How Much Does Popcorn Ceiling Removal Cost in 2023?

Are you tired of that dated popcorn ceiling and ready for a fresh, modern look? Popcorn ceiling removal can be cost-effective to revamp your home and increase its value. We will walk you through the factors affecting popcorn ceiling removal cost, the pros and cons of DIY vs. hiring a professional, and share some valuable tips on saving money during the process. Prepare to transform your living space and say goodbye to those outdated ceilings!

Key Takeaways

  • Popcorn ceilings are a mixture of joint compound, water and Styrofoam beads that can pose health risks due to asbestos fibers.

  • Costs for popcorn ceiling removal vary based on factors such as size, asbestos presence and finishing options.

  • DIY or hiring a professional popcorn ceiling removal contractor should be carefully considered when budgeting for the project. Following tips like comparing quotes can help reduce costs while ensuring successful results.

Understanding Popcorn Ceilings

A close-up of a person scraping off a popcorn ceiling

Once all the rage in the 70s and 80s, popcorn ceilings have become a thing of the past. Often referred to as acoustic ceiling or cottage cheese ceilings, these textured surfaces were initially popular for their affordability and ability to hide imperfections. However, as trends have shifted and concerns about potential health risks have surfaced, many homeowners are now looking to remove or replace their dated popcorn ceilings with a more modern and sleek smooth ceiling, leaving the textured ceiling era behind.

Composition and Characteristics

Popcorn ceilings are a mixture of joint compound, water, and Styrofoam beads, creating their signature bumpy popcorn ceiling texture. Polystyrene beads are responsible for giving the ceiling its unique appearance and help reduce sound reverberation. These ceilings gained prominence in the 1950s and were a popular choice until the 1980s, commonly found in low to mid-cost newly developed housing structures, often coated with ceiling paint.

Despite their initial appeal, popcorn ceilings have several drawbacks, including:

  • Their tendency to chip and peel

  • Their propensity for harboring dust and allergens

  • The potential presence of asbestos fibers in older popcorn ceilings, which can pose significant health risks if disturbed.

Health Concerns and Asbestos

Asbestos-containing popcorn ceilings are particularly dangerous during removal, as the fibers can become airborne and inhaled. Before starting the removal process, get your popcorn ceiling tested if you suspect it may contain asbestos. Engaging a professional to handle asbestos removal is highly recommended to ensure proper safety precautions and disposal methods are followed.

Remember, a popcorn ceiling in good condition without asbestos isn’t considered a health hazard. However, removing it can still improve the appearance and value of your home.

Factors Affecting Popcorn Ceiling Removal Costs

A person standing on a ladder and scraping off a popcorn ceiling

Several factors that can affect the popcorn ceiling removal cost include:

  • The size of the area

  • The presence of asbestos

  • Labor and equipment costs

  • Chosen finishing options

Having a clear understanding of these factors will help you decide whether to proceed with popcorn ceiling removal and how to budget for it.

Size of the Area

Naturally, the larger the area, the higher the cost of popcorn ceiling removal. This is due to the additional time and materials required for completion. The typical cost per square foot for popcorn ceiling removal ranges from $6 to $10. However, the actual cost may vary depending on factors such as the age of the ceiling and the presence of asbestos.

Also, the ceiling’s height can influence the popcorn removal cost. Higher ceilings may require additional equipment and labor to access and remove the popcorn texture, thus increasing the overall cost of the project.

Presence of Asbestos

Should your popcorn ceiling contain asbestos, removal costs will likely escalate. Specialized safety equipment and procedures are required to handle this hazardous material, which can increase the removal cost to between $3 and $7 per square foot. In addition to the removal process, asbestos-containing materials must be properly disposed of at an approved site, which can also add to the overall cost.

A professional can visually inspect or conduct laboratory testing to verify if your popcorn ceiling harbors asbestos. In the presence of asbestos, hiring a qualified professional is imperative for safe removal and disposal.

Labor and Equipment

Labor costs for popcorn ceiling removal typically range between $25 and $60 per hour. The cost of equipment rental can range from $50 to $200, depending on the type of equipment needed. The complexity of the project, such as high ceilings or painted popcorn ceilings, may also affect labor costs, as these factors require more time and effort to remove.

The overall cost of popcorn ceiling removal can be impacted by the cost of protective gear, such as:

  • goggles

  • masks

  • gloves

  • coveralls

These items may range from $50 to $100. Include these costs in your budgeting for the popcorn ceiling removal project.

Finishing Options

After the popcorn ceiling has been removed, homeowners may choose to invest in finishing options such as painting, resurfacing, or applying a new texture like knockdown. These additional steps can add to the overall cost of popcorn ceiling removal, with typical retexturing costs ranging from $600 and up on small jobs there is no per square foot cost.

Consider the estimated costs of finishing options and any required repairs or patching when comparing different professional quotes. Taking these factors into account will help you make an informed decision and find the best value for your budget.

DIY vs. Hiring a Professional

A person wearing protective gear and scraping off a popcorn ceiling

Removing a popcorn ceiling yourself can save you money on labor costs, but it requires a significant amount of time and effort. Additionally, DIY removal can pose safety concerns, especially if asbestos is present. On the other hand, hiring a professional ensures a safer and more efficient process, albeit at a higher cost.

Evaluating the advantages and drawbacks of DIY versus hiring a professional aids in deciding the best approach for your situation. Consider factors such as your budget, time constraints, and the potential health risks involved before making a decision.

Time and Effort

While DIY popcorn ceiling removal can be a cost-effective solution, it is labor-intensive and time-consuming. The estimated duration of removing popcorn ceilings by oneself is approximately 20 hours, depending on the room’s size and necessary preparation. Homeowners looking to save on labor costs must be prepared to invest a significant amount of time and effort into the project.

For a speedy DIY remove popcorn ceiling texture project, consider moistening the popcorn ceiling with a garden pump sprayer before scraping. Use a wide putty knife to skim across the damp ceiling in long, unidirectional strokes. Adhering to these steps can facilitate a more efficient popcorn ceiling removal process and yield smoother results when you remove popcorn ceilings.

Safety Concerns

Safety should always be a top priority when attempting popcorn ceiling removal. DIY removal can pose safety concerns, such as the risk of falling from ladders or scaffolding. Moreover, the potential presence of asbestos fibers in the ceiling material can pose a significant health risk if proper safety precautions are not followed during the removal process.

Considering these safety risks, it’s advisable to hire a professional for popcorn ceiling removal, particularly if you’re unsure about possible asbestos presence or ceiling structural issues.

Cost Comparison

Consider all aspects of the project, such as the cost of materials, equipment rental, protective gear, and any unforeseen expenses, when comparing DIY removal costs and professional hiring.

The estimated costs associated with a DIY popcorn ceiling removal project range from $1 to $2 per square foot, while the typical cost of engaging a professional for popcorn ceiling removal ranges from $6 to $8 per square foot. By comparing these costs and considering the time and effort involved in each option, you can make an informed decision about which approach best suits your needs and budget.

Tips for Saving Money on Popcorn Ceiling Removal

A person scraping off a popcorn ceiling with a drywall knife

With the right approach, you can potentially save money on your popcorn ceiling removal project. In this section, we’ll share some tips on how to minimize costs while ensuring a successful outcome, including preparing the space, comparing quotes from multiple professionals, and handling post-removal cleanup tasks.

Preparing the Space

Before starting the popcorn ceiling removal process, follow these steps to prepare the space:

  1. Clear the space by moving furniture out of the room.

  2. Use plastic sheeting to shield floors and walls from debris and dust.

  3. Use painters tape to secure the plastic sheeting and ensure it stays in place.

  4. Cover furniture with additional plastic sheeting to protect it from any potential damage during the removal process.

This preparation can save you time and labor costs, as well as minimize the need for additional repairs if damage occurs during the removal process. Be sure to use plastic sheeting and painters tape to adequately protect your furniture and floors.

Adequate preparation can pave the way for a smoother, more efficient removal process, mitigating costly accidents or errors. By investing time and effort upfront in preparing the space, you can help ensure a successful popcorn ceiling removal project while keeping costs under control.

Comparing Quotes

Comparing quotes from several professionals is an effective way to economize on popcorn ceiling removal. Gathering several estimates allows you to grasp market rates and spot the most economical option for your needs. Be sure to take into account additional expenses, such as fees for repairing any damage, costs for disposing of the removed material, and potential costs for asbestos testing and abatement.

In addition to comparing quotes, consider using online quote comparison tools and conducting further research on customer reviews and company standings to make a more informed decision. By thoroughly vetting your options, you can ensure you’re getting the best value for your budget.

Post-Removal Cleanup

A professional team performing post-removal cleanup after popcorn ceiling removal, which affects the popcorn ceiling removal cost.

Handling post-removal cleanup tasks yourself can save on additional labor costs. Once the popcorn ceiling is removed, ensure the area is vacuumed, surfaces are wiped clean, and debris is appropriately disposed of. If the debris does not contain hazardous materials, it can be disposed of in contractor bags in your home trash pickup.

If asbestos was present in your popcorn ceiling, it’s vital to hire asbestos abatement professionals for a safe cleanup and disposal. While this may add to the overall cost, it’s an essential step in ensuring the safety of your home and family.


In conclusion, popcorn ceiling removal is a cost-effective way to update your home and increase its value. By understanding the factors affecting removal costs, considering the pros and cons of DIY vs. hiring a professional, and implementing money-saving tips, you can make an informed decision about the best approach for your specific situation. With careful planning and execution, you can transform your living space and say goodbye to those dated popcorn ceilings for good.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much should I pay to remove popcorn ceiling?

Popcorn ceiling removal typically costs $6 to $8 per square foot or $25 to $60 an hour, with an average cost of $2,000 to $9,000. A 500-square-foot project may cost between $3000 and $4000. Refinishing the surface after removal may add additional costs.

Is removing popcorn ceiling worth it?

Removing popcorn ceiling is definitely worth it, as not only will it increase your home's value, but also make it safer by reducing dust and allergens. It also brings a more modern style to your home.

How much value does popcorn ceiling removal add?

Popcorn ceiling removal can recoup up to 107% of the cost in home resale value, making it a worthwhile investment.

How do I know if my popcorn ceiling contains asbestos?

To determine if your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos, a professional can conduct a visual inspection or laboratory testing.

What safety concerns should I consider when removing a popcorn ceiling?

When removing a popcorn ceiling, safety should be your top priority; be sure to use ladders or scaffolding correctly and wear protective clothing and respirators if you suspect asbestos may be present.


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