Your Complete Guide to Popcorn Ceilings in Anne Arundel County MD

Undergoing popcorn ceiling removal service in residential home
Many homes in Anne Arundel and nearby areas built between the 1930s and 1990s have a popcorn ceiling, which are sometimes also referred to as stucco, acoustic, or cottage cheese ceilings. While it was the trend for decades, this aesthetic is definitely no longer in style. These days, most homes are built with flat ceilings that provide a more modern and updated look.

However, if you own a home with a popcorn ceiling, you don't have to be married to this outdated trend. Perhaps out of nostalgia or ease you may choose to embrace the popcorn aesthetic. However, it would be understandable if you want to get rid of the mottled texture entirely.

Whatever the case may be, it doesn't hurt to know a little bit more about popcorn ceilings before deciding whether yours should stay or go. That's why our Anne Arundel handyman professionals, and resident popcorn ceiling experts, put together this guide. Read on to learn answers to commonly asked questions about popcorn ceilings, as well as the ins and outs of repair or replacement services.

Why Were Popcorn Ceilings So Popular?

As a rule, texture tends to hide a multitude of sins. It can be very difficult to get a drywall surface perfectly level—especially on the ceiling. This process can take a lot of time and requires professional skills. To save time and effort, the popcorn ceiling was adopted. If the texture wasn't perfectly smooth, it didn't matter—making it much easier for builders and contractors to work quickly. Also, there was a time in Anne Arundel and other parts of the U.S.—particularly during the 1970s—when a popcorn ceiling was the height of fashion.

Do Popcorn Ceilings Have Lead?

Many popcorn ceilings are covered in a layer of lead-based paint—especially if it was constructed before 1978. While you can live with lead paint as long as it's not disturbed, this is hardly ideal because the substance is incredibly toxic. And, if the paint starts to flake or peel, you and your family will be exposed to this very dangerous substance. Lead can cause all kinds of problems—from muscle and joint aches to brain damage. This substance interferes with how our brain cells send messages and communicate. It can be especially harmful to children, as their brains are still developing.

How Do You Know If Your Popcorn Ceiling Has Lead?

As a rule of thumb, if your home was built prior to 1978, it's likely that it has lead paint—especially if the ceiling, walls or trim have not been updated since the time of construction. However, the only way to know for sure if there is lead paint in your home is to test for it. There are certain EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) approved lead test kits that must be used by a trained professional to check for lead in your home. Mr. Handyman of Anne Arundel and North PG tests for lead if we’re disturbing more than 36-feet of drywall. We are also certified by the EPA to practice lead remediation.

What is Lead Remediation?

Lead remediation is the process of painting over lead paint to prevent the toxic paint beneath from flaking, peeling and infiltrating your home. At Mr. Handyman of Anne Arundel and North PG, we can paint and repair windows, ceilings, walls and more. Our pros will carefully and safely cover the lead paint so that it's not as much of a concern for homeowners.

Common Popcorn Ceiling Repairs

Whether you want to update the look of your room with a fresh coat of paint or you've decided to get rid of the popcorn aesthetic for good by hiring professional removal services, there are many different types of repairs that can refresh the look of your home. Some of these repairs can be tackled by DIYers, although most Anne Arundel homeowners prefer to use a professional handyman service.

1. Patching

Does your popcorn ceiling have cracks, stains from water damage, or other unsightly imperfections? It is possible to patch the damaged area. However, it can be difficult to find an exact match for the original texture and color.

Texture is created by using thinned drywall compound—however, you should not use this technique to patch your existing drywall texture. Those mixtures contain water, so they can actually cause existing drywall texture to fall off. Instead, there are two kinds of patching materials: spray-on aerosol cans and premixed containers that you apply with a brush.

2. Painting

A fresh coat of paint can work wonders in any room. Perhaps you want to add a little interest to your living room, or are tired of the outdated aesthetic throughout your home. However, you should look for damage before you grab your brushes. You shouldn't paint drywall that is sagging, flaking, or shredding. These are signs that there is an underlying problem, such as water damage, that needs to be addressed first.

If everything looks good to go, and you've gotten lead testing from popcorn ceiling experts, you may go ahead and start painting. Do not paint your ceiling yourself if there is any lead content.

Begin by lightly brushing off all dust with a very soft bristle brush. You can attach the brush to an extension pole to reach it more easily. The first coat should be a stain blocking primer to prevent water spots and other stains from showing through the paint job.

Once that coat has dried, use a thick roller or a paint sprayer to apply your color of choice. Since the area is textured, you may need more paint than you anticipated to ensure each spot is evenly covered—so keep that in mind while buying your paint.

