How To Scrape a Popcorn Ceiling

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person scraping popcorn ceiling

Removing a popcorn ceiling can be a stressful process, especially if you decide to do it yourself. You’ll find that there are many different techniques to get rid of popcorn texture. Although you have a variety of options, the best way is to use a scraper. Scraping is a cheap DIY project that you can easily do without professional tools or experience.

Here’s everything you need to know about scraping your popcorn ceilings.

Before you scrape your popcorn ceiling, it’s always a good idea to eliminate the likelihood of asbestos in popcorn ceiling before you get started. See your detailed guide for more info.

Can You Scrape Popcorn Ceilings?

When you decide to get rid of your popcorn ceilings, the best option is to scrape them off. This is the most inexpensive method and can be done without any experience.

Although it can be messy, scraping a popcorn ceiling is the best removal method. If done correctly, you can save money by doing this process yourself. However, there is always the danger of asbestos in your popcorn ceilings.

Is It Safe To Scrape a Popcorn Ceiling?

For modern homes, it is completely safe to scrape your popcorn ceilings. If you have a home built before 1979, you have a much higher risk for asbestos in the popcorn texture.

No one knew that asbestos was a carcinogen before the 1980s, so it was regularly used in building materials. It’s important to check your older home for asbestos. Many popcorn ceilings contain some percentage of this hazardous substance.

If you don’t check your ceiling for asbestos before scraping it off, that asbestos could become airborne. Asbestos is not poisonous when popcorn ceilings are left alone, but any disturbance could release it into the air.

Many health risks result from airborne asbestos. It increases your risk for lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis, and pleural disease.

How Long Does It Take To Scrape Popcorn Ceilings?

The amount of time it takes to scrape a popcorn ceiling depends on whether you hire a professional or do a DIY method.

If you decide to hire a professional, it will take 20 hours to scrape a 500 square foot area. This will probably be stretched over a few days or weeks. It can be more convenient to have professional help, cutting down on the removal time.

When you decide to take on this project by yourself, it will probably take you longer. Professionals have experience with removing popcorn ceilings. You will have to buy all the tools, get used to using them, remove the ceiling, and clean up after the process.

You also have to do this process on a ladder with your arms raised. This can be tiring, especially when you are doing this project solo. You might need regular breaks, which extends your project time.

There’s no way to know exactly how long this process will take. Professionals can give you an estimate on when the work will be finished, but DIY removal can take a long time.

How Much Does It Cost To Scrape Popcorn Ceilings?

DIY Price To Scrape Popcorn Ceiling

Scraping your popcorn ceiling as a DIY project can significantly cut down costs. Hiring a professional can be incredibly expensive. Doing this yourself can save money on paying for labor.

Although you need to buy your supplies, none of them are very expensive. A scraper, ladder, and protective gear cost an average of $.13 per square foot. For 500 square feet, this project could cost between $65 and $75.

The downside of this DIY project is not the cost. Scraping a popcorn ceiling by yourself can take a long time. It can also create a huge mess in your home. Some homeowners would prefer to pay the extra money for professional help.

Labor Cost To Scrape Popcorn Ceiling

It can be expensive to hire a professional, but they will typically finish the project faster than you would by yourself.

The cost of professional labor can cost between $15 and $40 an hour. For 20 hours of work in a space that is 500 square feet, the total cost would be between $300 and $750.

The average homeowner spends $1,842 on professional popcorn ceiling removal.

If you have a lot of ceilings to scrape, this could increase costs significantly. Asbestos removal is also expensive. If asbestos is present, it could cost up to $2,750 in extra fees.

How To Dry Scrape Popcorn Ceilings

If your ceiling has not been painted, you may be able to dry scrape the popcorn texture. Wet scraping is the common method for removing popcorn ceilings, but it is possible to do this without using water.

With this method, the results won’t be perfectly smooth. When you are scraping off the texture, you should aim for an orange peel texture left on the ceiling.

Step one: Get a stiff floor scraper. It’s best if it is only 6 inches wide and has a steel part at the end.

