How to scrape Popcorn Ceiling – The Ultimate Guide

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Are you tired of that outdated and unsightly popcorn ceiling? Want to give your space a modern makeover? This article is for you.

We’ll guide you through the step-by-step process on How to scrape popcorn ceiling to achieve a smooth and clean surface. We’ll cover safety precautions, including testing for asbestos, and walk you through the necessary preparations.

With our expert guidance, you’ll be able to tackle your popcorn ceiling removal project with confidence and achieve the results you desire.

How to scrape Popcorn Ceiling – A step-by-step guide

With these 12 easy steps, you’ll have a popcorn-free ceiling that will be looking perfect after your scraping. Just follow these steps below to completely and effectively scrape your popcorn ceiling:

1) Do a Scrape Test

Perform a dry scrape test on a small area of the popcorn ceiling to determine its texture and whether it requires wetting for easier removal.

  1. Start by scraping the area without any water spray to see how easily the texture comes off. If it comes off easily, you may not need to wet the ceiling.
  2. However, if the texture doesn’t come off easily, dampen the area with water and scrape again. The water will help soften the texture, making it easier to remove.

This scrape test is crucial in determining the best approach for popcorn ceiling removal. It will save you time and effort by ensuring you use the most effective method for your specific textured ceiling.

2) Test for Asbestos

Test for asbestos by contacting your local health department and requesting a sample to be tested. Asbestos is a hazardous material commonly found in popcorn ceilings installed before 1980. It’s important to determine if your ceiling contains asbestos before attempting any removal.

Call your local health department and ask about their asbestos testing services. They’ll guide you on how to collect a sample and provide instructions for sending it to a certified laboratory for testing. It’s crucial to follow proper safety protocols during the sampling process to minimize the risk of asbestos exposure.

Remember, if your test comes back positive, it’s best to cover the popcorn ceiling with new drywall or hire professionals for safe removal.

Product requirements:

– Asbestos testing kits available from local health departments or certified laboratories

– Sample collection materials (gloves, plastic bags, spray bottle with water)

– Laboratory testing services for asbestos detection

3) Prep for a Big Mess

Once you have tested for asbestos and determined it’s safe to proceed, it’s time to prepare for the inevitable mess that comes with scraping popcorn ceilings.

To prep for the mess, cover your floors and walls with plastic drop cloths, as using canvas drop cloths isn’t recommended due to water soaking through. Plastic drop cloths make cleanup easier, as they can be easily rolled up and thrown away once the project is finished.

It’s important to leave the plastic in place even after removing the popcorn ceiling texture, as it will catch any mess that may occur during the repair and sanding process.

4) Remove Furniture

To ensure a clear workspace and unobstructed movement, if you can, remove all furniture from the room before starting the popcorn ceiling removal process. This will prevent any obstacles while you scrape the ceiling and make it easier to maneuver around the room. If removing all furniture isn’t feasible, you can cluster it in one area and cover it with drop cloths to protect it from any debris or water spray.

5) Remove Ceiling Fixtures and Fans

Before you begin scraping the popcorn ceiling, make sure to shut off the breaker to any fixtures and remove them so they don’t hinder your progress or get covered in wet popcorn scrapings. Leaving ceiling fixtures and fans in place may seem easier, but it can cause obstacles and increase the risk of spraying water into electrical fixtures.

To ensure a safe working environment and avoid potential damage, take the time to remove these items. Start by turning off the breaker to cut off power to the fixtures. Then, carefully detach and set aside any ceiling fixtures and fans.

This will allow you to scrape the ceiling without any hindrances and prevent the fixtures from getting covered in wet texture.

6) Protect Can Lights From Water Spray


To protect can lights from water spray while scraping the popcorn ceiling, you can take the following steps:

1. Begin by carefully removing the can light covers, if applicable.

2. Stuff newspaper or rosin paper inside the can lights. Crumple it up into small balls and make sure to fill the entire recessed area of the can light.

3. This will create a barrier that prevents water from infiltrating the fixture. By doing so, you can avoid potential damage caused by water exposure.

4. Throughout the ceiling scraping process, the can lights will remain dry and functional.

5. Once the ceiling scraping is complete, remove the newspaper or rosin paper from the can lights.

6. Dispose of the newspaper or rosin paper properly.

Taking this simple step will help protect your can lights and maintain their integrity during the popcorn ceiling removal process.

7) Cover Electrical Boxes

Cover the electrical boxes with painter’s tape to keep the wiring dry during the popcorn ceiling removal process. Shut off the power to any electrical boxes in the ceiling before covering them. Overlap the sides of the junction box with tape, ensuring complete coverage. Trim the perimeter of the tape with a utility knife, being careful not to damage the wires.

This step is crucial to prevent any water from getting into the electrical boxes while spraying water on the textured ceiling. By covering the electrical boxes, you’re ensuring the safety of the wiring and minimizing the risk of electrical hazards.

Take the time to properly cover the electrical boxes before proceeding with scraping the popcorn ceiling.

8) Wet it With a Pump Sprayer


To effectively soften the popcorn ceiling texture before scraping, use a garden pump sprayer to mist it with water for about 15 minutes. This step is crucial in preparing the ceiling for removal.

Avoid using a spray bottle of water as it may not provide enough coverage. The pump sprayer allows for a more even distribution of water, ensuring that the entire surface is wet. Make sure to adjust the nozzle to create a fine mist, as too much water can damage the drywall or loosen the joint tape.

