How much does it cost to remove popcorn ceiling?
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Popcorn Ceiling Removal Cost Guide
Updated: August 17, 2022
Almost half a century ago, popcorn ceilings were a popular choice for homeowners. You saw them with psychedelic patterns with bright walls and shiny furniture. The inexpensive hand-troweled plaster with its spray-on technique was convenient. It looked like cottage cheese, which provided fire-resistant and noise-canceling effects. However, over time, it was found that popcorn ceilings are less than charming. They can be difficult and costly to repair, hard to clean, and do not age well. Moreover, the speckled surfaces are now considered to be outdated and out of style. And since it can also contain asbestos, it is wise to remove it. Fortunately, removing this type of texture is much easier to do.
The national average for removing a popcorn ceiling is from $900 to $2,500. Most homeowners spend about $1,700 on removing the texture from a 10’ x 30’ room, replacing it with a smooth texture. However, the cost varies from as low as $300 for removing a thin layer from a 10’ x 30’ room with no finishing to about $5,000 for removing an asbestos popcorn ceiling and completely refinishing and painting it.
Cost to Remove Popcorn Ceiling
|Popcorn Ceiling Removal Cost
|National average cost
Popcorn Ceiling Removal Cost per Square Foot
The average cost of removal per square foot is $1 to $4, depending on how thick the texture is and the ceiling height. The removal price per square foot does not include testing for asbestos, supplies, or disposal fees. This is just the price of removal by a contractor or painting professional. If you decide to add texture, paint, or decorative tiles after removing the original popcorn ceiling, this increases the overall project cost.
Price to Remove Popcorn Ceiling by Location
The price for removing popcorn ceiling varies by location and the typical ceiling square footage in each room. As some rooms are bigger than others, the average ceiling size in each location is the main factor in popcorn ceiling removal costs. However, a professional will also consider the ceiling height and texture thickness. The table below lists the average square footage of different rooms, which provides a better estimate for your removal project.
|Removal Cost (Labor Included)
|Dining Room (200 sq.ft.)
|$200 - $800
|Bedroom (200 sq.ft.)
|$200 - $800
|Kitchen (225 sq.ft.)
|$225 - $900
|Master Bedroom (300 sq.ft.)
|$300 - $1,200
|Living Room (330 sq.ft.)
|$330 - $1,320
Labor Cost to Remove Popcorn Ceiling
The average total cost to remove popcorn is $1,700. Of that total, approximately $300 to $1,200 is labor, with the rest going toward the price of materials, disposal fees, and asbestos testing before removal. The labor price to scrape off the texture runs from $15 to $40 an hour or $1 to $4 per square foot, depending on location, texture thickness, height, and other factors. This type of removal is typically performed by specialty contractors or painting professionals and takes about 12 hours to complete for a 10’ x 30’ area.
The contractor inspects the area and determines an estimate for the project. Then, they help you explore your options for replacing or refinishing the surface once the texture is gone. They make sure that asbestos testing is performed prior to removal. If it is safe, they will use scrapers and other tools to remove the texture. Once removed, they sand the surface and wipe it clean to prepare it for the new coat of paint, texture, or other chosen finish. Once the new finish is applied, the debris will be cleaned up, and the job is complete.
Several factors affect the price of removing the texture, including the total project size and height. This job will also be impacted by the thickness of the texture that needs to be removed because more labor will be required for thicker finishes. If drywall repairs, painting, or texturing are needed after the removal, those will incur an additional fee. You may also have to pay someone to move furniture during the removal. Finally, sometimes these areas still contain asbestos and should be tested before removal. If asbestos is found, abatement will be needed, creating substantially higher costs.
Asbestos Abatement Popcorn Ceiling Cost
If you also need abatement, the average asbestos popcorn removal cost per square foot is $3 to $7, or between $900 and $2,100 for a 10’ x 30’ room. This price varies depending on the thickness of the texture, the height of the surface, and the amount of asbestos found. The price for asbestos removal nearly doubles the price for this project and does not include testing. You should never start the removal process yourself until you get it tested for asbestos. Otherwise, you risk your health and the health of your family if they come in contact with airborne asbestos, which can cause lung disease.
The first step that a homeowner should take is to get their surface tested, which will incur an additional charge outside the average price to remove the surface itself. Asbestos testing should only be carried out by certified professionals. If the surface has been tested and asbestos has been found in quantities higher than 1%, it will need to be removed using specialty equipment and strict safety protocols. Also, note that homeowners’ insurance does not cover asbestos removal costs.
