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Popcorn Ceilings: A How-To Guide

The popcorn ceiling is still alive and well in many homes, apartments and townhomes, especially those built before 2000. The textured bumps were more than just an aesthetic fad – this type of ceiling hid imperfections, added insulation and needed few...

The popcorn ceiling is still alive and well in many homes, apartments and townhomes, especially those built before 2000. The textured bumps were more than just an aesthetic fad – this type of ceiling hid imperfections, added insulation and needed fewer touchups than some other ceiling finishes.

 

Keeping It Clean

Popcorn ceilings are more difficult to clean than a smooth surface. The bumps attract and collect dust and cobwebs – if anything splatters on the ceiling, it can be hard to just wipe it clean. To remove dust and cobwebs, the best option is a vacuum attachment with a brush – hard attachments will rub against the texture. You can also use a microfiber dusting cloth that will not catch on the texture like other dusters.

To remove splatters or stains, you want to use a microfiber or smooth cloth – anything with lint will stick to the texture. You do not want to overly wet the popcorn ceiling as it can soften and disintegrate. Put a small amount of surface cleaner on the cloth and carefully wipe away splattered substances or stains.

 

Removing a Popcorn Ceiling

If you are not a fan of the popcorn ceiling and want it gone, prepare for a labor-intensive job. The popcorn texture must be scraped off, which is a slow and messy process. Some popcorn ceilings from before 1980 may have asbestos or lead used in the texture or paint. These can be toxic and unsafe to remove on your own. You should have older ceilings tested by a professional before trying to remove this material – if it contains asbestos or lead, you will want a professional to remove this texture for you using the right equipment.

For removing non-toxic popcorn ceiling texture, you will want to set aside a day or two and enlist the help of some friends or family. This is a big job and not one you want to tackle on your own. First, you will need to move the furniture in the room or cover it all with plastic or tarps – there will be a big mess as the texture is removed. Make sure you have the floor covered to make it easier to remove all the material scraped off.

Wetting the ceiling with a mist of water can help soften the popcorn texture but you can also scrape it off dry. To scrape off the texture, start at an edge of the ceiling and use a small utility knife and putty knife to begin removing the texture in small sections. Once you have an area cleared, you can use a large floor scraper to remove more texture with each stroke.

Once all the texture is removed, you will need to sand down the surface, add plaster, then sand again. This will give you a smooth surface to paint for a more modern appearance.

 

Painting Popcorn Ceilings

If you are willing to live with the popcorn texture but want to give it a refreshed look, painting could be the easiest option. You can paint popcorn texture, but it does require more paint than flat surfaces. Almost double the amount of paint is required. If you are changing colors or the ceiling does not have paint, it is best to use primer first. The popcorn texture absorbs paint so expect to need at least two coats of heavily applied primer to an unpainted ceiling before painting the desired color.

 

Retexturing Popcorn Ceilings

A compromise between removing popcorn texture and only repainting is retexturing. However, this is also fairly labor-intensive as you will need to cover the popcorn texture with a bonding agent before you can apply a new texture. You need to clean the ceiling first and add quick-set drywall mud, then cover the dried mud with a bonding material that will allow new texture to adhere to the surface (joint compound is one option). Once the bonding agent is dried, you can add new texture and paint to give your popcorn ceiling a contemporary look.

As you can see, if you want a fresh look for popcorn ceilings, it is not a simple process. Whether you want the texture removed completely or just want to paint it a new color, it requires extra effort and time. A quicker option is to contact our experts at Franca Services. We can test your popcorn ceilings if you suspect they may contain lead or asbestos and give you a quote for removal, retexturing or painting. Let us revitalize your ceilings – call us today to get a free estimate.

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