Popcorn Ceiling Removal Cost Factors
Several factors influence the cost of popcorn ceiling removal, including your ceiling’s size, local labor fees, and more.
The overall size of your project plays a huge role in how much you’ll pay for popcorn ceiling removal. Local 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.
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.
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 drywall installer, 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.
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.
Depending on the condition of your popcorn ceiling, the removal process can be labor-intensive. Labor will typically include:
Prepping your space (removing furniture, covering walls and floors with plastic drop cloths, and removing ceiling fans and light fixtures).
Scraping your ceiling.
Possible asbestos removal.
Disposing of the debris.
Cleaning up your space.
You can expect to pay between $15 to $40 per hour in labor costs, and the project can take 20 hours or more, depending on the size of your room.
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.
Additional Costs to Consider
You should budget for additional work like asbestos removal, if necessary, and resurfacing.
Asbestos removal costs vary depending on the size of your room, the amount of asbestos present, and the location (high ceilings make it more labor-intensive). On average, asbestos remediation costs between $5 and $20 per square foot. We recommend hiring a local asbestos removal professional to tackle this project—additional labor costs will run between $75 to $200 per hour on top of the remediation charge.
Once you remove your popcorn ceiling, you’ll want to choose a new look that best suits your home’s aesthetic. Are you more sand and smooth, or do you lean towards a textured ceiling? If you hire a ceiling painting pro near you, you can expect to pay between $1 to $2 per square foot for this portion of the project.
Prime and Paint
This method includes lightly sanding your ceiling with a sanding pole and 100-grit sandpaper. Once your ceiling has a smooth finish, apply one coat of primer. Next, apply one or two coats of ceiling paint.
You can expect to pay $1 to $3 per square foot to hire a ceiling painter. If you DIY this project, you’ll pay between $100 to $200 for materials.
You might want to skip the texture altogether and simply choose a drywall finish. You’ll need drywall tape, a quick-setting joint compound, and a drywall knife.
A drywall finish provides a clean, smooth look by consistently smoothing over the drywall tape with a thick mud-like mixture (the joint compound). You can expect to pay $1.50 per square foot in labor costs to have a pro smooth your ceiling with a drywall finish.
Knockdown is a custom technique to hide flaws in your ceiling’s drywall. To achieve the knockdown effect, you’ll need to splatter a joint compound with a spray gun—and then use a trowling knife to create an imperfect texture throughout small sections of your ceiling. Pros charge $1 to $2 per square foot in labor to create a knockdown texture.
Splatter texture is much like knockdown, except it doesn’t use a troweling knife as the final step. Instead, you’ll spray the joint compound lightly and scrape off the excess. This finer technique allows visual interest and is a great way to hide imperfections. You’ll pay an average of $0.80 to $1.50 per square foot in labor for a splatter ceiling.
Skip Trowel (Imperial)
Skip trowel, also known as imperial texture, works by hand-applying a thin layer of joint compound and smoothing it into random arches with a trowel. Skip trowel hides imperfections and allows for variety—your ceiling pro can use several hand tools to create differing arches and textures throughout your ceiling. You can expect to pay between $1.50 to $2 per square foot for this technique.
Crow’s Foot is another unique hand-applied texture. To achieve this look, you’ll need to fill a painter’s brush or roller with a joint compound and slap it across your ceiling. This imperfect technique resembles ridges, valleys, or actual crow’s feet across your ceiling. You’ll pay between $1.50 to $2 per square foot to accomplish this texture.
Orange peel, much like its namesake, resembles the peel of an orange, complete with dimples. You can apply this texture by loading the joint compound into a high-pressure spray hose, letting small drops of mud splatter, and then letting it dry on the ceiling. Orange peel is durable, easy to clean, and hides imperfections—you can expect to pay between $0.80 to $1.50 per square foot for this method.
Cost to Remove Popcorn Ceiling Myself
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.”
Cost of Removing Popcorn Ceiling Yourself vs. Hiring a Pro
If you’re handy, you can tackle popcorn ceiling removal for $100 to $500. You’ll need to purchase all the tools and supplies and have plenty of upper arm strength, but you’ll save on labor costs and disposal fees.
We recommend hiring a local drywall contractor for this project. Removing a popcorn ceiling can be challenging, especially if you have asbestos. Not only that, but a pro is knowledgeable about ceiling texture and design and can guide your project in the right direction. You can expect to pay an average of $1,900, with $900 on the lower end and $2,900 on the high end. Of course, your cost ultimately depends on the size of your space and the project's complexity.
Tips to Save Money on Removing Popcorn Ceiling
Whether you’re DIYing popcorn ceiling removal or calling in a pro, there are ways you can save on this project.
First, you can save time and money by testing your ceiling for asbestos with an at-home testing kit (available for $10–$35). Make sure you wear safety gear—gloves, goggles, and a face mask.
Next, you can save money by doing all prep work—remove all furniture, ceiling lights, and fixtures, and line the room with plastic tarps.
Finally, after you remove your popcorn ceiling, you can save money by cleaning the space, disposing all debris, and tackling the ceiling painting.