Step two: Scrape off most of the texture.

Step three: Skim coat the ceiling with drywall compound.

Step four: Sand the ceiling. Make sure that you are wearing a dust mask.

Step five: Prime the ceiling with a sealer.

Step six: Add a layer of paint.

How To Soften Popcorn Ceiling

It’s a good idea to soften the popcorn ceiling with water for easier removal. Dry scraping will be time-consuming and may gouge the drywall. We recommend spraying water on the texture before scraping it off.

Especially if the ceiling has been painted multiple times, you’ll want to use water to loosen the texture. Each layer of paint ensures that the ceiling will be more difficult to remove.

This is a fairly simple process. Simply spray the popcorn texture with water, allowing it to soak for several minutes. Then you can scrape off the texture.

How Long To Wet / Soak Popcorn Ceiling

With painted ceilings, wet the popcorn texture with water from a garden sprayer or airless spray machine. You’ll want to fully saturate the surface and allow it to soak.

Only spray one small area of the ceiling at a time. This way, the ceiling doesn’t dry before you begin to scrape.

You can start by wetting a 4 by 4-foot section of the ceiling. Fully saturate the section, but be careful not to spray too much. You don’t want to damage the drywall underneath.

After you spray one section, let it sit for 15 minutes. Then try to scrape off some of the texture. If it comes off easily, continue to scrape the entire section. Proceed with this process for the rest of the ceiling.

Best Tool To Scrape Popcorn Ceiling

You can use any wide drywall knife to scrape a popcorn ceiling, but a Homax popcorn scraper will be much more convenient.

This tool was made specifically for scraping popcorn texture. It has an attachment for a plastic bag, so you can collect the debris as you go. Homax claims that with this scraper, you can finish a 10′ by 10′ ceiling in 10 minutes.

With a specialized design, this scraper avoids creating gouges in the drywall. It also has a handle that can attach to an extension pole. This makes popcorn ceiling removal even easier.

The best part about this scraper is its price. On Amazon, it sells for less than $50.

Popcorn Ceiling Scraper Vacuum

Another useful tool for popcorn ceiling removal is a scraper attached to a vacuum. This can also be found on Amazon. The POPeeze Popcorn Ceiling Scraper Vacuum Attachment tool can make this process much easier.

With this tool, you don’t have to worry about a big mess. It collects the debris as you scrape, so no wet clumps of texture are falling on the floor. You won’t have to move any items out of the room or cover them with plastic.

You can attach the POPeeze to a standard threaded pole. Then attach a shop vacuum to the funnel. You’ll still need to wet the ceiling before you use this removal method. Turn on the shop vac, position the blade on the ceiling at a 45-degree angle, and scrape in long strokes.

This method can be a much cleaner and efficient way to remove popcorn ceilings. However, it is slightly more expensive than a standard scraper.

How To Scrape Popcorn Ceilings That Have Been Painted

Removing painted popcorn ceilings can be very difficult. The paint adheres to the texture and creates a seal. It’s necessary to break down this bond before you attempt to scrape the texture.

You can spray water onto the surface of the ceiling. Allow it to sit for a while before scraping. If this isn’t effective, you can add vinegar to the water.

To help the paint break down, mix one-part vinegar and ten parts water and spray the mixture on the ceiling. Fully saturate the surface and let it soak for a few minutes.

It may still take some effort to remove the texture. You can attach the scraper to a pole to decrease the strain on your arms.

Final Thoughts

Scraping off popcorn ceiling texture is one of the best removal methods. Although you can hire professional help, it is relatively easy to do this process by yourself. Before you start, always have your ceiling checked for asbestos. You don’t want airborne asbestos causing health risks for your family.

When it is time to start scraping, the best option is to saturate the texture with water. Especially if your ceiling is painted, you’ll want to use water or even vinegar to loosen the popcorn texture.

Scraping off popcorn ceilings is the easiest removal method. It is messy, but you can buy the right tools to collect debris.

Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. They have experience in performing this process quickly, which will save you the trouble of any DIY renovations.

  • 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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