Popcorn Ceilings – Are They Really So Bad?

by Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX on April 10, 2011 · 82 comments

Popcorn Ceiling

Popcorn Ceiling

As I was suffering with allergies last month, praying the medicine would work, and wishing I could at least start to half-breath again, I took respite on my living room sofa and laid there for a while, like a zombie, staring at my ceiling, meditating and trying to will my sinuses into operation.

As I did so, I made an odd observation. “This is one of the nicest popcorn ceilings I’ve ever seen!”, I thought. I continued examining the ceiling, from corner to corner. Not a blemish, stain or evidence of previous repair or patchwork anywhere. No discoloration around the A/C vents. No defects at all. The popcorn ceilings in my house are, in a word, pristine. Not bad for a late-1970s ranch-style home that’s spent over half its life as a rental.

Many home owners scrape their popcorn ceilings (aka Acoustic Ceilings). If you hire someone to do it, it costs roughly $1.00 per square foot to remove and re-texture, depending on various factors such as the ceiling height, the type of paint that’s been applied to to ceilings, and whether it has asbestos (as much popcorn did up until the 1970s).

When we list homes in Austin with popcorn ceilings, and seek feedback from Realtors who show the home, we’ll often hear “the buyers didn’t like the popcorn ceilings”. Often, a listing in 1970s Austin neighborhoods will boast of the popcorn removal. In our Austin MLS right now, there are comments in listings that say (actual quotes):

… popcorn removal & paint 2007
… NO popcorn here
… ceiling popcorn removed
… owners have gone through the trouble to remove the popcorn ceilings
… NO POPCORN ceilings
…etc.

People hate popcorn ceilings. But as I look at my own vintage 1978 popcorn ceilings, and how perfect they are, I wonder what all the fuss is about.

I mean, really. What’s the big deal? Sylvia and I are getting ready to install hardwood floors this summer, and I know the popcorn ceilings will drastically reduce the echo noise produced by hard surface flooring. This sound dampening provides a more pleasant acoustical experience in the home, being much easier on the ears. This, in fact, is why it is technically called an “acoustical texture”. The term “popcorn” came into use because it describes the appearance. But have you ever been in an all-tile or all-wood home where the ceilings have been scraped flat? It’s noisy and echoes badly.

So, when you’re up watching Letterman, your spouse shouts from the bedroom “turn down the TV!”, and you respond “it’s already down to number 4, and I can barely hear it”. You have your scraped ceilings and wood or tiles floors to thank for this unwelcome sound travel throughout your home. Throw rugs will help a bit, but are not nearly as effective as popcorn ceilings at dampening sound.

Some people think the popcorn ceilings have asbestos and are dangerous. Partially true. Some of the 1950s and 1960s popcorn had asbestos, but these ceilings emit no vapors or fumes that can be inhaled. As long as they are covered with paint, and you don’t disturb and breath the dust, you are not exposed to anything toxic.

I do agree that once the ceilings have had a few roof leaks, been painted, and start to look funky, the popcorn can become unattractive. But so can a flat textured ceiling that has suffered the same fate.

That all being said, Sylvia dislikes the popcorn. When we replace the flooring, she’ll probably say “shouldn’t we go ahead and scrape the popcorn while we’re doing the floors anyway?” (Project Creep) My response, “remove this perfect, pristine popcorn?! Are you crazy?! I love these ceilings!”

Please, somebody agree with me and let’s admit that this obsessive neurosis about the texture and appearance of a popcorn ceiling is nothing more than “texture snobbery”.

{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michael @ The Stage Coach April 10, 2011 at 2:57 pm

hi, Steve:
Popcorn ceilings are like black appliances or the brassy/gold door knobs. They might do their job just fine, but they certainly put a date on the house. And for some reason, the mindset is Newer = Better. I think popcorn ceilings have a bad rap for a lot of the reasons you list. They don’t stand up to moisture well, stains are difficult to hide, and homeowners try crappy “patch-in-a-can” touch ups. Are they a bad ceiling? Probably not. But what do I know? I’m from Chicago, where, when we left, they still didn’t texture walls or ceilings. Just several layers of mudd, feathered out several times on the sheet rock seams.
Michael

2 Debbie April 10, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Hi Steve,

We have popcorn ceilings and I don’t mind them at all plus they do cut down on the noise level. My husband hates them so we are a 50/50 vote here but I do agree with you!