If the texture hasn’t softened after 15 minutes, spray it again and wait another 10 to 15 minutes. Remember, the goal is to wet the ceiling, not soak it.

9) Work in Small Sections

Start by spraying and scraping only a small area at a time, ensuring better control over the removal process. Working in small sections, about four square feet, allows you to prevent the popcorn from drying before you have a chance to scrape it off.

If the area is too large, the popcorn may dry out, requiring you to repeat the spraying process. To begin, use a garden pump sprayer to mist the small portion of the ceiling you want to work on. Let the texture soak for about 10 to 15 minutes before you start scraping.

It’s recommended to use a small putty knife to scrape the popcorn off the ceiling surface. By working in small sections, you can maintain control and achieve efficient removal of the popcorn texture.

10) Tame the Mess With a Mud Pan


To minimize the mess and keep the wet popcorn from spreading all over the floor, use a mud pan, typically used for joint compound, to catch the scraped popcorn before it hits the ground.

  1. Place a drop cloth on the floor beneath the area you’re working on to further protect against any debris that may fall.
  2. As you spray the ceiling with water and scrape away the popcorn texture, position the mud pan directly underneath the area being scraped to catch the wet popcorn. This will prevent it from scattering and making a mess on the floor.
  3. Additionally, you can use the edge of the mud pan to clean your scraper when it becomes loaded up with wet popcorn, ensuring that you have a clean scraping surface for more effective removal.

11) Prevent Gouging


To prevent gouging the ceiling and causing damage during the scraping process, round off the corners of your popcorn scraper using a file, sander, or electric grinder. This step is crucial in ensuring a smooth removal of the popcorn ceiling without leaving behind any imperfections or gouges.

By rounding off the corners of your scraper, you create a more even distribution of pressure, reducing the likelihood of accidentally gouging the ceiling while scraping. This will help you achieve a smooth and flawless finish for your ceiling.

Remember to take your time and be cautious during the scraping process to avoid any unnecessary damage.

After removing the popcorn ceiling, you can repair any small dings or imperfections with joint compound before sanding the ceiling to achieve a perfectly smooth surface for painting or further finishing.

12) Smooth After Scraping


Achieve a smooth surface for painting by sanding the ceiling after scraping off the popcorn texture. Once you have successfully removed the popcorn ceiling, it’s important to prepare it for painting by smoothing out any imperfections.

  1. Begin by using a pole sander or a drywall sanding sponge to sand the entire ceiling.
  2. Start with a coarse-grit sandpaper and gradually work your way to a finer grit to achieve a smooth finish. Be sure to wear a dust mask and goggles to protect yourself from the dust particles.
  3. After sanding, wipe the ceiling with a damp cloth to remove any leftover dust. This step is crucial to ensure that the paint adheres properly to the ceiling surface.
  4. After sanding and wiping, your ceiling will be ready for the next steps in your DIY popcorn ceiling removal project.

RELATED: How to Remove Texture from Walls

How to Scrape Popcorn Ceiling – Frequently Asked Questions

How can I remove a popcorn ceiling?

To remove a popcorn ceiling, you can opt for several methods. One common approach is wet scraping, where you spray warm water on the ceiling to dampen the texture, making it easier to scrape off. Alternatively, you can also use a ceiling scraper or hire professionals for popcorn ceiling removal.

Can I remove popcorn ceiling as a DIY project?

Yes, removing popcorn ceiling can be a DIY project if you have the right tools, safety equipment, and patience. It requires careful preparation, as well as proper scraping techniques to avoid damaging the underlying surface. Make sure to research and gather all the necessary information and supplies before taking on the project.

Is warm water an effective way to remove popcorn ceiling?

Yes, warm water is often used to help soften the texture of a popcorn ceiling, making it easier to scrape off. Fill a spray bottle with warm water and apply it on small sections of the ceiling at a time. Allow the water to penetrate the texture for a few minutes before attempting to scrape it off with a scraper or putty knife.

Can I apply a new layer of drywall over a popcorn ceiling?

Yes, applying a new layer of drywall over a popcorn ceiling is a common method for hiding the texture. This technique can help achieve a smooth and modern look without the need to remove the popcorn texture. However, it’s important to ensure the existing ceiling is in good condition before adding the new layer of drywall.

What should I do if my popcorn ceiling contains asbestos?

If you suspect that your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos, it’s important to exercise caution. Asbestos abatement should be handled by professionals who are trained in safely removing and disposing of asbestos-containing materials. Contact licensed asbestos abatement companies to assess the situation and carry out the necessary procedures.

Are there any other methods to remove popcorn ceiling?

Yes, aside from wet scraping, there are other methods to remove popcorn ceiling. Some of these methods include using a popcorn ceiling removal machine, covering the texture with ceiling panels, or applying a specialized popcorn ceiling removal solution. Research and consider the various options to find the one that suits your specific needs and preferences.

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Ira Njoroge

Hey, I’m Ira Njoroge, the founder of MySpaceAffair. Early on in my life, I had a passion to embark on a mission to create a cleaner, and more organized household. With a bachelor's degree in engineering after graduating from the University of Maryland in 2015 and seven years as a General Contractor and professional cleaner, on top of my DIY Enthusiasm. I saw the need for a reliable information source for homeowners. My passion, diligence, experience, and hired professionals confirms the reliability of all the advice given in My Space Affair and I hope to provide you all with reliable and thorough content!

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