It might seem a bit hard to believe, but something as common as a ceiling can make you sick, especially if you try to remove the material without the assistance of a professional. That's because older textured ceilings, 1980s or older, sometimes contain asbestos and lead.
However, if you're considering removing a popcorn ceiling on your own, make sure to have scrapings of the ceiling material tested by a lab first. This way you can be prepared to take the proper safety precautions if your ceiling tests positive for hazardous chemicals.
What is a popcorn ceiling?
This type of ceiling is named for the way it looks. Sometimes called a "cottage cheese" ceiling, a popcorn ceiling is a ceiling that has been sprayed with a bubbly, textured spray that dries with a popcorn-like finish. This type of spray-on ceiling coating was popular for decades because it was less expensive than other ceiling treatments, and it also covered imperfections, such as cracks.
Ceiling removal preparation
If your test results show your ceiling is asbestos-free, and you decide to go ahead with popcorn ceiling removal on your own, prepare for a messy task. Remove all furniture from the room and spread tarps or plastic over the floor. Use painter's tape to attach plastic tarps to the wall too. This helps protect your wall from discoloration caused by loose, pasty ceiling material. If you're not careful, you may find yourself replacing your wall covering too.
Removing the textured ceiling material
Get the ceiling wet and allow the water to soak in for about five minutes. Use a putty knife to scrape off the textured material. It should scrape away easily. If it doesn't scrape away easily, apply another coat of water to the ceiling and wait five more minutes before scraping again.
Finding a popcorn ceiling removal pro
If your ceiling contains asbestos or lead, it's really important to bring in a professional to remove the material. Also, if you don't want to take on the mess of a do-it-yourself project, a certified professional can help.