Photo by Steve Snodgrass

Update: 1970s inspired designs such as earth tones and bold prints are all the rage right now…but 70s popcorn ceilings are definitely not! If you’ve moved into a home that needs updating or feel your own house needs a facelift, you’ll probably want to start by removing your popcorn texture ceiling. This process can be messy and potentially dangerous due to some popcorn ceilings in the 1970s had asbestos as a key component. So you can either remove the texture altogether or simply put up new drywall over it!

Ceilings with popcorn texture were a rage in the 70s and if you have a house from this period chances are that you too are living with popcorn textured ceilings. Popcorn ceiling textures may or may not suit your sensibilities and if you desire to have it removed, you will be relieved to know that it is not an expensive or labor intensive process and you can do it yourself or hire a professional to do the work for you. Regardless of your choice — to hire someone to do the work or to do it yourself, you can get a free instant estimate of the cost at Before you begin be sure to check if the ceiling has any asbestos, a lot of popcorn textured ceilings before 1979 had asbestos as a component.

Before beginning the process of removing popcorn texture, you need to move pieces of furniture so that they do not get scratched and soiled with the falling debris, in case the furniture is heavy it can be covered with plastic or cloth sheets. Plastic sheets also need to be laid on the ground in order to catch the debris that will rain down once the scraping of the ceiling begins. The popcorn is scraped off using a wide drywall knife of a width that you are comfortable working with. A 6″ width is usually best for getting clean strokes.

In order to remove the popcorn, you need to hold the blade at an angle of 45 degrees or less and push forward. The textured material gets scraped off the ceiling. It is a simple repetitive process that you need to carry out till the surface of the ceiling is free from the popcorn texture. When scraping the ceiling you should take care to stroke the surface in such a way that it does not get gashed and no gouges and ridges appear. All the same, some gashes and ridges will appear as these are unavoidable.

You can smoothen the ceiling by refloating the ceiling with drywall mud and then using sandpaper to smooth the surface. However, this process entails a fair amount of effort and skill. An alternative is the application of a light stucco texture to the ceiling. This can be done with the help of the 6″ knife and a drywall compound that can be purchased from hardware stores. The compound is dabbed on to the gouged areas and smoothed with the knife. The amount of drywall mixture to be applied depends upon the depth of the gouged area in the ceiling. In most cases, a lightly coated surface is enough to give a smooth surface look to the ceiling. The ceiling should be left to dry for 10-12 hours and then painted after applying a coat of a primer.

An alternative to scraping the popcorn texture of the ceiling is to place a new layer of drywall on top of the old. This method avoids the mess of scraping the old texture off. It also requires that the new drywall be taped and textured which can be down as a do-it-yourself project or by a professional.

Either method you choose will provide a new updated look for your room without extensive or expensive remodeling.