Cost to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling and Retexture It
The national average cost to remove a popcorn ceiling and retexture a 10’ x 30’ room ranges from $900 to $2,500. After removing the popcorn ceiling, it is recommended to retexture it to match the walls. The cost of replacing popcorn ceiling depends on which retexturing option you choose, with most ceiling textures priced between $0.60 and $2 per sq.ft. However, the cost of each texture varies if they require additional materials and tools. Some of the most common texture types are discussed below.
Smooth Popcorn Ceilings
The average price to create a smooth finish after removal ranges from $600 to $1,300, which is the price of sanding and skim coating, as well as the price of removal. After having it removed, many people choose to keep their ceiling smooth. This is a popular choice because it’s the cheapest and requires minimal work and experience.
Remove a Popcorn Ceiling and Replace It With a Knockdown
The national average price of replacing a 10’ x 30’ with a knockdown texture ranges from $900 to $1,800 in addition to the $300 price to remove the texture, for a total price of $1,200 to $2,100. The knockdown texture uses a soupy or watered-down compound to cover the drywall. The compound drips, which creates stalactites when it dries. These stalactites are then knocked down with a trowel that creates the texture. The texture hides any holes and other flaws, which may be apparent on smooth surfaces.
Santa Fe Ceiling Texture
The Santa Fe texture is very subtle. It consists of two smooth layers. One layer of thinly skimmed drywall mud is placed on top of a much thicker layer that is visible from below. This texture is popular in the southwestern U.S. because it creates a modern stucco-type look popular in this region and the southwestern style of home design. It is a much more modern style and offers a unique look.
Decorative Ceiling Tiles
To cover up the drywall, another popular option is to use decorative tiles. These tiles come in different designs and colors and can give your room added pizzazz. The best part about these tiles is that they cover up any imperfections in the surface and prevent water leaks. They are also conveniently installed and can be cleaned easily, making them a great choice for people who want something stylish and functional.
Orange Peel Ceiling Texture
This texture resembles the skin of an orange. It is also sometimes referred to as the eggshell texture. This texture is created by applying thin mud with a spray gun set at very high pressure. The orange peel texture is very subtle and adds an artistic ambiance to any room. Although it is also a more traditional style, it’s still preferred in several instances.
Skip Trowel Ceiling Texture
The skip trowel drywall texture is very popular and can also be used to plaster ceilings. Usually, a plasterer’s tool is used to create this texture. It can also be applied by using a trowel. All you need to do is dip the trowel in a joint compound and slowly drag it across the entire surface. The compound should not cover the entire area. This will create small circles in the texture.
Crow Foot Ceiling Texture
The crow’s foot texture is made with a stipple brush. This texture usually requires two people with one person applying the stipple brush pattern while the other applies mud in the rest of the area. Working in combination ensures that the texture takes appropriately before the paint and mud have time to dry. The project can be very messy, so the floor should be covered with a plastic sheet before starting.
Sheetrock Ceiling Texture
This texture has been around since 1917. It is a rough texture that you can create using just your hands. No special brushes or spray paint are required. It gives a room a modern style with a touch of elegance. Essentially, it just looks like a rough, rocky finish, and it can fit into homes that have a more contemporary design. It is also more affordable than other textures because it doesn’t require any special materials or equipment.
Stipple Brush Ceiling Texture
The stipple brush texture is very challenging to achieve and requires a lot of time and skill. It requires a slap brush and roller. It is commonly used to cover up imperfections in the drywall, such as holes, because the texture is rough in appearance. A thick layer of mud is applied to achieve this texture, and the process can get very messy. That’s why it’s best to cover the entire room in plastic before beginning the work.
Swirl Ceiling Texture
The swirl texture can be applied using a sprayer or roller. A trowel can also be used to do the basic swirl technique, providing the same results. This texture can be challenging to create because the pattern must be created before the mud dries out. Depending on the tool used, this can take a lot of time. If the space is large, it is better to involve another person in the process.
Stomp Ceiling Texture
The stomp texture requires a stomp brush and roller. This texture is created by using a drywall joint compound that is thinned down with water to a paintable consistency. This compound is painted onto the drywall, and then the stomp brush is used to create the texture. This creates a cool, textured look, but it can also get a little messy. It is a good idea to protect the space with a drop cloth. Then, the brushes are used to slap the surface from the edges. If this is not done correctly, the results can be very messy. Therefore, you should leave it to the professionals.
Tree Bark Ceiling Texture
Applying a tree bark texture requires using a professional roller that is made for texturing this style, and the appropriate joint compound or plaster to create the texture on the walls. The professional will create this texture by pressing down on the roller firmly. Then, paint can be applied on top to enjoy the look of natural tree bark in your home. This texture is commonly used in farmhouse or rustic designs and among nature enthusiasts.
