Drywall 101

Removing Popcorn Texture

Most persons interested in finding information about popcorn texture are more interested in removal than they are in application. Popcorn texture is probably one of the most disliked textures on the market. Some companies specialize in removal of popcorn texture but if you are interested in doing it yourself please read some of the following recommendations.

Most acoustic popcorn drywall texture sprayed before 1978 contains asbestos. Even after 1978 some companies continued to use asbestos in popcorn texture material. Asbestos is extremely hazardous to your health. Asbestos has been linked to Mesotheleoma, a form of cancer that affects internal organs, most commonly the external lining of the lungs. Many construction workers who have worked in the construction industry before the mid 1970's have been affected by this life threatening disease. Some professionals claim that construction materials containing asbestos may not present serious danger if they are left in their current state and not disturbed. If you have any questions whether the texture in your home contains asbestos you should consult with a licensed professional that is trained to test for asbestos and provide recommendations.

Picture of popcorn drywall texture

If you have confirmed beyond a doubt that the acoustic popcorn texture used in your home does not contain asbestos, you may be able to remove it yourself. Popcorn texture is made primarily of drywall mud which is water soluble. Popcorn texture that has not been painted will soften quickly when sprayed with warm water. Once the texture is softened it can be scraped using a wide drywall knife or other type of metal scrapper. Use a hand pump pressure sprayer with a long hose to spray water on the ceiling.

Much acoustic popcorn texture was not painted and will be easier to remove. If acoustic popcorn texture has been painted it will be much more difficult to remove. You may be able to begin scraping the texture while dry to remove some of the painted layer. Once some of the painted layer is gone water will be able to penetrate more easily so as to soften the texture.

Drywall texture that is scraped from the ceiling will create a dusty, sloppy mess. Make sure to remove all furniture from the room and protect any finishes that will remain. Carpet can be covered first with a plastic barrier and then with red rosin paper or craft paper. A product called carpet shield™ works well as a plastic barrier. Carpet Shield™ sticks firmly to the carpet like a screen protector on a cell phone to create a plastic barrier that will not slide around.

Once the texture has been carefully removed from your ceiling, it can be finished as desired. Care should be taken when scraping drywall mud with a metal knife. Be careful not to gouge the surface. Any gouges in the underlying surface must be patched by a drywall finisher. Applying another type of texture will require less preparation work than trying to create a level five smooth wall finish.

Another option to consider for acoustic popcorn textured ceilings is laminating the entire ceiling with a new layer of drywall. Installing a new layer of drywall eliminates the need for time consuming scraping and associated cleanup. If installing a new layer of drywall over an existing texture you must ensure that the fasteners used penetrate all layers to grab in the rafters or floor joists behind. Because of this you must first locate this backing and use screws long enough to sink to a sufficient depth.

How to Apply Popcorn Texture

Other types of drywall texture