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What to Do After Removing a Popcorn Ceiling

The popcorn ceiling may be one of the most hideous home construction trends ever. Thank goodness it is no longer en vogue. Unfortunately, a lot of homes still have popcorn ceilings. The good news is that the popcorn can be removed, and the ceiling refinished.

This post will discuss what to do after removing popcorn ceilings, based on advice from family-owned and operated Dallas Paints. Needless to say, the removal process is slow and messy. But once it’s done, the hard work is behind you. You can move on to refinishing.

1. Let the Ceiling Dry Completely

The first thing you will want to do after removing the popcorn finish is to allow the ceiling to dry completely. It could be that the drywall is fairly damp, especially if you used water to soften the popcorn prior to removal. You should also have used some damp rags to wipe down the drywall to remove any fine dust and debris.

2. Repair the Ceiling’s Imperfections

Removing a popcorn finish ultimately reveals plenty of imperfections in the drywall. In fact, one of the reasons for choosing the popcorn finish – from the builder’s perspective – was to avoid having to put the work into making the ceiling look perfect.

You are going to have a few things to deal with:

  • Nails or screws
  • Seams and butt joints
  • Corner joints
  • Various dings and scrapes.

All these things can be repaired with drywall compound and a selection of drywall knives. Do not bother with spackling. It doesn’t work as well, and you need to use more of it compared to drywall compound.

Minimize the Sanding

One thing you’re going to want to do is apply the joint compound in such a way as to minimize the need to sand. Sanding will still be necessary, but why do more than you need to? You can keep sanding to a minimum by applying multiple thin layers of joint compound instead of one heavy layer. With each layer, expand outward to create a smooth finish.

You may want to sand between each coat. However, you may not have to if you are careful and handy with a drywall knife. For your seams and butt joints, use a 12-inch knife for a nice, even spread. A 4- or 5-inch knife is sufficient for everything else.

3. Sand, Prime, and Paint

Your third and final coat of drywall compound is known as the skim coat. Here’s where you are applying the thinnest layer possible, just to smooth things out. Let it dry for a day or two. Once it is fully dry, sand it gently. You just want to knock down any edges. You don’t want to scuff the paper.

After sanding, clean away as much dust as possible with a broom. You don’t have to wipe down the ceiling again. Just sweep it with a broom and then put on your primer. Follow the directions on the primer can regarding coats and drying time.

The final step is to paint the ceiling. We recommend masking the wall for a clean, sharp line. We also recommend flat paint rather than semi-gloss or eggshell. Most people use a flat ceiling white. It is inexpensive, it goes on easily, and it helps hide any minor imperfections in your drywall work.

After one or two coats of ceiling white, that’s it. Those ugly popcorn ceilings will be nothing but a memory. Just for giggles, you might want to take before and after pictures. Seeing a clean, white, and flat ceiling will clearly demonstrate just how bad an idea the popcorn finish was.

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