popcorn ceiling removal

Popcorn Ceiling Removal: To DIY or Hire a Professional?

One of the vital parts of a home is the ceiling. And one of the most common design options back then is the popcorn ceiling. However, like other trends, using popcorn ceiling as a ceiling design is slowly fading away nowadays. These textured ceilings, often found in homes built from the 1950s through the 1980s, have become synonymous with dated décor. As homeowners seek to modernize and update their spaces, the question arises: Should popcorn ceiling removal be done on their own or should they leave it to professionals? We’ll help you answer that question in this blog post. 

Understanding What Popcorn Ceiling Is And How Popcorn Ceiling Removal Works

Before diving into the removal process, it’s important to understand what a popcorn ceiling is. Essentially, it’s a textured ceiling finish, made from a mixture of drywall compound and polystyrene or styrofoam particles. This texture was applied because it easily masked imperfections and provided a degree of soundproofing. A popcorn ceiling, also known as a stippled ceiling, cottage cheese ceiling, or acoustic ceiling, is a ceiling treatment used in residential buildings. Here’s a brief overview about popcorn ceiling:

Composition of Popcorn Ceiling:

A popcorn ceiling texture is primarily made up of drywall compound mixed with polystyrene or Styrofoam pellets. This mixture is then sprayed onto the ceiling to create the distinctive bumpy texture.

Controversy and Decline in Popularity:

Asbestos: Many popcorn ceilings installed before the 1980s contained asbestos, a fibrous material linked to several lung conditions, including asbestosis and mesothelioma. Due to health concerns, the Clean Air Act of 1978 in the U.S. banned the use of asbestos in popcorn ceiling mixtures. However, contractors were allowed to use up their existing stock, so ceilings into the mid-1980s might still contain asbestos.

Difficult Maintenance: The textured nature of popcorn ceilings makes them prone to collecting dust and cobwebs. Cleaning or painting over them can be a challenge because the texture can flake or peel off easily.

Modern Aesthetics: As interior design trends evolved, the rough look of popcorn ceilings became less desirable, with homeowners preferring smoother finishes that reflect a more contemporary aesthetic.

Removal of Popcorn Ceiling:

Given the potential for asbestos, if homeowners decide to remove or renovate their popcorn ceilings, especially those installed before the 1980s, it’s essential to test for asbestos first. If asbestos is present, professional removal by specialists who can safely handle and dispose of hazardous materials is strongly recommended.

While once a hallmark of mid-century home design, popcorn ceilings have largely fallen out of favor due to aesthetic trends, health concerns, and maintenance challenges.

DIY Popcorn Ceiling Removal

For those considering the DIY route, there are some advantages and challenges to consider:

Advantages of DIY Popcorn Ceiling Removal

Cost Savings

By doing it yourself, you can save on labor costs associated with hiring professionals.


You can work at your own pace and schedule, without being dependent on a contractor’s timeline.

Personal Satisfaction

There’s a sense of accomplishment that comes from completing home improvement projects on your own.

Direct Oversight

Being in charge of the process ensures that every detail is to your liking, and you can make immediate decisions if issues arise.

Learning Opportunity

It’s an opportunity to acquire a new skill. You’ll become familiar with the tools and techniques required, which might be useful for other home projects.


You can immediately adjust the desired texture or finish, allowing for more personalization.

No Outsiders

For those uncomfortable with letting strangers into their homes, DIY means you won’t need to have an external team in your personal space.

Immediate Problem Solving

If an issue or unexpected challenge arises, you can address it right away without waiting for a contractor’s response or solution.

Material Control

You can select the quality and brand of materials you want to use, ensuring there are no shortcuts on product quality.


You can choose to tackle the project in stages, room by room, instead of committing to a larger, more disruptive project all at once.

Potential for Creativity

As you get a feel for the work, you might come up with design or texture ideas you hadn’t initially considered.

Understanding Your Home

Engaging in DIY projects often helps homeowners better understand their home’s construction and intricacies, which can be beneficial for future maintenance or remodeling projects.

However, while there are several advantages, it’s essential to weigh them against the potential challenges, especially the health risks associated with older popcorn ceilings that might contain asbestos. Proper research, preparation, and safety precautions are paramount if choosing the DIY route.

Disadvantages of DIY Popcorn Ceiling Removal

Asbestos Risk

Older popcorn ceilings (typically those installed before the mid-1980s) might contain asbestos. Disturbing asbestos can release harmful fibers, posing severe health risks.

Messy Process

Removing popcorn ceilings can be incredibly messy, and without the proper setup, it can lead to extensive cleanup or potential damage to furniture, walls, and flooring.

Potential for Damage

Without the right technique or experience, there’s a risk of gouging or damaging the drywall beneath, leading to more extensive repairs.

Physical Strain

Working overhead for extended periods can be tiring and physically demanding. It can lead to muscle strains, especially in the neck and shoulders.


Without professional tools and experience, the process might take much longer than anticipated.

Equipment and Material Costs

While DIY can save on labor, there are still costs for rental equipment, safety gear, and materials. Sometimes, without the bulk discounts that professionals might get, these costs can add up.

Lack of Specialized Tools

Professionals often have access to commercial-grade equipment and tools that might not be readily available for the average DIYer.

Safety Concerns

Beyond asbestos, working on ladders or platforms, dealing with dust and debris, and handling chemicals or solvents can pose various safety risks.

Inconsistent Finish

It might be challenging to achieve a smooth and consistent finish without experience, leading to areas that might need rework or touch-ups.

