How to Remove Ceiling Texture – DIY Guide from Drywall Repair Man

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How do You Remove Your Popcorn Ceiling Texture & Where to Begin?

So that Seventies popcorn ceiling is just not doing it for you any more. To make things worse, it is on every square inch of every ceiling in your house. How do you get rid of the unsightly texture and leave your ceilings looking smooth, crisp and clean.

Thing You Need to Consider Before You Begin Removing Your Ceiling Texture

If your ceiling texture is the original texture from the Seventies, then you may have to get a sample tested for asbestos. It was common in that decade (before regulations changed) for the texture aggregate to include a percentage of asbestos. If this is the case then some caution is advised before you go ripping everything down in an “asbestos filled” whirlwind. PROLLAB offers an inexpensive DIY test kit that will do the job adequately. It can be purchased from Stores like Home Depot and other major retail hardware stores. If your test kit reads a positive reading for asbestos, then it is not advisable to remove it on your own because of the inherent dangers of air borne asbestos. Please consult qualified experts in your area for this job.

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Is Your Ceiling Texture Painted or Unpainted?

If you are free and clear of asbestos then you are ready for the next step. Has your ceiling been painted? This is an important thing to know. If your ceiling texture has not been painted then we need to sand the texture off and this can be an enormous task that can be beyond your endurance, stamina and “know how”. This can be compounded if every textured ceiling in your house has been painted over.  Also the dust created by sanding dry texture can be suffocating and you may soon find out that the  job is bigger and messier than you first thought. I cannot count the amount of customers we get after they have found out (the hard way) that there was a tremendous amount of work involved with removing painted texture. Much more than first anticipated.

How Can I Tell if It’s Painted?  It all Looks White to me!

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Exaggerated difference between unpainted ceiling texture and painted drywall

Yes, it is true. Painted texture can look almost like unpainted texture and establishing the difference determines what system of texture removal you will use and they are very different. So finding out is important. A point to consider – We are just talking about the texture and not the drywall.

There a varying techniques for professionally applied texture in the Vancouver BC area. What is a common method, consists of painting the ceiling before the texture is applied then applying the texture over the painted ceiling, leaving this as the finished look. The final result leaves the texture unpainted. It still looks white, but if you look closely, there will be a tonal difference between the paint (underneath the texture) and the texture. Usually the texture will have a slightly creamier or yellower look to the flat white paint that was applied underneath the texture. This type of texture will remove easily with water and some elbow grease and we will discuss this further in the article.

Another professional system of texture application is to texture over bare finished drywall and then seal and paint over the texture. This is a painted texture finish. It will have a consistently looking sheen and colour on the textured portions of the ceiling as well as the un-textured potions.

Finally, some people just paint their ceilings regardless of the professional texture application. The First Technique is the only one that qualifies as “Unpainted Texture”. Notice we didn’t say,  “Unpainted Ceiling”.

I Have a Ceiling that has Unpainted Texture – How do I Remove it?

  1.  Remove all breakables and knick knacks from the work area and cover furniture and walls with plastic. Tape plastic as close to the ceiling as possible. Cover floor will plastic as well.
  2. Put on “all over”  protective gear from head to toe as well as eye protection and face mask.
  3. Gather together all of the tools you will need to do the job. 6″ to 10″ scrapper or filling knife, Spray bottle of garden sprayer ( to wet down ceiling ), ladder.
  4. Spray Ceiling with Garden Sprayer (soapy water )
  5. As Texture Softens, Remove texture using scrapper with careful sweeping motions.
  6. Continue until all texture is removed.
  7. Repair damaged sections of drywall with drywall compound.
  8. Prime ceiling and paint with flat ceiling paint.

I Have Ceiling Texture that is Painted and Hard to Remove

remove popcorn ceiling vancouver bcAs we mentioned earlier in this article, having a painted textured ceiling is a whole different ballgame. Sometimes is sands off with relative ease and can still be worth your while sanding it down flat. Spraying it with water will soften the texture, but it will take more water and a longer soaking time because it has been hardened by the latex paint and is to a large degree has become water proof. Melting with caustic materials is just not worth hospital bills. What can be done here is to sand the protruding texture lightly and then skimming the whole ceiling area with drywall compound until you have achieved a flat smooth finish, then sand till flat and smooth. Or even applying water after the tops have been sanded to help the water migrate into the texture substrate. This will soften the texture much faster. That is what a professional would do. The Pros usually have a few other tricks up their sleeve to make their job easier and more efficient. Regardless, it’s still a whole lot of work no matter who does it.

The Final Word on Removing Texture from Your Ceiling.

If the final result is worth the effort and you have a lot of DIY in your DNA, then by all means do it yourself. If not and you live in the Vancouver BC and Whistler area, call us and we will be happy to give you a reasonable price and take the pain away. 


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