Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Popcorn Redux

When I last wrote about my textured ceiling problem here, I wasn't sure what direction I wanted to take. If you recall, I had just painted a stained and dirty looking texture ceiling when at the very end, a large section had delaminated. Past experience of trying to patch damaged popcorn ceilings has told me that any repairs will always look just like repairs were made. Research showed that removing the popcorn was easy if it hasn't been painted but if it had been painted on, it seemed sketchy about how easy it was to remove.

After mulling it over for a bit, I decided that worst case, I tear the whole ceiling down and start over if things looked to bad. So I grabbed my sprayer, filled it with water, grabbed a variety of scraping tools and dug into the project. I quickly found out that though the popcorn had delaminated fairly easy when wet with paint, it was an entirely different beast trying to remove it dry. So I experimented with spraying with water and letting it sit for various times before scraping and met with decent success. Fortunately I had used latex paint to paint the ceiling so it would absorb the water I sprayed on it and if I let it set three to four minutes before scraping, it would come off fairly easily.

I thought about going to buy a scraper with a long handle so that I could scrape from the ease of the floor but in the end I didn't do so for various reasons. The biggest reason was that my angle of attack to get it scraped off the easiest was about 30 degrees from the ceiling plane which meant that any such scraper would need a long handle to be comfortable and then it would be so long it would flex a lot making things harder. I started off using a ten inch drywall mudding knife and that worked well until I discovered that the ceiling had all the joints and screwheads mudded before they had applied the popcorn. While this was a bonus for me since I wouldn't have to do that after removing the popcorn and before painting, the popcorn stuck to those areas very tightly and made it hard to remove.

So in the end, I alternated using the ten inch drywall mudding knife and a stiff bladed four inch putty knife and made pretty good process. Of course since it was a very messy job and I didn't have enough time to do it during my daughter's naps and then have to shower down to get all the dust off before she woke up, I had to wait for a couple weekend afternoons when we weren't doing anything else and I had some free time.

When my arms felt like they were about ready to fall off due to all the scraping of the popcorn, I found that I was more prone to mistakes and gouging of the drywall. So once all the popcorn was off, I ended up going back in and mudding over the gouges and sanding the entire ceiling to smooth out my new mudding, some spots on the existing mudding which was done as you might expect when you know it was going to be textured over and also to remove some spots of popcorn that no amount of wetting down and scraping could remove. This latter was almost always over some of the existing mudding. The result is what you see in the top picture.

One coat of primer and two finish coats of white ceiling paint and the whole things looks a lot better. There are a few defects that I missed finding while sanding and mudding which always seems to be the case with ceilings and why I suspect textured ceilings were once all the rage. But they make the ceiling fit in with a thirty plus year old house. So finally the ceiling is done and I can move on to the walls which are much easier and straight forward to do.


Vince said...

I seem to remember using a steamer. You hold this plate, 10"X20", up against the ceiling for about two mins, then with a scraper you shove it through the area.
I don't know why exactly but I seem to remember it's something to do with a hard wall plaster and some sort of chemical reaction breaking bonds.

Ed said...

Vince - I'm sure a steamer would work well in this situation but I've never seen one for rent at the local rental store and I'm not sure I would want to buy one just for one ceiling.

Ron said...

We had a sand texture in our old house, and when I expanded the bathroom I had to try to match a big area. It ended up ok... but for this house I just stuck with smooth walls and ceiling.

warren said...

The other option I considered was a bulldozer. It might have been easier to just rebuild? Anyhow, glad you made it through!

Ed said...

Ron - Any new construction I undergo will have smooth walls and ceilings.

Warren - I can't lie. The thought of a bulldozer did cross my mind.

sage said...

That's a lot of work!