Acoustic Ceiling Removal DIY How to Guide

If you would like to get rid of your acoustic ceiling this do-it-yourself manual will provide you a step-by-step process for doing so. But before we get started I should caution you, removing your popcorn or cottage cheese ceiling as they are sometimes called is a lot of work. It also requires some specialized skills that can only be obtained thru practice. You must also make yourself aware of the dangers of asbestos acoustic ceilings when removing this type of ceiling texture.

Since getting into this business I have taken on several jobs where the homeowner (that’s you) actually paid the contractor (that’s me) as much or more money to have the damage they caused repaired than it would have cost to have our team do the job from start to finish.

The most common failure is being too aggressive when attempting to scrap down the ceilings resulting in damage to the drywall leading to either the need for replacement or excessive and costly repair. This is because the removal process involves wetting down then scraping the ceiling. Timing is an issue in this step because if you apply too much water or wait too long it will soak into top layer of paper coating the drywall causing it to buckle, tear or separate. This type of damage will show through the new drywall texture after application.

The other most common problem is not getting enough of the material off resulting in the need to basically start over. This last scenario can actually be more difficult and time consuming than doing the job correctly from the beginning. If you don’t wait long enough and not only is the scraping more difficult but you will leave bits of the gypsum compound that the ceiling is made from behind. These must be removed before applying wall texture for proper adhesion of the new finish.

The problem here is that attempting to remove ‘spots’ or thin layers of ceiling left behind is very difficult to do without damage to the paper coating on the drywall. It becomes nearly impossible to wet the ceiling enough to remove these problem areas without leading to saturation of the paper.

Other problems I have run across in Do-It-Yourself jobs gone bad ranged from damaged wall paper and paneling because of improper masking to physical injuries. The Acoustic material becomes a wet slippery mess after scraping and can easily result in slipping and becoming hurt. Move slowly and make sure your feet are firmly planted. Like walking across an ice rink it is something that is always dangerous and you must walk carefully with firm well placed steps.

This is also a project that is physically demanding and I guarantee you that if you are not use to working above your head you will be sore for a few days after removing a house full of acoustic. Try this; tilt your head back and look up straight up then put your hands above your head as if you were working on the ceiling. Hold this pose for about 10 minutes then imagine doing that for the next couple of days nonstop. Many in our business end up with neck injuries serious enough to require surgery.

I am not trying to scare you out of attempting this upgrade to your home but only want to warn you of some of the pitfalls you may encounter. Like most construction projects it can be difficult, time consuming and if not done correctly, dangerous and expensive. If you have never taken on a large home improvement project don’t make acoustic removal your first - get a professional.

However, removing those ugly acoustic ceilings from your home can be done and if you feel you are up to the task say goodbye to those popcorn nightmares and let’s get started on your new ceiling texture.