Should I Remove my Ceiling Texture or Fill Over it? What's the Difference?

When you have made the decision that you do not like the look of your ceiling texture and you simply want it gone, then you have a choice of doing one of two things. To remove it completely and create a flat ceiling that way, or fill over the existing texture until smooth and then paint. What would be the criteria for choosing either?

One of the main reasons you would choose to keep the texture and seal over it would be that it contains asbestos. The asbestos content could also be the reason you wanted to get rid of all the texture and never have to worry about it any more. You may also simply prefer one method of removal over the other. Let us discuss the pro's and con's of choosing either method and why.

What is Involved with Removing Ceiling Texture?

If your house or apartment was build before 1992 in Canada, you will have to get the texture tested for asbestos. If it is found to contain asbestos you have a whole different system of Abatement that will have to be handled by professionals and is not a DIY job. Asbestos is too dangerous a product to mess with on your own. If your place was built after 1992, or your asbestos test has come back negative, then you can proceed with the assurance that your texture does not contain asbestos. let the fun begin!

Removing the textured ceiling requires that you completely cover and wrap your whole working area with protective plastic and seal off the working area from the rest of the house. If you're working on the whole house then the whole house, wall to floor have to be protected from the process of removal.

With a garden sprayer or similar tool, the ceiling is whetted down to loosen the texture from the ceiling and regardless of whether it has been painted or not, it will still come off. You may have to work harder to remove the texture if it has been painted.

You will have to fill all the imperfections after removal, then sand, prime and finish paint with flat latex or whatever you like. You do not have to wet down the ceiling to remove the texture but it does dramatically help keep down the dust. It also helps you get everything off down to the bare drywall. You can however take it off dry by using a floor scrapper or a stiff hand held scrapper to remove as much of the texture you can, until it has gone down to a light orange peel finish and then skim fill till flat. Sanding and priming is still required after this and finish painting as well.

Benefits of Removing Textured Ceilings

  • Completely eliminates texture - Never to be dealt with again
  • Reduces build up and extra weight on ceiling
  • If Asbestos is present - Eliminates problem once and for all
  • Clean flat ceilings create less dust & easy to clean
  • Eliminating problem not covering over it
  • Does not differ problem to others or a later date
  • Ceilings look modern and fabulous

Disadvantages of Removing Textured Ceilings

  • A costly process usually handled by professionals
  • Highly inconvenient, intrusive and messy

What is Involved with Covering Over Texture?

When you decide to cover over texture instead of removing it, you enter into a different process with some similarities. You may choose to lightly sand the tops off the existing texture before skim filling or not. If your ceiling has asbestos (as we have already mentioned) professional abatement experts should be involved to remove the texture from your ceilings and the costs will increase considerably. Even if the Asbestos removal expert suggest that the texture be encapsulated, this method will only differ the problem to a later date. The asbestos is still there, locked in layers of fill and sealers. It's always best to remove than to encapsulate.

Skim filling instead of removing texture does reduce the work load and the mess. It also creates less damage to the ceiling and thus less repair time and may be the way to go for some. It still may require you to hire a professional. You may be a great handy man and can fill and sand a small hole quite proficiently, but try doing it over 2000 square feet of stubborn ceilings of varying heights and you'll get a different picture of what is involved. Always way out the pros and cons of every task before you embark on any type of extensive renovation in your home. Nobody wants to get caught half way through a huge project and find themselves drowning in a sea of unforeseen hardships.

Skim Filling Over Texture
You will probably have to do more than one coat of filling on your ceiling to get is flat enough to sand. Once you have filled it to a flat enough level, then the sanding will begin. It is worth mentioning that the last fill coat should be the softest filling compound you can find. This will dramatically reduce the amount of work needed to get a nice flat ceiling that is ready for painting. You may can find the different types of drywall compound at your local hardware box store. Do not use an all purpose filling compound as your final fill. trying to be all things for all jobs at this stage will not cut it. Get the softest, lightest, easy to sand filler you can and make your life easy. Once you have done that, then it's just a matter of sanding it carefully till you get a consistently smooth finish without any swirl marks from your sanding method.

Benefits of Filling Over Texture

  • Less Work and Mess
  • Cheaper alternative by professionals
  • Faster turn around and less instrusive

Disadvantages of Filling Over Texture

  • Added Weight to Ceiling Area
  • Over asbestos containing texture - Problem covered over not removed
  • Finish may not be completely flat if done by Homeowner

In Conclusion

No matter what method you use, make sure you it is done in a professional manner. If you are not capable of doing the job yourself or if you do not want to take on the challenge of dealing with the large amount of work necessary to do the job right, then please, for our own sake hire a professional. Regardless of which way you decide to go, we wish you all the best and hope that this and the many related articles have helped you do a better job improving your home.

If you need consultation on drywall repairs or textured ceiling removal or repairs in the lower mainland of Vancouver BC, then please call Stavros on: 604.961.4923