Debbie

3 Julia April 10, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Steve, I hate popcorn ceilings. I drool over friends’ houses that have pristine luxurious FLAT textureless ceilings. I dream, “one day!”

Yes, I could have my ceilings scraped, but that feels like wasteful spending to me. Getting the wood panels off one of my walls was a must, but I can live with popcorn!

I also had bamboo floors installed. Mmm… so pretty. (But so easily damaged! Ugh. Such a pain. But they are so pretty!) But when we did that the AC fan became so loud compared to before. We usually have to turn up/down volume on music/videos when it cycles on/off.

However, I can definitely cite a clear benefit of following your blog other than the good reading entertainment/information…

I did not realize popcorn ceilings reduced noise level!!!! Oh my!! How loud it would be with both flat ceilings and floors!

So, thank you Steve, you have taken me one step towards complete satisfaction with what I have in life. :)

4 Sara April 10, 2011 at 9:49 pm

I stayed at a luxury condo on Pensacola Beach that was so new they were still working on the third tower and it had popcorn ceilings.

I just removed the popcorn from a new investment property. The previous owners had started the project so I had no choice. I saturated it with water and it dropped off easily with a drywall blade—except in the bedroom with faux clouds in enamel paint. Residue that sticks to the joints and nail patches are removed with a wet drywall sponge the next day. The nail patches need to be filled flush with drywall mud (or perhaps spackle) or they will show up as indentations–not good. I have read that popcorn ceilings were popular with builders because they disguised shoddy workmanship; but I have been pleasantly surprised with all three 70’s houses I have scraped. The popcorn didn’t hide anything but an ordinary tape job. I primed with a high solids drywall primer, rolled watered-down drywall mud with a ½ or ¾ nap (can’t remember) lambswool roller, buffed it out with a pole sander, primed, and painted. You always want to use ceiling paint because it is as flat as you can get and you want flat so imperfections don’t show up. It looks nice, flat with a very light, irregular texture—I also spray painted the vents. But I would have had better results had I carried a piece of plywood around and rolled the first roll on it to make the texture more even on the ceiling. I also sanded with a screen and probably took off too much texture in the light areas so should have used sandpaper. Or maybe it sanded too easily because I used lightweight joint compound. Anyway, I thought I’d share in case anyone has been considering tackling the job. You can also just paint after priming; if this is your plan you can lightly, very lightly sponge the joints smooth while cleaning off residue. But take off too much joint compound and the tape will show through, so be gentle or you’ll be rolling texture!

5 Gritsforbreakfast April 11, 2011 at 5:34 am

One problem is you can’t dust them without the “popcorn” coming off. Super annoying, particularly around any ceiling fans.

6 Veronica April 11, 2011 at 8:14 am

Yes they are that bad – they just look terrible.

7 Ghettoimp April 12, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Our house (in the Barrington Oaks neighborhood, built in ’75) has popcorn throughout, except in the kitchen/bathroom where our remodeling required us to redo the ceilings. My wife really dislikes it for some reason, but removing it was a PITA and I could care less, now.

8 Jane April 16, 2011 at 8:15 pm

I loved reading your thoughts on the popcorn ceilings I had to laugh! We just went through having all of the ceilings scraped throughout the house and I love the clean smooth look, love it! It is such a mess but so worth it. Definitely do it before the new floors go in you will love it I can guarantee it!
Next project the old worn out grey, falling apart backyard privacy fences. I am looking at the new wrought iron fences with some beautiful shrubbery!

9 Remodeler April 21, 2011 at 6:45 am

You mentioned asbestos in 50s and 60s houses. It’s use actually extended well into the late 70s and it’s frequently found in houses of that era. The expense of scraping the popcorn is significantly increased if it is present, assuming the contractors go the full 10 yards. Somewhere between double and triple the cost you mentioned.

