The Ultimate Guide to Popcorn Ceiling Removal


The Ultimate Guide to Popcorn Ceiling Removal

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Popcorn ceilings, also known as acoustic or textured ceilings, were highly popular in the mid-20th century. They were named for their unique, bumpy texture, which resembles popcorn kernels. They were a quick and cost-effective way to soundproof a room, but also they were a perfect solution to hiding the ceiling’s imperfections. If you own a home built before the 1990s, there's a chance that your ceilings are covered in this material. However, there are several good reasons to consider popcorn ceiling removal.

Understanding Popcorn Ceilings

What is a Popcorn Ceiling?

A popcorn ceiling also referred to as a cottage cheese ceiling or a stucco ceiling, is a spray-on or paint-on ceiling treatment that was used from the late 1950s into the 1980s in American residential construction. It was coveted for its ability to cover up imperfections, its bright white appearance, its noise reduction qualities, and its ability to provide a generally minimalistic look.

Why Were Popcorn Ceilings So Popular?

Popcorn ceilings were the builder's choice because of their ability to reduce noise and hide imperfections in the ceiling. They were also a cost and time-efficient way to finish a ceiling, eliminating the need for multiple coats of paint or meticulous repairs.

Why Consider Popcorn Ceiling Removal

While popcorn ceilings may have been a trend in the past, they're not so desirable today for several reasons.

Popcorn Ceilings Can Contain Asbestos

One of the most concerning elements about popcorn ceilings is they often contain asbestos, a harmful substance widely used in home and construction materials before the 1970s. Prolonged exposure to asbestos can cause several health issues, such as lung diseases and lung cancer.

Aged Popcorn Ceilings Can Become Dirty and Damaged

Over time, popcorn ceilings collect dust and grime and can become discolored. They can also get damaged easily and are difficult to repair due to their unique texture.

Professional Popcorn Ceiling Removal Process

Due to these and other potential concerns, many homeowners opt for popcorn ceiling removal. The process used by professionals often includes:

  • Initial Inspection & Testing
  • Removal of furniture and covering of floors
  • Spraying the ceiling with water to loosen the texture
  • Gathering and disposing of the debris
  • Refinishing and painting the ceiling

DIY vs Professional Popcorn Ceiling Removal

Dangers of DIY Popcorn Ceiling Removal

While removing popcorn ceilings can seem like a do-it-yourself job, it is not advised for homeowners to take this task on without professional help. Dealing with asbestos materials can expose homeowners to serious health risks if not handled properly.

Advantages of Professional Popcorn Ceiling Removal

Professional popcorn ceiling removal teams have the necessary certifications, training, and equipment to get the job done safely and effectively. Experts will also do the job quickly and manage the cleanup process.

Feeling More Confident about Popcorn Ceiling Removal

With the right professionals by your side, popcorn ceiling removal can be a straightforward and hassle-free process. Say goodbye to the outdated look of your home and enjoy the cleaner, more modern aesthetics that current interior design trends offer. Always hire a specialist for popcorn ceiling removal to ensure the job is done the right way and to maintain your peace of mind.


In conclusion, popcorn ceilings were once a popular choice for builders for their practical and aesthetic benefits. However, due to several downsides, like the potential presence of asbestos and difficulty in maintenance and cleaning, they are not favored anymore. Homeowners are now opting for removal of these ceilings for health reasons, and to update the look of their homes. And while it may seem tempting to tackle popcorn ceiling removal as a DIY task, for safety reasons, it is highly recommended to enlist the help of professionals.

FAQs on Popcorn Ceiling Removal

What is the purpose of a popcorn ceiling?

The textured style of a popcorn ceiling, which was nameddue to its resemblance to popped corn, was largely popular during the mid to late 20th century. One of the driving factors behind its widespread use was its ability to mask imperfections. The rough texture does a great job of hiding uneven surfaces, drywall joints, as well as any kind of damage or blemishes.

When should I consider popcorn ceiling removal?

Popcorn ceilings might be unappealing or outdated to some homeowners. However, you might want to consider popcorn ceiling removal if the texture has become damaged due to leaks or aging or if you suspect that asbestos, which can be harmful to your health, is present in your ceiling's material. It’s also a good idea to remove popcorn ceilings if you’re planning to sell your property, since many buyers prefer a more modern look.

Can I perform popcorn ceiling removal by myself?

Though it's technically possible, performing a popcorn ceiling removal by yourself can be messy and time-consuming. Also, if your home was built before the 1980s, there's a chance that the popcorn ceilings have asbestos, which requires special handling. If you decide to tackle the job yourself, it’s essential to take proper precautions and follow a specific step-by-step process.

What is the average cost of popcorn ceiling removal?

Costs for popcorn ceiling removal can vary based on various factors such as the size of the room, complexity of the job, or whether or not asbestos removal is needed. On average, homeowners can expect to pay between $1-$2 per square foot. However, the cost can increase considerably if professional asbestos abatement is necessary.

How long does it typically take to remove popcorn ceilings?

The length of time required to remove popcorn ceilings largely depends on the room's dimensions and the number of layers of paint or texture on the ceiling. In most cases, on average, you can expect the removal process to take around one day for each room.

