Disclaimer: Before I get to the details, it’s super important to know if your ceiling has asbestos. You can buy a test kit to do yourself, or call a professional to check. If your ceiling tests positive for asbestos, leave this job to the pros. If your ceiling doesn’t have asbestos, read on.
As I mentioned last week, scraping the popcorn off our ceiling was easier than I expected. Lucky for us, these ceilings hadn’t been painted over, allowing the texture to absorb more water. If you’ve got a ceiling you want to smooth, get a weed sprayer, wide metal spatula, hot water, and white vinegar. You’ll also want safety glasses or goggles, a mask, and probably a hat.
If your floors are finished (or just for easy clean up), tape plastic over floors and finished walls. Fill the weed sprayer with the hottest water you can get from your faucet. No need to boil or anything, just hot. Add in vinegar. I poured about 1 to 1 1/2 cups in the sprayer. Start spraying the ceiling and don’t be stingy! Note, I’m not sure if the vinegar really helped because I didn’t do a side by side test, but vinegar did help with wall paper removal…
Spray a large area (the wet areas should be noticeably different from the dry ceiling – see along the back wall?), then test scrape. If it comes off easily, keep on going. Be careful to have your spatula at an angle so you don’t gouge the sheet rock below.
If it doesn’t come off, spray again, let it soak a few minutes then try. If your ceilings are painted, scraping the outermost layer off to expose fresh texture, then spraying again could really help.
Also, when you come up to a taped seam, scrape along it, not against it. This way you won’t tear the tape leaving a cracked ceiling behind. I worked toward the center, leaving my light up. When I got close, I pulled down the canopy, covered the electrical box with plastic, carefully sprayed around the box, and scraped off the rest.
Clean up was pretty easy thanks to the protective plastic layer, but the water did loosen the tape in some spots. After rolling up the sheeting, I hauled the shop vac in to get the rest off the floors.
The actual scraping took only an hour, which is about 23 shorter than I expected. Ha! Now I’ve got to fill a few holes to get ready for paint, which is always the tedius part.