How to Deal With Old Popcorn Ceiling




Stucco was once one of the most popular materials for ceilings. More commonly known as popcorn ceiling because of its textured surface, it’s one of the few relics of the 1950s that didn’t age well. While it’s a practical material, it’s difficult to repair, and cleaning it is tricky as its signature surface catches dust easily.

On top of that, stucco is widely considered a tacky trend that’s better left as a footnote than a retro design trend. In this post, Handyman Connection® of Carmel shares three ways you can get rid of old popcorn ceiling.

The Scrape Method

This is the most straightforward method and involves using a four-inch drywall or utility knife to chip away the popcorn texture off the surface. You then smooth out the surface by skimming it with a medium layer of joint to fill in the imperfections. After smoothing the ceiling out, you can then apply a new texture or a different stucco.

Keep in mind that we only advise this method if your property is new. Older properties might have asbestos or other toxic materials beneath the textured surface. 

The Cover Method

Covering the old stucco with a new surface is ideal for older homes where you don’t want to risk the possibility of asbestos contamination. What you need to do is place a ceiling-grade gypsum board onto the surface of the existing ceiling. You are then free to apply a new texture on the board, effectively covering the old stucco.

While you can use any board and material, gypsum is what we recommend as it’s easy to secure in place when you compare it with other boards and panels.

The Skim Method

This method requires a bit of preparation, but is safer to do than scraping the texture directly. What you need to do is clean and prepare the surface using quick-set drywall mud. The way to apply this is similar to how you use a bonding agent.

Once that’s done, all you need to do is apply the finishing compound with a trowel or knife to create a new texture. This method is a bit time-consuming, but it allows you to customize the look of your ceiling either into a more attractive or modern stucco, or a completely different texture altogether.

Handyman Connection of Carmel is ready to assist you with your stucco ceiling and other home improvement needs. Call us today at (317) 342-2040, or fill out our form to learn more about our services.


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