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What to Do with Popcorn Ceilings?

Some popular décor trends from previous decades are easy to live with today, or easy to update. Yellow or green kitchen appliances can be replaced, floral wallpaper can be removed, and shag carpets aren’t too hard to tear out. Some of these remnants are a little harder to deal with, such as dark wood paneling, baby blue bathroom tiles, and popcorn ceilings. While they must have seemed like a good idea at the time, they are definitely not ideal today.

As a local house painter, we often receive customer questions about popcorn ceilings. People wonder what is best to do with them, now that they are dingy, hard to clean, bad for allergies, and out of date. Can you paint a popcorn ceiling? Do you scrape it off? Can you put other drywall over it? Do you have to remove the whole ceiling to get rid of the popcorn?

Painting a Popcorn Ceiling

The cheapest, simplest option with a popcorn ceiling is to paint over it. Just use a paint roller with a thick nap (long fibers). Also, plan on doing several coats, as the popcorn texture tends to be “thirsty.”

Before you choose the painting option, however, it is good to be aware of the drawbacks of this procedure:

  • Popcorn ceilings are hard to clean, and paint does not go well on a surface that has not been cleaned thoroughly.
  • Once paint has been applied over the popcorn texture, it makes it more difficult to remove the popcorn in the future.
  • You are still left with the popcorn texture after painting, and it is still out of date and hard to clean.
  • The larger problem is if the surfaces that the popcorn was applied to were not primed prior to the popcorn installation, this causes adhesion failure when trying to paint over it and it falls when painted.

Removing Popcorn Ceiling Texture

A better option for updating your ceiling is popcorn texture removal. This process involves several steps, but it produces a far more pleasing result.

  1. Cover everything with plastic sheets, as the procedure is quite messy.
  2. Seal openings around the room where texture is being removed for dust containment.
  3. Set up air filtration equipment to collect airborne dust.
  4. Depending upon the condition of the ceiling, i.e. been painted previously determine the best method of removal which could be our HEPA Vacuum system with a Festool Planex sander or use a sponge or a sprayer to dampen the texture. This softens it, so it is easy to scrape off.
  5. Use a wide-blade putty knife to scrape off the texture, being careful not to gouge the drywall behind it.
  6. Wash the surface to remove residue.
  7. Skim-coat any parts of the ceiling that are not smooth or even because typically when texture is applied the taping is only 2 coats.
  8. Prime and paint

An experienced do-it-yourselfer may be able to tackle this project without help, but you need to be aware that many popcorn ceilings may contain asbestos in homes built prior to 1978. If your ceiling texture contains asbestos, or if you are not sure, it can be tested by a registered company, it is far better to let a professional do the job. That way, you and your family are protected against any health hazards.

Popcorn Ceiling Removal: Is It Worth It?

When you look at the process it takes to remove a popcorn ceiling and you consider the effort and/or cost, you might wonder if it is really worth it. We can’t decide that for you, but we can point to the amazing benefits once the project is done.

A smooth, nicely-painted ceiling…

  • Is beautiful!
  • Is easy to clean
  • Does not provide a haven for allergens
  • Is stylish
  • Can be painted a variety of colors
  • Is more popular with potential home buyers
  • Doesn’t contain asbestos

Southington Painting

If you have a popcorn ceiling that needs attention, Southington Painting would be delighted to help! We have been serving central Connecticut since 1979, offering premium-quality painting services at a fair price. In addition to interior and exterior painting, we offer popcorn ceiling removal, carpentry, cabinet staining or painting, drywall and wallpaper services, and epoxy floor coatings.

You can use our calendar tool (at the bottom of each page) to schedule a free painting estimate, or feel free to call our office with any questions you may have. We look forward to hearing from you!

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