What Tool To Use To Remove a Popcorn Ceiling?

Remember when I told you we were making over the second floor bathroom that we use for guests. We are making good progress. I still have a lot to do, but the most challenging or shall I say the unpleasant part of getting the room ready for a new look is done and that was removing the popcorn ceiling.

These updates photos are not pretty, but something that had to be done before we did any other updates to the guest bathroom.

Removing a popcorn ceiling tip
Popcorn ceiling on bathroom ceiling

Since it is a small room, I took the project on by myself. It was not hard and only took about 2 hours. BUT it is a very messy job since you need to spray water on the ceiling first, let it soak in for a few minutes…


… and then scrap it off using a Popcorn Scraping Tool like this.  You attach a plastic bag around the wire frame and attach it to a paint stick.

It works well, but the job still makes a big mess and one where your arms, neck and shoulders get pretty tired.


The popcorn came off pretty easily and the ceiling under it was revealed. It has a few flaws, but I have an idea that will take the focus away from the imperfections.

Armstrong WoodHaven Planks in Painted White on a bedroom ceiling.

If we ever decide to remove popcorn ceiling in other rooms, I think I would pay for someone to do it or do what we did in the guest room’s, which was install Armstrong Woodhaven plank ceilings.

Blue and White small bathroom with stenciled walls and white vanity.

Don’t miss the AFTER makeover post entitled Small & Pretty Bathroom Makeover showing how the bathroom makeover turned out.

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  1. Wow, I admire your dedication to saving money to buy your paddle board. The board looks like a wonderful way to get exercise. I’m no spring chicken but I would be getting one of those if I lived where you do. If you get tired or over heated you can sit down and or take a quick dip in the lake to cool off. I think I’d feel safer on the paddle board than in a kayak. LOL I know you are loving living at the lake. Vikki in VA

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Vikki – I am loving my new Eclipse. It was a rainy weekend and I could not get out. :-( Looking forward to see the sunshine return. It is a great workout and like you said you can just stop pedaling when you get tired or even sit or take a swim. The lake is large, over 650 miles of shoreline. I could not explore it all from my house, but the nice thing is we can put the board on our boat and take it along with us when we go out on other parts of the lake and then launch it from the boat to explore new areas. I hope you have an enjoyable week.

  2. We removed the popcorn ceiling in our bathroom – out of necessity as we had water damage and some of it was cracking and falling off. My husband did all the work and it was awful. The rest of house will eventually be done, but by someone else (plus our living room and kitchen are vaulted …so nearly impossible for us to do ourselves).

    Your paddleboard-thingie looks fun!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Beverly – Kudos to your husband for taking on the messy job. I think once you do one, you know it is a hire-out job going forward. We have it in almost every room, too. The Pollyanna in me keeps telling me… at least they are white. :-) I am enjoying the Eclipse and so is Ed. It is a lot of fun and easy to do right from the start.

  3. Congrats to you! A well earned item!
    I hope you have many opportunities to enjoy it.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kat – Thanks – I was a little bummed out that it rained most of the weekend, but today looks good so I can get out and have fun exploring and working out at the same time.

  4. Diane, for all of us still dreaming of making a move to be near water, do you wish you had done it sooner, any regrets?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Carol – Living along the water’e edge is something I have always dreamed of. I am so happy that we made it happen. I think the timing was perfect since we liked where we lived in PA as it was a wonderful place to raise our daughters. The timing to make our dream happen came when we knew that they would not be living with us any longer. I am glad we made it happen now and didn’t wait for retirement or were too old to enjoy every thing lake life has to offer.

  5. What fun! And talent to stay upright – I’d be at the bottom of the lake for sure. Can’t wait to see how the bathroom turns out – I know it will be beautiful as always.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Denise – Ed thought he would fall right off since he balance issues, but he hopped on and away he went. The board is very stable. :-) It was a rainy weekend so we got quite a bit done on the bathroom. I will be sharing more of what I am doing to the room next week.

  6. Love your new toy! Might have to check it out. One question for you – when you repaint a ceiling, how do you prep it? Washing or sanding – tough job either way over your head. Good job on the popcorn ceiling.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Linnea – I hope you are well. :-) Painting ceilings are my least favorite DIY. Way too taxing on the neck. I prep them the same way I do walls. I clean it with a damp rag and with mild dish detergent on it to remove all the dust and dirt. If you have a dust mop, you can place the damp rag over this and run it over the ceiling. Once I see that all the dust and or cobwebs are gone. Then I use a flat sheen paint. If it is new sheetrock or a stained ceiling, I would use a stain blocking primer on it first, then once that primer coat is dry, a flat sheen paint. I would only sand if there was texture on the ceiling or an area that had an imperfection. On the ceiling in my bathroom, there are some ripple type lines that can’t be sanded out. I thought about skim coating with Spackle, but it would be way too hard to get it to look perfect so I am going to camouflage it with a paint.

