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how to remove a popcorn ceiling

A popcorn ceiling, also called a cottage cheese ceiling, or a Stucco ceiling, is a feature that was popular during the 1950’s and 1960’s. It continued to be installed in residential homes until the 1980’s, when it began to lose favor. In fact, this paint-on or spray-on treatment widely included asbestos, which was banned by the United States Clean Air Act of 1978. You might wonder, why was this particular application so widely used in homes? Well, it was the perfect answer to a variety of problems. First and foremost, it hid imperfections quite well, it also had the benefit of helping to control light, and dampened sound. Incorporating different materials, it still remains a popular construction choice in the upper midwest.

How to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling

Homeowners choose to remove popcorn ceilings for a variety of reasons — chief among these are its strange appearance. There are other reasons for removing a Stucco ceiling, like the aforementioned inclusion of asbestos. For older homes, particularly those built during the 1950’s and 1960’s, this harmful substance might be present, or, because cottage cheese ceilings are hard to paint. These also look very dated, reducing the overall aesthetics of a home.

When considering a popcorn ceiling removal project, the first step should always be to test it for asbestos. Homes built prior to 1980 were often constructed using building materials that contained asbestos in paint texture, including textured ceilings and patching compounds, but its use was banned after it was found to cause lung disease and cancer. —Angie’s List

What’s more, a popcorn ceiling is just downright hard to maintain, and, if it needs repair, you’ll have a huge project on your hands. Not only will you have to match the texture, but the color, and that’s certainly not an easy task. Which brings up the alternative — removing it from your home. Any contractor or stalwart do-it-yourselfer that’s taken-on this project will no doubt tell you how hard it is and how disruptive it is to your daily life. If you aren’t detoured, you can do this project on your own, but should learn as much as possible about what to do after. You’ll have to fill any holes with joint or drywall compound, sand, then paint to refinish it. For now, here’s how to remove a popcorn ceiling:

  • Test for asbestos before you do anything else. While you might want to get down to business and start scraping away, you should know precisely what building materials contain. As mentioned, asbestos was a common ingredient in decades past, so, you should buy a test kit to know for sure.
  • Prepare the room to protect the floor. If the ceiling does not contain asbestos, then it’s time to clear out the room completely. Take down any wall decor, remove any furniture, and then, lay plastic across the entire floor. You can weigh it down by placing bricks in the corners and a few along the perimeter.
  • Soften the ceiling with water. With a basic garden sprayer, moisten the surface of the cottage cheese ceiling to soften it so it is easier to scrape away. Don’t soak the ceiling because you do not want the moisture to absorb through the texture and to the ceiling material itself. However, you should allow 10 to 15 minutes to pass so the texture is amply softened.
  • Scrape the texture away from the ceiling. Using a scraper, start scraping the texture away. Be careful when scraping around crown moulding so you don’t cut into or mar it with the edge of the scraper.

Once free of texture, it’s time to patch, sand and smooth, then paint to finish. To dispose of the texture, call a local junk hauling and removal service to pick it up and haul it away. Then, enjoy your new space.

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