Disposal Issues

The debris from the removal needs proper disposal, and there might be regulations about how and where to discard building materials, especially if asbestos is present.

Hidden Challenges

Once the popcorn texture is removed, you might uncover other issues, like cracks or uneven surfaces, which you might not know how to address.

Increased Stress

DIY projects, especially large ones, can become overwhelming, leading to stress or frustration if things don’t go as planned.

Lack of Warranty

If you encounter problems after the removal, there’s no warranty or service guarantee like you might get from a professional contractor.

Given these disadvantages, it’s crucial to thoroughly research and prepare if you decide to take on popcorn ceiling removal yourself. For many, the potential risks, especially health-related ones, make hiring a professional the more appealing option.

Hiring a Professional Drywall Contractor 

If the DIY route seems daunting, hiring a professional might be a better fit:

Advantages of Hiring a Professional Contractor:

Expertise and Experience

Professional contractors have the necessary skills and knowledge, ensuring the removal is done correctly and efficiently.


Professionals are trained to handle potential hazards, including asbestos. If your ceiling contains asbestos, they’ll know how to remove it safely, adhering to regulations.

Time Efficiency

With experience, tools, and a team, professionals can complete the job in a fraction of the time it might take a DIYer.

High-Quality Results

Contractors have access to tools and techniques that ensure a smooth and consistent finish, ready for painting or other treatments.

Less Mess

Professionals often have specialized equipment to minimize dust and debris, making the process cleaner than if you were to do it yourself.

Insurance and Liability

Reputable contractors are insured, which means if there’s accidental damage to your home during the process, it’s covered.

Warranty or Guarantee

Many professional contractors offer warranties on their work, ensuring if any issues arise post-removal, they’ll address them.

Hassle-Free Process

Hiring a professional takes the burden off the homeowner. You won’t have to worry about equipment rental, material purchase, or any unexpected challenges that arise.

Proper Disposal

Professionals will handle the disposal of the removed material, ensuring it’s discarded following local regulations.

Cost Transparency

With a professional, you often get an upfront quote or estimate, helping you understand the full cost without unexpected expenses.

Problem Detection

Experienced contractors can identify and advise on other potential ceiling issues, such as mold, cracks, or structural concerns, that might not be visible beneath the popcorn texture.

Recommendations for Next Steps

After removal, professionals can suggest the best finishes, treatments, or paints for your newly smooth ceiling.

Peace of Mind

Knowing the job is in the hands of experienced professionals can be reassuring, allowing homeowners to focus on other aspects of their lives.

While hiring a professional contractor might have a higher upfront cost than DIY, the benefits, especially in terms of safety, quality, and convenience, often make it a worthwhile investment for many homeowners.

Disadvantages of Hiring a Professional Contractor:


Hiring a professional is typically more expensive upfront than doing it yourself, due to labor and expertise costs.


You might have to wait for an available slot in the contractor’s schedule, which may not always align with your preferred timeline.

Potential for Unreliable Contractors

If you don’t thoroughly vet and research contractors, you might end up with one who is unreliable or doesn’t deliver quality work.

Loss of Personal Control

By outsourcing, you give up some control over how the job is executed, which might be a concern for homeowners who have specific preferences or standards.

Potential Hidden Costs

Some contractors might provide initial estimates that don’t cover unforeseen challenges, leading to additional costs.

Privacy Concerns

Having a team of workers in your home can feel intrusive to some homeowners, especially in the current climate with health concerns.

Communication Barriers

If you and the contractor aren’t on the same page, there could be misunderstandings about the scope of the job, the desired finish, or other details.

Contractual Obligations

Some professional services might have contractual terms that could be limiting or come with penalties for changes or cancellations.

Potential Damage

Though professionals aim for precision, accidents can happen. Damage to walls, fixtures, or flooring, while rare, is a possibility.


While contractors will be quicker than DIY efforts, the removal process can still be disruptive. Noise, dust (even if minimized), and the presence of workers can disrupt your daily routine.


Some contractors might try to sell additional services that you don’t necessarily want or need, leading to higher costs.


Inviting strangers into your home requires trust. There’s always a minimal risk associated with allowing unknown individuals into your private space.

Post-Service Issues

If problems arise after the contractor finishes, it might be challenging to get them to return and address the issue, especially if they’re booked up or have moved on to bigger projects.

When considering hiring a professional, it’s essential to do thorough research, read reviews, ask for recommendations, and get multiple quotes. Proper vetting can help mitigate many of these disadvantages and ensure a positive, professional experience.


The decision between DIY and hiring a professional ultimately comes down to weighing important factors. Those factors include time, cost, effort, and the quality of the outcome. If you have the patience, time, and skill to take on a potentially challenging and messy project, the DIY route can be a rewarding experience. However, if you’re concerned about potential risks, especially asbestos, or want a guaranteed smooth finish, investing in a professional’s expertise might be the best course of action.

Whichever route you choose, saying goodbye to that outdated popcorn ceiling and embracing a fresh, modern look for your home will undoubtedly be worth the effort!

Tired of looking at your popcorn ceiling? Are you ready to say goodbye to your outdated popcorn ceiling? Don’t leave it to chance! Trust Seattle Drywall Contractor to transform your ceilings with expert care and precision. With our ceiling experts, popcorn ceiling removal will be fast and easy. So, whether it’s safety concerns or seeking a flawless finish, we’re the professionals you need. Act now for a ceiling that reflects your modern style. Contact us today for a free consultation and discover the difference professional expertise brings! 

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