At the demand of my wife, I've been removing crusty old popcorn ceiling texture from our new house. It's a messy process, but a few tricks can make it (and cleanup) an easy task. If things go well, you'll end up with a fresh, clean ceiling.
To get started, you'll need:
- Ladder or step stool
- A wide 4-6" scraper/putty knife
- Garden sprayer (that's never had chemicals in it)
- Tarp or drop cloth
- ShopVac(recommended) or a broom and dust pan
- dust mask and safety glasses (optional, but recommended)
Wether you're working over a carpet or sub-flooring a tarp will make cleanup much easier later on. Spread it out underneath your future texture free ceiling. It'll serve to catch the texture as it falls, and keep the floor free of moisture as you work.
Put a half gallon or so of warm water in your garden sprayer and pump up the pressure. Ours has a few spray nozzles, we selected one that sprays a wide fan of water. We bought ours for $20 at our hardware store, but we've seen them for $15 at the ginormous discount stores. (Personally, I like the local guys better.)
Spray down the ceiling, giving a thorough, but not dripping we coating on the texture. You want a nice even covering. A good rule of thumb is to move the nozzle whenever you're spraying liquid.
Wait about ten minutes, then re-spray the area. If you're removing texture that's been painted over, you might want to repeat the process. Latex paint is water based, so it'll usually let water soak through given enough time.
You should be able to see the area you just wet down with the spray. If you can't see it anymore, you'll probably want to go over it again with your sprayer. Don't get too excited with the sprayer, you probably want to avoid water streaks on your walls. You might consider taping plastic over anything that might become water damaged.
When you're ready, set up your ladder and grab your scraper.
Set the scraper at a 20 to 45 degree angle to the ceiling and gently, but firmly push the scraper across the ceiling. Be careful not to gouge the soft drywall ceiling. If you rip any of the paper covering, you can come back with some spackle later. The texture should be soft from the water, so it'll fall off with very little dust. If the texture is hard, spray it with water again and let it soak in for a minute or so. It won't take long.
When you're done, you'll end up with a clean ceiling, and a tarp that's covered in bits of plaster. Be careful as you walk on it. The texture will crush and stick to your shoes. You can drag them outside, or dump it in a nice pile by lifting the tarp.
Now's a great time to get out your shop vacuum. Mine easily sucked up piles of ceiling texture. Once the majority of the plaster was up, I used our regular vacuum to finish the job. If you're going to paint the ceiling later, consider using a coat of primer first.