3. Hiding Texture

Removing that popcorn look is messy and time-consuming—but more on that in a bit. Instead, it is possible to hide your drywall texture and create a smooth surface via a drop ceiling. Keep in mind that this repair does reduce the amount of height in a room, so it may not be appropriate for all spaces. Typically, your room height needs to be more than 8 feet for that technique to work. The most common materials used to hide the original texture are rigid foam tiles, drywall panels, and wood planking:

  • Foam panels can be installed with adhesive.
  • Drywall requires joists, joint compound, nails, and screws.
  • Wood requires joists, nails, and screws.

4. Popcorn Ceiling Removal

Increasingly, homeowners throughout Anne Arundel and the surrounding areas want to get rid of this outdated aesthetic. A smooth finish is generally more desirable for prospective buyers, and more in-keeping with current trends.

The process of removing drywall texture is very messy and time-consuming, if not overly difficult. First, ensure your floor, furniture and fixtures are properly protected with tarps, drop-clothes and tape. Then, you must spray the area with water. This will saturate the texture and cause it to release. After that, you need to carefully scrape the old material away with a large putty knife or taping trowel. Finally, it's time to clean up.

It sounds simple, but keep in mind it's very important to wear proper safety gear while completing this task. This should include old clothes, a face mask, protective eyewear and gloves. Even if the top-coat of paint doesn't have lead, it is still full of chemicals you should not breathe in. Even lead-free paint still contains chemicals. In that case, water won't penetrate the speckled areas, so you will need to apply a stripping product first. These solutions are usually in a gel form and can be rolled or brushed on. Once the solution has adequately softened the paint and texture, you can scrape it off as usual.

5. Popcorn Ceiling Installation

If you feel like a texture revival is coming on, you like the nostalgia, or you don't want to worry about fussing over a perfectly smooth surface, then perhaps popcorn ceilings are for you. In that case, we have good news for you. Texture today is completely lead-free.

Should you be interested in adding a little texture, you can easily do that. You will need a specialty tool, a hopper gun, which sprays the material onto your ceiling. The material itself is made out of a dry powder and then mixed with water. It comes in a standard white but can be painted any color you choose once it dries. As there are many different possible errors for inexperienced installation, this type of project is best left to popcorn ceiling experts.

Reasons to Schedule Popcorn Ceiling Removal:

If updating the appearance of your textured ceiling isn't enough reason to smooth out the surface, there are a number of other reasons why getting rid of the popcorn aesthetic is beneficial. If you're on the fence about whether or not you should get rid of their popcorn ceiling, read the following. There are a few reasons why smooth surfaces are more appealing.

1. Create Better Lighting

Did you know that texture often impacts the lighting in a room? The bumpy surface bounces light off it in an unattractive way. This can create harsh shadows in your home. Since this could impact the bright and beautiful aesthetic you're going for, it could be worthwhile to remove the speckled drywall entirely.

2. Stop Discoloration

Popcorn ceilings can discolor over time, which is bound to make your home look dingy and uninviting. This is particularly a risk if you don't live in a new build. If your ceilings are bringing down your home's aesthetic, it could be time for a chance. Alternatively, a fresh coat of paint can do wonders to brighten up the room.

3. Repair Damage

Accidents happen, as any homeowner knows. Holes may get punched in drywall, furniture could scrape along it, your little one might throw a juice box up as high as they can. While you can patch popcorn texture, it's not easy. Instead, if you're not attached to the style, smooth the bumpy surface out. This process gets rid of any visible damage and/or stains while updating your home's appearance.

4. Update Your Home's Aesthetic

Speaking of updating your home's appearance, maybe you've just moved into a new home, or you want to renovate the house you've been in for years. If you're not a fan of speckled drywall, then that is reason enough to get rid of the bumpy aesthetic. Not to mention, you'll reap all these other benefits as well.

5. Improve Your Home's Resale Value

Smooth finishes are what buyers want right now, so by removing any texture you both modernize the space and make it more appealing to prospective buyers. This can make selling your home much easier. Not to mention, you may recoup some of the cost of the update once you sell.

6. Prevent Disintegration

Like anything else in your home, popcorn ceilings don't last forever. This is especially the case if it's old. If you notice white flecks start to fall on your floors and furniture, unfortunately you won't have much choice but to remove it entirely. Again, if your home was built prior to 1979 and you notice the paint is starting to flake and fall, you should get an expert in to check for lead immediately.

Trust Mr. Handyman to Fix Your Popcorn Ceilings!

If you need help to smooth a bumpy ceiling, Mr. Handyman of Anne Arundel and North PG can get the job done right the first time. Not only that, but we can help with drywall repair and replacement throughout your home. Our skillful technicians have helped homeowners throughout both counties, including in communities like Pasadena and Bowie, with their repair needs.

To book an appointment today, we invite you to give our friendly office staff a call. We look forward to hearing from you and helping with your future home improvement needs.