A Brief History of Popcorn Ceiling Removal

Ceilings Haven’t Always Been This Way…

Popcorn ceiling is also called “stucco ceiling” and “cottage cheese ceiling.” Around 50 years ago in Toronto and Southern Ontario, popcorn ceiling was extremely popular, springing up above splendidly coloured walls, mind-blowing patterns, and sparkly furniture.

More affordable than conventional hand-trowelled mortar, the sprayed-on style —that looks like popcorn—covered roof blemishes provided a measure of resistance to fire and offered soundproofing advantages. The style of stucco, popcorn ceiling began dropping down the pecking order in regard to popular ceiling finishes in the Greater Toronto Area around the mid-1990s since a few formulations had asbestos.

amazing smooth ceilings

Discontent with Stucco Ceilings in Toronto

Dislike for stucco ceiling picked up momentum in the 2000s when mortgage holders began to recognize these ceilings are not appealing to the eyes, obsolete, and have a tendency to draw in grime and dust. During the (one of many) housing booms in Toronto, numerous homeowners who live in more ancient houses are currently procuring contractors to expel the grimy surface from their homes.

In case you are fed up with your ceiling looking like popcorn, it may be a great time to remove the stucco ceiling. Stucco removal is a messy task, but the effort is worthwhile in case the substrate below is in perfect condition. Below are a few tips on popcorn ceiling removal.

Test for Asbestos!

Any stucco ceiling set up before 1980 may contain asbestos which is commonly known to cause cancer of the lungs. First and foremost, before attempting to remove any popcorn ceiling surface, seek advice from your local department of health to ascertain whether or not the popcorn ceiling is tested for asbestos. In case the test turns out to be positive, cover the ceiling with new drywall or seek the services of an asbestos contractor to assist in the popcorn ceiling removal.

kitchen with nice ceilings

Prepare for major dirt

Cover the walls and floors with plastic sheeting as you start your popcorn ceiling removal process (as seen in this before and after video here). Try not to utilize cloths since water will get soaked. Clean-up is less stressful with plastic as well since you can fold it up when you are finished working and toss it in the bin. Leave the plastic set up after stucco removal to get the dirt that will result from repairing and sanding the ceiling afterward.

Take furniture out

If possible, it is advisable to take out all furniture from the room you will be working. You would not desire your furniture to limit your movement each time you are moving your ladder in the room where you are working. I know in many homes, moving everything out might be impossible. Therefore, in such a scenario, bunch it up at a central point and cover it with plastic sheets.

Expel roof fixtures and fans

You may believe it is less demanding to leave in place these fixtures apparatuses and electric fans before you begin the popcorn ceiling removal process, but they will merely make it difficult for you to work. Also, you would prefer not to splash water into an electrical installation accidentally.

kitchen combo living room ceiling

Removing Popcorn Ceiling


The strategy

During popcorn ceiling removal, you will need to utilize a four-inch utility knife to remove the texture and make the surface smooth. You will have to skim it. For the skimming, you will use a thin layer of joint compound and thus smooth out flaws, and then sand it smooth before you repaint.

Why do it?

This is by a wide margin the most popular technique for popcorn ceiling removal. This process is untidy and messy; however, it is the most economical and can be finished by one individual. Nonetheless, popcorn finishes regularly contained asbestos, which could be poisonous if sent airborne. In case you reside in an ancient house, seek advice from a specialist about asbestos testing. Do not scrape it off if the asbestos test turns out positive.

In case your popcorn ceiling has been painted, it might be challenging to scrape the ceiling. This is because this material has the capability of soaking it up. A better option would be drywalling over the popcorn ceiling.

Expert tip

Many individuals spray water onto the popcorn ceiling before removing to slacken them up, but specialists in this field do not recommend this. This will be messy, and it will also get absorbed thus becoming heavy. This will cause it to expand and lead to cracking. It is best to scrape it dry even though it consumes a lot of time.

If you’ve found yourself with other renovation needs in Toronto, check out our other post on local contractors!

hidden lighting in ceiling

Cover with drywall

The technique

Append ceiling gypsum board, which is light in weight compared to the common wallboard, directly over the current stucco ceiling. You will have to safely attach it into the framing using screws and have the capability of mudding and taping for a consistent job.

For what reason do it?

This is a superior choice to scratching in case you have asbestos since you can cover the toxic substance as opposed to sending it airborne. Furthermore, you will have the smoothest conceivable finish, in case you mud and tape appropriately.

On the other hand, a group of experts will have the capacity to finish the task in the blink of an eye. At long last, if there was some damage on the ceiling or in case you are required to slice into it to reroute HVAC or electrical wires, you can make huge cuts into the substrate without stressing over fixing, since they will afterward be concealed at the end of it all.

This technique will cost you some cash since a 4-by-8-foot sheet of gypsum board is about $15 each. It might likewise be hard to move the sheets without any assistance in case you are DIYing it. Moreover, in the event that you have crown molding, you will probably be required to do away with it and substitute it.

Applying another design with skim coat

Albeit smooth ceilings are attractive in numerous projects for home renovation, there is as yet a place for texture apart from popcorn. A few proprietors desire to accomplish a textured look in old houses to recover the initial look of the house – the one before popcorn became the in thing.

You can make your texture with only joint compound, drywall mud, and a finishing agent. Utilizing some tools, for example, a trowel or a knife; you can make your style for a custom look. The customized texture will cost more than the basic smooth ceiling.

stucco free bedroom

Read more about the Ceiling Company here

The procedure you utilize is essential here, since applying a ready-made mix joint compound on the ceiling may lead to shrinking. First and foremost, it is highly recommended that you set up a drywall mud initially to create a foundation you would then be able to apply the joint compound.

Before you begin slapping up mud, seek the services of a contractor to confirm that your ceiling can handle the extra weight of the mud and joint compound. Sometimes, these old homes can be delicate, and you wouldn’t want the ceiling falling after you have gone through all the stress to enhance it.


Popcorn ceiling removal is a wise move especially for a homeowner who wants to sell the house. Do extensive research on the ceiling and seek experts’ advice where necessary.

Smooth Celing of Toronto Ontario

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