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How to Remove Popcorn Ceiling Without the Snap, Crackle, or Pop

So you’ve made the decision to get rid of those old popcorn ceilings in your house. We don’t blame ya. Popcorn ceiling can make your home look dated, funky, or just plain ugly.

Besides, we like our popcorn bathed in butter, scattered with salt, and in our laps at the multiplex. Not on the ceiling though, that’s for sure!

So, we have made a quick little guide on how to remove popcorn ceiling for you. Hopefully we can make this as simple and fun (is that even possible?) as it can be.

Let’s find out!


Uhh, that doesn’t sound fun. Well, that’s ‘cause isn’t. So the absolute first step in how to remove popcorn ceiling (before you get started on anything else), is to get it inspected by a pro. You want to make sure it does not have asbestos before you start messing around with it. It’s just not worth it to skip this step, so get it done!

Clean the Room

You’ve gotten the ceiling tested, right? Good. So now that you know the ceiling is safe to work on, let’s get started!

The next step is to clean out the room in which you’ll be working. The last thing you want is bits of paint in every crevice of your furniture. So get all that stuff outta there so you can have a clean place to trash while you are working.

To make cleanup easier, cover the floors with plastic so you can just wrap everything up at the end and chuck it out for garbage pick-up. Tape the plastic up so there is one big sheet that covers the whole floor. You’ll thank us later!


Open those windows, and put a small fan on the ground, blowing parallel to the floor. We also recommend using eye protection and a dust mask. Even if you don’t have allergies, you are purposely making stuff fall from the ceiling. We’d want to cover our faces if we were doing that.

Spray It

So here we are with the first “active” step in how to remove popcorn ceiling. Using a simple garden sprayer, spray a 5’x5’ area of the popcorn ceiling. Wait a few minutes, and then spray that area again. Doing this will make it easier to scrape off the popcorn from the adhesive that is already there.

Scrape It

After the ceiling is wet from your garden spray-fest, start scraping the popcorn off of the ceiling. You should use a ceiling texture scraper for this job. The bag attachment should help with the  mess – usually most of the popcorn falls into this bag. Use a putty knife for the corners of the ceiling.

If the popcorn isn’t coming off easily, try wetting the ceiling some more. Be careful though – if you wet the ceiling too much, it can mess up the drywall behind it.

Continue the Spray ‘n Scrape process area by area until you are done with the ceiling.

Finishing Touches

You don’t always have to put on finishing touches, but it’s a good practice in how to remove popcorn ceiling.

Here are a few finishing tips:

  1. Use a sanding pole to smooth down the ceiling a bit.
  2. Now that you can see the drywall that was previously installed, some of the tape may look crudely applied. If so, use joint compound to smooth it out and fix it.
  3. Use joint compound again to do a once-over, thin top coat to the entire ceiling. Use a wide drywall knife to do this.
  4. Give the entire ceiling a quick sanding again, to give yourself the perfect canvas for primer and paint.

Congratulations, now you know how to remove popcorn ceiling! That wasn’t so bad, was it?

If at any time you need help, give us a ring with any painting questions and we’ll be happy to lend a hand!

Photo by largestartist / CC BY 2.0

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