How we Remove Textured (& Heavily Painted) Ceilings in Hours

Even before we bought our 1980’s home in Mississippi, we talked about and researched how we could remove the textured ceilings, or more specifically stomped ceilings. There is nothing wrong with textured ceilings, we just love the look of flat ceilings and thought it would make the home feel refreshed. It’s totally a personal preference!

I did research on people in the Columbus, MS area to remove the ceilings for us because we really didn’t want to do it ourselves but it was really difficult to find someone. I called five different companies and none of them would answer their phones! When I did finally reach someone, they quoted me a minimum of $8000 for our 1600 sq ft house (I think it would’ve been closer to the $10000 range with our vaulted ceilings in the living room). I get it, it’s a pain in the rear kind of job, takes a good chunk of time and creates a huge mess but $8000 to remove textured ceilings was absolutely not going to happen for us. Our money is better spent elsewhere. We decided that if the textured ceilings were going to go bye-bye, we’d be the ones removing them.

I did a bunch of research on how we would go about this and came across a few methods that we tried out. Our ceilings are even more difficult than the typical popcorn ceilings because they have been painted probably 4-5 times on top of the texture. That makes it way more difficult to remove. If your ceilings aren’t painted with multiple coats, you could most likely get away with following this method!

We tried this and it didn’t work as beautifully because of the paint (isn’t it so satisfying to watch?!). We ended up taking over two weeks to do the first room we started this on. There were so many gouges in the ceiling we had to go back and patch and our hands were so tired. We tried the same method on the entryway hoping that we could get it removed quicker and easier with a better putty knife and spray, but we had the same result as before. For Ellie’s nursery we knew that we had to try a different method or else we would have gone insane (or more likely would have just given up and decided to keep the rest of the ceiling the way they were). We tested a few new methods until we found one that was quick and relatively easy, albeit messy, and finished the rest of the ceiling. We feel like now that we’ve got it locked down, we’re able to share with you how you can do it too! With this method we are able to remove the textured ceilings in one room in about 4 hours.

** If you are doing this in an older home, I’d recommend first testing it for asbestos using a kit like THIS.

This is what we started with:

And this is what we finished with:

What we use:

  • Drywall sander
  • Course (60-grit) sanding discs
  • Finer (80-120) grit sanding discs
  • 16 oz bottle filled with Thieves + vinegar + water
  • Floor scraper
  • Ladder
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Safety glasses
  • Mask
  • Gloves
  • Clothes you can get messy
  • Joint compound
  • Putty knife

What to do:

  • Start by prepping the room. This takes a good bit of time but it’s worth it, trust me. If you have carpet, cover it with plastic and any openings that you don’t want dust to escape from, remove the light fixture, air vents, blinds, etc. and cover those openings as well. We didn’t cover the floors in this room because it’s easier for us to just vacuum it up and these floors will be replaced in the upcoming months so we weren’t worried about them! A good tip I got from quite a few readers – if you plan on replacing the floors at the same time, don’t even worry about covering them. Remove the texture from the ceiling and then roll up the carpet with the mess on it and haul it out. The mess is cleaned up AND the floors are ready for their replacement! Yay for efficiency.
  • Scrape the big peaks off using the floor scraper. You might be able to get away with using a putty knife for this but in our case to cut through all of the paint, the sharper blade was necessary. Don’t dig too hard into the compound/paint. You aren’t trying to remove all of it with this step, just the peaks! If you accidentally create a gouge with the knife, don’t worry, we’ll fix that below (but the less gouges, the less amount of time it’ll take!). The reason for this step is to prevent the sharp peaks from shredding the sandpaper in the next step.
  • Using the drywall sander and the course grit sandpaper, sand away the remaining compound/paint working in small sections. Swap out a fresh sheet of sandpaper when you notice the current one becoming less effective. As soon as the drywall begins to appear under the joint compound, stop and move to the next section. The coarser grit sandpaper can easily tear up the paper layer of the drywall if you aren’t careful. Notice in the picture below how there are a lot of spots with just a very very thin layer of compound left.
Textured Ceiling Removal
  • Once you have completed the entire ceiling, go back over all of it with the fine grit sandpaper, removing any remaining joint compound. No need to completely remove the compound along the seams where the drywall pieces meet, or where they filled in the holes of any nails/screws. It should be pretty obvious where these are since there will be a long line of compound that is flush with the drywall (see photo below).
  • We then had to scrape about 1/2″ of the entire edge of the ceiling next to the crown moulding by hand using a spray bottle and putty knife because our sander couldn’t reach there.
  • Using a putty knife, fill in any gouges or nicks with joint compound. Let it dry completely.
  • Sand down the areas you filled in with joint compound using a sanding block.
  • Wipe down the ceiling with a damp cloth to remove any dust, and clean up your mess, it’s time to paint! We have painted all of our ceilings after removing the texture with this paint in a flat finish. It takes us two coats without priming to get good coverage. You can find our plans for the rest of this room HERE!
Stomped Ceiling

I really really hope you guys find this helpful and that is helps you achieve the feel you’re going for in your home. Until next time!

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