How to Get Rid of Textured Ceiling

Updated April 17, 2017

If you are like most people living under a "popcorn" textured ceiling, you have developed a serious case of smooth ceiling envy over the last decade. If your ceiling was textured after 1980 then removal will be a simple, yet time consuming task. However, if the texture predates the Regan administration it may be more complicated. Ceiling texture prior to 1980 was frequently made with asbestos, so it is not only important for your health, but legally required, to be tested prior to removal. See the link below for a list of labs approved for asbestos testing. If your ceiling texture sample is positive for asbestos you can only legally have it removed by a professional.

Cover the floor with dust sheets. This will make for easier cleanup later on.

Wet a small section of the ceiling to soften the "popcorn." Using a spray bottle filled with water, wet a small area of the ceiling, about three to four square feet, and allow the water to soak in for about three minutes. If you are having difficulty getting the water to soak in, your ceiling has likely been painted with oil-based paint. In this case you will have to break up a small area of the texture without wetting it and then wet the edges so that the water seeps underneath the paint.

Scrape the ceiling texture. Using the floor scraper, carefully scrape the textured material from the ceiling. If it does not scrape easily, spray with more water and let soak for two more minutes.

Scrape the entire ceiling. Continue working in sections by wetting and scraping with the floor scraper until the entire ceiling has been scraped.

Scrape any missed texture with the putty knife. Use the putty knife to scrape away any bits of texture left behind by the floor scraper. You may have to re-wet these areas.

Patch holes. Occasionally, you may accidentally poke holes in the ceiling while scraping. These can be patched with drywall paste. Apply the drywall paste over the hole with the putty knife, and then use a wet washcloth or sponge to wipe away any excess and smooth out the patch.


This project will create a lot of dust. You may find it helpful to wear protective eye goggles and a face mask to keep the dust out of your eyes and mouth.


Do not attempt to remove any material in your home if you suspect it contains asbestos. If your ceiling has been painted with oil-based paint be prepared for a long, tedious task working in very small sections.

Things You'll Need

  • Dust sheets
  • Spray bottle
  • Floor scraper
  • Putty knife
  • Drywall paste
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