Finishing Ceilings After Popcorn Removal

So, those unsightly popcorn ceilings are gone thanks to lots of scrapage (tutorial here) and arm strength but now what?  You've uncovered bare drywall and all of the drywall mud (those white stripes) but the ceiling isn't exactly smooth...yet.

If you just painted over the ceiling at this point, you'd see lots of ridges, lines, and shallow craters - the lines of the mud and the craters left behind from halfway filling in the screw holes holding the drywall up.

Not pretty and definitely not the result you want after spending all of that time scraping.

Note:  The following method of finishing the ceilings came after some trial and error, very unfortunately.  We spent a few extra hours doing things the wrong way...or maybe just a less efficient way that I won't get into because it's worthless.  Just so you know...  ;)

Here's how we finished our ceilings - the most efficient (and least messy) way.


So I started something...

It's been something I've been wanting to start for a good long while now and the timing has never been right.  And to be completely honest, I'm a little overwhelmed with the thought of moving forward with it right now but it's all going to be ok, right? 

It's called...


I've had this nagging feeling for the past couple of years that I've just been in a mode where I complete a room and then I write up the big reveal, throw a few tutorials in there, and call it a blog.  And it's all great!  I know so many of you have found inspiration in my ideas (said as humbly as I can) and it's motivated you to get down and dirty with some DIY in your own space but still, I feel a lot of the time like I'm just "showing off" what I did and because I'm a big secondhand buyer, I can't always jot down all of the links and sources for you to do the same and so sometimes it all feels one-sided.  It's the same with Instagram and sharing over there...even more so sometimes.

So, I wanted to come up with something to involve YOU more in what I'm doing over here.  Something that will provide inspiration and support and just a whole lot of fun.  With our new house and all of the rooms needing attention, it's the perfect time to get everybody in.  :)

Removing Popcorn Ceilings - How We Did It

Popcorn ceilings!  It only took me forever to write about these but hey, the post is here and maybe you care and maybe you’ll just move on but either way, let’s talk all about them!  Specifically, let’s talk about getting rid of them!

It only took us three weeks of plugging away but our new house has 2300 square feet of smooth ceilings to add to it’s resume.  I’m going to tell you all about how we went from popcorn to smooth but first, let’s do a quick Popcorn Ceilings 101. 

What are popcorn ceilings? 

A travesty, that’s what.  Hehe…kidding.  They’re not really that bad and some people probably like them way more than we do and that’s a-ok.  To each his own, right?  Right.  Popcorn ceiling refers to the popcorn-like/cottage cheese texture that some ceilings are covered with, especially in houses built in the 70’s, 80’s, beyond.  Really, they just look like someone sprayed a mixture of teeny-tiny pieces of popcorn stirred up into thick chalk paint up onto the ceiling.

Apparently they have functional value in that they up the acoustics of a room – they make sound stop in it’s tracks and not bounce all over the place (though I can’t say that smooth ceilings really make sound in a room louder).  They are also somewhat of a short cut on the building-of-the-house side in that ceilings don’t have to be “finished” quite as much as walls if they’re just going to get sprayed with popcorn texture.  It covers a multitude of drywall imperfections and we. would. know.  We recently finished (well, almost) making amends with those imperfections and THAT will be a whole ‘nother post.

Why get rid of them? 

Well, there’s nothing super bad about them.  Aesthetically, they’re just not the most pleasing.  The texture creates lots of shadows on the ceiling which in turn makes a room darker.  Light just kind of hits them and stops instead of bouncing off them to what’s below, like it does on smooth ceilings.  They’re also great at holding onto dust and cob webs AND they can harbor allegens.  Oh, and cigarette smoke (lots of fingers pointing to our ceilings).  Let’s not forget about that.  Awesome, right?  But, here’s the thing, they’re almost impossible to clean.  Any amount of light scrubbing or on-contact vacuuming will most likely ruin them/create a ruined spot.  You can attempt to fix spots but getting them to match the original is no easy task.  The main reason that we are getting rid of ours (followed by aesthetics in a v v v close second) is because the previous owner of our home smoked inside and they were stained and held in that ashtray smell.  Case in point, our master bedroom:

How do you get rid of them?

First of all and VERY importantly, if your home was built prior to 1980, your popcorn ceilings might be made with asbestos.  Make sure you check first (you can buy test kits like this one* that note a lab fee) because if they are made with asbestos, you’ll have to leave the removal to a pro or learn to live with them.

