You are the Only Exception (dearest popcorn ceilings)

It is safe to say that Jake and I are popcorn fanatics, we eat a whole bowlful literally almost every night. We are not discriminatory when it comes to our popcorn, loving and appreciating all types such as butter, plain, caramel and kettle corn. There is just one exception… I do not like popcorn ceilings. Especially when they are randomly present in just one room of the house…

So, we have taken it upon ourselves to remove the cottage-cheese-like texture from our ceilings.  After many days working on this project (and much more effort than initially anticipated), I now feel a more that a more appropriate post title would be: “7 Ways You Should Not Remove Your Popcorn Ceiling.”

We started off all bright eyed and bushy tailed (where did that saying ever even come from??), thinking we’d have a perfectly smooth ceiling in one effortless evening of scraping.  Oh how wrong we were…

1. Do NOT attempt to wet down your whole ceiling with $2 water sprayers from the grocery store.

Jake and I are the kings at making do with what we have.  What I mean by that is: often we bend over backwards and make things 10 times harder by attempting to use whatever tool is lying around the house rather than going out and buying the proper equipment.

Case in point: we thought we could bypass the whole garden sprayer purchase and just saturate the ceiling with little squirt bottles.  Well, a while later we had just one tiny corner of the room scraped, some aching trigger fingers, and four broken spray bottles.


2. Do NOT try and use a broken garden hose and a thumb to wet down your ceiling.

After feeling defeated by our spray bottles and a little desperate since it was nearing our bed time, we came up with another bright idea… Why not take the hose that the previous owners left and use that?  No matter that it had been severed in half by a lawn mower…. It would work fine 😉

After several ‘test sessions’ outside where Jake attempted various techniques to create an even spray with his thumb, we tarped the subfloor and brought the hose in.  I was in charge of turning it on and off.  So, when Jake yelled ‘turn it down,’ you know it wasn’t pretty in there…

I peeked inside to see the garden hose in action and I couldn’t help it, I just bust up laughing.  Poor Jake, trying his very best to apply the water to the ceiling instead of everywhere else.  It was a losing battle with that frayed off hose though… and it was completely hysterical.

Suffice to say, every surface of the room was soaked, including Jake and I.


3. Do NOT leave all your walls and windows exposed.

After the garden hose fiasco, we called it a night and the next morning went out and bought a garden sprayer.  Ahhh, all is right in the world again.  Clearly this was what we should have done in the first place, but we were ready to go at the nasty popcorn once again with a fresh start.

Well, this stuff comes off with the consistency of oatmeal..  Basically you scrape overhead and wet oatmeal falls on your face and head and then you flick your putty knife to get it off… and it flies all over the walls.  So there you go, do your due diligence and cover the walls.


4. Do NOT get overzealous and scrape holes in your ceiling.

After finally getting our sprayer and wetting the ceilings down properly, it felt like we were getting somewhere.  We scraped away with our putty knives zealously, only to realize that if we scraped hard enough, we could get the popcorn and the paint from underneath of it off of the drywall.

This was exciting because it came off much easier and it was a perfectly smooth surface.  Win, win, right??  Wrong.

Turns out the paint only scraped off where the drywallers had mudded at the seems of each drywall panel.  Where there was no mudding, the paint wouldn’t come off and in our attempt to get it off, there are now some holes in our ceiling… So now we were stuck with cross section of the room that were completely down to the drywall, and large rectangles in between with texture still on and unsightly holes and blemishes from our erroneous attempts at full removal.


5. Do NOT use a drywall putty knife.

Now this one is mostly speculation after the fact… But, I think we could have save a lot of arm strength and effort if we had gotten a tool specifically made for texture removal, possibly with a razor blade and plaster collector.  Just saying… we made have made this whole process way harder than necessary.


6. Do NOT wait until after you’ve sanded the entire ceiling with a fine grit, to use a heavy duty sandpaper.

After scraping and scraping and scraping until our arms basically fell off… we decided, maybe this is about good and sanding can take care of the rest. There was still some definite texture on the ceiling, but nothing like the popcorn that was residing there several days ago.

Sanding was a good idea and it finally offered us a glimmer of hope.  Maybe this project wouldn’t take the rest of our lives, and maybe it’s going to turn out semi-ok 🙂

Nevertheless we had expended all our arm muscles on scraping and barely had any strength left to sand.  The super fine grit we had got was great for smoothing out seems in the end, but at this point in the project we could have saved a lot of trouble by starting out with a lower grit.


7. Do NOT let plaster dust get all over your entire house.

Jake’s parents came and visited towards the end of the weekend and helped us out  on Labor Day with our dirty popcorn removal project.  I am so grateful they were there, because I don’t know if I could have spent another day in that room with a sweaty face mask, foggy goggles, gunk all over my-everywhere, sanding that darn ceiling.

Finally we were nearing the end of our project, the texture removal was almost done.  But, we forgot one key step… to seal off the room to be sanded.  Have you ever had a thin film of super-duper fine plaster dust cover every surface of your home?  Well I have.  And it ain’t pretty.

Don’t let it happen, seal that room.  And possibly give the sanders some gas masks….




Well there you have 7 wrong ways to remove popcorn from your ceilings.  Thankfully, we’ve finally wrapped this project up with a little paint and spackle and I hope to never again have to face the dreaded popcorn plastered ceilings…

I also hope you were able to learn from our mistakes and your popcorn ceiling removal project will be much smoother than ours (ah that’s a pun!). 😉  Until next time….


  1. We just moved into a house where every ceiling is popcorn. 3000 sq ft worth!!! I think We can live with it until we save up enough to hire out!! We were going to attempt removal before we read your blog! Than-you so much for sparing us the pain & saving our marriage!!

  2. How were you able to clean up the dust? I’m about to start on a project removing popcorn ceilings, I’m wondering if there’s any way to prevent the dust getting everywhere, by putting a tarp down or something, or if it’s not a big deal and is easy to clean up. Any advice?

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