, the floor was completely covered in soppy, muddy mess!
It took Mike another 45 minutes to clean up the mess. This pile of plastic and mud is all that’s left.
Total time of taping the drop cloth: 3 hours
Total time of spraying, scraping, and sanding: 14 hours
Total time of cleaning up: 45 minutes
Total water used: 5 gallons
What we did next was the fun part: giving ourselves a beautiful painted ceiling and walls. We bid farewell to the outdated popcorn ceiling and stale lemon-ish walls, bringing the colors of 21st century into our living room. The amount of work involved was definitely worth it.