      You would love the Eclipse. XO

      1. Thanks for the helpful ceiling tips. Glad I don’t have to sand – I have been reading a lot about painting furniture on your blog. Enjoy your weekend. Thanks again.

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Linnea – If you can paint a ceiling, painting a piece of furniture is easy since you can do it sitting down and you don’t get neck strain. :-) I like using chalk paint when painting furniture. It makes it look so professionally finished. You can choose to distress to make the piece look old or no distressing for more modern looking pieces. If you need any guidance, just let me know. It rained here most of the weekend so we finished up the upstairs bathroom makeover. I will be posted about it in a few weeks.

  7. You look so happy on your new toy! It makes me smile.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Liz – I am having fun with it and so is Ed who didn’t think he would like it.

  8. What a fun toy! Might have been expensive but you’re totally worth it! ? And those legs … ? Va va voom!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sue – I do have muscular legs that get achy when I don’t exercise. Being able to use them to pedal around the lake will give them the workout they need. :-)

  9. Lorraine Thomas says:

    You are a-m-a-z-i-n-g!!! Can I borrow some of that energy? Beautiful pics! :)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lorraine – I am trying to stay energized to get me through the last of the big updates we are doing to the house. Once these are done, I will be very happy to be able to put my focus on other smaller creative pursuits around the house.

  10. I couldn’t be more happy for you. If anyone deserves this fun paddle board it’s you. I enjoy your blog so much. Can’t wait to see your bathroom update. You worked so hard on your Lake home, enjoy every minute.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Joan – Thanks. I try to enjoy life around the lake every day. Yesterday the sky was so blue and there was a little breeze. I had to put my paint brush down and just go outside to sit and look at the way the sky looked and how the colors all around the lake looked like an Impressionest painting. Ed saw me and asked what I was doing and I said… Looking at how cool the sky looks right now. He agreed it did. After sitting for about 10 mins, I headed back up to the bathroom to finish painting it. :-) Thanks for reading my blog. XO

  11. patti@pandora's box says:

    Wow, what a fun way to exercise and enjoy the lake – You go girl!!

  12. The Eclipse looks like a BLAST! :-) I am so happy for you, Diane.

    Blessings to you!

  13. Your new toy looks like so much fun. It’s so true that you enjoy things more when you save up for them. I can’t wait to see your bathroom because I love how creative you are. I’m sure it will be fabulous.

  14. Beth Fagundes says:

    I too live by a lake and I saw an ad for your new toy and determined that I should have one. I received a kayak for my birthday (the first one over the 50 mark was on the 2nd) and now this is on my list. I saw they are pricey, but they look like a great way to get around the lake!

    Enjoy!! And thank you for your beautiful blog which facilitates a virtual friendship!! :)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Beth – Sounds like you have been enjoying lake life for many years. Do you have a favorite style of kayak? We have two sit-in style and after a major storm a few weeks ago, a sit-on-top style landed on the shore of our property. We have no idea whose it is, but have it sitting on the shore so all can see it and someone can claim it. If not, we have a 3rd kayak. Knowing that you love to be out on the water….you will love the Eclipse. It is so easy to use. I bought the 10.5 length. I can lift and carry it, but it is a little cumbersome for one person to carry. We are trying to design a safe place to store it down on the dock, but out of the water when not in use. Thanks for reading my blog my virtual friend. XO Happy summer!

  15. TerriC/HoustonLady says:

    Hi Diane!

    I love your new toy. I know the eclipse would motivate me to get out and enjoy my workout!!

    Have fun..you deserve it : )

  16. Linda Weeks says:

    I’m so pleased that you are able to enjoy your workout! It really looks like fun, and environmentally friendly, too! No exhaust fumes to suffer! Hope you’re able to go all summer! Imagine, after a summer working out with that, you’ll have a new physical fitness blog to show us in the fall with all your new muscles!

  17. Your new toy looks like so much fun, Diane! I don’t think I’d mind working out if I had that view. Enjoy it!!

  18. I don’t know where you live but it is beautiful! I can’t understand how you find the time to run a blog and do all your own DIY! lol. I can understand the “blogger butt” bit, though mine would be from sitting and staring at that gorgeous lake!

  19. So glad you told us about your new toy. I definitely need one of those. FUN! Your bathroom looks great and your arms and shoulders should be nice and tone from that!

  20. Gail Vernali says:

    That does look fun and sturdy, i love that you can hold onto something . You look great in that photo BTW! Makes me want to take out my stand up paddle board and use it!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      When you come next, you can try it out. If today is anything like yesterday, it will be a perfect day for you to get out on your paddle board. Go for it! Thanks for the photo compliment. Ed took it from the dock. :-)

  21. Holy Moly, those things really are expensive, aren’t they? I guess it is aptly named as far as I’m concerned as it’s going to be just that for me…. just a mirage! LOL ‘Guess I’ll have to stick with the pedal boat idea for me and my little guy! I did watch a video on Youtube of people riding on them and they sure do look like fun! And it should give you a really good workout, too! I’m glad for you that you were able to get it! I can’t think of anyone more deserving with all the work you do!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Yes, it was expensive and why it took me a year and a half to save up for it. :-) I did learn while saving up that I didn’t need so many things that I usually would buy on a whim and didn’t really need. Made the purchase even more rewarding for me.

