How to Remove a Ceiling Stipple

Updated February 21, 2017

Ceiling stipple is a textured effect applied to drywall ceilings. This texture hides the imperfections in the ceiling and gives the room a more solid appearance. The bumps and grooves in the textured ceiling also collect dust, smoke and cobwebs throughout the years, causing discoloured patches to appear. You can remove a stippled texture from your ceiling by scraping it away with a wide drywall knife. This process takes time, but it will leave you with a fresh, smooth ceiling that you can skim and paint for a brand new look.

Remove all of the furniture and other loose items from the work area. Be sure there is nothing on the floor in the work area that will interfere with the job at hand.

Cover the work area with dust sheets to protect the floors and counters. Cover any permanent fixtures in the room, like cabinets and shelves. Overlap the dust sheets so that there is nowhere for the dust to penetrate the protective barrier.

Set-up your stepladder in one corner of the room. Open the ladder fully and lock both of the brackets into the open position. Be sure that all four feet of the ladder are flat on the floor and the ladder does not wobble.

Climb the ladder and place the tip of the 12-inch blade flat against the ceiling. Hold the putty knife so that the handle is at a 30-degree angle to the ceiling. Push the flat edge of the blade against the stippling to knock it off of the ceiling.

Work methodically and take your time. Scrape the entire ceiling. Use the 5-in-1 putty knife to scrape around light fixtures, vents and edges. Move your ladder as necessary. Avoid stretching to reach a spot, as this may cause you to fall.


Always maintain three points of contact between your body and the ladder. Work gloves, safety glasses, a disposable protective suit and a face shield are required when scraping plaster from the ceiling over your head. Many websites will tell you to use water or even diluted ammonia to soften the stipple before scraping. Do not, for any reason, apply water to the plaster. The water will soak into the drywall board above the texture and damage it. Dry scraping will remove the stipple texture, just be sure to take your time and be careful not to dig the corners of the knife into the board and leave gouges.

Things You'll Need

  • Dust sheets
  • 6-foot stepladder
  • 12-inch drywall knife
  • 5-in-1 putty knife
  • Work gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Dust mask
  • Disposable protective suit
  • Face shield
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About the Author

After learning electronics in the U.S. Navy in the 1980s, Danny Donahue spent a lifetime in the construction industry. He has worked with some of the finest construction talent in the Southeastern United States. Donahue has been a freelance writer since 2008, focusing his efforts on his beloved construction projects.