I pretty sure I have said how much I hate popcorn ceiling on this blog. I did my first popcorn removal on a small bedroom downstairs a couple years ago and it was a slow and very laborious process. With a large garage full of popcorn on the ceiling, I wasn't keen to do this process on four times the area. But I'm getting ahead of myself a bit.
After jacking up the sagging corner of the house and getting the drywall back in place and mudded, it looked so nice that I hated the rest of the walls full of holes and defects. So I mudded them as well so that they were looking nice however on one side of the garage, the side I jacked up, the intersection between the wall and the ceiling had suffered damage to the drywall tape so I worked on fixing that. All the while I kept glancing over at the popcorn ceiling thinking that there had to be a better way.
That evening I caught part of a home improvement show that I don't normally watch on television. The premise is that a couple buys a fixer upper house and the couple showing it to them fix is up into their dream home. The buying couple commented (with dread) on how the house was full of popcorn ceilings (my thoughts too) but the host cheerily said that it was easy to scrape off the popcorn leaving behind enough that it still was a slightly textured ceiling and then paint over it. I was intrigued. My first and only attempt had scraped it down completely to the drywall and that last little bit was always the hardest without gouging into the drywall paper.
I scraped a small corner of the garage with a small putty knife and most of the popcorn came off really easily leaving behind a lightly textured amount stuck to the ceiling. I thought if I got a bigger scraping device, that doing the entire garage wouldn't be so bad. After looking around a bit, I found a popcorn scraper at the local home improvement store and spent a morning scraping the ceiling. It went okay but I had problems. Some places I would scrape off the popcorn leaving behind the lightly textured surface I was looking for and other places I would scrape all the way down to the drywall without any trying. The result I knew would be some areas with texture and some smooth. I tried hand scraping those areas with texture to just make everything smooth but ran into the problem I had from my first attempt a couple years ago in the basement bedroom. At this point I made the decision it was just a garage ceiling and that was just going to be the way it was.
The next day I started painting the ceiling and immediately ran into problems. As the paint went on, big flakes of the remaining texture flaked off. The more I tried to paint the more flakes came off turning the entire thing into an ugly mess. So I stopped, cried and decided I was going to do something else the rest of the day. That night as often happens, it came to me in my dreams that if wet paint made the remaining texture flake off so easily, maybe applying water with a paint roller would do so as well. On my previous attempt in the basement I had squirted it with water from a hand held weed sprayer but it just didn't let the water really soak into the popcorn base well enough to be effective. I filled a five gallon bucket with water, attached a paint roller to my extension handle and applied water directly to the ceiling as if painting it. I then climbed up a ladder with my widest putty knife in hand and scraped. The texture base came off easily and in putty knife wide sheets. I ended up rolling water onto a 4 x 8 feet area of popcorn texture base and then scraping the area which I could do with just two moves of my ladder. About two and a half hours later the entire ceiling was done and best of all, because the texture came off easier, I had very few dings and gouges in the ceiling that I had to repair. It looks a thousand times better and I'm pleased with the result. Best of all, I now have a pretty good method for doing the rest of the popcorn ceilings in our house when the time for doing them is right.