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Popcorn Ceilings: Is it really that easy to remove?

Popcorn Ceilings: Is it really that easy to remove?


The dreaded popcorn ceilings!  All it takes is roughly 15 minutes into an HGTV show to hear the potential home buyers curse the dreaded popcorn ceilings that MUST go.  When it comes to many of my renovating clients, the ceilings do come up almost every time.  Why?  Their homes have popcorn ceilings and they hate them.

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Popcorn Ceilings

Why?

Why do a lot of homes have popcorn ceilings?  For the most part, there were and still are two main reasons for the popcorn.  One is for sound and one is to hide imperfections.  How much sound does a popcorn ceiling absorb?  In my research for this blog I couldn’t find any evidence of the regular, builder-grade popcorn providing any type of sound absorption that is worth a mention.  So let’s move onto the imperfection reason.  When a ceiling was drywalled, the mud and tape seams didn’t have to be perfect due to the spraying of the popcorn and how it could hide those imperfections.  Not having to really worry too much about the seams meant a quicker install.  Plain and simple.

Be Aware

Popcorn ceilings in new build homes are rarely found in my area however if you are thinking of renovating an existing home there are some precautions you should take.  Popcorn that was installed between the 1950 and 1980 could contain asbestos.  If your home falls into this age category and you are thinking of removing the popcorn, it is a good idea to get it tested.  I know I am one who never takes chances and am a total rule follower.  If any home that I am working on falls within these times, I have asbestos testing carried out.

Sounds too good to be true

If you Google removal of popcorn ceilings and you will find many DIY projects to remove the popcorn.  I always love how people make it look so easy.

popcorn ceiling

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In minutes!  Seriously?  I guess it does depend on the size of the room, if the popcorn has been painted over, but know this: this is messy work.  And by messy, I mean blood messy! If you have the notion that you can simple attach a scraper to a shop vac and just vacuum the popcorn away, think again.  Just remember that once the popcorn is removed, you are not done!

popcorn ceiling

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Remember above where I mentioned that popcorn ceilings were used to cover up imperfections?  Those imperfections don’t go away once you get rid of the popcorn.  Most likely you will need to (or should) patch any area that needs it.  Typically, the ceiling was drywalled to a Level 3 prior to the popcorn being sprayed on.  Just so you know, flat ceilings are finished to a Level 5  (at least in all of my projects).  You will have some work ahead of you in order to get that ceiling looking the best it can.  And let me tell you, this does not take minutes! I do want to point out on more thing that I end up saying to my clients:

No amount of paint will ever hide drywall imperfections. 

Once you have the drywall looking as best you can, there’s priming that needs to be done and then the paint.  One great thing about a flat ceiling is that it can be treated as the 5th wall!

How could I write a blog and not have some great images of painted ceilings!

popcorn ceiling

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popcorn ceilingImage source

popcorn ceiling

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Do you have to scrape popcorn ceilings?

While you may think that scraping the popcorn is just too much work, there is another option.  You can re-board over the popcorn with new drywall.  Although you will loose 1/2″ to the height of your room, you will have new drywall to work with which will be easy for a professional to take that to a Level  5 in no time.  Less mess, less work with virtually the same result.

There are also other options to cover up the popcorn.  The ever-popular shiplap seems to be quite a trend right now in covering up popcorn.

popcorn ceiling

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Final Thoughts

When I work with clients, I like to give them all of the options, weigh the pros and cons, and together figure out the best way to move forward.  Each project is different with clients having different wants and wishes.  My hope for you is that if you are considering getting rid of your popcorn ceiling, that you ensure you are safe when you do so.

Thinking of an upcoming renovation and don’t know where to start?  Contact me today to discuss your future space! 

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