  22. With a beautiful lake like that, wouldn’t that be just the incentive to get out and exercise!!! I love it! I never knew there was such a thing. I’ve been thinking of getting a pedal boat for my gr-grandson and I to have fun while getting some time on the water & also some exercise. I watch him during the summer months when he’s not in school. He’s a skinny little 8 yr. old, but I tho’t that would be just the thing for us to enjoy together, as well as good exercise for me. We could even fish from it….

    I’m not blessed to have a lake right outside my door like you do, but I’m only a mile or so from Lake Erie, and about a half mile from a small lake, which for an old woman & her gr-grandson, is probably a safer alternative. I’m waiting ’til Memorial Day weekend to see if any great sales come up, tho’…. For what they are made of, those things are expensive! I’m surprised with all his ingenuity, that Ed didn’t come up with a way to make one of those gadgets you bought out of an old eclipse and paddle board from a thrift store! You guys are so creative that way!

    If you come up with any easier way to remove popcorn ceilings that are the back breaking business that it is, please do let us know. I’d like to do my whole house, but don’t think my neck and shoulders could take all that work. However, when winter comes again, maybe one room at a time with other projects in between to break things up.

    Enjoy that new toy! If it does nothing but to get you out on that beautiful lake, it will have been worth the pinching & saving! That’s how I hope to get a paddle boat, too!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Tegmapat – Since moving here I have been walking around my neighborhood and riding my bike to get exercise, but it was killing me to be so near the lake and not see it. It is the main reason I wanted to save up to buy the Eclipse so I could have a water view while working out. Have you checked Craig’s List for a pedal boat. You may be able to find a good deal on a used one.

      As far a making one, the design of the Eclipse is pretty flawless. I am not sure we could make something that would move with the same ease. The board and handlebars are easy to DIY, but the paddle mechanism, not so much. A little too many gears, etc.

      I hope you can find a pedal or paddle boat to enjoy with your grandson this summer.

  23. MarianneB says:

    That looks like fun!! Is it slower than a paddle board? Good luck on the bathroom, any type of ceiling work is hard and time consuming imo, we stenciled a foyer ceiling with Napoleon bees and it is beautiful, but not a fun project. I did use a foam neckbrace, the over the counter kind & that did seem to help a little with fatigue, but it is a tough job. No way around it….. Can’t wait to see the bathroom outcome! You alway do such a great job with design and maximizing what you have to work with, love it!! Thanks.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Marianne – The Eclipse goes faster than a paddle board. It goes as fast or slow as you want and the speed is determined on how fast and hard you push the pedals. I dread doing ceiling work and agree with you 100% that is hard and time consuming. Good idea about using a neck brace. I think I may have one. I will try using it to see if it helps with the neck strain I know I will feel when painting the ceiling.

  24. Elaine Williams in Baltimore, Maryland says:

    OOPs! I forgot to comment on the bathroom. What was everyone thinking in the 70’s with that hideous brown foil wallpaper? Yikes! I have always hated a popcorn ceiling but understood their purpose (to hide flaws). In my old house we had a swirl ceiling that was made with a wallpaper brush. Awful!

    At least the white tiles in the bathroom look nice, fresh and up to date. I know I can count on you to have a beautiful bathroom when you are all done.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Elaine – This is the first house I have lived in with popcorn ceilings so I am not very knowledgeable about them. I do know that I am not a fan though! I try to think on the bright side and say… at least they are white. :-) The brown patchwork wallpaper looks so dated and reminds me that the tdecor we do today may have us thinking the same in 30 years. Fashion and trends… good for the time being and bad in the long run.

  25. Elaine Williams in Baltimore, Maryland says:

    I love the new toy! What an awesome way to work out and be together with hubby at the same time.

  26. Super cool…a workout while having fun! And the views are great! ;)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Donnamae – That was my number 1 reason to save up and buy the Eclipse. Working out and a view at the same time. :-)

  27. Diane, I LOVE it! Noooh, not so much the Eclipse, although I know it’s probably a lot of fun….but that you are doing it and having fun! Good for you….be safe, girl.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sharon – Thanks I know I will have fun getting a good workout and at the same time some peaceful hours out on the lake. I will be careful.

  28. How creative a paired scenic workout. Thanks for this tip. Wonderful way to stay active

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Laura – It is. The Eclipse goes faster than the kayak so whoever is in the kayak has to work hard to stay up with whoever is on the Eclipse, hence the reason Ed is so far away in the photo I took of him pedaling off in the sunset. :-)

  29. Deb Wostmann says:

    Looks like a fun workout, enjoy!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Deb – So far I have been out on it twice and enjoyed every minute. Looking forward to making it a daily workout unless of course it is a rainy day.