Monday, March 10, 2014

On The Eighth Day Satan Created Popcorn Ceilings

It all started with a water stain. 
Fixing it was horrible.
I searched on You Tube for how to take off popcorn.
They make it look so easy. 
Please insert bitter voice.

A few years ago, I used the preferred You Tube method for two small windows.
I quickly realized that the recently de-popcorned alcoves required joint compound. 
 I didn't have joint compound. 
My husband accidentally gave me tile adhesive instead. I didn't realize it until I was finished touching up every ding on every wall in the house. 
Insert another bitter voice.
Unbelievably I got it to stick to the wall board but it was a mess. 
It did a bizarre crackling type of thing but it looked passable.
Oh. All the areas I patched did the same crackling effect too. 
Cleansing breaths.

When I did the bizarre under the stair's ceiling, 
I did it completely dry. 
Yes, the sloped part was popcorn. 
Why? Why? 
It was a dusty, popcorn miasma but I didn't have nearly the repairs to do and the paint went on beautifully. 
When I did the master bathroom I used a dry method combined with an occasional wet section for stubborn areas.
It was h#llish!
In hindsight it was horrible in part because we were under such a time crunch.
I had only a few hours to get the popcorn off and paint the ceilings so Bill could begin carpentry in the bathroom.

This time I was prepared.
I was going to try my dry method again. My friend, Michelle, did her whole house with the dry method.
We found that just knocking it off with a 6 inch scraper caused the least amount of repair to the drywall. 
There was a miasma again but...
I got tempted by the You Tube videos and squirted it with the water. Big mistake.
When I got to the powder room, 
it was like the guy emptied out all the remaining popcorn in his shooter on this room. (I don't really know what the tool is called but I like shooter.) 
It had three times the amount of popcorn needed for a tiny little bathroom.
(Buried memory alert. The same thing happened in the potty area upstairs.)

I tried spraying it a little with the squirt bottle of water but this only caused me greater problems. I'll tell you about those in a minute. 
That concluded the first exciting Friday night of Spring Break.

On Saturday I used joint compound and primer to fix the water stain. 
I let it dry overnight. 
Sunday afternoon I started painting.
Last time I used Valspar ceiling paint. It was cheap paint and it didn't cover well at all!
(Goes on pink and turns white-my foot.)
((Wow, I am all about the parentheses today.)) 
I hated it. 
This time I got Glidden. 
I used a very narrow roller.

I had more strokes but it was easier to wield in the tiny hallway. 
It was going pretty well until I reached dry wall that had previously been wet. The thin layer of texture remaining started plopping off onto the ground once I rolled paint over it. 
You see, with the dry method, a small amount of texture remains, resembling the orange peel treatment that cost a fortune in the kitchen.
The wet method takes off everything. 
Which requires a sprayed in orange peel texture or mudding. 
I've just scraped texture off and now I have to re-texture?
(Who is the designer that decided popcorn was out?)
You Tube lures you in with how easy it is, but they don't say anything about fixing the now naked dry wall. 

 I think that a water damaged ceiling will lose more texture which causes completely smooth spots with the predominately orange peel sections.

Ei, Yi, Yi!

Still better than re-texturing the whole bathroom and better than the dingle balls of dust that cling to popcorn. 
(Keep breathing and remembering the little dangly dust bunnies.)
To fix the smooth/texture in the powder room, I ran out to the garage and got some sanded grout and some texture additive and poured both into the ceiling paint.
(Sorry didn't get a picture I was running against time.) 
It brought a little texture back to the smooth spots. 
I made the mistake of not waiting long enough for it to dry before I did another coat of paint so big glops fell off - again. 
I'll try one more coat tomorrow and see how it goes.

Here is what I have learned. 
Don't try this if you are tired. 
It requires patience - massive amounts of patience.
Make your favorite dessert and bribe yourself to keep going.
(Thank you, cheese cake) 
Do not try the dry method on a room in which a teenager has showered. 
Do Not! 
Scary stuff plops from the ceiling as if you are in a horror film. 
Decide if you are all dry or all wet. Don't try to combine methods.
(even if you are very, very tempted.)

Do not do this to an old house. 
Houses that were built before the ban of Asbestos in 1978 could have Asbestos ceilings. I was stunned to learn that even though it was banned, builders were allowed to use up their inventory. 
It could have been used well into the 80s.
Please wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth.
Wear safety glasses or goggles.  
I covered my hair with a bandanna.
Do practice doing things upside down. 
Clearly, I should have frosted more cakes upside down.

Spend time looking at the underside of things because that is how you will fix the now de-popcorned ceiling.
But I guess like anything else, practice brings mastery.
This job wasn't as bad as the first three.
I tried comparing it to removing wallpaper. 
It is about the same. 
Messy and annoying. 
I've tackled the dining room. I will show it all fixed up with a new rug in another post. 
I'm so sore! 
Now time for more cheesecake!
P.S. I turned off the HVAC so that dust doesn't circulate through the house. 
This is not a summer job in Texas.

Linking with,
A Stroll Thru Life  
Cedar Hill Farmhouse
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia


  1. Bless your heart! You deserve all the cheesecake you want. I saw on one blog a week or so ago where they planked their ceiling instead of scraping the popcorn. Either one would be really's hard to work above your head.

  2. Thanks for the tips! Really wanting to tackle this in my own home, but honestly, it terrifies me!!

  3. I'm sorry to say I'm laughing as I read this, Katie. I have been there....sort of. I repaired our entire plaster stairwell and ceiling by myself. My dad helped build a platform over the banister so I could stand up there, chisel out the cracks in the textured PLASTER ceiling and then tape and mud mud mud to create a smooth skim coat over thousands of square feet of walls and ceilings. Needless to say, I took a break for several years and have since decided I can live with the cracked walls in the rest of the house. I'm glad I tackled the worst area first. Anyhoo, I'm impressed with how much you've already accomplished and in the end you'll have beautifully smooth ceilings. Your upside down cake photo cracked me up!

    I've been pricing tin ceiling tiles to cover the ceiling in our master bedroom. Yowza! I may be joining you in the upside down art class. I hope you get it all done!

  4. I'm laughing because I can relate! How this stuff got popular is beyond me! Ugly!!!! It's funny one of the pictures of myself I like the most was my high school graduation photo, I loved seeing it upside down only. Scraping that stuff off is popcorn hell!

  5. Oh my gosh, Katie! You deserve all of the cake in the Cheesecake Factory! I give you credit for doing it, though. I am WAY to impatient to try this! Fortunately, for me, my house is popcorn-free!