How To Remove A Popcorn Ceiling

By Subodh / December 15, 2013

Builders and contractors oftentimes use popcorn ceilings to give the home more texture and definition. It’s a cheap, quick and easy technique for covering the ceilings, allowing builders to skip over the finishing process. Unfortunately, it leaves behind a messy, outdated look that many homeowners find tacky or downright ugly. Before you can finish the ceiling with a fresh coat of paint, however, you must first remove the popcorn. In this post, we’re going to walk you through the steps to removing a popcorn ceiling.

You’ll first need to pick up some basic items and supplies from your local home improvement store. Purchase enough drop cloths to cover the entire floor of the room along with a couple different sized putty scrapers, respirator mask, and a bottle of white vinegar. The total cost of these items should only run you about $20-$30 bucks depending on where you shop.

popcorn ceiling


Taking the time to prepare your ceiling and room ahead of time will allow for a smoother popcorn removal. Start by removing all of the furniture, both big and small, from the room with the popcorn ceiling. I know some people may simply toss their drop cloths over the furniture, but this will likely result in wet popcorn paint covering your furniture. Spending the extra half an hour to move them out of the room will prevent this from happening. Once the furniture is removed, then you can lay out the drop clothes over the floor.

With all of your furniture and furnishings removed, start spraying down the ceilings with a solution of half white vinegar and half warm water. The strong odor of vinegar might turn some people away, but it’s a highly effective tool for removing popcorn ceiling. Continue spraying the ceiling until there’s a nice saturated coat on it.


Give the vinegar solution about 20 minutes to thoroughly soak into the popcorn ceiling before you attempt to remove it. During this time, however, you can gear up in a respirator mask to keep the stuff out of your lungs. Also, if your popcorn ceiling was added before 1980, you should hire a company to check it for asbestos. Removing asbestos-covered ceiling is incredibly dangerous and could result in mesothelioma.

Removing popcorn ceiling should be rather painless assuming you saturated it with vinegar beforehand. Starting from the back of the room and working your way forward, use a putty scraper to slide the popcorn off. Simply slide it forward to push the popcorn off. When you are finished with one area, move your ladder over to start on the next. The popcorn should come off without much effort, but the most time-consuming part is moving the ladder every couple of feet.

After removing the popcorn ceiling, you will then need to clean up the area. I recommend tossing the drop cloths rather than salvaging them for later use. Dispose of your used gear and let the room air out for an hour or so before you move the furniture back.