10 Peter Tsai April 23, 2011 at 7:40 am

I had popcorn ceilings in my investment property in downtown Austin. The popcorn ceilings were painted an off white / slightly green eggshell color. Popcorn isn’t fun to paint over! Even with the thicker rollers you have to go over it at least 4-5 times to make sure you get enough paint on. Then you have the issue of the popcorn falling off while you are painting it.

I don’t think it’s that bad looking, but people care about it, so you have to do what the people want.

11 www.finddaytonohiohomes.com May 9, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Popcorn ceilings were only designed to hide drywall blemishes. You typically don’t see popcorn ceilings in custom built homes but more in track built homes.

12 Garreth Wilcock May 18, 2011 at 10:33 am

I agree with remodeller – asbestos based popcorn is often safest where it is – on the ceiling. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it (rip it off, inhale it, cough and splutter your way to the hospital)

13 ScorpionLeather May 21, 2011 at 11:53 pm

Scraping off popcorn is the trendy thing right now, but it’s a pretty dumb trend. The echo in a house with smooth ceilings can be highly annoying. Popcorn doesn’t look bad at all, it just isn’t the hip “in thing” to do right now. Keep in mind, as soon as you finish remodeling the changes are going to be out of fashion. Maybe a year from now ceiling texture will be the next big craze in the home interior magazines.

14 Julie Holden May 31, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Such great comments!! I’m with the “no popcorn” crowd. It’s what everyone has said and WORSE if you ask me. They hold nasty cobwebs, but rain popcorn pellets on you when you dust them. Painting them is AWFUL, but like any ceilings they yellow in time and must be repainted every so often. And yes, they are REALLY just a cheap way to hide blemishes.

And I’m going to be even more curmudgeonly and say that I don’t buy the “acoustic” argument. We scraped our vaulted LR ceiling, and we have solid-surface floors. We really do not have a problem at all with echoing & noise.

Project Creep, Shmoject Creep. Get ‘em scraped when you have those floors installed. The result will be GORGEOUS. :)

15 KNIGHT June 16, 2011 at 10:26 pm

I am a general contractor and have been for 30+ years. Have applied “popcorn” texture to many ceilings and have owned homes with it also. I also suffer with allergies, and the dust from the popcorn does a real number on me.The thing with the popcorn ceiling is that it deteriorates over time and decomposes into dust particles that fall all over you, your bed!!, furniture, floors, pictures, moldings, etc. The only way to fix this is to paint it with some good quality paint. The paint will effectively seal it & hold it together and you can breathe clean air for a bit. The flat textured ceilings also dry and deterirate, but as you can tell if you pass a broom across it, a lot less of the texture will fall off on each stroke than the popcorn.

16 malarkey July 15, 2011 at 8:39 pm

good post KNIGHT. IMHO, popcorn ceilings still fall into the UGLY category. I’d love to have mine scraped.

But hey, if you are doing a full-on 70′s remodel, then leave ‘em up.

17 anon August 7, 2011 at 2:06 am

I wonder who started this flat ceiling trend. I’m in my 30s and it’s only been in the last few years I’ve heard all this venom spewed at popcorn ceilings. If this wasn’t the trendy thing to do would people even look at your ceilings at all? I just purchased a home and my guests have pointed out to me that I have Spanish knockdown ceilings. Wow, that’s a mouthful of trendy terms to describe a flat ceiling.

I can honestly say that until my guests arrived I had only looked at the ceilings twice. The first time was my initial viewing of the home to make sure there wasn’t any structural damage or water leakage. The second was after I purchased the home while I was painting the rooms, I looked up to see if I needed to paint the ceilings as well. Were it not for my trendy guests pointing out what’s on my ceiling, I don’t think the thought would ever have occured to me. I’ve managed for 36 years with popcorn ceilings and up until a few years ago no one ever thought twice about them. Now all the sudden they are a bad word.

