Experts strongly recommend an asbestos check before you disturb the status quo. You can buy an asbestos testing kit or mail some scrapings to a laboratory for analysis.
In the event asbestos is present, put away your tools and contact state-certified asbestos abatement professionals. Asbestos removal is not a prudent DIY project.
Under the best circumstances, popcorn ceiling removal is a dirty job. You should wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including: face mask, goggles, close-toed sturdy shoes, coveralls and work gloves.
Gather your tools before beginning the project. You’ll need: ladder, 6″ putty knife or plastic trowel, spray bottle or garden sprayer (preferred), plenty of plastic tarps and a couple of rolls of masking tape. You may need a sander.
Prepare the room by moving contents to another area. Turn off the electricity in the room where you’re working and take down light fixtures and/or ceiling fan. Cover the floor and walls with plastic and secure with tape. Put on your PPE.
If it appears somebody has painted over the bumps, you will need to sand the ceiling before wetting.
Wet the textured ceiling thoroughly, using your garden sprayer or spray bottle. Using side-to-side motions lightly spray the same small section several times until you have properly saturated the entire ceiling. Let the water soak into the ceiling about 20 minutes.
Now it’s time to get down to serious popcorn ceiling removal business! You might want to crank up your favorite tunes. Get your putty knife and start scraping. Don’t get overly vigorous. Keep your putty knife level so you won’t gash the drywall.
There is no doubt this work is tedious, but very important. Just keep scraping until done. If it seems your work is getting harder, give that section another drink of water. Wait the requisite 20 minutes, start scraping and the “popcorn” should pop right off.
After you finish scraping, get a damp (not wet) sponge and remove any stragglers. Now, eyeball the ceiling for gouges or rips. If necessary, use drywall compound to repair the damage and conceal any nail holes. Be mindful, you’re aiming for a smooth surface, so that you will likely need to do a final sanding prior to painting.
Now, stand back and admire your popcorn ceiling removal work!