How to Repair a Popcorn Ceiling

popcorn ceiling

Popcorn ceilings can add visual interest and soundproofing benefits. Unfortunately, however, they can become damaged from roof leaks – in which case painting over the texture won’t solve the issue.

To repair a popcorn ceiling, there are various methods available. From skim coating and scraping, to removal and replacement of the drywall panels. Before beginning any project, be sure to ensure your home is free from asbestos while testing paint for lead content.

Steps to Repair a Popcorn Ceiling


Homeowners looking to update their home and have a textured ceiling have various options for removing it. One is to scrape it off, which can be messy and produce quite a lot of dust; use a dust mask and safety goggles when doing this task and turn off all electrical boxes prior to starting; finally cover any furniture or floors in the area with plastic drop cloths to protect them from debris and dust.

Before beginning scraping, it is advisable to have the ceiling tested for asbestos. Because textured ceilings were popular among homes built prior to 1978, there is a chance some contain this hazardous carcinogen. You can have this done at a laboratory that specializes in such testing services; should asbestos be present, professional removal will need to occur prior to proceeding further with scraping activities.

One method for removing popcorn ceilings is using a drywall sander, a tool similar to floor sanders but featuring an enormous sanding disk attached. This device is connected to a shop vac so most of the dust produced during sanding can be collected directly by it; making this option far cleaner than using traditional scrapers, although more time may be needed for completion.

Once your ceiling has been stripped of debris, it is time to address any areas where drywall has been compromised by water or fire damage. Once this step has been completed, sand the drywall before applying a skim coat; and finally it can be painted.

scraping popcorn ceiling

If you want to give your home an updated appearance, planking may be the way to go. Although this requires more work and dedication than installing traditional drywall panels, planking can make an enormous difference to any room’s appearance and may help reduce echos in a room for increased comfort.


Popcorn ceilings were once popular in the ’60s and ’70s but have since fallen out of fashion, joining other trends such as mullets and feathered hairstyles. Unfortunately, they’re difficult to clean properly and can trap allergens within their many crevices; therefore removing it altogether and installing drywall would be the ideal way to enhance your home and add some flair!

Skim-coating can be an excellent way to preserve an original ceiling by applying a thin coat of joint compound or drywall mud over its existing texture. While not as messy, skim-coating requires patience and can take some time; use of a high ladder and face mask is recommended to minimize breathing in dust particles.

Before commencing this project, ensure all lights and ceiling fans have been removed and that you access your breaker box. Next, turn off all power sources in the room, lay out a plastic or tarp sheet on the floor to protect from falling debris, and wear safety glasses with facemasks if your ceiling was constructed prior to 1980 as this project can become very messy and may contain asbestos fibers.

Begin by spraying a small area of the ceiling with water from a pump sprayer and waiting approximately 15 minutes. If any popcorn comes loose, use a putty knife to scrape off as much coating as possible – repeat until all areas of your ceiling have become smooth and ready for painting.

As soon as the repair areas have dried, you should sand them. After this step is completed, use a primer designed to cover water stains before painting your ceiling or drywall. For larger holes that need patching up immediately, try USG Easy Sand powdered mud that mixes easily with water to act like plaster.

drywalling the popcorn ceiling

If you’re determined to remove your popcorn ceiling, hiring a professional could be your solution. They have all of the equipment and know-how needed to safely demolish its texture without disturbing asbestos or lead paint layers beneath. When hiring any service provider make sure their credentials and insurance cover is checked first before signing any contracts or making payments.


Popcorn ceilings are popularly recognized for their distinctive texture, which makes sense: their smooth surfaces help conceal mistakes in drywall installation and make water spots less likely after painting. When these ceilings become damaged by water damage, however, swift action needs to be taken quickly in order to repair it; otherwise the stains could spread and turn into an even greater headache!

For water-damaged popcorn ceilings, the most efficient approach is to begin by scraping away affected areas with a putty knife (using cardboard as a filter). Once that step has been accomplished, prime both walls and ceiling before painting – once dry, begin painting over any previous coatings for seamless results.

When painting a popcorn ceiling, we advise using flat rather than glossy paints as glossy hues tend to emphasize its texture rather than hide it. Also, when cutting in around edges of ceiling use an angled tip brush instead of roller.

painting popcorn ceiling

To ensure the new paint sticks properly to your ceiling, we advise purchasing latex or acrylic paint designed for heavy-duty surfaces. In addition, make sure that you carefully dampen down both surfaces prior to beginning any painting work on them.

If you don’t already own a specialty paint for walls and ceilings, mixing your own with these ingredients may be best:

Be sure to wear both eye and dust protection while painting a popcorn ceiling, as the surface will produce an abundance of dust that will settle on floors and furniture. To reduce messiness, cover both areas with plastic sheeting or drop cloth before taking it outside to shake out excess into a garbage bin before continuing your project. Likewise, any power connected to ceiling fixtures must also be turned off beforehand in order to avoid getting shocked while working.


If the damage to your popcorn ceiling consists solely of holes or water stains, repair can be accomplished easily using pre-mixed patches. It’s best to find products designed specifically to match the texture of your home’s ceiling; these patches can even be used to repair cracks and small areas which have been scraped or otherwise compromised. Before applying stain-blocking primer to this area, be sure to sand first.

Spray texture products provide an easy and fast solution for quick repairs or refreshing new looks on ceilings, with fine, medium, or coarse grades available to choose from. A roller should also be available as this can give a professional finish.

Be sure to wear a dust mask and eye protection when working with the popcorn ceiling, and may require additional skim coats for a smooth surface.

Before beginning a drywall project, it’s advisable to get the ceiling tested for asbestos. Once widely used in textured paint, plaster, patching compounds, and drywall materials prior to its banning by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1978, asbestos was likely present in your ceiling material if your home was built before then.

If you decide to replace an outdated, textured ceiling, there are various ways of concealing or covering it. A drywall ceiling board or planking can provide insulation benefits while still appearing like wood; many homeowners favor this option due to its aesthetic value.

If you aren’t yet ready to fully commit to removing the popcorn ceiling texture, an alternative approach would be applying a layer of spackle and joint compound. This will give the ceiling a new, smooth surface while hiding any imperfections caused by its previous popcorn texture. Finally, finish off your room by painting with high-quality interior ceiling paint.

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