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Popcorn Ceiling Removal – A DIY Guide

This is our first of many DIY blog posts and we’re so excited to share our experiences with you! If you have been following along with Aaron and I’s Journey To Debt Free Living posts, you know that we recently started remodeling our newest home. We have been living in this house since last July and have been buckling down on our budget to put us in a good position to begin renovating. We decided we wanted to do as much of the work on our own and learn along the way! That sounds like a fun and possibly frustrating journey in the making haha, but we were ready for it, starting with learning how to remove popcorn ceilings.

First, the reason for removing popcorn ceilings is not only aesthetic, but also because a lot of popcorn ceilings have asbestos. We didn’t know if ours did, but decided we wanted it gone anyways. When we first inquired about a quote from a contractor for popcorn ceiling removal, our 2,400 sq ft house was going to cost us close to $3,000!! At that point, we were like, “uhhhh, I think we’ll figure out how to do it ourselves” lol. With all the materials that we bought to complete this job on our own, our popcorn ceiling removal cost was around $400. We saved so much monaaaayyy.

Here’s what we spent our money on:

The air purifiers are optional, of course, but we wanted to clean as much dust from the air as possible and we will definitely be using those air purifiers throughout the rest of our remodel.

Supplies you will need:

Step 1 – Move furniture and fixtures from ceiling

In some rooms, you won’t be able to move everything out, but do as much as you can. If you can remove lights and vent covers, that would be to your benefit so that you don’t get the dust all in it. 

Use your judgement to see if some big furniture pieces can be left and you can just cover them in plastic. In our bedrooms, we didn’t move beds or some dressers, we just covered them with plastic and were super careful. If you do a good job with taping your plastic off, the clean up will be SO much better.

Step 2 – Cover everything with plastic

This is the most important and most time consuming step. Doing it right takes more time than you want, but it will be so worth it afterwards. We taped off all the walls and all the floors. Then, we taped the seams where each piece of plastic met – even taping the plastic on the walls to the plastic on the floors – so that we would have the least amount of dust leaking through as possible. 

In the rooms where you leave the furniture, pay attention to those seams and maybe even double up on the plastic to ensure it doesn’t get snagged and get your bed dirty.

Step 3 – Spray down the popcorn ceiling

All you need is hot water and soap, load it in your sprayer (we used this 2 gallon one and an old windex spray bottle) and spray down that ceiling the best you can. Wait about 15 min before beginning to scrape. Be careful not to oversaturate because you don’t want the sheetrock behind the popcorn ceiling to get wet. It’s okay if it gets a little wet, but not a lot. Some popcorn ceilings are thicker than others, so it will just take you spraying it, attempting to scrape after 15 minutes and if it’s still tough to scrape off, spray again.

Step 3 – Scrape it off

After the ceiling is sprayed down, the popcorn should come off fairly easily. You will probably find that some areas may be more difficult than others. If so, just spray those areas down again, let it soak a bit and scrape again.

In this room, we started spraying the ceiling as we were taping off the plastic and as you can see, the plastic ended up falling off in some places because the water was wetting the walls too much. Learn from our dummy mistake and take your time to do the steps one by one lol. We were trying to make the most of our time by spraying as we taped, but it made clean up more difficult in the long run.

Step 4 – Clean up

Once you have scraped all the ceilings and you’re ready to clean up, pull the plastic off from the walls and begin folding it all into the center. Roll it all into a ball and load it into a heavy duty trash bag. If you taped everything off well, you will have very little clean up beyond this point. After you clean up the plastic, use your shop vac to get the remaining pieces and you’re done! Set up your air purifiers to clean up the air and you’re good to go.

We were so thankful that we were able to get our whole house done in just a few short days and a total of 15 hours. Not to mention the amount of money that we saved doing it on our own!

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