I love our new house. It's important to say that before I start blogging about all the things I want to change about it. It's possible that my need to change things is as much a product of my personality as it is of actual must-do projects. So. I love our new house.
... Except for the popcorn ceilings. And some other things, that I'll be blogging about at a later point. Everywhere in our house, including the closet under the stairs, has popcorn ceilings, in varying degrees of disrepair. Also, our house is 20 years old so (I'm assuming, based on the amount of dust I can see) they're gross. And I want them to go away. And I don't want to go broke in the process. So few requirements, really.
I figured that the guest bathroom was a pretty good place to start. For one, the ceiling in the guest bathroom was in pretty bad shape. For two, it's relatively out of the way, and we have plenty of bathroom redundancy, with no imminent expectation of guests. For three, it's the guest bathroom ceiling... if it didn't go well, who really cares? No one. The answer is no one.
1) Buy a hand pump sprayer, goggles, a respirator mask, a plastic scraper (wide putty knife, or similar), and plastic sheeting. Don't skimp on the plastic sheeting (I skimped on the plastic sheeting). If your house was built before the mid-80s, check for asbestos. Because popcorn ceilings are better than lung cancer.
2) Get everything possible out of the room. In a bathroom, there aren't that many options for movement, so... Coat everything possible with plastic sheeting. Walls included. Layer the sheeting on the floor, to prevent popcorn from dumping out in the cracks. Secure that with tape (I didn't secure that with tape). I've been using painters tape, which works okay, but less well when wet. This is a problem, because in step 3, you...
3) Spray the ceiling with water, working in sections. Let the water sit. Spray the ceiling again.
4) Hold your scraper as close to parallel to the ceiling as you can get it. Then, scrape along the ceiling. The "popcorn" should be approximately the consistency of mushy oatmeal, and should come down easily.
5) Get popcorn-oatmeal in your hair, down your shirt, under your feet. Simultaneously curse the builders who thought it was a great idea and praise the people who invented safety goggles and respirator masks.
6) Don't spray light fixtures! Electricity and water do not mix, so, either go very carefully around your fixtures using a sponge, not much water, and a lot more elbow grease, or turn off the breaker, cover the electric bits in plastic, and remove the ceiling very carefully from there. All of our breakers are labelled with things like "Little Johnny's room." I don't know Johnny, or which room was his, so I opted for the elbow grease option (I don't necessarily advocate for that, but it is what I did).
7) Expect to spend wildly longer doing set-up and clean-up than you do actually removing the ceiling. That's just the way it is.
So, that's pretty much the process. The popcorn comes down very easily. The only exception that I found was in areas where the ceiling has been "patched." What I think happened was that this room, being the bathroom, probably sustained some kind of water damage in the past around the air vent.
This water damage caused additional grossness in the popcorn, and had to be patched, so that it looked less gross. Well, the patches seemed to be a much brighter white, and were also considerably more water resistant. It probably took me longer to remove the patch (pictured) than the rest of the ceiling combined.
The scraped and painted ceiling is massively preferable, and looks awesome (even the places that I couldn't quite get all of the patch down). I added some small moulding, to finish off the look, which, as of the picture below, had not yet been caulked. It now has been, and looks lovely.