Mr. Handyman Discusses Popcorn Ceilings

Popcorn ceiling being removed

Do you have a popcorn ceiling in your home? Do you like it? Ever thought about removing it? Today we’ll offer some perspective on popcorn ceilings.

Texturing on ceilings goes way back. We work in older homes (Riverside, Avondale, San Marco) that have interesting textures on the ceilings. Overlapping half moon swirls, stipple, starburst patterns and the like.

This was done for two reasons. First, it adds a bit of artistic flair to the room. Second, the rough random pattern of texture on a ceiling is cheaper to apply than the man hours needed to finish and sand a ceiling perfectly smooth.

This need for a fast and cheap way to texture ceilings without having to finish them perfectly smooth won out over accent and artistic flair with the introduction of popcorn ceiling texture. One guy, with the proper equipment and supply of texture material, can spray an entire home in a half day during construction. This is far less expensive than the labor cost to finish the same square footage of ceiling as smooth as the walls. With the home buying public always looking for more home for less money, popcorn ceilings became a common way to save money during construction.

Many don’t realize when they look up at their ceiling, that they are looking at raw texture product. The white, or off white, is the product itself; it is generally not painted when first applied.

For this reason, popcorn ceilings cannot be cleaned. If you try, you dislodge popcorn. If you buy a home where a smoker used to live and want to paint the ceiling due to discoloration, it must be sprayed as the popcorn will stick to a roller and make a mess.

If it gets wet enough, from a roof or plumbing leak, it can get soft and loose and with a bit of help from gravity areas can literally fall off the ceiling. More frequently, it gets wet and then dries and leaves an area of discoloration. This is where the challenge with painting popcorn became an issue.

A note on painting your ceiling: Painting your ceiling will cover stains and allows you to brighten up a room if you go with a brilliant white, but that hardened shell of paint complicates texture removal. When working with a painted ceiling the water doesn’t penetrate the paint or soften the popcorn. Removal is then more time consuming, and more expensive. So, if you don’t like your popcorn ceiling and are deciding between painting it, or removing it, know that once you paint it removal will be that much harder.

Most folks removing popcorn go back with knockdown, as this is (again) less expensive than trying to achieve a perfectly smooth ceiling. Knockdown can be painted, cleaned and is more appealing (for many) than popcorn.

If you need help around your home with home improvements, maintenance or repair needs, call Mr. Handyman – There’s Simply No One Like Us!