At least once a year, I like to engage myself in a project that is utter hell to complete.
This fall, Mr. Smith and I will be painting our plywood subfloors, and boy does that sound like quite the hellacious undertaking. I can’t wait to get started! Though almost every home improvement project here has been borderline nightmare-ish, the scariest by far was our FIRST project: scraping popcorn ceilings.
Once upon a time, every inch of every ceiling in our home was covered with a nasty popcorn texturing. Not only does popcorn texturing look cheap, it is also very hard to clean and soaks up every odor imaginable. Our lumpy ceilings were matted with sticky cobwebs and saturated with a musty doggy/cigarette funk.
From the moment I first laid eyes on those ceilings, I wanted that popcorn gone ASAP! So two days after we signed the dotted line to our home, we arrived with water jugs, garden sprayers, scrapers and plastic floor covers. Fortunately, I discovered that this type of texturing is easy to remove–all I had to do was some simple soaking and scraping…among other things.
In the event that you are thinking of ridding your ceilings of this disgusting form of texturing, please read on…
How to Scrape Popcorn Textured Ceilings
You will need:
- large scraper
- garden sprayer
- face mask
- painter’s plastic
- ladder broom
- painter’s tape
- garbage sacks
Before you start:
- Make sure that you are ready to kick some ass!
- Test popcorn texture for asbestos (especially if your home is older than 1980)
- Make sure that the room you are working in is completely empty!
- Cover all electrical sockets and ceiling fans (use painter’s tape and garbage bags)
- Wear protective goggles and mask
As if Mr. Smith and I didn’t have enough to worry about, the water to the home had not been turned on yet. Besides, the plumbing was busted anyways. This meant we had to fill up whatever empty containers we possessed from our rent house (laundry detergent and wine bottles, milk jugs, pitchers) and bring them with us. Thankfully, our friends who lived down the street helped replenish our water supply.
STEP 1: Switch off all electricity to the room you are working in.
Spraying water + live wires = No Bueno.
STEP 2: Cover the entire floor with painter’s plastic.
This will provide an easy-clean-up barrier between the watery mess and your floors. Now you are ready to start spraying and scraping!
STEP 3: Using a garden sprayer, completely douse a small area with water and allow to soak for 10-12 minutes.
STEP 4: Using a wide scraper, scrape away the soaked section of texture.
Tip: This project is best accomplished if you have a partner. Have one person spray and soak while the other follows behind with the scraper.
Step 5: Be careful, hang in there and don’t give up!
Scraping popcorn textured ceilings WILL test your patience. Here are some situations to be prepared for:
- Your ladder will be slippery because of all of the water getting sprayed around
- Whenever you move the ladder, the painter’s plastic will wad up causing all of the watery goo that you scraped off the ceiling to ooze onto the carpet
- Thick drops of water teeming with 20 years of dust, smoke and doggie smell will drip all over your head and body.
- The white goo that used to be on your ceiling will now be all over your floor
- You’ll most likely step in the goo which will coat your soles making them slippery, heavy and dangerous for walking and climbing ladders
- Your eyes are burning because water, sweat and texture particles keep dripping into them…but you know better than to put those foggy goggles back on
How long does this project take?
After 2 miserable hours, Mr. Smith and I finished scraping the kitchen ceiling or approximately 200 square feet of space. Overall, it took us four afternoons to scrape our entire house.
I don’t know how we perservered. Since we didn’t have a broom with us, our only option was to scrape and scoop the gloppy piles of texturing onto the wadded up plastic sheets with our bare hands. And since we didn’t have a garbage dumpster yet, we just left the bundle sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor in the hopes that magical dwarfs would whisk it away in the middle of the night.
Things probably won’t be this hectic for you. In the end, those clean, smooth ceilings are worth the work!
For a more professional guide to scraping ceilings, click here!