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Smooth Ceiling,  get rid of that horrible acoustic ceilings. The Ultimate Handyman helps you here in Los Angeles.

Remove any ‘popcorn’ ceilings from your home

Popcorn ceilings look ugly, they really date your home and the worst part is that they may contain asbestos. In the next paragraphs you will find some guidance of how to deal with that terrible texture.

Take pictures of all major features of your home and keep off-site in case a disaster occurs, the insurance adjustor cannor deny reconstruction of luxurious features that your home once had, like soffit-multi-layer ceilings, skylights, chandelier reinforcements among other features.

Popcorn Ceilings  textures are never found in Rich-people’s homes… I wonder why?

One of the first things that you can do modernize any space is removing that dreaded acoustic ceiling pejoratively called “popcorn” or “cottage cheese” and we are here to help you get this task accomplished. The Ultimate Handyman has done so many popcorn ceiling removals that we created a system to do it efficiently, fast and most importantly cheaply!

To call these cottage-cheese ceilings out of style is an understatement, they are an ugly bumpy surface that will hinder any attempt to make your home look good, unless — obviously,  you remove the popcorn ceiling first.

People just hate popcorn ceilings, some hate just as much as having an old kitchen or bath. It gives the house a dated appearance and remodeling floors and walls will not get that dated feeling out! To make it even worse, these ceilings also affect the value of your house.

When you try to sell your house, the buyer’s real state agents will try to knock down thousands of dollars off the final price to remove the popcorn ceiling alone! Buyers do negotiate it down and sometimes the entire sale goes down the drain for a problem that could be fixed for a fraction of the usual negotiated value.

Besides devaluating your house, acoustic ceilings are also dust traps and hard to clean, because any attempt at cleaning it can dislodge some of the acoustic material, clearly damaging the ceiling and making it look much worse.

Some people claim that popcorn ceilings help by breaking sound waves and making adjacent areas sound quieter, but this claim is not as clear-cut as it seems. Although in theory sound waves get broken by the uneven surfaces, it is not substantially effective as some other insulation materials commonly found in any construction and specifically designed for that purpose.

We have a different theory, during the 50’s and 60’s housing boom, unscrupulous builders discovered that by hiring substandard drywall ceiling labor they could save a bundle and imperfections could be hidden by a heavy layers of texture… Then “accoustic” ceilings were born!

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the ceilings were the latest thing in the late 1950s — then acoustical ceilings fell out of favor and became an eye sore!

One of the dangers of popcorn ceilings is that in some instances, one of the main ingredients of this material is asbestos. If you want to remove an acoustic ceiling, you’ll need to determine if it contains asbestos. Asbestos was used in many construction materials before 1978. Then it was banned after the cancerous properties in asbestos were discovered. But don’t freak out! You can test for asbestos by submitting samples to a laboratory.

The health risks such as cancer and respiratory disease, are some of the factors that makes lab testing to be so necessary. We do it for you for about $150 per sample, but you can also get it done yourself for much cheaper by sampling and taking to the lab. The cost is minimal and labs are listed under “Asbestos Testing Laboratories.”

You’re not required by law to test for asbestos, but the Environmental Protection Agency strongly recommends it.

If your home was built before 1979, the chances are that your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find asbestos in acoustic ceilings installed in the 1980s because existing inventories were sold years after the 1978 ban.

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Here is what you do to collect ceiling samples:

Using a spray bottle, get four small ceiling areas wet with water mixed with a bit of liquid detergent.

Using a putty knife, scrape about one square inch of “popcorn” from each area into a ziplock bag.


If the lab results are negative, meaning less than 1% asbestos was found in the first sample, the EPA recommends testing three additional samples to confirm the results, hence 4 samples…


If you get bad News: ASBESTOS!

When your sample comes back, you may be lucky and get a negative result: No Asbestos or less than 0.1% worth of it. But if it comes back positive for asbestos, there are only three ways to deal with it safely and legally:

You can encapsulate the asbestos with a new layer of non-asbestos acoustic sprayed over the top of the existing. This is a solution for asbestos problem, but you will still have acoustic popcorn ceilings.


You can also encapsulate the existing ceiling with drywall sheets installed right over the popcorn ceiling, tapped, mudded and sanded smooth. This is the most efficient and economical way of dealing with the asbestos.


The pricier solution is to have us abate the asbestos per APA guidelines and then have the wallboard retextured and painted. Cost for having this asbestos professionally removed vary but, on average, a 15-by-20-foot room can cost you in between $4,000 to $6,000.


Abatement crews can be very costly!

Abatement crews can be very costly!

