How do I Remove Ceiling Texture?

Patrick Lynch

It may become necessary to remove ceiling texture as the material often stores dust, thereby making a room seem stuffy. Always check to see that the ceiling does not contain asbestos before proceeding. Turn off the electricity and remove light fittings and furniture from the room. Cover the walls and floor with plastic sheeting and make a special solution to soften the texture. Scrape off the texture with a joint knife before priming the ceiling for a future painting or texturing.

Fabric softener is one of the ingredients needed to make a special ceiling texture remover.
Fabric softener is one of the ingredients needed to make a special ceiling texture remover.

The first step in preparing to remove ceiling texture is to ensure that the ceiling contains no asbestos. It is important to take a sample of the ceiling and send it to a testing laboratory before commencing. If it is found that there is asbestos in the ceiling, hire a specialist contractor to do the job.

If building materials contain asbestos, proper protection is required.
If building materials contain asbestos, proper protection is required.

Assuming the ceiling is asbestos free, begin by switching off the electricity supply in the home. This is necessary because plenty of water is used to remove ceiling texture. Use a circuit tester to make sure the power is off before taking away all light fittings from the room.

The entire room needs to be prepared because removing ceiling texture is an extremely messy job. Take all furniture out of the room. Every single electrical outlet must then be covered with pieces of plastic. Strong plastic sheeting should be placed on the floor and walls.

To remove ceiling texture, create a special solution made from ammonia, fabric softener, and water. Although the ceiling needs to be very wet, it is important not to overdo it. Concentrate on small areas of the ceiling and make sure that no part of it remains dry. Once the solution has been applied, allow 15 minutes before attempting to scrape off the ceiling texture.

Remove ceiling texture with a joint knife and be careful to avoid digging too deep into the ceiling. There may be areas that are hard to scrape off. If this is the case, thoroughly wet that area once again, leave to dry, and try scraping it off once more. When the texture has been successfully eliminated, remove all sheeting from the floor and walls. Place the sheeting and ceiling debris into a garbage bag.

There may be some holes or ridges left in the ceiling after the texture has been extracted. Fill in the holes and use a sanding pad to remove any ridges. Use joint compound to make the ceiling completely flat. Prime the ceiling if it is to be repainted or textured.

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Discussion Comments


Asbestos is just nasty. The first house where my husband and I lived had an asbestos floor in the kitchen. You couldn't put a shine on it, it looked awful, and the landlord refused to do anything about it. He said it wasn't in the walls so he wasn't required by code to fix it. Old skinflint.

My mom's house has textured ceilings and I think she'd like to get rid of them because smooth ceilings are so much easier to paint, but I don't know that she's interested in doing the kind of work required to smooth them out.


Well this was news to me. I didn't know you *could* remove the texture from a ceiling! Wow. Learn something new every day, I guess.

I would have thought you could sand the texture off with a disc sander, but never thought about wetting it down and scraping it.

I think if I found out I had asbestos in my ceilings, I'd get a professional contractor in to take it out, whether I wanted to remove the texture from my ceiling or not! I'd just get the cats and stay somewhere else until they were finished. I think that's what they recommend when they remove asbestos, anyway.

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