REMOVING AND UPDATING
YOUR POPCORN CEILING
Many people want to update their popcorn ceilings. Once the popcorn is removed, a new plaster finish can be applied, and there are a wonderful assortment of colors and textures available especially with the new decorative and Venetian plasters. However, if your house was built prior to about 1978-1980, your ceiling may contain asbestos and you need to have it tested before removal for the safety of yourself and your family. You can do this by spraying a small area with a spray bottle filled with water and then scraping a small section into a sealable bag. The sample can be sent to a certified asbestos testing center. If your popcorn does contain asbestos, it will need to be removed by someone certified in asbestos removal.If not, you can hire someone or do it yourself.
If you decide to do the work yourself, there are several steps that need to be taken once you have decided that your ceilings are safe to work with. First is preparation of the area. You will need to clear the area so that you can work uninhibited, and lay plastic on the floor to catch the mess being scraped off. Remember to remove light fixtures to avoid accidentally damaging them and making it easier to work on the ceiling and applying of new texture. You will need to figure out and set up a safe means to be able to reach the ceiling. This can be done with ladders, rolling scaffold, or aluminum “A” frames with cross planks depending on the area and the height. You may have seen professionals using stilts, but do not attempt this unless you have done it before and you have a helper to help you pick up something dropped on the floor.
The second step is removal. A broad width trowel or joint knife works best. Hold your instrument at an angle and apply pressure. Scrape away from you using pressurized, even strokes being careful not to gouge the ceiling. Small gouges will inevitably occur, but try to avoid them. Once the popcorn texture has been removed from the ceiling as much as possible, you can sand the entire area with a medium to course drywall sandpaper.
Once the old finish has been removed and you are ready to start applying plaster, you will first need to seal the ceiling with a high quality sealer like Sherwin William Preprite Problack Primer/Sealer. There are other sealers available, but I suggest you choose a high quality one. When the sealer has dried, you can apply a traditional veneer plaster finish in a two coat application and have a smooth or textured finish. If you would like a newer decorative or Venetian finish like Texston or Armourcoat, I suggest you use the Sealer that they recommend with the product that you choose.
Ceilings can begrueling because of the overhead work and gravity, so I recommend practicing applying the finish before hand (a closet can be a good practice area) or hire a professional for the plaster finish application.