Have you ever seen a wall or ceiling with a rough texture that looked like cooked popcorn?

Yes, that textured finish is a thing, and it is actually called the “Popcorn finish.” Popcorn finishes were very popular a few decades ago.

3 Reasons Why Builders Used Popcorn Finish:

1. Hide Imperfections:

During those times, builders used this finish to hide uneven areas in walls and ceilings.

But, that is not the only reason why this finish was popular.

2. Sound absorption.

A popcorn finish was also used to enhance the capacity of the ceilings to absorb sound. This is why many people call their popcorn-textured ceilings, “acoustic ceilings.”

3. Cheaper

Also, a popcorn finish saves money on painting costs


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The problem, however, is that it is no longer in style. Textured ceilings with popcorn finish are now less favored by average homeowners.

There are also many people nowadays who prefer a smooth finish to textured walls.

If you are one of those people who would like to remove their popcorn walls and ceilings, then this article is for you.

Here, we will show you how to remove your popcorn ceiling texture. We are also going to help you turn your textured wall into one with a smooth surface.


First, you have to check if your popcorn ceiling has asbestos.

Before you begin any popcorn removal project, it is a good idea to test a small area to see if it contains asbestos.

Next, you have to undergo a Popcorn Finish Removal Procedure. Follow the steps below:

  1. Gather and prepare the necessary materials.
  2.  Scrape test a small section.
  3. Check the small scraped section for asbestos.
  4. Prepare yourself and the room for the popcorn finish removal.
  5. Proceed with the popcorn removal process.
  6. After the removal process, clean the area, sand, and then repaint.

Why Should You Check for Asbestos Content in Your Popcorn Ceiling?

Asbestos is a hazardous material that can cause many serious health risks.  

In fact, constant exposure to it can increase your and your family members’ risk of developing certain diseases, like lung cancer.

If you or any of your family members live in an older home,  there is a very big chance that it has asbestos in it.

The use of asbestos on popcorn finish was popular a few decades ago until the Environmental Protection Agency banned it.

This is why we recommend that you test a small area first, before proceeding to change your entire ceiling or wall.

Also, you don’t have to worry about replacing your textured finish.

There are already many alternative finishes for ceilings and walls nowadays.

And there are also many building contractors who will be willing to give you free estimates.

These free estimates can include:

  •  asbestos testing
  • removal of popcorn texture
  • and the replacement of finishes.

The same situation applies to textured walls.  The cost will vary from one to seven dollars per square foot.

It will vary depending on where you are in the United States.

Another factor would be if your wall has asbestos or lead paint.  

For your safety, we recommend that you talk to a professional about asbestos testing and removal of the finish.

However, if you love a good do-it-yourself project, then you don’t have to worry.

You can just buy a DIY test kit from the nearest hardware store or home depot.

These test kits can help you determine whether your textured ceilings and walls have asbestos or not.

Once you have confirmed that asbestos is not present, you can now proceed with the popcorn removal procedure.

Popcorn Finish Removal Procedure

1. Gather and prepare the necessary materials.

The first thing that you need to do is gather and prepare your materials.

For this DIY project, you will need the following:

  • plastic sheeting
  • garden sprayer
  • safety goggles
  • small ladder, preferably with a height that can reach your ceiling
  • dust mask
  • drywall knife
  • plastic drop cloths
  • sandpaper
  • spray bottle
  • mud pan
  • drywall compound
  • joint tape and painter’s tape

2.  Scrape test a small section.

  • Perform a dry scrape test first, before preparing the room for popcorn ceiling removal or popcorn wall removal.
  •  Dry-scrape a small section of your wall or ceiling using a drywall knife.
  •  If it does not come off, try wetting it. Fill a spray bottle with water and spray it on the small area. Then, try scraping it.

Most popcorn finishes can be easily removed when wet.

3. Check the small scraped section for asbestos.

After you have scraped a small section, you can send it to a lab for testing to see if it has asbestos.

If you want to use a DIY testing kit, you can do so and use the sample for it. Be sure to follow the instructions indicated in the kit.

Once you have confirmed the result and it is positive, contact a professional for the popcorn finish removal.

If it really has it, it is safer to let specialists handle the popcorn and asbestos removal. 

Alternatively, if it does not contain asbestos, you may proceed with its removal.

