Basement · Renovation · Uncategorized

How to Remove Popcorn Ceiling

Lesson Learned: Football Players could gain muscly necks from popcorn ceilings

First off.. thank you for joining me again on my home renovation journey! It has been a crazy few months, but I am loving every minute of it!

Just a quick side note, I would love if you joined me on Instagram and Pinterest ! You’ll stay up to date with my recent projects, decor ideas and sneak peeks – I promise it will be fun!

Seeking Inspiration

Now on to this popcorn ceiling project which saved us A TON of money!! We were quoted $1400 to have our popcorn ceiling removed! And to add to the blow, the plasterer required us to remove all of the “popcorn bubbles” first so that he could then plaster over what remained. This definitely did not fit our budget so I took it upon myself to come up with a solution. I searched the internet for advice and “how to’s” and didn’t have much luck.

I tried taking one’s advice and sprayed a small section of the popcorn with water and scraped at it with a paint scraper – very unsuccessful. I even added some vinegar to the water (another’s advice), and was just as unsuccessful. I was pretty defeated and the ceiling remained untouched for a week or so until our electrician came to install the recessed lighting. He is a family friend so I sat on the stairs talking to him as he was cutting holes for the light canisters. Here is where I had a spark of genius as I noticed the bubbles of popcorn were being knocked off easily and onto the floor. I decided I would try and simply scrape them away without moistening them using joint compound knife (which we used for the basement wall demo).

Making a mess

Once the lights were installed and the electrician had left, I got started on my brilliant idea. Scraping at these bubbles was a MESS! Picture a wedding where it’s time to throw confetti around everywhere. I would HIGHLY recommend wearing glasses/goggles for this part. The whole basement was already a mess from the renovations so I didn’t bother covering the floor. I’d need to totally clean and mop up later anyway. Jason and I had completely scraped the entire ceiling in about an hour!

In the pictures below, you’ll see the difference between the popcorn and scraped ceiling.


The ceilings had a few holes which our electrician made to help run wires for the new lights. Jason cut these into squares and added in a fresh piece of dry wall – a good tip. A square is easier to match when cutting drywall than a circle! He simply taped the edges and I covered them in joint pound on the skim coat!


I can fully understand why someone would want to hire a laborer for this job. I will say it took me about a day or so to recover from the neck strain. I seriously thought I’d be waking up to a football player sized neck in the morning!

Personal Disclaimer
My house was built in 1990 so I did not have to worry about asbestos. If your house was built before then I would get the popcorn tested… I guess they used to use asbestos in textured ceiling paint wayyy back when.

The Cover Up

Now it was time to begin to totally save the $1400. If I’m completely honest, I originally wished for a smooth ceiling… but I knew my joint compound skills were amateur. Also, my impatience did not allow for hours of sanding for a smooth finish. The ceiling elsewhere in our house has a slight texture so I figured I would be able to match it!

A trip to Home Depot, once my neck had recovered, to buy 2 large (5 gallon) tubs of joint compound and I was ready to begin.


The first layer we applied was a skim coat. We covered the entire ceiling with a single layer of joint compound to make it as smooth as possible. We were instructed to do this step by our carpenter friend. Although the popcorn was scraped off, there was still a slight bumpy texture left behind from where the bubbles attached to the ceiling. This skim coat would attempt to fill in the gaps and level out the ceiling surface. We let this dry overnight.

Once the first coat was fully dry, we borrowed a plastering trowel from our friend. I scooped up a big glob of plaster and applied it in half circle motions. I kept swirling the plaster around until it reached the level of texture I was hoping for. It is tough to tell from the pictures below, but I applied a very small amount of texture.

This step takes the longest, and of course I had to keep taking break to allow my neck to recover. Once the entire ceiling was complete, I let it dry overnight.


The last and final step was to, of course, paint! The joint compound dries to a very light tan color, which almost makes the ceiling look dirty. I love bright white, so we finished off the ceiling with some flat white ceiling paint. I tried my best to capture the finished product in the pictures below! It turns out it is really hard to get a good picture of a ceiling.


You can see here the beginnings of the paneled wall we created in our basement.


Let me know if you have any tips or tricks I can pass on to others regarding ceilings!!

Much love as always!

ari signature





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