What have I been up to this weekend? Lest the posting title suggest that I am on a crusade to end delicious buttery goodness of the sort you might find in a movie theater or on the shelf of your closest grocery store, I will clarify – I am on a mission to eradicate popcorn of a more sinister nature: the foamy poky kind that reposes on the ceiling of every room in our house.
True to form, that’s about as good of a ‘before’ picture as I have of this room. But even in this little picture, you can see why I felt like the popcorn had to go in our house – it traps light and dirt and casts 1,000 tiny shadows that make it feel like the ceiling is closing in on you, #notbeingoverdramatic.
I was absolutely convinced that we needed to scrape that crap off the ceiling, so I did a bunch of research online. This tutorial from the DIY Network on removing a popcorn ceiling was super helpful.
If you hadn’t guessed, removing a popcorn ceiling is an extremely messy job, and one best done before there’s a bunch of furniture in each room and before the walls are painted. So I knew this had to happen soon – we are moving in for good at the end of the spring semester (hallelujah!).
But, if you didn’t know, removing a popcorn ceiling involves spraying water up on your ceiling and your ceiling [usually] contains light fixtures and light fixtures run on electricity and water + electricity totally intimidates me… So I kept putting off the project.
This weekend, my dad and my brother came out to help me get started.
(I made him promise not to sue me for any injuries he might sustain).
It was completely not as scary as I had convinced myself it would be in my head. And actually easier than I expected.
Step 1: Lay out plastic drop cloths to cover the floor. I didn’t go crazy with taping them at the edges, and I didn’t cover the walls because I know I’ll be repainting those soon. Some of the popcorn definitely made it onto the carpet, but a shop vac took care of that later.
Step 2: Spray the ceiling with a garden sprayer. As the DIY Network recommended, we worked in roughly 4-5 foot squares. However, we did not need to wait a full 10 minutes after spraying before the popcorn was softened – it started scraping off easily after just one minute! A garden sprayer looks like this (after you’ve scraped five rooms worth of popcorn):
Step 3: Scrape!
We bought two different kinds of scrapers – a 6 inch flexible taping knife and a 10 inch scraper. I preferred the smaller taping knife simply because it weighed less and I felt like I had more control. The 6 inch knife was way better at corners and edges of the wall, while the larger scraper (rocked by my brother) could definitely remove more popcorn from the center of the room more efficiently.
Seriously, once it’s had a chance to soften with the water, the popcorn just scrapes right off down to the sheetrock.
You will want something to cover your hair and protect it from water spray and popcorn bits, hence my trendy white-rag-tied-on-my-head:
It would probably be smart to wear eye protection and/or a dust mask, but we were apparently not that smart, even if we were homeschooled…
We tried to get most of the popcorn-debris in a bucket, but a good deal made it’s way onto the drop cloth anyway. Honestly, by the third room I was just letting it all fall where it may. Just roll up the tarp and toss it when you’re done.
Did I mention that this is an extremely messy job? For some reason I find it extremely satisfying as well. It’s like sweeping a dirty floor – there are very obvious results to each pass of the broom-slash-taping knife.
At various points of the day I may or may not have referred to the process as: popping the ceiling’s pimples and peeling the skin off a lizard. Great metaphors, right? I know, I have a way with words.
Still not ready to quit, we tackled the vaulted ceiling in the master bedroom:
Oh – I do have this bad iPhone ‘before’ picture that is from roughly the same perspective:
As you can see, we left all the light fixtures alone in the other rooms, but removed the ceiling fan in here because it wasn’t working and needs its wiring straightened out and I have makeover plans for it… Stay tuned.
Those three areas of the house took about 8 hours total – 6 hours with my dad, brother and I working, and then the last 2 were me finishing up the master bedroom by myself (this job is definitely more efficient with a team!).
The following day, I tackled the dining room and kitchen all by myself, but the after pictures for those rooms aren’t particularly exciting and you’re probably tired of seeing pictures of ceilings by now!
So I’ll leave with this picture of a ceiling fan tied up in a garbage bag (a method I highly recommend to protect it from all the flurrying popcorn):
Next up: finishing the other rooms – living room, downstairs hallway and half bath, and the three other bedrooms and two baths upstairs. Then spackling any dents/holes/scrapes in the sheetrock on the ceiling and painting. We’re like 0.1% finished!