How to Get Rid of Popcorn Ceilings Without Scraping

Sometimes, when you buy a house, you find that the previous owner had installed popcorn texturing on the drywall ceiling boards. It could be that you don’t fancy the visual aesthetics of a popcorn ceiling, its sound dampening functionalities notwithstanding.

If so- you’ll need to remove the popcorn ceiling texture or cover it up. In this informative blog article, we’ll teach you how to get rid of popcorn ceiling without making a mess, as well as the best removal tools for this type of ceiling treatment.

Can you remove popcorn ceiling without making a mess?

The most common method people use to remove popcorn/acoustic ceiling texture is by scraping it off using a putty knife. This method is also called stucco removal. However- scraping the texture off while it is dry leaves behind a huge mess on the floor- and is relatively time-consuming. That’s why regular scraping is only recommended if the room is totally empty.

However, if the room is already occupied, you’ll need to find a solution that produces way less mess compared to standard scraping/dry scraping. Fortunately, there are multiple techniques that you can adopt to cover up or get rid of acoustic ceiling texture without causing a mess on the floor and walls.

How to Get Rid of Popcorn Ceiling without Scraping

You don’t have to create a mess by scraping dry popcorn texture off your drywall ceiling. Less messy alternatives exist, and we’ve discussed each of these below:

Removing Popcorn Ceiling Using a Popcorn Ceiling Removal Bucket

  1. Cover up the walls and all the items in the room, including furniture and appliances, using painter’s plastic and masking tape. Avoid using canvas drop cloths, as water can easily seep through them.
  2. Using a regular garden sprayer, coat the entire ceiling with warm water. This will wet the popcorn texture and prep it for scraping. Ideally, you should wait for 10-15 minutes after spraying for the popcorn texturing to be completely soaked in.

The water breaks down the adhesion between the acoustic texture and the drywall boards. Remember, though, that too much water can cause irreversible damage to your drywall boards. The goal is to mist the texture only. Thus, light spraying is recommended.

  1. Next, grab a ladder, and start scraping your popcorn ceiling from the furthest corner of the room. For fast and mess-free scraping, you need a 12-inch putty knife and a popcorn ceiling removal bucket. Position the bucket right beneath the putty knife, ensuring the debris drops right into it and not on the walls or the floor.
  2. After scraping off all the old popcorn finish, let the ceiling drywall boards dry up for at least 24 hours before sanding and painting it. Sanding levels the ceiling and creates a smooth surface that’s ready for painting.  

Removing Popcorn Ceiling using a Vacuum Cleaner

While using a popcorn ceiling removal bucket creates less mess, it’s not exactly mess-free. Some of the dust may miss the bucket and create a mess on your walls, floor, or carpeting. For totally mess-free popcorn ceiling removal, attach a six-inch spackle knife to the hose of a shop vac using duct tape. As the spackle knife scraps off the popcorn texture, the shop vac sucks up all the dust and debris.

This method is not only mess-free but also time-saving, as you can remove all the acoustic texture in a standard-sized room within ten minutes. The only downside to it is the noise from the shop vac.

Covering Popcorn Ceiling without Removing It

Another mess-free solution is to hide the popcorn/stucco ceiling using ceiling tiles or wooden ceiling planks. Some brands sell ceiling tiles that can be glued down or fastened to the ceiling. Meanwhile, wood planks provide a nice, natural visual aesthetic and can also be finished to the homeowner’s personal taste.

However, it takes some expertise to correctly hang the planks, as you have to fasten them directly on the ceiling joints. If you’re unsure of how to go about this, we recommend hiring a professional, licensed contractor.

Best tool for removing popcorn ceiling?

POP EEZE Popcorn Ceiling Scraper

POP EEZE popcorn ceiling scraper is a tool that can be attached to the hose of a shop vac for mess-free scraping of popcorn ceilings. This tool is much more effective and faster than traditional scraping using a putty knife- and creates significantly less mess. It’s, however, not recommended for use on acoustic ceilings that have been painted over.

24-inch MAXXGRIP PRO Knockdown Knife

This tool is meant to be used alongside a regular putty knife/scraping knife. It makes the whole process less labor-intensive as you don’t have to continually hold the removal bucket. Simply place the bucket on the floor, scrap the popcorn ceiling using a putty knife, and collect the debris on your MAXXGRIP PRO knockdown knife. As you go along, drop the debris from the knockdown knife directly into your bucket/trash can.

Homax 12-inch Ceiling Scraper

This wide-blade tool features an extender and fastens popcorn ceiling removal projects by minimizing the number of passes required to scrap the whole ceiling.


For homes built pre-1980, it’s likely that your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos. It’s therefore advisable to send a sample of the texture for asbestos testing before scraping it. Asbestos has several health risks and it’s important to stay vigilant.


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