Slap Brush Ceiling Texture
Slap brush texture is the next available option. This is a popular one, but it can also be challenging. You’ll use brushes that have stiff bristles and mud that has been thinned with water. First, the ceiling is covered with mud using a standard roller. Then, the professional slaps the surface using the brushes, starting from the edges and moving in. It can be a messy process. It’s one that needs to be done carefully, so it is best left to the professionals.
Remove Popcorn Ceiling and Skim Coat
You can expect to spend $2,000 to $2,150 to remove the texture and have a skim coat applied, with about $300 to $450 going toward the skim coating itself. Skim coating your surfaces is a great way to make them new again. It is a thin coat of a light joint compound applied with a spray rig, paint roller, or by hand to smoothen out ceilings and walls once the texture has been removed. A drywall knife or trowel is then used to flatten it out and joint compound can be applied to create texture, too. It is a simple technique that helps create a fresh surface so that it can be further refinished or painted, or left as is for a unique aesthetic.
Rosebud Ceiling Texture
The rosebud texture is a trendy choice and is simple to apply. It is created by first applying a very thin layer of the mud onto the area and then using an airless paint sprayer or stomp brush to create a texture that resembles rosebuds. It can be applied to a smooth-walled room to give an elegant aesthetic, but it will look good in just about any space when done properly. It tends to get messy, so protective drop cloths or plastic are suggested.
Removing Popcorn Ceiling and Refinishing Cost
Refinishing is important after removing popcorn ceiling, so you have a clean and smooth ceiling surface for painting or decorating in the future. The national average price to refinish a ceiling is around $2 to $2.50 per square foot. This is in addition to the price of removing the texture at $1 to $4 a square foot. For a complete project involving removing the texture and refinishing, expect to pay $3 to $6.50 per square foot in total. This does not include the price to paint when you are done.
Cost to Remove Popcorn Ceiling and Repaint
The average price to remove the texture and then paint is $2 to $6.50 per sq.ft. This price includes the $1 to $4 price of removal and an average of $1 to $2.50 to repaint the ceiling after the removal has been done. The removal and painting price that you pay varies depending on the thickness of the texture needing to be removed and any sanding and prep work that may be required before painting. You may reduce this price by choosing to DIY the painting once the texture is removed. However, many contractors and painters discount the work if you have them perform the entire project, helping you save money and still get a professional finish.
Alternatives to Removing Popcorn Ceiling
If you choose an alternative to removal like those listed below, you can expect to spend between $300 and $2,500. There are several instances where covering the texture may be preferred to removing the texture. Some people simply don’t want the mess and hassle of removal. Others want an easy way to get a clean slate and create the best finish.
Keep in mind that asbestos will not harm your health so long as it is not disturbed, uncovered, or significantly damaged. However, if you are doing big repair or removal projects on or near the asbestos popcorn ceiling, it is best to have professional removal rather than use these alternatives. If you have an asbestos-free popcorn ceiling, here are several ways you can cover up the texture, each with a few factors to consider.
|10’ x 30’ Ceiling Cost (Labor Included)
|$300 - $450
|$450 - $1,050
|$1,000 - $1,500
|$1,000 - $2,500
Skim Coat Over Popcorn Ceiling
The cost to skim coat over a averages $300 to $450 or $1 to $1.50 per square foot. This involves the process of applying a thin layer of plaster directly over the texture, rather than removing it first, and can cut down on the project price by taking away the removal expenses. A skim coat needs to be followed by a coat of paint, which could add to the final price of the project for professional painting.
Install Drywall Over Popcorn Ceiling
If you elect to install fresh drywall over a texture, you can expect to spend between $450 and $1,050 for a 300 sq.ft. project. The price to cover the surface with drywall will be priced at a rate of $1.50 to $3.50 per sq.ft., for both materials and labor. Drywall is composed of paper and gypsum and is an ideal choice if you want it to be resistant to mold and moisture. Special coatings can be applied to the drywall to make it more resistant. Drywalls are easy to install compared to plaster and other materials.
Beadboard Ceiling Over Popcorn
It will cost an average of $1,000 to $1,500 to install a beadboar over the texture. Beadboard is a type of manufactured wood. It is typically less expensive than hardwood planks. It offers a stylish, modern look and makes it easy to cover the outdated surface without investing in the price of removal. Beadboard comes in several designs and styles and may also require additional trim to complete the installation.
Wood Planks Over Popcorn Ceiling
If you opt to install wood planks over a texture, you can expect to spend $1,000 to $2,500. The price depends on the type of wood planks used and the type of surface and its height. Pitched ceilings will be more expensive to cover than flat ones. You may also need to pay for molding and trim for this job, so be sure to factor that in when considering the options. Wood can offer a classic, upscale look and gives you the option for several wood types and finishes.
