How to Retexture Popcorn Ceilings

Popcorn ceilings are extremely popular in older homes. For homebuilders back in the day, popcorn texture was convenient and quick. With this finish on ceilings, workers could spend less time smoothing things out and use the popcorn to cover over any imperfections. While we can see why this would be the finish of choice for builders on a time crunch, it may not be the preferred texture for you. If your home feels outdated, here are the steps you can take to retexture your ceiling.


Because removing popcorn ceilings can be tough manual labor, it would be very frustrating, (or dangerous. More on that in a bit) to start working only to find that you cannot continue. So, do yourself a favor and scrape a test area first. For the first scrape test, do it dry. This is because sometimes popcorn comes off easily on its own. Doing this test will help you see whether you can skip a step or not. If it is not coming off easily, then wet it. If the water does not seep into the popcorn, this most likely means that the ceiling was painted. From here you can decide if it is still worth it to you to put in the muscle to scrape it off or cover it up somehow.

Not only do you want to test for how difficult the job may be, but you also want to test for asbestos. As you probably know, asbestos is a hazardous mineral that is widely known to cause lung cancer. Definitely do not want that being released into your home! To get your ceiling tested, contact your local health department. If the test comes back positive, it is best to just cover the ceiling with new drywall or wooden planks.


This project is very messy. As with any project, you can manage cleanup time by prepping properly. Start by taping plastic wrap around your walls and floor. If possible, remove any furniture in the room. If you do not want to or cannot do that, just be sure to wrap them with plastic too.

Next, remove ceiling fans and fixtures. You may think that you can simply work around them, but trust us, that will only frustrate you. And since you have to wet the surface, you do not want to risk getting water into electrical features. Cover any electrical boxes with tape and shut off power to them.

Last order on the prep agenda is to wet the ceiling area. You can make this task easier by using a simple garden sprayer. Be aware that you do not want to completely soak the surface. Doing so could lead to the damage of your drywall and even loosen the joint tape. So, only give it a light spray and allow it to soak in for 15 minutes.


Begin by working in small sections at a time. If you do not, then the popcorn could dry by the time you get to it, making it harder to work with. Rewet areas as necessary. Enlist the help of a mud pan to catch drippings and to clean off the edges of your knife. This way you can minimize the risk of tracking mess as you move about the room.

As we mentioned, many builders used popcorn to cover up imperfections. After you are done scraping, finish up by sanding the ceiling to prepare it for painting.

And there you have it! Putting in the work to smooth out your ceilings will pay you back by increasing your home value. Of course, if you do not have the time or desire to do this project yourself, there are service providers out there who can do it for you.

Goodwyn Building aims to design homes that stand the test of time. On top of that, we are the leading builders of energy efficient and high-performance homes in the Montgomery area. Why not have a look around our site to see what we are all about.

By Goodwyn Building 1-16-2020