Who Do I Hire to Remove Popcorn Ceilings in My Home?

Bry'Ana Arvie
Written by Bry'Ana Arvie
Updated November 11, 2021
A retro glass chandelier hanging from a popcorn ceiling
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Give popcorn ceilings an eviction notice

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Popcorn ceilings were once all the rage. But for most homeowners now, it’s an outdated health hazard they’re ready to get rid of. That’s why contacting a drywall contractor or painter is the way to go. This hiring guide for popcorn ceiling removal will cover which pro you’ll need, what to look for when hiring one, and the ultimate step to take before starting this project.

First Things First: Determine If You Have Asbestos

We know you’re ready to remove this outdated ceiling texture and start anew. But there’s something you’ll need to do before starting: testing for asbestos. It’s a natural mineral made from rock and soil. However, if inhaled, it can lead to serious health problems, like lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.  

The Clean Air Act of 1978 banned its use, but many homes built in the 1950s through the ’70s still contain asbestos in their popcorn ceiling

If you own an older home, have your ceiling tested for asbestos before starting the removal process. While there are at-home tests for as little as $25, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) highly recommends hiring an asbestos professional near you to sample your ceiling since asbestos poses the most significant health risk when disturbed. 

The EPA has another great suggestion: Use a separate company (different from the one removing the popcorn ceiling) to test and remove asbestos-containing material. For example, a less ethical business might be more inclined to lie about your popcorn ceiling containing asbestos, just to charge for unnecessary services. 

What Happens If Your Popcorn Ceiling Has Asbestos

If your ceiling tests positive for asbestos, contact a local asbestos abatement company to remove it. It’s not a task you should DIY and is better left to the pros. The asbestos removal process can cost $1,160 to $3,000

Depending on the company, repairing the drywall, painting, or retexturing the ceiling will be a separate project. Yes, that means extra costs. But your health is far more important than taking shortcuts. 

Hire a Drywall Contractor for Popcorn Ceiling Removal

Once you’re positive your popcorn ceiling has tested negative for asbestos, get rid of that outdated style. One of your best options for removing popcorn ceiling in your home is to hire a drywall contractor near you

Not only are drywall contractors well-versed in ceilings, but they also have the skills, experience, and equipment needed to complete the job well. Removing the popcorn ceiling costs $900 to $2,800

Plus, just because some homeowners don’t care for the popcorn texture doesn't mean they dislike any ceiling texture. With a drywall pro, they can apply a new texture to your ceiling, like knockdown, Sante Fe drywall, or even decorative tile. If you want a textured ceiling, it’ll cost $1 to $7 per square foot for labor and materials.

Consider Professional Painters

Professional painters near you are also well-versed in removing popcorn ceilings. They’ll follow most of the same steps as drywall pros. But an added perk is working with them to create a custom color or design. If you want to replace your popcorn ceiling with paint, expect to pay $1 to $3 per square foot for labor and materials. 

What to Look for In a Pro

Before hiring any contractor to remove your popcorn ceiling, verify their job qualifications. Here are a few factors to check.


In some states, a drywall contractor and painter must have a license showing they have the necessary experience, training, and testing to do the job. Verify the license through your state’s license board. 


If your contractor is injured on the job or damages your ceiling during the project, you may be held financially responsible. To protect yourself in case any problems arise, ask your contractor if they have insurance, and then check with their insurance carrier.

Surety Bond

Mediocre work on the part of your chosen contractor is an unfortunate possibility, so it’s best to play it safe. Let’s say your contractor does a half-hearted job removing your popcorn ceiling. If you’re not satisfied with their work, you can make a claim against their surety bond (essentially an agreement they’ll get the job done as promised) and potentially be reimbursed for the contractor fee.

Positive Reviews

Your ceiling can look like a blaring red light if the finished product leaves much to be desired. So check your contractor’s website for customer reviews, or ask someone who has hired them in the past to see if they liked the work. Bonus points if you see pictures of the finished product. 

Can I DIY This Project?

While DIY popcorn ceiling removal is possible, it’s a messy task that is more time-consuming than most homeowners estimate. 

If you don’t have specific equipment like high-grade sanders, you might not achieve the smooth ceiling you want. You could even get your primer and paint in areas you didn’t originally intend if you’re not careful. Or, if you’re not exercising extreme caution, you can potentially damage the drywall.

If you’re not comfortable tackling this project on your own and handling all the possible missteps, a certified pro can get the job done efficiently. 

How Do Pros Remove Popcorn Ceilings?

Here’s the (simplified) process pros use to remove popcorn texture off ceilings: 

  • Step 1: Remove the furniture, light fixtures, and ceiling fans from the room.

  • Step 2: Cover the walls and floor with plastic sheeting.

  • Step 3: Spray the ceiling lightly with water to loosen the popcorn texture.

  • Step 4: Scrape the texture off gently.

  • Step 5: Repair any flaws.

  • Step 6: Apply a new texture, or sand and paint (depending on your preference).

  • Step 7: Vacuum and clean up the work area.

  • Step 8: Dispose of the waste properly.

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