Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Removing textured ceilings

Our specific variety of textured ceiling has a few names: crows feet, stomp texture, slap brush, and panda paw.  Don't those all sound exciting and fun?  THEY'RE NOT!!!

We have ceilings like this all over our home.  The texture is so dimensional that we jokingly call them stalactites.

Mostly I hate them because they collect dust and create shadows on the ceiling.  See how dark the ceiling looks in that first photo?

Everyone we talked to said they're very hard to remove completely (they're applied differently than popcorn), and thus it's quite expensive to have it done.  We don't hate them enough to throw thousands of dollars into making them disappear, so we thought we'd try something cheaper first.

How about just sanding them a little?

Armed with lots of protective gear (glasses and mask are a must!), we just wrapped sand paper around a sanding block and went at it.  The stalactites broke off easily, and the smaller mountains sanded down without too much more elbow grease.

It took a little over an hour to do this 10' x 9' room in our house.  Cleanup was another half an hour, because this process creates a LOT of dust (be sure to open the windows, close the vents, and shut off the AC).  This project was super cheap - just the cost of a pack of sandpaper.

Here's a closeup of what it's like after sanding.  It's not totally smooth (that costs big bucks), but it's a huge improvement!

Here's the room half finished.  The left side has been sanded already.

Doesn't the ceiling look so much better?  Cleaner, brighter, more welcoming.  Such a difference!

Let's compare to the "before" again:

Now I have the itch to do the rest of the house...

Be careful, because it will make quite a mess!


  1. Looks better but still not smooth. I had this horrible stuff all over a main bedroom ceiling. Ended up ripping the entire ceiling down and boarding it out with drywall to the raw joists. Did all the work myself so with screws and drywall cost me £50, what's that in dollars? Cheap anyway.

    1. You're right, to get it totally smooth would require skimming or starting from scratch, which is a lot more involved than an hour of sanding. This was definitely an improvement that got us most of the way there!

    2. Ripping the ceiling down and putting up new drywall costs MUCH more than the price of drywall and screws. The drywall joints have to be taped and mudded and there is a lot of work involved to make the walls completely smooth. Bonnie, I was asking my wife the other day "Can't we just sand down our textured ceilings? I wonder what it would look like?" You just gave me the visual answer so THANK YOU for posting. What kind of sander and what grade sandpaper did you use?

    3. I used sanding block wrapped in 120 grit sandpaper. It would be faster and probably cleaner to use a palm or orbital sander that collects dust.

  2. Do wood planks or tongue and groove wood with a beautiful stain.

  3. I have these same terrible textured ceilings! My husband doesn't think sanding them down will make a big difference - I'm going to show him this. Thanks for this post!

  4. Thank you so much for the post! We have this in the basement and have been dreading the removal process.

  5. I would really like to know what the point is of putting hideous textures on ceilings to begin with. Our new house has this texture everywhere too. In the bedroom the ceiling is so high it’ll be a lot of work to ever change it. This sort of thing feels like a modern day hairstylist cutting a mullet ... just why? Just say no.

    1. That is so true and funny! Our ceilings are like mullets too! I think they are hideous as well. We have sanded down one room and used a spray hopper with a different texture method and such of an improvement! Now only 10 more rooms to go!


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