A few generations ago, builders and decorators used to think that it was a great idea to treat home surfaces with popcorn ceilings. They are certainly difficult to clean, and not only that, but they may well contain asbestos. If you're staring at just such a ceiling in the home you are about to renovate, what do you need to bear in mind as you set about this repair job?
Asbestos was added to this type of ceiling as a fireproofing substance. It's not possible to ensure just by looking at your ceiling whether or not it has the dreaded substance inside, but you do need to exercise great caution until you know. Job number one in this case is to get a small sample tested by a qualified technician to see exactly what it is. If it comes back positive, you need to get an accredited removal company to take it down.
Your Other Options
If it doesn't contain asbestos, you have a couple of options. First, you could decide just to paint over it, but this is quite a lengthy task due to the very nature of the surface. You could also fit a false ceiling made of plasterboard immediately over it, although this would reduce the height of your room and could make it a little darker.
If you want to remove the ceiling, understand that this is going to be a messy job. You will have to move all of the furniture out and cover the carpet (if you have one) very carefully. In addition, you should put plastic sheeting on the walls from top to bottom.
Next, make sure that the electrical items nearby are disconnected—and this includes fans and light fixtures. Remove the entire fitting and cover the hole that is left. You will need full protective clothing, a dust mask and protective eyewear because that mess is going to find its way onto you.
Getting Down to It
To start off with, you need to spray each section lightly with water until it is damp and then remove the popcorn texture using a putty knife with a wide blade. Be careful here, as you don't want to cut into the board underneath. You might have to wait a while for the surface to soften enough, and this is the slow, laborious part. Once you have removed all of this texture, you will need to repair any indentations or marks on the plasterboard and get ready to repaint it.
Can Somebody Else Do It?
If this sounds like a great deal of work and you're not sure that you want to attempt, it's not surprising. Get in touch with a ceiling repair specialist to do this instead.