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How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings for Repainting

Learn how to remove popcorn ceilings (the easy way) with a few simple tricks and then refinish the ceiling with a Wagner paint sprayer.



For anyone who hates living with their popcorn ceilings - these tips can save you time and headache! Have you moved into a fixer and are haunted by your ugly popcorn ceilings every night when you stare at them from your bed? I needed to come up with a way to fix the ceilings that would be quick, easy, and virtually mess free. Here are some tricks to removing popcorn ceilings in one day and end up with a gorgeous, smooth ceiling.


Shop Vac Scraper

Safety First

Before you begin tackling this project, it’s important to remember that some popcorn ceilings may contain asbestos. If your home was built prior to the 80s, get yourself a testing kit. Also, make sure to wear goggles and a breathing mask. Since you are working on your ceiling, you will have some popcorn fall and possibly drop on you.

DIY Shop Vac Scraper

One trick to removing popcorn ceilings is having the right tool for the job. Meet my modified shop vac scraper. I took this simple drywall spackle knife and taped it to my shop vac attachment. When you scrape your ceiling, all the popcorn is sucked away into the shop vac, leaving you with hardly any mess.

Another trick is to use our 3 step process that we did on repeat until the popcorn was gone!


Spray With Water

Soften the Popcorn Texture First

Using your spray bottle filled with warm water, spray an area and let the water soak the popcorn for a moment. By lightly wetting the popcorn, it reduces the powdery mess and also makes the scraping process easier.


Sponge sand

Remember to Multi-Task

While the popcorn is softening with the warm water, this is a great time to take a large sponge, lightly dampened, and sponge sand, wiping over the areas you just scraped. Damp sponge sanding helps smooth the ceiling and give you a visual of what areas you may need to scrape again, or need to repair.


Scrape the Popcorn Ceiling

Use Your Shop Vac Scraper

Turn on your shop vac and lightly scrape the ceiling removing the popcorn using your modified vacuum attachment.



Repeat Steps 2, 3 & 4

Simply repeat this Spray, Sponge, Scrape routine until your entire ceiling is popcorn free.

Repair Imperfections

Now you are ready to move on to fixing any nicks and marks in your ceiling to create that smooth finish. Once the compound is fully dry, now you are ready to paint.

Which brings me to another secret trick to removing popcorn ceilings!


Use a Paint Sprayer

Get a Smooth & Professional Looking Finish

The FLEXiO 5000 HVLP Paint Sprayer made by Wagner SprayTech. Having this tool as a secret weapon became a game changer for me.


Two nozzle options

Use the Correct Spray Nozzle

The sprayer comes with 2 different nozzles. The larger, iSpray nozzle is ideal for broad surfaces like walls and ceilings and the Detail Finish nozzle is ideal for fine finishing on cabinets and furniture.


Quick and easy

You can even use stains in the smaller Detail Finish nozzle!

Since this is the 6th ceiling I have scraped in our fixer-upper, having the FLEXiO 5000 Sprayer made the entire process quick and easy.



The soft-grip handle is also very comfortable and never felt heavy in our hands even after using it for long periods of time.


Overlap spray passes

1 Coat with a Sprayer

You can see how well the sprayer covers. Using an overlapping technique helped us finish our ceiling in one coat.


Adjustable controls

Reduce Overspray

Overspray will happen since you are painting a ceiling, and gravity always wins. However, the FLEXiO 5000 has adjustable controls to keep the overspray at a minimum.


Have a pail handy

Keep the Paint Nearby

Another trick we found helpful is to have a pail handy when you need to refill your Flexio 5000 sprayer.


Refill sprayer as needed

For our ceiling, we refilled the sprayer twice, so having a pail close by was a great idea. When you unscrew the paint pail from the sprayer, it helps control any drips that might happen.


Beautiful smooth ceilings

It took just one day and we were able to scrape our popcorn ceilings and have painted smooth ceilings like these!


More info

This sponsored post was created by Noting Grace. Head to the blog for the full post as well as more tips and tricks!

Products Used



Breathing mask

Step ladder

Shop Vac equipped with new vacuum bag and attachment

Heavy-duty tape

Drywall spackle knife

Spray water bottle

Drop cloth covering for floors

Drywall repair compound

Large sponge


Flexio 5000

Ceiling paint

Download project steps & shopping list

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