What to Do After Removing Popcorn Ceiling

Do you believe that your popcorn ceiling problem can be eliminated by simply removing it? Think again.

Popcorn ceilings are the interior aesthetics of the past, so if you are looking to remove yours, chances are you are planning to opt for a different style. If so, simply removing the popcorn ceiling won’t fix the problem; you will have to put in a lot of necessary work to get a new ceiling.

So here we’ve got the definitive step-by-step guide on what to do after removing the popcorn ceiling. Just follow these simple steps after removing the popcorn ceiling to give your ceiling a fresh look:


Step 1: Let the Ceiling Dry

The first thing you should do after scraping the popcorn ceiling is not to do anything with it at all. Yes, you read that right. This is because you can never start refinishing your ceiling right after removing the popcorn texture from it. Instead, you should always let the ceiling dry before proceeding to the next step.

Why Is It Important to Let the Ceiling Dry?

Nothing will stick to wet drywall. As a result, this step of waiting patiently to let the ceiling dry is crucial for the perfection of every step that follows.

How Long Does It Take to Let the Ceiling Dry?

It usually takes 24 to 48 hours to let the ceiling dry, depending on the weather conditions. After that, you can simply check it with your hand every few hours to see if it feels moist or not. Once your ceiling is nice and dry, you can proceed to step 2.


Step 2: Repair the Drywall

Observe the drywall of your ceiling for any damage caused by the scraping of the popcorn ceiling. You should repair the drywall before applying anything on top of it.

What Options Do You Have For Repairing the Damaged Drywall?

You’ve got three options for repairing the damaged drywall of your ceiling:

  • Plaster of Paris
  • Powder Joint Compound
  • Pre-mixed Joint Compound

What Material Is the Best for Repairing the Drywall?

Pre-mixed joint compound is the best for repairing the drywall for several good reasons:

  • It has glue – Pre-mixed Joint compound has glue mixed in it, so it sticks better to the drywall surface.
  • It’s clay-like – The clay-like creamy texture allows for easy application.
  • It’s air-dry – The compound is air-dry, and it takes some time to dry naturally, so you get a reasonable amount of time to apply it without a rush. On the other hand, plaster of Paris and powder joint compound start setting up as soon as you mix them with water, so you need to apply them quickly.
  • It’s pre-mixed – This is another plus point, of course, as the compound comes ready to apply.

How to Repair the Damaged Drywall?

Here’s how you can repair the damaged drywall after removing the popcorn ceiling:

  • Take a small amount of pre-mixed joint compound on a 4 to 6 inches putty knife
  • Apply joint compound on the damaged area of the drywall
  • Evenly spread the joint compound with the help of the putty knife
  • Make sure to coat a very thin layer of joint compound to give the ceiling a smooth look

Do You Need to Skim Coat the Whole Ceiling?

If you’d still like to add a bit of texture to your ceiling, you can skim coat the whole ceiling with the pre-mixed joint compound. However, you will want to skip this if you are looking for a modern smooth finish.

It’s also suggested to apply a skim coat of joint compound to create a protective layer on the drywall. Still, it’s an optional step, and painting the ceiling without a skim coat is perfectly fine too.

How Long Does It Take For the Joint Compound to Dry?

The joint compound dries quickly, so it won’t take more than 4 to 5 hours. Regardless, you should make sure that it is completely dry before moving to the next step.


Step 3: Protect Your Furniture and Floor

Hopefully, you’ve already sheltered your furniture and floor before scraping the popcorn ceiling. You can either move your furniture to another room or cover it with a drop cloth in the corner of the room where you’re working. If you’ve planned to use a paint sprayer, it would be better to move the furniture out of the room. On the other hand, if you plan on using a paint roller, just moving furniture to a corner of the room will do.


Step 4: Sand the Ceiling

Now it’s time to sand the ceiling to make it ready for the coats of primer and paint. No matter how large or small a surface is, sanding is necessary before moving to paint.

Why Is It Important to Sand the Ceiling?

It’s vital to sand the drywall of your ceiling before priming and painting it. Sanding makes the surface of the drywall smooth so that the primer and paint adhere well. Moreover, smooth drywall ensures a fine and even finish of the paint.

What Precautions to Take Before Sanding the Ceiling?

You should wear safety glasses and a face mask before sanding your ceiling to protect your eyes, mouth, and nose from the particles.

Which Tool Is the Best for Sanding the Ceiling?

