Hows and Whys of Popcorn Ceiling Removal Without Scraping

Popcorn ceiling removal
  • Author: Ivy Smith
  • Posted On: May 18, 2023
  • Updated On: September 18, 2023

Consumed by the fact that the only way to remove a popcorn ceiling is to scrape the layer off? You are mistaken. When it comes to popcorn ceiling removal, we usually talk about scraping the asbestos layer first with the help of a scraper. However, it is not the only known technique for popcorn ceiling removal.

Junking the popcorn ceiling with a scraper sounds like a facile task, until you realize that doing so will increase the likelihood of  exposure to asbestos in the ceiling.

However, there are other methods to get rid of the popcorn ceiling without scraping and we will walk you through them in this article.

Methods to Get Rid of Popcorn Ceiling 

Popcorn ceilings originally exploded around the mid twentieth century, were researched to be a potential source of latent asbestos, a potential carcinogen.

Since its ban in the mid 90s, getting rid of it is a huge concern for homeowners. It is recommended to test your ceiling for asbestos by collecting a sample and sending it to the laboratory. This is the primary reason we aim for popcorn ceiling removal or hiding the surface with other techniques. However it is easy to avoid using a scraper to remove the popcorn ceiling even if asbestos is found. 

The following two methods will help you to find  a plausible solution for your popcorn ceiling.

1. Use a Skim Coat

Skim coating is the best method for removing popcorn ceilings – hence  a benign technique. It will hide the popcorn ceiling.

Use a Skim Coat

Skim coating the ceiling means to apply a thin layer of joint compound over the textured popcorn ceiling. To begin with, first  cover all the furniture and relevant stuff in your room with plastic covers. This will prevent the chippings from getting stuck in the carpet or any furniture.

Following this, use a putty knife to gently remove any loose ceiling texture that is about to fall off. Clean the surface using a damp towel, vacuum, etc. to get rid of the dust before applying the coat. Apply the skim coat over the ceiling surface using a trowel to create a smooth and even surface.

If you think the popcorn-like imperfections are not hiding away with a single coat, you can apply multiple layers of skim coats each after the preceding one dries off. Afterwards, ceiling has been adequately sealed, you can level off the imperfections using a sand-block.

Skim coating for wall

If you want to give the ceiling a touch of vibrant hues, you may even go for painting the surface with desired color and may also impart a new texture ceiling (but of course not the popcorn one!).

2. Use Ceiling Panels or Tiles

When it comes to covering up the popcorn nodules, what can be easier than applying tiles, panels or wooden planks underneath the texture? You can even consider these options if you want to get rid of painted popcorn ceiling.

The prep work for this technique is the same; start off by cleaning any dust or debris from the ceiling surface and detach hanging or loose popcorn texture if you locate any. Make sure you use protective coverings over your furniture and floor.

Panels or tiles can then be applied over the cleaned surface. There are several types of tiles or panels that will serve the purpose including the following;

A. Polystyrene Panels

Polystyrene Panels

Polystyrene panels are light in weight and you can simply attach them with the ceiling surface using a good adhesive material. Using polystyrene panels also provides an additional insulting effect to your space as compared to other ceiling types.

B. PVC Tiles

pvc tiles

Another option is PVC (polyvinyl chloride) tiles, easily available in the market. PVC tiles are durable-cum-stylish options to conceal the popcorn ceiling. They are available in a plethora of designs and you can select one that complements your existing interior. These tiles can be attached with the ceiling using either a clip-in system or an adhesive.

C. Wooden Ceiling Panels

wooden ceiling panels

Wooden panels are also a good option to cover up your popcorn ceiling if you want to give your room a natural look. These panels can be customized for different shapes and sizes depending upon the area of the ceiling. A patterned look will add cherry on the top of your interior, giving it an aesthetic-cum-comfy look.

D. Mineral Fiber Ceiling Tiles

Mineral fiber ceilings have sound-absorbing properties and come in various textures and colors. These tiles require a metal-grid system that is suspended to get installed on the ceiling surface. These tiles are made up of different material mixtures that can be natural or processed. The use of processed or recycled material is responsible for their sound-absorbing properties. These tiles are also mold and mildew resistant and are quite affordable.

E. Metal Tiles

Metal tiles such as ones made from tin and aluminum act as a protective cover for popcorn ceilings. Despite being capable of functioning well, these tiles are less preferred because of cost considerations. They are more expensive than the options narrated above and therefore, homeowners prefer going for the “get more, invest little” option. However, these tiles are also available in different aesthetic designs, patterns, and colors.

Whatever panel type you choose, you must consider the level of maintenance you can afford with it.

Transform the Space by Peeling the Ceiling

Removing popcorn ceilings can be a messy and labor-intensive task. You can do it as a DIY project if you are not allergic to paint powders and chippings. But make sure to follow precautionary measures while removing. 

Scraping the texture layer, coating with a drywall, installing panels, etc. are techniques you can go for to get rid of the popcorn ceiling if it is still installed in your home. However, it is recommended to test the ceiling for asbestos before removing it.  


  • Is Covering the Popcorn Ceiling Better than Removal?
    Ceiling removal is the permanent method to get rid of the popcorn ceiling. While covering comes as a cheaper alternative.
  • Does Popcorn Ceiling Removal Cause Damage?
    Popcorn ceiling removal may cause damage to the underlying layers. However, it completely depends on the technique of the person performing the removal procedure.
  • Will Popcorn Ceiling Removal Release Asbestos Particles?
    If popcorn ceiling is tested positive for the asbestos presence, then removing it may release the asbestos particles in air. For this reason, it is important to wear a protective gauge. 
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Author: Ivy Smith

Ivy is a professional civil engineer and also provides her consultancy at ConstructionHow from the technical aspect. Her expertise entails home improvements and real estate. But the primary strength pins down to the construction sector. She began her career with a property management company cultivating more than 20 construction and real estate projects. She also contributes as a contractor to local and international commercial and domestic individuals.