Remember in the 80s when everybody was making fun of the leftover 70′s shag carpet? Has anyone noticed that it’s back? It’s now apparently French and, therefore, more expensive than ever. I’m sitting in my bedroom looking at my new shag …er …frieze carpet that just cost me a grand a room. I can’t help but think if it were still called shag I would have paid half the price for it. I’m staring at my flat, characterless ceilings and wondering where the popcorn went. I sort of miss my popcorn ceilings. But, no worries, they’ll be back in a few decades. They will have a new name and a new price tag to go along with the repackaging of an old trend. So once you get tired of your boring, flat ceilings, you can get your popcorn back..it will just cost you twice as much as it did in the Good Ole Days.

18 Wendy Collins September 2, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I had to google “what’s the big deal about popcorn ceilings” after watching House Hunters and everyone making such a big deal about popcorn ceilings. I went through a complete gut of our home. It is decorated in Urban Chic, very contemporary. I put 25% of the room colour into the ceiling and it looks amazing. We receive compliments all the time on how wonderful it looks. It actually adds character by creating great shadows from our high vaulted ceilings. I’m learning from everyone’s comments that it’s definitely a personal preference. I believe it in no ways “dates” a room.

19 Shelby Cherry October 22, 2011 at 8:42 pm

We have them and, personally, I love them. For some reason, we can dust ours without any difficulty (nothing falling from the ceiling or anything like that). Anyway, to each his/her own!

20 Adam October 27, 2011 at 12:21 pm

I have read a lot of these threads and don’t see any mention of alternative ceiling textures. I HATE popcorn and am in the processes of removing it in my current remodel. However, I LOVE a texture on the ceiling. I am going to use a “sponge” method with compound – basically dab the ceiling and create an uneven pattern. This still hides imperfections but can be easily painted, won’t crumble or collect dust webs and IMO looks great! Why only “flat” vs. “popcorn”? Let’s hear it for the sponge!

21 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX October 27, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Well, we did just gut and update out master bath and scraped the popcorn in there and textured the ceiling same as the walls. It’s such a small confined space it’s hard to notice any real change in appearance, but I have to admit it does “look” more modern and updated.
Steve

22 Debi November 7, 2011 at 8:39 am

I just put in an offer on a house with “pristine” popcorn and was trying to figure out if I should do anything with it. Every room has a “tray” in the ceiling as well and it was very high-end when it was built 20 years ago (has a bidet in the master bathroom and everything). I think I’ll have someone come in and spray paint the ceilings. I don’t want them smooth and having knock-down applied is more work/expense than I want to undertake.

23 SCOTT December 1, 2011 at 6:35 pm

I’m with Steve on this one. I’ve never been able to see any thing unattractive about Popcorn ceilings. In fact I love them. Anyone who doesn’t must have spent their whole childhood locked in their bedroom looking at the ceiling, counting the bumps. Sorry, I guess that wasn’t nice.

I found this posting while I watched a House Buying Show. The person buying a home in rural Belize was complaining the house he was shown contained, of all things, a Popcorn ceiling.But I ask you, How lucky can you get in the middle of nowhere?
Any sign of civilization is always welcomed
Scott

24 Hate Popcorn Ceiling December 22, 2011 at 10:30 pm

1975 popcorn ceiling got water damage from swamp cooler and started falling down at one house I lived in . The popcorn tested positive for asbestos of course. Assume any popcorn ceiling has asbestos until proven otherwise just like you assume all 1970s or earlier paint is lead.

25 Redhead February 4, 2012 at 9:33 pm

I have vaulted ceilings in my home that have popcorn. No problem with them , even dusting and vacuuming. Very little comes off, but we have sprayed the ceilings with paint and it seems to have stopped any residue from dislodging. . I don’t think it is really worth the expense to remove unless you intend to do knockdown on the ceilings. My first home had “diamond dust” in the popcorn so it had a shimmer. Not sorry to see that fad has gone away.

26 Joan Heitz March 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm

I would be worried about getting mesolthelioma from a deteriorating popcorn ceiling. It
would be insane to remove a popcorn ceiling without a professional You cannot be sure
what is in the popcorn ceiling. People seem very unaware of the potential hazards. If
you get cancer from removing the ceiling or living with a crumbling one, it would be years
later. I think the public is sadly unaware.