A pole sander would be the best choice for sanding a ceiling for these good reasons:

  • You can easily sand an 8-10 feet ceiling standing on the ground with the help of a pole sander
  • A pole sander can reach farther than your arm. So even if you’re sanding a high ceiling, you won’t need to move the ladder from place to place
  • Your arms won’t get tired while sanding with a pole sander

Step 5: Apply Painter’s Tape

Apply Painter’s tape to the edges of walls meeting the ceiling to protect them from the paint. Here are a few tips for applying the painter’s tape perfectly:

  • Wipe the surface of the wall with a clean piece of cloth. This step helps in sticking the painter’s tape to the surface of the wall properly.
  • If you are using a paint roller for painting the ceiling, you should apply a 2-inch wide painter’s tape. If you’ve got a 1-1.5 inch painter’s tape, you can apply two strips slightly overlapping each other for perfect protection of the wall’s edges.
  • Make sure to stick the tape firmly along the edges so that the paint doesn’t seep into the wall.
  • If you’re planning to use a paint sprayer, then you should use painter’s tape to hold the plastic sheets to cover the walls completely.

Step 6: Prime the Ceiling

Now, after carrying out all the initial steps carefully, it’s time to start priming your ceiling.

Why Is It Important to Prime the Ceiling?

It’s essential to prime the ceiling before painting it for several good reasons:

  • Primer makes the paint look more vibrant.
  • Primer creates a protective layer and prevents the absorption of paint’s moisture in the drywall. You can imagine very well that if the paint loses its moisture, it will look patchy or start flaking.
  • Paint doesn’t adhere well to the drywall surface directly without a coat of primer.
  • Primer protects the paint from bubbling.

How to Prime the Ceiling?

Just follow these simple steps to prime the ceiling:

  • Take a paint roller to apply the primer
  • First of all, prime the marks, spots, or damaged areas that you’ve fixed
  • Now prime the edges of the ceiling
  • Now, cover the whole ceiling with a nice coat of primer
  • You can apply the 2nd coat of primer if needed, but wait for the first one to dry before that

Step 7: Paint the Ceiling

Once the primer has dried well, you can begin painting your ceiling.

Which Paint Works the Best After Removing Popcorn Ceiling?

A dead, flat paint or matte finish paint would be the best after removing the popcorn ceiling. Here’s why:

  • Better Coverage – Dead, flat paint gives better coverage and helps in hiding flaws of the ceiling. 
  • Non-reflective – Since the paint is non-reflective, it’s less likely to show any roller lap marks.
  • Easy to apply – It is more suitable for a DIY project because it’s easy to apply. It’s also less likely to show any imperfections.
  • Cost-effective – It is cheaper as compared to glossy paint.

Which Painting Method Works the Best After Removing Popcorn Ceiling?

Paint roller would be the best for painting after removing the popcorn ceiling for these reasons:

  • Simple tool – The paint roller is a simple yet effective tool, making it the best choice for a DIY project. The paint sprayer, on the other hand, requires you to practice the technique first.
  • Less preparation – You can’t imagine painting your ceiling with a paint sprayer without moving your furniture out of the room or covering the walls with a sheet. On the other hand, for the paint roller method, you can cover your furniture on a side, and there’s no need to cover the walls.
  • Cost-effective – Paint rollers are cost-effective compared to paint sprayers, so they’re more suitable for a small DIY home improvement project.

How to Paint the Ceiling With a Paint Roller?

Here are a few tips for painting the ceiling with a paint roller:

  • Start with painting the edges of the ceiling with a 9-inch edge painting roller.
  • Take an 18-inch roller for painting the ceiling. You can use a smaller roller if you like, but a bigger one can help you paint the ceiling much faster and without getting tired.
  • Paint the ceiling by dividing it into small 4 feet by 4 feet squares. So you can divide your ceiling into 3 to 4 squares or more depending on the size of your roller and ceiling. Now paint one square at a time and keep moving on.
  • Make sure to move the roller in the same direction to paint the whole ceiling.

Step 8: Remove Painter’s Tape

At this point, only the final step of your project is left to be done. You now have to remove the painter’s tape that you’ve applied to the edges of the walls.

When Should You Remove the Painter’s Tape?

You should remove painter’s tape from the edges of the walls only when the paint has dried. So wait for at least 24 hours to let the paint dry completely.

How to Remove the Painter’s Tape?

Just follow these steps for removing painter’s tape from the edges of the walls:

  • Take a sharp knife, paper cutter, or putty knife to cut the edges of the tape alongside the newly painted ceiling.
  • Now gently pull the painter’s tape towards your side at a 45-degree angle.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, we have covered all the essential questions that might come to your mind while planning what to do after removing the popcorn ceiling. Our comprehensive step-by-step guide has all you need to know to complete this DIY home improvement project. So now it’s time for you to give your popcorn ceiling a fresh new look. And the best part is that you can do it yourself.

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