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How do you strip off the "popcorn" on a popcorn ceiling?

I want to get rid of the "popcorn" on the popcorn ceiling in my bathroom. I was wondering how I could take off the popcorn without having ot replace the ceiling.


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Re-design7 years ago
We did this two years ago in about 650 sq.ft. of rooms in our house.

I wrapped the walls and floor in plastic basically making a dust tight enclosure.
I rented a scaffolding on wheels.  It was only about 2' x 4' and adjustable to 6' tall.

Used a new but cheap garden sprayer filled with hot water and lightly sprayed it on the ceiling a little at a time ahead of where I was working.

To get off the material I used a 6" paint scraper.  Didn't work too well, not enough leverage, and too sharp it kept digging in.  What worked very well was a garden scraper.  Looks like a hoe but the blade is in line with the handle.  It's thicker than the paint scraper and not so sharp.  It didn't dig in as easy.

Wet an area and start scraping.  Don't try to get it all off in one scrap down to the sheetrock.  We left the rough texture as our new ceiling.  When you get an area done move the the next until you are finished.  Then "mop" the ceiling with a clean mop or wet rags to get off the dust. 

Carefully peal off the plastic from the walls and fold it all in on itself.  If you do this carefully you can contain most of the dust.  Roll it up into a big ball and dispose of it.


It was a lot of work but the ceilings where we did it look much better.  We just painted over the new surface just like before.

Good luck and don't forget the dust filter and eye protection.
Some of this pop-corn finish contained asbestos....
"We left the rough texture as our new ceiling. "

If you don't like the less-rough look, hire a belt sander (with a dust extractor!) for a day to polish it off.
Re-design is absolutely right. The only thing I did differently in my house was use a plastic drywall tape knife like Burf to avoid gouging the ceiling, and then I used a fine grit sandpaper to remove the rough residue before repainting. I only had to mud in two small areas where the seams had not been taped correctly by the installer.
Kiteman is braver than me, because I sanded by hand instead of using a belt sander.
Yep, hand sanding is the only way to go. Trying to hold a big-assed belt sander upside down will not only wear a man out in just a few minutes but also gouge and shred the paper face on the drywall.
If he wants the ceiling absolutely smooth, it will have to be skim coated.  I found that knocking down the rough spots with a drywall pole sander and then painting with a good sealer is the best way to go. It leaves a nice looking textured finish to hide the imperfections in the drywall and only takes a couple of hours.
Burf7 years ago
Re-design has it exactly right. I have had many remodel contracts that involved removing popcorn texture, and the only thing I did differently than Re-design, is we used a 12" drywall tape knife with a broom handle attachment as the scraper.
The easiest way is to spackle it over again. Failing that, a steam wallpaper stripper works, but fairly slowly.

Steve