I LOVE me some popcorn. Great snack for veggin’ out in front of the tv, or in the theater. Give me some good ole’ fasioned kettle corn and I’m done for. But let me tell you about some popcorn that I despise.
On my ceiling. Nasty, yucky, LAZY, popcorn ceiling. What is it?If you’ve ever lived in an apartment building, or a house built between the years of 1950 and 1990 then you no doubt have an idea of what I’m talking about. Our house was built in 1996, and aside from the dated mid-90’s decor, it is actually quite a nice home with TONS of potential. Wide open floor plan, big closets, spacious kitchen, etc. So, naturally I was puzzled as to why a house built in 1996 with future trends in mind would sport popcorn ceilings. In a word…laziness. See, I’ve worked in the field of construction for several years and I have a pretty good understanding of how houses get built. Popcorn ceiling is a compound that is SPRAYED ON and it makes “finishing” a ceiling a breeze. The popcorn craze died out in the late 80’s and clearly the guys who built our house never got the memo, or they were just ready to be done (probably the latter).
This is only one man’s opinion, but I find popcorn ceilings ugly, unappealing, VERY hard to clean and bad for resale value. They make a house look seriously dated and bring back memories of cheap apartment living. So, we have the arduous task of taking them down. I just did the master bedroom and that officially makes the 7th ceiling I’ve refinished (only 7 more to go!!!). The foyer & the 1/2 bath were the very first rooms I tackled and I was a newbie then, but now I am a seasoned pro. We debated paying someone to do the whole house and when we realized that it would take a HEFTY chunk of change, we made the crazy decision to do it ourselves. I scoured the internet and read a ton of D-I-Y’s on how to take it down, like this one. So, after doing this several times I have gotten it down to a science. Though I have honed my methods, I still had as much fun scraping the 7th ceiling as I did the 1st. In other words, NOT AT ALL.
Now I get to walk you through it! The tools you will need:
Screwdriver to take down any light fixtures. Ladder or step-stool, large, wide putty knife, spray bottle (opt.), pole sander & sandpaper, plastic dropcloth, tape, goggles, dust mask, gloves, shop vac, ceiling paint, paintbrush & roller.
Step One: Find your junction box and cut the power to the room you’ll be working in. Take down any light fixtures.
Step Two: Dexter the room. If your walls are already nice and painted, then you’ll want to cover every inch of them as well. Since all the walls were painted white before we moved in, I just seal off the room. Cover up any doors, openings, etc so the mess stays confined. Because there will be a HUGE mess. (See? And this was just the start of it)
In our bedroom, we only sealed off doorways to the closet and hallway to keep the dust out of the areas we were not scraping and we covered the vanity in our bathroom. Oh we also taped over the drains. This meant we would have to vacuum off the carpet, linoleum floor and walls, which we have learned is way easier than trying to take down/pick up dust/popcorn bit filled plastic (you end up having to vacuum anyway).
Step Three: Strap on those gloves, goggles, and dust mask (these are essential) and grab your step-stool and putty knife. Holding the knife at an angle, just start scraping. This will require a lot of shoulder & arm stamina. Just. Keep. Scraping. And ignore the mess on the floor. I promise it will be okay later.
Optional: Most D-I-Y’s I read said to wet the ceiling first with a spray bottle. Doing this will scrape the ceilings down to the drywall. However, I quickly discovered that when I scraped them without spraying, it left some texture, almost like a knockdown finish. So you can go either way here. We opted for the latter, because in all honesty it looks kinda nice when it’s done.
Step Four: Time for sanding. I used a pole sander and (Norton 80 grit WallSand) sandpaper. If you haven’t properly sealed off the room, you’ll know after this step. This dust is so fine that it will travel through ANY crevice. This is a time consuming process. You want to make sure you sand down all the irregular areas to get everything consistent.
Step Six: Time for paint people! We used the Behr Ceiling Paint from our neighborhood Home Depot. And we’ve used a TON of it so far. Your ceiling will drink it up fast. So, two coats will be necessary.
Step Seven: Put the light fixtures back up (or new ones). Hopefully you made a diagram to remember where everything goes.