How To Remove Popcorn Ceilings That Have Been Painted

Popcorn ceilings were a popular choice in many homes throughout the U.S. between the 1980s and mid-70s, also known as cottage cheese, stucco, or acoustical. These ceilings were installed to hide flaws or imperfections or provide sound absorption.

If your older house has one such ceiling that irritates you every day, this problem is easily fixable!Give your ceiling a fresh new look with materials such as drywall or paneling.

You could also completely take down the popcorn ceiling. To fully comprehend this project, read through the following carefully:

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Hazards Test Material

Asbestos may be present in any acoustic texture material made before 1980. To test for asbestos content in a popcorn ceiling, you should sample some of it first.

While asbestos that remains unextracted does not pose any health risks, disturbing this hazardous material could release fibers into the air and get trapped in your lungs – creating serious respiratory risks.

Home test kits for ceiling texture contain a small amount of texture which must be placed into a plastic bag and sent to a laboratory for analysis. You can avoid potential health risks by having this test done at your residence through an authorized testing company.

If it turns out your ceiling texture contains more than 1% asbestos, there are three options to choose from:

  • Don’t try to remove your popcorn ceiling yourself; hire an asbestos removal company instead.
  • Always leave the ceiling alone!
  • Cover it with another material.

Our Painters in Port St. Lucie suggest testing for asbestos in addition to lead paint, particularly if young children are living in your household. To determine your responsibilities regarding testing for hazardous materials, check your state laws.

Removing a painted popcorn ceiling

It isn’t difficult to take those bumps and lumps off your ceiling, but it does require some effort and time. Be sure to wear protective gear such as a dust mask, respirator, goggles, or other eye protection while doing this task.

Popcorn ceilings can easily be removed, but painting them makes the task more complex as paint adheres to them and acts like a sealant. Before you can attempt to take away the paint, further breakdown will need to take place.

It is best to remove any furniture you don’t want in the room and turn off both the cooling and heating systems. Cover all vents with plastic or painter’s tape for extra security.

Cover (remove) wall switches, outlets, and light fixtures by covering them with plastic or rose paper approximately 12 inches from the sides of walls and taping them with painter’s tape. These are the steps to take to successfully remove popcorn ceilings.

Spray a mixture of one-tenth vinegar and ten percent water on the ceiling to help it dissolve.

To remove the material, use a 4-inch utility knife/type of scraper. Although this method can be messy and slow, it works effectively. Make sure that your solution is fully saturated on the surface so you can scrape away easily.

Attaching the scraper to a pole can help alleviate some of the strain associated with working overhead.

*Popcorn ceiling service is not available in all states without the necessary licensure and certification.

Preparing the Surface for Painting

After you’ve removed all popcorn texture, it’s time to ready your surface for a fresh coat of paint. As with any other project, follow along as normal and use a drywall sander to sand down the ceiling; fill any imperfections as necessary. After applying an even coat of primer, it’s time to begin painting!


Do you require professional assistance with a ceiling or painting project? Get an obligation-free estimate from Painter Port St Lucie today. After taking out the popcorn ceiling, be sure to clean any water stains and possibly update any ceiling fans as well.

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