You can have them professionally scraped and removed…but it’ll cost ya.  We looked into this in our old house because the popcorn ceiling in our kitchen was discolored and we wanted to remedy that before we put it on the market.  It was sort of a fiasco but in a nutshell, we tried to paint the popcorn, it started falling off with every roll of the paint, and in a panic, I called a local drywall specialist to see how much it would cost to have them removed.  He quoted me $3/square foot so almost $600 for just our kitchen and dining nook.  Ouch.  We ended up scraping what we could and then spraying a knock-down texture instead so we solved our dilemma but, just so you have an idea of pricing, our house is around 2400 square feet so we’d pay $7200 to have our popcorn ceilings removed down to those smooth beauties.  Not a handful of change by any means and in our case, not worth the cash when we knew we could try it ourselves…with success, I might add.  ;)  Cha-ching…in our pockets.
Which leads me to option numero dos – scraping them off yourselves.  I’ll be honest, it’s not nearly as bad as I thought.  I’ll get more into that later.

You can also just cover them up.  Cindy did that with hers and the planks add a lot of character to her space.  (Spoiler alert, we have some covering up plans for the bathroom that had painted popcorn.  I’m dreaming of geometric tiles.)

Another option is to spray or have a professional spray them to create a knock-down texture look.  My sister and her hubby had this done to their entire home and it cost them a small fraction of the cost it would have been to get them scraped.

Let’s get to the fun part though, shall we?  DIYing those ceilings off.  :D

High & Wide

I feel like we're just exiting the "getting settled" part of this move and moving (very excitedly) into the tweaking part.  AKA, everything is moved and, at the very least, everything is in the room that it's going to permanently reside.  But every single one of those rooms is unfinished...very much so.  As to be expected though, right?

We are SO excited to start making this house our home...on the usual small budget, of course.  Our priorities have changed just a smidge since we moved in but I'll update you on that in a different post.  And finish the post(s) about the (now gone) popcorn ceilings.  And get a moved-in house tour up.  Add a few etcs and I think we'll be good.  ;)

Today though, let's talk curtains.  One of my favorite things to do is hang them.  In my opinion, they are the best way to warm up a room.  By just putting up a rod and some fabric, you can change the feel of a whole room - from stark to homey - just like that.  But how you hang them matters.  And really, I'll never tell anyone they're hanging their curtains the wrong way (because once upon a time, I was hanging them "wrong"...check out the master in our first house) but there's a better way - high and wide.  For me, this PSA I found pinned changed my entire curtain-hanging life once upon a time and I'll never look back.

Let's take this window in our master bedroom:

A few things...


Once again, I feel as if I've been neglecting the blog.  But really, any neglect isn't intentional and it's just that life has been crazy lately.  Let me explain...

1)  We moved.  Yep, you know.  We are still not completely settled and probably not even halfway there because...

2)  The morning after we moved we got a call that Anthony's grandfather had passed away.  :(  Up until that morning, our kids had been able to walk to, talk to, and hug all of their great-grandparents.  Pretty amazing, right?  So, we loaded up a few days later and made our way to North Carolina where we celebrated his life and got to spend a lot of good time with his entire immediate family.  Bittersweet was the word. 

3)  When we got home and walked into our new house, the flood gates of Overwhelming Dam unloaded on me.  There is A LOT to do.  Anthony keeps having to remind me that this is not a short-term flip.  It's a long-term homemaking.  ;) 

4)   I've since resolved myself to taking it a room-a-day instead of hopping around from this one to that one while thinking about that room three over that really needs a good organization.  Today I tackled the dining room. 

It's hard to see the bare drywall where in my mind I see paint on the walls with a fun wallpaper under the chair rail and art on the walls and curtains and a new chandelier and wood tile floors and and and...

5)  It's a long-term homemaking.  Breathe. 

6)  Last, the writer I used to write my posts with that I absolutely loved went caput on me and so I've been having to publish from Blogger's platform and it's been much less than fun.  Writing a post sounds fun until I remember I have to fanagle with Blogger.  But, I'm weighing my options so hopefully I'll have a better avenue soon.  Don't worry though, I promise it won't keep me from posting.  ;)

7)  I have a really fun idea to share that involves you, yep, YOU, so stay tuned!