4. Prepare yourself and the room for the Popcorn Finish Removal.

Before removing the popcorn finish from your walls and ceilings, do the following first:

  • Wear protective clothing that you can dispose of after the popcorn removal process.
  • Use safety goggles to protect your eyes.
  • Wear a dust mask to prevent possible inhalation of the small particles.
  • Be sure to cover your furniture, electrical outlets, and light fixtures. You can use plastic sheeting or plastic drop clothes for it.

Make sure it is secured in place using masking tape. You can do this if you can not remove them from the area.

  • Open your windows for proper ventilation.
  • Make sure to turn off your air conditioning system or heaters. You may also want to remove your ceiling fans and light bulbs.
  • Cover your floors too, using plastic sheeting and masking tape

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  • Tell your children to never go near the room during the removal process.

The best way to ensure this is to assign an adult that will keep an eye on both your children and pets.

5. Proceed with the Popcorn Removal Process

  1. Start by filling your garden sprayer or spray bottle with warm water.
  1. Proceed to wet a small section of the wall first.
  1. Experts suggest that you work in a four-foot-by-four-foot area. You should not cover more than 16 square feet. 
  1. Make sure that you are able to spray and wet the area sufficiently.
  1. Wait and give it time. A good waiting time is around 10-15 minutes.
  1. The popcorn wall or ceiling needs to absorb the water completely so that it will be easier for you to scrape it.
  1.  Proceed with scraping it using your drywall knife.
  1.  Collect the debris using a mud pan.
  1. Repeat the above-mentioned process until you are able to remove everything.
  1.  For the ceiling, make sure to use a safe and stable small ladder.

Note: Keep in mind that wet scraping is always easier and better than dry scraping.

This is regardless of whether you are able to dry scrape a small section easily for asbestos.

6. After the removal process, Clean the Area, Sand, and then Repaint.

Here are the following steps:

  • Check if there are any loose screws or nails. If there are, you may want to secure and finish them first.
  • Wet a cloth and wipe your walls and ceilings clean.

Wait until it is dry.

  • Apply drywall compound to your walls and ceilings.

Depending on who you are talking to, a drywall compound is sometimes referred to as drywall mud or joint compound.

  • Let it dry and wait until the next day. Make sure that your windows are open.
  • Once you have confirmed that it is dry, use a sander or sandpaper to even out the areas.
  • If there are uneven surfaces, smooth the area until the wall is smooth.
  • Make sure to take extra care when sanding your ceiling. You may want to use safety goggles during the process.

You can proceed with the next step once you have a smooth wall and ceiling. Joint tape may even be needed to ensure smooth walls and ceilings.

  • Apply one coat of primer and then choose the color of your paint.

Don’t forget to use painter’s tape before applying your primer. This will ensure a clean flat paint application.

This will also help you avoid the possibility of your paint bleeding to the adjacent area.

  • Apply a fresh coat of paint.

If you find the popcorn removal process difficult, you can always choose to just hide it and cover it.

There are many other options to do this. This includes wood paneling and the installation of a new layer of drywall.


  1. Is it worth it to remove the popcorn ceiling?

Yes, it’s worth it. This is especially true if you live in an older home where there is a great chance of the popcorn ceiling having asbestos.

Continuous exposure to asbestos can increase your and your family’s risk of developing certain diseases. You should do this for the safety of your family.

  1. Is it hard to remove popcorn walls and


This will depend on if your popcorn finish was painted. If it was, then it would be better to hire a professional to do the job.

The additional layer of paint will make the removal of the popcorn finish more difficult.

If it does not, simply follow the procedures that we listed above.

  1. How do you remove a painted popcorn ceiling?

We recommend that you hire a professional to do the job. But if you want to do it yourself, many people swear by vinegar.

Steps in Using Vinegar for Popcorn Ceiling Removal:

1. In a small pail, dilute a part of white vinegar with ten parts of water.

2. Transfer this solution to a spray bottle.

3. Spray the area, then wait for ten to fifteen minutes.

Proceed with the scraping, then follow the steps we provided.


Now that you’ve read this article, removing your popcorn walls and ceilings shouldn’t be a problem.

Did it work? We’d love to hear from you soon!

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D. Hahn

DIY guru, dad, husband, blogger. When I'm not creating life hacks I'm teaching my kids how to fix stuff after their dad breaks it.

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