How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings

how to remove popcorn ceilings without making a mess

Looking for a guide on how to remove popcorn ceilings? Look no further!

We debated whether we were going to get rid of our popcorn ceilings or keep it. In every other house we’ve done, and with most all of our clients, we urge them to take it down. But it’s also expensive and messy! But being this part of our home was already a complete disaster we decided to give it a go. The guys spent a full day spraying and scraping the popcorn off the ceilings. And now that the knockdown is up, we are so happy we moved forward with it. Now, we can’t stop staring at the rest of the popcorn in the house. Ha! That will have to wait for another time.

We did a Facebook live while the guys were scraping the ceilings and we got so many questions on what we were using to spray and any tips and tricks that we had for scraping the ceilings, so we wanted to create a full post for you guys on how to remove popcorn ceilings.

How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings

Materials Needed: 

  • 12″ + Putty Knife
  • Garden Sprayer
  • Drop Cloths
  • Ladder
  • Trash Bag
  • A hat or hoodie

remove popcorn ceilings | construction2style

Cover Floors

First, you want to cover your floors so that they don’t get ruined. If you’re under a complete renovation like us you might think you don’t want to cover your floors. The guys had a big drop cloth that they moved around with them as they scraped. When you’re scraping, the popcorn that comes down is really wet.

remove popcorn ceilings | construction2style

If you have a drop cloth, it’ll be a lot easier to clean up than just leaving it all over the floor. If you leave the popcorn on the floor it’ll either dry and harden to the floor, or it’ll be so wet you can’t sweep it up. If you have a drop cloth you can just wait until it’s full and then go out to the dumpster and whip it off in there.

remove popcorn ceilings | construction2style

Spray Water

Next we fill our garden sprayer with warm water and spray the ceiling and let it sit for about 30 seconds before we scrape off. Here Jamie was spraying and our guy Topher was scraping.

And Scrape

If you have painted ceilings, it might take a couple of coats of water and some extra muscle to scrape it off. It’s not fun, but if they aren’t painted, like ours, it’ll come off pretty slick. Weirdly, it’s actually really therapeutic.

Avoiding Damage

Though a relatively simple DIY project to do, there is still a risk of scratching your ceiling behind the popcorn, so it’s important to keep in mind a few things to avoid causing damage that you will have to repair! 

Soak the Ceiling

To help the material come off easier, spray the ceiling with warm water or warm soapy water until it’s soaked. Painted popcorn ceilings can sometimes be stubborn, so make sure to spray two or more times for absorption. 

Use the Right Tools

Using the proper tool can be the difference between a scratched ceiling and a seamless removal. We recommend a 12-inch putty knife over a 6-inch, not only for time but it will have a bigger surface of scraping power. There actually are popcorn removal tools

Take Your Time

When learning how to remove popcorn ceilings, you learn it can be a tedious process, but it’s essential to slow down, and don’t rush. Slow, long strokes in the same direction can get a lot of material off at once, but also keep the knife from catching the drywall and leaving a scratch or gouge. 

Don’t Force It

If the popcorn is being stubborn and you are finding yourself getting snagged up, don’t stress or force it! Make sure you soak the ceiling further, or move on to another area and come back later. 

If Damage Occurs

Just breathe, it’s ok, it happens to the best of us. Replace any damaged drywall, or smooth out any gouges or scratches with some drywall compound. You will need to let it dry overnight so it can delay your process a bit. Once it’s dry simply sand over any uneven areas, and it’s ready for primer and paint!

Clean Up

If you want to take it a step further with the cleanup and are doing the scraping where you have nice floors, you can scrape and hold up a bucket while you scrape and it’ll fall right in. That can be hard if you’re balancing on a ladder but you can also set up some boards across ladders to walk on, or Jamie has even used stilts.


remove popcorn ceilings | construction2style


remove popcorn ceilings | construction2style

remove popcorn ceilings | construction2style

Let Ceilings Dry

Once you’re done scraping all of the ceilings, make sure to let them thoroughly dry before you skim coat or paint them.

Now you know how to remove popcorn ceilings! Let us know what you think of this DIY trick.

How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings 1

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Katherine L MeltonTrevor KylesMorgan MolitorSharon D. Quinn Recent comment authors
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Sharon D. Quinn
Sharon D. Quinn

Thanks for sharing this article because these tips are really important to follow during removal of popcorn ceiling


[…] After the carpet was removed, we then worked on scraping all of the popcorn off of our ceilings. And you bet we have another full tutorial for you on how to do this, How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings.  […]

Trevor Kyles

It looks beautiful! Great work!! Now you will always have a success story to tell about the ceilings.I found a lot of good info. on this site! Thanks!

Popcorn Ceiling Removal

Katherine L Melton
Katherine L Melton

I did this myself. Works perfect