Scraping Popcorn Ceilings & Removing The Carpet

When we initially bought the Willow house, it was really stinky. It wasn’t really a smell you could identify as just one thing, but rather layers of odd smells combining into this gross odor. As soon as you walked in the door it hit you, and everyone who walked through it in the beginning would always tell us how bad it smelled…. and we agreed! It’s just one of the fun perks of remodeling a neglected home.

Our initial plan to tackle the smell, and to start demo’ing the house, was to scrape the popcorn ceilings. All that texture holds bad smells, and several parts of the popcorn ceiling was coated in either grease (in the kitchen), or soot from the downstairs fireplace. A few spots also had very obvious water damage. Knowing it would be so much easier to haul out the scraped off popcorn ceilings when we rolled up the carpet, we started on the ceilings first. 

Scraping Popcorn Ceilings & Removing The Carpet by The Wood Grain Cottage

Practically every room in the house had them, so we started upstairs and worked our way through the house. Removing the popcorn isn’t a hard process, and you can get it done with minimal tools, but it does make a big mess. 

Scraping Popcorn Ceilings & Removing The Carpet by The Wood Grain Cottage

Here’s what we used to remove the popcorn:

First thing we did, was fill up a new garden sprayer with hot water. Then, we worked our way across the ceiling, spraying the popcorn in sections. We’d wait a minute for the water to soak in, then used our large putty knife to start scraping. We also wore a respirator mask just to make sure we weren’t breathing in any dust.

Scraping Popcorn Ceilings & Removing The Carpet by The Wood Grain Cottage

It was easy to get a good feel of whether or not the popcorn had absorbed enough of the water. If it had, the texture would come off in descent sized pieces, with minimal effort. If it din’t have enough water, it was really hard to scrape and find a place to have the putty knife get underneath the texture. If it wasn’t wet enough, we’d spray it a little more, letting the water have a few seconds to absorb. 

Scraping Popcorn Ceilings & Removing The Carpet by The Wood Grain Cottage

You can tell in the picture below that the popcorn ceiling is plenty wet. At this point, it literally comes off in sheets with the putty knife. The drywall underneath dries quickly, no harm done. 

Scraping Popcorn Ceilings & Removing The Carpet by The Wood Grain Cottage

The process really doesn’t take as long as you’d think, and after 20 minutes, the ceiling in the basement living room was drastically different…

Scraping Popcorn Ceilings & Removing The Carpet by The Wood Grain Cottage
Scraping Popcorn Ceilings & Removing The Carpet by The Wood Grain Cottage
Scraping Popcorn Ceilings & Removing The Carpet by The Wood Grain Cottage

It’s definitely a messy job, so if you’re planning on doing this to a room where you’re currently living, I would put plastic drop cloths over everything, and use a pan to scrape the popcorn texture into, rather than letting it fall on the floor. But because we were planning on cutting the carpet and rolling it into strips as soon as the ceiling in each room was finished, we didn’t care about the mess. 

Scraping Popcorn Ceilings & Removing The Carpet by The Wood Grain Cottage

The one area that I didn’t take pictures of, is the ceiling right next to the top of the wall. In that area, we were left with a small section of popcorn ceiling that was hanging down. The putty knife didn’t work great at removing it, so we used a razor blade to cut it off, running the blade in the crease between the wall and ceiling. It left a really clean edge. 

We worked our way throughout the house and each room instantly felt taller, bigger and so much better! The next step, was pulling up the carpet and pad, which I sadly didn’t get any pictures of. We worked our way throughout the house, cutting the carpet into 3′ or 4′ sections with the razor blade. Cutting it down made it much easier to haul out of the house. We did the same thing with the pad. And let me just tell you how gross it is to see what’s underneath the pad… I’m pretty sure the people who lived in the house before didn’t believe in vacuuming, or they didn’t own one. In the heavy walkway areas, the pad had actually disintegrated and came up in tiny pieces. Utterly disgusting. 

We quickly were left with a really lovely blank space…

Scraping Popcorn Ceilings & Removing The Carpet by The Wood Grain Cottage

Here’s a few before and “during” for comparison:

Before:

Introducing The Willow House by The Wood Grain Cottage

Progress: 

Scraping Popcorn Ceilings & Removing The Carpet by The Wood Grain Cottage

Before:

Scraping Popcorn Ceilings & Removing The Carpet by The Wood Grain Cottage

Progress:

Scraping Popcorn Ceilings & Removing The Carpet by The Wood Grain Cottage

The smell instantly improved throughout the house and the first demo job was complete! Next up, we brought in an electrician to add some lighting, and a plumber/ HVAC technician to install central air throughout the house.

More to come soon…

25 Comments

  1. It looks wonderful. What a great job you did. All your efforts are paying off. Were you at all concerned about asbestos in the popcorn ceiling?

  2. I hope you checked for asbestos in your ceiling. You have to have that removed by a qualified hazmat professional. Or you will be exposed to it

  3. Did you test your popcorn ceiling for asbestos? Apparently, it was used in ceilings until the mid ‘80s.
    We’re thinking off removing our popcorn, but haven’t tested it yet. Your home looks so much better without the ceiling and carpeting. Enjoying your posts…thanks!

    1. Our ceilings didn’t have asbestos, but if you think yours might, I would definitely test them. The house looks so much better without the popcorn ceilings!

  4. Just emptying the house is a major improvement in both look AND smell!! I’m so excited to see what you do with the house. It’s going to be GORGEOUS!!! Blessings from Missouri!

  5. Will different types of paints (oil) prevent the water from absorbing into the popcorn texture stuff?

    I do not know what type of paint we have through the house. I would hope latex….

    1. Yes! If the ceiling is painted, it makes it much more difficult to remove. We had one room, the laundry room, where the texture was painted and the water wouldn’t absorb. I didn’t love the outcome after it was scraped, so we’re having the ceiling re-coated and then textured. I would think you would have latex paint…

  6. I am loving your updates! We are closing on a house the end of December that is in need of some TLC. We will have to rip up carpets that are from the 70’s so I’m very nervous to see what is underneath them. The house also definitely has a smell! Hopefully we will be able to remedy that. Your updates have me excited!

  7. I am so amazed at all you have done!!! This is going really well (because I’m not doing the work?!) this is a very big house!! It already looks better. I’m looking forward to these mini reveals. I think you give us just the right amount of before and after photos. What an adventure!!

  8. Looks so much different & better already! Can’t wait to see each new post on the progress you get done. I know it will be gorgeous when you are done! Merry Christmas!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *