How Much Does It Cost to Remove My Popcorn Ceiling?

Katy Willis
Written by Katy Willis
Reviewed by Andy Kilborn
Updated March 17, 2022
Round mounted ceiling light fixture on a popcorn ceiling
Photo: PixelChrisy / iStock / Getty Images

Highlights

  • The average cost to remove a popcorn ceiling is $1,900.

  • Popcorn ceiling removal cost factors in prep, scraping, resurfacing, and disposal.

  • Some popcorn removal is DIYable but should be handled with care.

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Popcorn ceilings were all the rage decades ago, but if you’re looking to make some aesthetic updates for a brighter look or are planning on putting your home on the market, it might be time to say goodbye to the prickly ceiling texture. If you have a straightforward, uncomplicated project, you can expect to pay a professional drywall installer as little as $900 to remove a popcorn ceiling. If you have a larger house or higher ceilings, you might pay as much as $2,840. Note older homes with ceilings that contain asbestos or lead require special care, so they’ll be more expensive to remove.

National Average CostMinimum CostMaximum Cost
$1,900$900$2,900

Cost to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling Near Me

The cost to remove a popcorn ceiling varies based on several factors, including the size of the job, the difficulty, and your location. Here’s a sample of average costs throughout the U.S.:

CityPrice RangeAverage Cost
Orlando, FL$890 – $2,780$1,770
Raleigh, NC$720 – $2,495$1,610
New York$900 – $2,945$1,925
Portland, ME$900 – $2,840$1,840
Chicago$650 – $1,515$1,085
Kansas City$770 – $3,225$1,980
Dallas$900 – $3,540$2,220
Phoenix$1,250 – $2,470$1,855
Denver$1,320 – $3,705$2,515
Sacramento$980 – $1,770$1,375
Portland, OR$770 – $2,380$1,530

How Much Does It Cost to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling by Square Foot?

The average cost to remove a popcorn ceiling is $1 to $2 per square foot. The size of the job, the complexity of the project, and your location affects pricing. Expect the cost to go up if you have high ceilings, the ceiling has asbestos, or is painted.

Popcorn Ceiling Removal Cost Breakdown

The biggest factors that contribute to the cost of popcorn ceiling removal are preparation of the area, removal of the old ceiling texture, application of new ceiling materials, and disposal of old debris. To complete all these tasks, you can expect to pay a professional $15 to $40 per hour. For a 500-square-foot project, that’s $300 to $750.

Preparation

Since popcorn ceiling removal is extremely messy, quite a bit of preparation is necessary. For starters, you’ll want to remove as much furniture as possible from the space. In addition to keeping those pieces clean, moving furniture will eliminate tripping hazards and give you or the professionals you hire more room to work.

Once your space is as clear as possible, cover the remaining area in a tarp or plastic wrap. This prevents falling debris and dust from settling on your furniture, walls, and flooring. Depending on how much area needs covering, this can be a labor-intensive step.

Another step in the preparation stage includes testing your popcorn ceiling for asbestos. If the texture was applied before 1980, there’s a fair chance that it contains asbestos, and you need to take special care during the removal process. An asbestos test costs about $100.

Removal

The actual popcorn removal process can take time, as contractors must continually move their ladder to move from spot to spot. There’s also a lot of manual labor involved with wetting the popcorn and then scraping it off. 

Resurfacing

Once the old popcorn ceiling is gone, you have to decide what you’ll do with the surface next. At the very least, you’ll want to paint the ceiling, as the removal process could leave marks or reveal imperfections. If you’re painting the ceiling yourself, expect to pay $30 to $200 in materials, depending on how much you need and the paint quality. If you’re hiring a local contractor, you’ll pay $1 to $3 per square foot.

Other resurfacing options include applying knockdown texture or installing ceiling tiles. Knockdown texture costs about $1 to $2 per square foot, while the cost of installing ceiling tiles will depend on the style you choose. However, on average, ceiling tiles cost $4.50 to $6.25 per square foot.

Disposal

The final step of removing a popcorn ceiling is disposing of the debris. If your debris doesn’t contain hazardous substances and can be placed inside contractor bags, you can put it out with your regular trash. Otherwise, a professional will charge $150 to $170 to dispose of up to 500 square feet of debris. You’ll pay more if the debris contains asbestos or lead paint.

What Factors Influence the Cost to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling?

The biggest factors influencing the cost of popcorn ceiling removal are your project’s size, its complexity, and the materials needed.

Size

The overall size of your project plays a huge role in how much you’ll pay for popcorn ceiling removal. Professionals often charge $1 to $2 per square foot or $15 to $40 per hour. 

A 500-square-foot project may cost between $300 and $750. Removal of popcorn ceilings throughout an entire one-story house typically costs $900 to $2,840.

Complexity

Professionals may charge more if your project presents challenges. For example, high ceilings require larger ladders and more prep work. Workers need to take additional care when removing popcorn ceilings that contain asbestos or lead. Painted ceilings aren’t easy to scrape, so they also require more time and effort.

Materials

You don’t need many materials to remove popcorn ceilings. If you’re doing the job yourself, you’ll need protective gear, scrapers, spray bottles, a ladder, and sandpaper. If you’re hiring a professional, they’ll bring everything necessary to complete the job.

If you’re going to have your contractor also resurface your ceiling, you’ll need to budget for those additional costs. They might include paint, texturing, and ceiling tiles, as well as labor costs.

Cost to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling Myself

Popcorn ceiling with crown molding and textured walls
Photo: David Shao / iStock / Getty Images

Assuming a 500-square-foot project, you can expect the cost of DIY popcorn ceiling removal to be between $215 to $245. This range includes the cost of necessary tools, such as scrapers, a ladder, and protective gear, as well as debris disposal. If you want to paint the ceiling, hang decorative tiles, or apply texture, you’ll need to add in the cost of extra material.

Technically speaking, removing a popcorn ceiling is a simple task. Practically speaking, it can be messy, strenuous, and potentially dangerous. You’re perched on a ladder while doing most of the work above your head. On top of that, debris is constantly falling on you—and everywhere else for that matter. 

If you’re up for the DIY challenge, be sure to prepare accordingly and be careful. Hiring a pro is a good idea if you don’t have the time or patience for this task. “Popcorn ceiling removal is messy, tedious, and takes specialized tools,” said Andrew Kilborn, an Angi Expert Review Board member who has 20 years of experience in home repair and remodeling. “You can tackle it yourself, but many homeowners hire a professional with the right materials and experience.”

Popcorn Ceiling Removal Questions and Answers

Is removing a popcorn ceiling safe?

Removing popcorn ceilings involves getting on a ladder and physically scraping it away. It’s tiresome work, and it’s potentially dangerous due to the risk of falling. If your ceiling contains asbestos or lead paint, it’s a hazard, so you should contact a local popcorn ceiling removal professional to ensure the job is done as safely as possible. You can also skip removing the ceiling, and instead enclose the asbestos material by installing beadboard ceiling planks–the cost to install beadboard over a popcorn ceiling runs between $1,500 and $7,750.

Why should I remove popcorn ceilings?

Popcorn ceiling was very popular up until the 1980s, so many people associate it with older, outdated houses. As such, removing it can give your house a fresh, modern look (and increase your home’s value). Popcorn ceilings can also be very difficult to clean, which is another reason to remove them.

What do I do after I remove a popcorn ceiling?

Once your popcorn ceiling is gone, you have several options for refinishing the area. Painting the ceiling or applying knockdown texture are the most popular options. However, you might also opt to hang ceiling tiles or install a drop ceiling—a drop ceiling costs around $1,800 for a pro to install.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.