It is illegal to just paint an asbestos-containing popcorn ceiling because rolling or spraying can release the harmful fibers into the air. According to the APA, paint is not an efficient way to encapsulate asbestos fibers.

While it is not illegal to remove your popcorn-like, acoustic, asbestos-filled ceiling yourself, any level of asbestos exposure is unsafe and the EPA recommends strongly against you trying to do the work that professionals should be handling.

Now, if in the unlikely possibility that you decide to remove the asbestos-impregnated ceiling yourself, you’ll need to use special HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter full-faced respirators, disposable protective overhauls, rubber boots or disposable booties and sealed eye protection. In addition to your astronaut-suit, you must use special containment bags for all debris and dispose of them only at sites licensed for asbestos. Also there are special ways to seal each bag and store in special container for transporting. Consult your state’s health departments or air-quality agencies before you collect any of this bad stuff in bags and leave in your yard!

Good News, No asbestos?  You can encapsulate the existing ceiling with drywall sheets installed right over the popcorn ceiling, tapped, mudded and sanded smooth. This is the most efficient and economical way of dealing with popcorn ceilings. We are really cheap when it comes to removing the popcorn ceilings. Call us and we can help you no matter if we need to abate asbestos or only get rid of acoustic textures…

Fresh paint can help … some  
If there is no asbestos present, there are other ways to deal with popcorn ceilings that can at least hide the dust-filled texture. One option is to freshen them up with a new coat of paint. But think twice about using a roller because most of the acoustic ceilings textures are very soft and will absorb a great deal of paint. In addition, using a regular roller will flatten some areas and make the texture look uneven. Often, the entire layer of the cottage-cheese texture will come right off, leaving a bare strip of ceiling. New on the market are thick rollers with slits that are less likely to scrape the acoustic off, but they still require a lot of paint and can be drippy. We can help you if you come to this decision of roller painting, but the most efficient way to put new paint on a textured ceiling is to spray-paint it with latex paint.

Spraying is a technical job that require specific painting skills and unless you already have most of the supplies, and equipment, it may be cheaper to hire us to do the work. We can usually re-spray the acoustic ceilings in an average-size home in less than a day for about the same price as materials alone. After all this is done, however, you’re still left with that same popcorn texture that will accumulate dust and look horrible again. Just call us and we will give you a price for removal that will seem like you are paying for a painting job. Sometimes, if you know the square footage of your house, we can give you an estimate right over the phone!

Now If You Are Taking It Down Yourself You Must Know This:

The average homeowner is capable of removing a soft acoustic ceiling without a problem. But it’s hard work, and not particularly pleasant. It’s a dirty, nasty, and long job. Specially if you are doing it without much help. The average professional crew is composed of 3 workers! Be prepared for the long haul. With lack of experience, as you scrape chunks will fall in your face rendering you temporarily blind, specially if you have protective lenses, because that stuff gets sticky and attempts to clean will smear it all over your lenses, but if you decide to go without goggles it may actually hit you straight in the eye ball! Which can also render you more than temporarily blind… You noticed that we want you to hire us instead. Huh? But here are the instructions:

Materials and equipment: Screwdriver 10in1, ladder, wire nuts, masking tape (a few rolls), 6mm roll of plastic, gardener sprayer, wide-blade scraping knife, extension handle, tapping knife, joint compound, sand paper, plastic bags, broom, dust pan, mop, some disposable full-size towels (have them ready! you will find out why at some point of your task!)

Clear the room of all contents, including any hanging fixtures. Place wire nuts on any exposed wires and turn off these fixtures at the breaker to avoid electrical shock.

Guard walls and floors with a lightweight plastic drop cloth, covered with a layer of 6-millimeter plastic sheeting.

Soften the acoustic material with a light water spray; a pump garden sprayer works well. Scrape the popcorn off with a wide-blade taping knife.

Let the drywall dry overnight. The next day, repair any imperfections with drywall joint compound then sand with a sanding pole using 100-grit sandpaper.

Apply texture to match the wall finish.


The final steps are to seal the ceiling with drywall primer and paint.

Use a good primer. Think of primer as the glue that makes the paint stick. Finish with a flat latex, paint with sheen will accentuate any imperfections in the ceiling.

If this sounds too complicated, there are plenty of professionals who will do the job for you — painters, drywallers, handymen — but removing an acoustic ceiling a lot of labor and specific skills, and if you hire labor alone, it can become very expensive. The damages can be greater than the fixes. For this kind of work, you can expect to pay $600 to $1,000 for a 15-by-20-foot room. But because of our experience, we can do that for you for much less.

Give us a call and we will go over your specifics and come up with an appropriate fee that is much lower than market!

Licensed, Insured and Workers Compensation. Guaranteed!


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