Is Popcorn Ceiling Bad for Your Health?
The biggest concern with these ceilings is the risk of asbestos. If you are exposed to asbestos, its fibers can enter your body and cause serious health problems. These fibers cannot be naturally broken down by the body and can get lodged in your lungs or body tissues. It usually affects the respiratory system. Some primary diseases that are directly linked to asbestos exposure include lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma.
In 1978, the Clean Air Act was passed, which placed a ban on spray-on asbestos due to its harmful effect on workers. It was creating serious respiratory problems for those workers. However, buildings still used asbestos popcorn ceilings until the 1980s, overlooking the health concerns. After 1980, a new formula was introduced where these surfaces were free from asbestos. They used paper fiber or Styrofoam for creating its texture. Thus, there are no serious health concerns for surfaces of this kind that that were made post-1980s. However, if your house was built before 1986, there is the risk of asbestos in your ceilings.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Replacement. This surface must be replaced if it begins to crack and is seriously damaged. Not only does it give your house an outdated look, but there may also be a risk of asbestos, which has serious health effects. It also reduces the value of your home. Having it removed helps attract more buyers when you sell. It can even increase the resale value if you remove the surface and replace it with drywall.
- DIY prep and paint. To reduce removal costs, remove the furniture yourself, have your surface tested for asbestos beforehand, and handle the post-ceiling removal project like painting yourself.
- Permits. You do not need a permit to perform your own removal. However, there are some regulations regarding the removal of asbestos. Homeowners are banned from removing asbestos from their houses themselves. They must hire a professional.
- DIY. Although removal is a possible DIY project, it is only safe to do with the proper materials and protective wear. If there is a concern about asbestos, the work cannot be done by anyone but trained professionals.
- Wallpaper over popcorn ceiling. Professionals do not recommend installing wallpaper over popcorn unless the textured surface is removed first. Although some people do it, the results are rarely worthwhile, and the process is difficult.
- Obstructions. Ceiling fans, recessed lighting, and other fixtures in a popcorn ceiling need to be factored into the project. Lighting fixtures can be dropped into the new ceiling, and fans do not need to be removed, although the ceiling connection needs to be lowered for the fan.
- Debris disposal. If the popcorn ceiling removal is quite small and the debris is non-hazardous, you may be able to dispose of debris in the regular trash. Otherwise, you need to pay for professional debris disposal, which could cost $100 to $500 depending on if there is any asbestos or lead paint.
- Home value. Paying the cost to remove textured ceiling is worthwhile, thanks to the potential boost in home value. Refinished ceilings with a smooth, stylish look appeal to potential buyers more than outdated popcorn ceiling. If you are thinking of selling in the future, consider removing the popcorn ceiling first.
- Is it worth it to remove popcorn ceiling?
Typically, removal will be a worthwhile investment. For those on a budget, covering the surface may provide a more affordable option. However, considering that removal can increase the value of the home, it is usually worth it.
- Is it cheaper to remove popcorn ceiling or replace drywall?
It costs about $1.75 to $4 per square foot to replace drywall, which is a slightly lower price than removal, $1 to $4 per square foot plus the additional cost to create a new finish.
- What is so bad about popcorn ceilings?
Aside from the risk of asbestos, there is nothing inherently “bad” about these ceilings. However, they are a dated design trend, and many homeowners today prefer the look of a smooth or another textured style.
- How much does it cost to remove a asbestos popcorn ceiling?
A ceiling that tests positive for asbestos can be encapsulated or removed entirely. If a surface tests positive for asbestos, expect to pay between $3 and $7 per square foot.
- When did they stop using asbestos in popcorn ceilings?
In the late 1970s, the use of asbestos in ceilings was banned by the U.S. government due to its potential health concerns. Most ceilings made after this date do not contain asbestos. Some materials manufactured before that date were still installed in homes throughout the late 20th century, which is why homeowners in older homes should be aware of possible asbestos.
- How much does it cost to scrape popcorn ceilings?
The national average for removing a popcorn ceiling is from $900 to $2,500. Most homeowners spend about $1,700 on a single project.
- How long does it take to remove the popcorn ceiling?
If you use traditional removal methods, such as scraping, removing, and resurfacing your ceilings, the process can take an average of 20 hours of work to complete a project of 500 square feet.
- Does removing the popcorn ceiling increase home value?
Having this texture in your home can give it an outdated look and make it seem less appealing. Thus, removing the surface helps raise your home’s value and removes the outdated look that usually puts off buyers.
- Are popcorn ceilings out of style?
They are usually present in older homes and give a more dated look to any room. In modern homes, textures or smooth surfaces have now become a popular choice for ceilings and walls.