We all love popcorn. As a matter of fact, no movie is complete without a bowl of popcorn at arm’s length. But there is another type of popcorn that is disliked by many, especially homeowners – popcorn on ceilings. No one wants to have these.
Just like the cork walls, avocado-green shag carpet, and mirror tiles, acoustic ceiling texture was the in thing back in the 1970s and the 1980s. The builders back in the day preferred this design because it was quick and most importantly was by far the most inexpensive finish. In addition to this, experts said that the texture was loved since it covered many of the imperfections on the ceiling. You did not have to finish the drywall completely and if you please, you could add several skim coats or even paint the ceiling when you were done.
However, roofs have a tendency to age and start leaking with time while the homes settle which leads to the damaging of the popcorn ceiling which is impossible to match. When professionals are called upon to fix the errors that time has caused to the ceiling, most often than not they are the bearers of bad news and a lot of it. No sooner do they start peeling back the onion than they start discovering other issues with the ceiling that need immediate attention and fixing. Water that leaks to the roof use the popcorn as a wick and then spreads throughout the ceiling.
Professionals have it that many of the homeowners, about 99% of them, those with popcorn ceilings usually want to have flat and smooth finish overheads to brighten the rooms. Popcorns ceiling designs collect dust and spider webs and their texture tends to create shadows that make the room look even darker. Professionals say that the ceiling ‘eats’ away the light.
When dealing with popcorn ceilings, the most complicating factor is the presence of asbestos. Well, this was until 1978 the year in which its use in ceiling texture was banned for health reasons. Before any contractor can work on your popcorn ceiling, they will need to make sure that the ceiling surface is free of the presence of asbestos. Working on a popcorn ceiling with asbestos results in you incurring almost double the cost of fixing an asbestos-free popcorn ceiling. This is because the contractors have to take precautionary measures to get rid of the asbestos before they proceed. In the event your home was built earlier than the 1980s, you should check for the presence of asbestos on the ceiling just to be sure. To do this, wet a small patch on the ceiling surface and scrape the texture into some plastic back and have the sample analyzed in a lab. The absence of asbestos makes light of the task at hand – so much so that you can turn the project into a DIY.
What you Need for the Popcorn Ceiling Fixing DIY Project
If you have an 8-foot ceiling, a step ladder will be more than enough. Fill up a garden sprayer with warm water mixed with some dishwashing liquid. Make sure that the sprayer you use was not used for yard chemicals in the past. To scrape off the popcorn ceiling, make use of an 8 inch – 10-inch drywall spatula. Anything shorter than the recommended length and the blade will not be as flexible and anything longer than 10 inches and you just might end up damaging the entire ceiling.
To ensure that you do not make such a big mess of the house, scrape the popcorn into a mud tray and empty it regularly as you make progress on the ceiling. You should know that wet mud gets heavy fast and as such, you should ensure that you have a good number of the bags so that you change them frequently.
Cover and prep the house
Before you start getting anything done, you should get as much furniture as you can out of the way. Using plastic sheeting cover the walls, the floor and large piece so furniture. You should not feel tempted to skip the wall masking step. Ensure you cover the walls all the way up to the ceilings. It is important since popcorns will get everywhere.
Next cut the power to the overhead lights as well as the fan at the fuse box. Disconnect them, cover them up and then mask them using resin paper or plastic sheeting.
It is imperative that you remember to have on eye protective goggles and old clothes. Also, be sure to keep the kids away while you are busy at work. And since it is bound to get drippy and muddy, you should take long breaks to cool down and gobble down a cup of water to rehydrate.
Spray and then scrape
Identify a 4-foot square ceiling and spray it with the warm water. Wait for 10 minutes and then test the ceiling with a scraper for readiness. It might take several tries before you can get the perfect moisture levels. When ready, the ceiling should have the consistency similar to that of oatmeal and easily come off. You should, however, be careful not to spray too much of the water as it can damage the drywall or even loosen the tape covering the seams.
With the scraper at a 45-degree angle, push the popcorn texture off the ceiling and into the mud tray making sure that you do not break the drywall surface that is underneath. For the corners and edges, you can make use of a putty knife.
Textured ceilings that have been painted will need at the very least two passes. The first pass is to get rid of the bump paint layer while the second layer is to clean up the loose texture that has been uncovered. The final pass is using a blade or a sponge to get rid of all the shreds that you missed in the first two passes.
If you do not use a drywall mud tray, you will have a lot of clean up to do afterward. Using a mud tray, you should be prepared to make several trips up and down the ladder to dump the contents of the tray.
When the ceiling is clean, allow it some time to dry overnight. In the morning the ceiling will be ready for assessment and you will know whether you need to call in a professional or not.