• Popcorn Ceiling Repair and Removal Guide


    Popcorn texturing has been popular for many years. It’s actually a cheaper way to finish a ceiling than creating a smooth finish because it doesn’t require the cycles of mudding and sanding. In this guide, you’ll learn how to make repairs to popcorn ceiling texturing. If you want a new look for the room, we also provide tips on removing a popcorn ceiling and preparing the ceiling to finish. NOTE: If your ceilings were given a popcorn finish prior to 1979, the material might contain asbestos. The material from older homes should be tested for asbestos, and if it is present, should be removed by a professional.

    Popcorn Ceiling Repair and Removal Tips and Resources

    Our goal is to help you complete this as a DIY project, if you’d like to, or have a good sense of the work in order to discuss it with a contractor.
    We include how-to tips for repairing small areas of damaged popcorn ceiling texturing and for removing it entirely.
    Popcorn ceiling repair costs and removal costs are included for DIY and professional jobs, and tips are offered for saving money on the work. You’ll find the tools and materials needed as well. The guide concludes with a DIY resource list for popcorn ceiling repair and removal offering more tips.

    Let’s first assume you want to keep your popcorn finish but it needs some touch up in areas perhaps damaged by water or has a scour mark from a hard object. Here are popcorn ceiling repair tips.

    • Start by putting down a drop cloth or plastic sheeting to catch the material you remove
    • Wearing eye protection will keep dust and debris out of your eyes
    • For damaged areas less than one foot in diameter, use a 1-inch to 1.5-inch putty knife or spatula (the one you use on the b-b-q can do it) for removing the damaged popcorn texturing
    • A 2-inch to 4-inch putty knife or wider spatula can be used for very large areas of damaged texturing
    • Gently scrape off the damaged texture being careful not to gouge the underlying ceiling
    • If gouges are made, they should be filled with spackling or joint compound and sanded before popcorn texturing is applied
    • When the damage is removed, lightly wipe the surface with a damp cloth to removed dust that will prevent securing adhesion of the new material and let it dry
    • Find popcorn ceiling patch online or at a home improvement store and purchase enough to cover the area
    • Read the directions for mixing and applying the popcorn texturing
    • Go slowly when applying the texturing, being careful to feather it into the existing popcorn
    • Apply it at the same thickness or very slightly thicker than the surrounding popcorn
    • For large areas, work from one side of the damaged area to the other
    • Check the directions for how long the material should dry before being painted or using a shower (bathrooms)

    Now, let’s move on to tips for removing a popcorn ceiling entirely, so the area can be finished smooth or with a different texture.

    • Be sure the popcorn texturing was applied after 1978 when asbestos in building materials was outlawed
    • Call a professional for removing popcorn texturing that might contain asbestos
    • Remove furniture and cover the floor and all walls with thick plastic sheeting or drop cloth
    • Use tape for the sheeting on the walls that won’t tear off paint when it is removed
    • Eye protection and a dust mask are recommended too
    • Use a pump-type sprayer and water to wet the ceiling lightly in sections 4 to 6 feet square
    • Don’t heavily soak the popcorn, or the water may pass through it and require drywall repairs to what is underneath
    • Give the water 10 minutes to soften the popcorn – trial and error will teach you how much spray is required and how long you need to wait to remove it
    • If the ceiling has been painted, it will have to be scored with rough sandpaper to allow the water to penetrate into the popcorn
    • Use a large putty knife or ceiling texture scraper to remove popcorn away from the edges and a small putty knife for corners and areas near crown molding
    • Be careful not to gouge the ceiling beneath the popcorn

    Popcorn Ceiling Repair and Removal Costs

    Here are the costs associated with this job whether you do the work yourself or hire a professional. The work can be done by anyone experienced with popcorn ceilings – a handyman, drywall finisher or painter.

    DIY popcorn ceiling repair and removal: If doing it yourself, here are the tools needed and their cost.

    • Asbestos testing: $75 to $150
    • Plastic sheeting: $18 to $25 for a 500 sq. ft. roll
    • Tape: $7 to $10 per large roll
    • Putty knives: $5 to $15
    • Ceiling scraper: $20 to $40
    • Water sprayer: $10 to $50
    • Popcorn ceiling patch: $7 to $10 per quart

    Professional popcorn ceiling repair and removal: A pro will probably require a minimum service fee for small jobs of $75 to $150. Removing popcorn from the ceiling of an entire room will cost $0.40 to $1.0 per square foot.

    How to Save Money on Popcorn Ceiling Work

    Borrowing tools and drop cloths will reduce your costs. When hiring a professional, get estimates from several in your area that have experience with this home improvement project.

    DIY Popcorn Ceiling Resources

    These additional sites offer good information on this home repair and renovation.

    South County Drywall – This local contractor provides a good overview of preparing a room for popcorn ceiling removal and other drywall projects.

    Pretty Handy Girl – A supplies list and lots of helpful pictures are included on this site.

    Centsational Girl – Here’s a recent post complete with plenty of pictures of the room preparation and popcorn being removed.

    Metcalf Painting – This painting contractor provides a quick overview of the work.


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