How does popcorn ceiling removal work?

The most common method of popcorn ceiling removal involves thoroughly soaking the ceiling with water, then scraping off the damp texture with a specialized scraping tool. Once the texture has been completely removed, any damage to the underlying drywall is patched and sanded, and the ceiling is then ready to be painted or re-textured.

What should I do after removing my popcorn ceiling?

Once the popcorn texture is removed, your ceiling will require some touch-up work. You should repair any damages or imperfections on the ceiling using joint compound and sand them smooth. Afterward, you can add different types of texture or leave it smooth, and finally, you can paint it.

Can I put a new texture on a ceiling after popcorn ceiling removal?

Yes, you can put a new texture on a ceiling after popcorn ceiling removal. Once the ceiling is repaired and smooth, the new texture can be added. There are multiple texture options available such as knockdown, orange peel, or smooth finish for you to choose from based on your interior decor.

What are the alternatives to popcorn ceiling removal?

If you like the look of a textured ceiling but not of popcorn ceilings, you could consider applying a different type of texture, such as a knockdown or smooth finish. If removal seems too tedious or expensive, covering up the popcorn ceiling with beadboard, wood planks, or ceiling tiles is also an option.

Pros and Cons of Popcorn Ceiling Removal

Pros of Popcorn Ceiling Removal

Improves Aesthetic Appeal

One of the main benefits of popcorn ceiling removal is its aesthetic improvement. Popcorn ceilings are typically a relic from the 20th century, and their old-fashioned and coarse aesthetic doesn't align with modern interior design trends. Removal usually adds to the value of a home because it updates the overall look of the interiors.

Increased Home Value

Popcorn ceiling removal can increase the value of your home. In today's real estate market, homes without popcorn ceilings are favoured because of their modern and clean aesthetic. Real estate agents like those at Zillow often suggest removal of popcorn ceilings as a quick way to increase a home's sellability and price.

Improved Lighting

Popcorn ceilings often reduce light reflection, resulting in a darker and more closed-in feel in a room. Removing popcorn ceiling improves the light reflective quality of the ceiling, hence enhancing the ambiance with better natural or artificial lighting.

Easier Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning and maintaining a popcorn ceiling is a significant challenge. Dust, cobwebs, and grime can get caught in the rough texture, which makes cleaning difficult. Once the popcorn ceiling is removed, regular ceiling materials are substantially easier to clean and maintain.

  • Reduce allergen accumulation
  • Simple processes such as dusting and painting become less complicated
  • Less maintenance equals more time and money saved in the long run

Cons of Popcorn Ceiling Removal

High Cost

The cost of popcorn ceiling removal can be quite expensive due to the labour-intensive process it requires. Professional removal is recommended as simply scraping off the popcorn texture without appropriate skills and equipment might damage the underlying ceiling. Platforms like Home Depot may offer some DIY options, but for most homeowners, professional help is required.

Health Hazard

Popcorn ceilings installed before the late 1970s might contain asbestos, a material that poses serious health risks when its fibers become airborne during the removal process. It's strongly advised to hire an asbestos abatement company for safety during the removal process.


Popcorn ceiling removal process is time-consuming, especially if the property is large or if the removal process involves asbestos abatement. This can lead to temporary displacement if the area being worked on is large.

Messy Process

The removal process of popcorn ceilings is notoriously messy. The need for extensive plastic sheeting to catch the falling material, as well as necessary cleaning post-removal, can mean that the overall project can be fairly disruptive.


It's important to carefully consider the pros and cons before making the decision to remove a popcorn ceiling. Factor in the cost, the likely mess, and any potential health hazards. However, remember that popcorn ceiling removal can potentially increase your home's value, improve light quality, and make maintenance easier. It's recommended to consult with professionals or websites like Houzz to ensure the best decision is made for your specific situation.


Popcorn ceiling removal can significantly enhance the aesthetic balance of your home. It will not only give your ceilings a cleaner and smoother look, but it can potentially boost your property's value. Plus, it's a fantastic way to ensure your living space is free of possible asbestos and lead content which are common in old popcorn ceilings.

Doing the popcorn ceiling removal yourself might seem like a cost-effective solution at first but remember it's a process that entails a lot of hard work and potential exposure to harmful substances. That's why it's always recommended to seek professional assistance. Trained professionals have the right tools and procedures to handle this task safely and efficiently, guaranteeing you exceptional results that last.

Overall, popcorn ceiling removal is a valuable home improvement task that offers immeasurable benefits. It not only provides a modern and appealing look to your interior but is also a move towards healthier living conditions. So if you're still living with those outdated popcorn ceilings, perhaps it's high time you gave them a goodbye.

About Atlas Stucco

Located in sunny Sacramento, CA, Atlas Stucco is your go-to company for all your stucco needs. With years of industry-leading experience under our tool belts, we pride ourselves on delivering high-quality stucco application services to both residential and commercial properties. With a reputation built on trust, reliability, and skilled craftsmanship, Atlas Stucco not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of your property, but also its long-term durability. From minor repairs to complete exterior makeovers, you can count on our skilled team to provide top-notch service tailored to your specific needs and preferences. Choose Atlas Stucco for results that are truly built to last!

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