How to remove your old popcorn ceiling

Textured popcorn ceilings can still be found in many older homes. It’s not difficult to take down a popcorn ceiling, but it can be quite messy and labor-intensive. You’ll need to take some safety precautions before you get started.

If the ceiling was manufactured before 1980, it may contain asbestos. Test the ceiling before you begin the removal process. An asbestos popcorn ceiling does not pose a hazard if it’s left in place. However, once you start to tear the ceiling down, asbestos fibers can get stirred up and trapped in your lungs. Consult us at Green Painting Phoenix if you have any questions.

Another common issue found in popcorn ceilings is a top layer of paint. If your textured ceiling has paint applied over it, it won’t be able to loosen with just water. You’ll need to apply a chemical stripping agent. This will break down the barrier of paint and allow you to remove the popcorn texture.

Proper preparation is important before removing a textured ceiling. Phoenix painting contractors can guide you through the process so that you avoid damage to your floor and walls.

Empty the room of furniture. Turn off power and remove ceiling lights and fans. Turn off heating / cooling system.

Close wall vents. Remove ceiling vents and cover with plastic.

Cover wall switches and outlets with plastic. Seal with painter’s tape.

Cover floor with plastic. You should extend the plastic a foot up each wall and attach with painter’s tape.


Attach painter’s tape on the wall along the ceiling. Attach plastic sheeting to all four walls using painter’s tape, overlapping the plastic that you have placed along the bottom of wall. Wear a respirator and safety goggles or use a dust mask. Spray the ceiling intermittently to keep it damp. This will reduce dust. If you are confident that your ceiling was not painted, you can begin the process.

Fill a pump spray bottle with warm water and dishwashing soap. Use 2-3 tablespoons of soap per gallon. Saturate a section of the ceiling with the solution to loosen the popcorn.

Do not spray too much water or you will damage the drywall. Allow the textured ceiling to absorb the solution. This will take 15-20 minutes.

Once the soapy water is fully absorbed, use a wide bladed tool such as a floor scraper to scrape away the popcorn. Work carefully so that you don’t tear the drywall tape or gouge the drywall itself.

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If the popcorn does not come off easily, spray the textured ceiling and wait for a couple minutes before trying again. You can use a putty knife in the corners as well as to remove any residual ceiling material.

After you have successfully removed the texture, and taking care to keep your face protected with a mask, you will need to handle any drywall finishing. This may include replacing drywall tape and hammering any protruding nails and screws. Cover any imperfections with joint compound, allow to dry, then sand the ceiling. You should use a long handled mesh pad and be careful not to sand too much. Finally, prime the ceiling and paint carefully with latex ceiling paint.

We at Green Painting Phoenix have years of experience in all types of ceilings. As long as you take the proper precautions, your dated popcorn ceilings can be a thing of the past!

Green Painting

815 N 52nd St Unit 2447,

Phoenix, AZ 85008

(480) 405-8266