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How Much & Long Does It Take To Remove Popcorn Ceiling?

couple removing popcorn ceiling

Is it time to remove your popcorn ceiling? 

Chances are, you’ve been thinking about it for a while now, but you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew.

Whether you’re an avid DIYer or you’re thinking about having professionals come in, we’re here to help you make the final decision.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a good idea about how much and how long it takes to remove your popcorn ceiling. 

How Long Does It Take To Remove a Popcorn Ceiling?

Removing popcorn ceilings isn’t always a straightforward project. Many situations can come up that will set back your timeline. It doesn’t have to be stressful, as long as you’re aware of what can happen and how to deal with any hindrances that come up. 

Remove

On average, removing a popcorn ceiling takes about 20h for a 500sq.ft space. If you’re going to remove it yourself, plan on it taking a little longer unless you have experience. The total time will also largely depend if you or someone has painted your ceiling in the past.

Remove and Retexture

Retexturing after you remove the popcorn texture doesn’t take as long as you might think; typically, it will take less than an hour. After all, the quickness and ease of application are part of why popcorn ceilings became so popular in the first place.

How Difficult Is It To Remove Popcorn Ceiling?

Removing the popcorn texture will range from being easy to quite challenging and tedious. A few different factors are going to affect how difficult your popcorn ceiling will be to remove.

Age & Finish Quality

The age and quality of your popcorn ceiling might actually be helpful. If your ceiling is decades old and poorly finished, chances are the texture is starting to lose adhesion and fall. That makes scraping it off much more manageable. 

On the flip side, if it’s decades old, then there’s a higher chance of it containing asbestos, making removing it a whole lot more complicated. 

Painted

If your popcorn ceiling has been painted, that’s when things get a little interesting. The paint creates a layer over the texture, making scraping much more challenging and time-consuming. You may have to dampen the ceiling first with water or a chemical stripper. 

Asbestos

Asbestos in your popcorn ceiling makes removing it much more expensive and drawn out. Unfortunately, that will be the end of your DIY project; you’ll have to hire professionals to deal with the asbestos. Safety first!

The method you use will also impact how difficult it is to remove your popcorn ceiling. Let’s go over the two main techniques.

Sand

In recent years, sanding has gained popularity as a method for removing popcorn ceilings. Now we don’t mean sanding by hand, but using machine drywall sanders. 

Drywall sanders have long enough arms to reach the ceiling, and some have a dust extraction system installed, making cleanup a breeze. The downside is it’s roughly 8.5 pounds that you’ll need to hold above your head for an extended period of time.

Be aware, if your ceiling was previously painted, then sanding it probably won’t be as effective of a method as spraying and scraping. 

Scrape

Using a scraper is the tried and true method to remove popcorn ceilings. 

Try dry scraping your ceiling first to see how effective it is. If it doesn’t fall off easily or your ceiling has been painted, spray the surface with water and let it sit for 15 minutes. After that, it should scrape off with ease. If it’s still giving you trouble, try soaking it again before scraping.

How Much Does It Cost To Remove Popcorn Ceiling?

Let’s break down the costs to help you decide whether you want to tackle the project yourself or hire professionals. Be aware of the factors that make it more challenging to remove popcorn ceilings; they will also directly affect the project’s total cost. 

A Word Of Caution: If your popcorn ceiling is older than the mid-80s, have it tested for asbestos before doing any work on it. You can send a sample to a testing facility or bring in an asbestos abatement company. 

DIY Cost ( Scrape )

Scraping the popcorn texture off your ceiling yourself will be messy but an excellent way to save money. 

Essentially, all you need are scrapers, plastic, safety glasses, a dust mask and a spray bottle full of water. If your ceilings are painted, then you may need a chemical stripper to break down the paint. 

Here’s a quick price rundown:

Popcorn Ceiling Scraper: $20-$25 or Drywall Knifes: $15-$30

Spray Bottle: $2-$5

Safety Glasses & Mask: $10-$50

Plastic: $10-$30

Stripper: $40-$50

DIY Cost ( Machine Hire )

If manual labor isn’t your thing, you can also rent or buy a machine drywall sander to smooth out your popcorn ceiling. 

Drywall Sander Costs:

Rent: $30-$50 per day

Buy: $130-$500

Labor Cost

Even though it doesn’t require much skill to remove the texture, it can be time-consuming and laborious, even for professionals.

The basic labor cost, including scraping, clean up, waste removal etc., will cost between $15-$40 per hour. You can expect it to take roughly 20 hours of work in a 500 square foot space. 

Nationally, homeowners will typically spend between $898-$2840, with an average of $1840.

Labor Cost Per Square Foot

Expect to pay between $1-$2 per square foot to have your popcorn ceilings scraped. 

Removing the popcorn ceiling is only one piece of the puzzle, though. Additional work such as skim coating or retexturing will be an additional cost but sometimes is necessary to make your ceiling look complete.

Asbestos

Before starting, be prepared for unexpected problems that could come up. Asbestos is a likely contender that can complicate matters, making your project much more expensive. 

If your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos, the cost will jump up to $3-$7 per square foot.

How Much Does It Cost To Remove Popcorn Ceiling and Paint / Skim Coat

Skim coating and painting after scraping is the best choice if you’re looking to create a modern look within your home. The skim coat creates a smooth, fresh surface that’s up to date and aesthetically pleasing. 

DIY cost

If you’re going the DIY route, materials will cost you between $30-$200. The cost of your paint and primer will be the bulk of expenses. 

Measure how many square feet you’re going to paint and use this as a reference: 

Paint: $30-$60 per gallon, covers approx. 300-400 sq.ft

Primer: $20-$80 per gallon, covers approx. 200-300 sq.ft

Labor Cost

Bringing in a professional will cost you roughly $1.00/sqft to skim coat and $1-$3 to paint. 

The typical cost homeowners pay for removing, skim coating, and painting is between $1.50 and $3.25 per square foot, averaging $2.20/sq.ft.

How Much Does It Cost To Remove Popcorn Ceiling and Retexture?

Retexturing after removing your popcorn ceiling will be easier on your wallet, and you can choose between a variety of different texture styles:

DIY Cost

Texturing is a very messy job and requires patience, a texture sprayer and an air compressor. 

You can rent or buy both the sprayer and compressor:

Sprayer Rent: $25-$35 per day

Sprayer Buy: $100-$300

Compressor Rent: $60-100 per day

Compressor Buy: $200-$500

Depending on the kind of texture you’re doing, you’ll also need to pick up drywall mud and special knives to create and shape the texture. 

These aren’t too expensive, costing roughly:

Drywall or Joint Compound: $10-$50

Knockdown Knives: $15-$20

Labor Cost

Adding texture to your ceiling will cost about $1-$2 per square foot. If any patching needs doing, the additional prep work will be an extra cost.

The more complex the texture, the more expensive the project will be. On average, texturing a ceiling will cost you $840 for 500 sq.ft. Most homeowners will spend between $500 and $1250 in total.

Final Thoughts

Popcorn ceiling removal can range from a few hundred dollars for a DIY job to a few thousand to have it professionally done. It can take a single day or end up stretching out to a week or two if you’re doing your entire home.

There’s no right or wrong decision, but you should consider your skill level, budget, timeline, the potential for asbestos and your desire to take on a DIY project. 

Resources

Popcorn Ceiling Removal Cost – HomeAdvisor

11 Tips on How to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling Faster and Easier – Family Handyman

  • Gregory A Seely
  • Gregory A Seely

    Greg is a self taught home renovator and writer for RenoViso. His shares his experiences with Southern Living, Traditional Home and other publications.

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