27 Neal March 22, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Well I’ve read all these comments and at seventy-five and having lived in this popcorn ceiling house built in 1960 since 1974 and raised four kids and having painted the ceilings about fifteen years ago I haven’t heard anyone mention the big secret benefit of having popcorn ceilings. You see you can lay on your back and stair at your ceiling and see all kinds of faces. If you get a long enough stick you can point them out to your grand kids and they love it. Let’s lighten up a bit, eh. We all gotta go sometime. Stop worrying about it.

28 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX March 23, 2012 at 8:14 am

Hi Neal,

Thanks for your comment. Excellent idea! I’m still a decade or so away from having grandkids, but we’ll probably be in this same houe when that happens, so I’ll give it a try then.

Steve

29 Randall Derrick March 23, 2012 at 9:36 am

What is your take on adding cedar to a vaulted sheetrock ceiling acoustically with eventually pulling up carpet and adding wooden floors?

30 Jen Silvas March 28, 2012 at 9:53 am

We are currently in the process of purchasing a home that has popcorn ceilings. I don’t think they would have even bothered me if I didn’t watch HGTV so much. I was looking at the cost of removal & it doesn’t bother me that much. The ceilings are pristine and I’d much rather put my money toasted some new granite countertops. I live in a small town in Texas and I’m pretty sure my guests won’t be complaining about my ceilings. I’m leaving them. Like others have said, they will probably come back into style one day and I will be ahead of everyone.

31 Beth Meyer April 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm

I also never even noticed my ceilings. I had to look up what popcorn ceilings looked like on yahoo images to see that we do indeed have them, but that isn’t too surprising since our home was built in 1986. I think people who dwell on details like that must have too much time on their hands.

32 Jim Douglas June 5, 2012 at 11:29 am

They want 15K to remove the popcorn, which is perfect throughout the home. I am thinking if I was going to spend that much it would be for some other type of upgrade rather than what some ‘interior designer’ indicated on some TV show. The bottom line is I am selling this home and if someone does not want it because of the ceiling get over it! It’s got 3K of bathroom fixtures that will last forever! There are (4) bathrooms. I can get the exterior painted, although it does not need it for the amount they want to remove the PC ceiling!

33 ScorpionLeather June 6, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Jim, $15K is a crazy amount to remove a ceiling finish. I am assuming it is asbestos since the estimate is so high. I wonder if you can encapsulate the popcorn with an approved asbestos coating designed for this purpose, and then sandwich it with another smooth ceiling layer. I once sat next to a guy on a long flight who used to run an asbestos abatement (removal) company and he told me that most the time it’s unecessarily turned into a science project because of the regulations and liability, when in reality it is completely safe for the homeowner to do this sort of thing DIY if the homeowner follows proper steps documented in the expert articles, and uses common sense.

34 elizabeth June 14, 2012 at 7:46 am

Totally agree with you- they don’t bug me at all!

35 Popcorn Hater June 16, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Not only do I hate popcorn, but I hate ALL textures, both ceilings and walls. They look tacky and gross. When I see textured walls/ceilings, I imagine a scenario in which two hillbillies banter back and forth about how to class up their home. The one says to the other, “You know what would really class up our home, hon? Textured ceilin’s ‘n some fancy wooden trim! Yeah, Cletus, woo-hoo!” That’s another thing I hate- unnecessary trim. I’m not talking about the kind around a door frame. I’m talking about the kind that just frames a random wall for no good reason. My husband and I just spent the whole day de-tackifying a room full of textured walls and ceilings, and ripping off trim. The simpler, the better in my opinion- and classier looking too.

36 HouseExpert June 17, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Popcorn ceilings were not originally put in place because of a style trend or because of hillbilles, but rather for their function in reducing echo in rooms. That’s why they are called “acoustic ceilings.” Sometimes when I walk into a modern home I can hear the echo of every conversation, and of course the ceilings and walls are perfectly smooth. That results in sound reflection, whereas the popcorn ceilings absorb the sound and create a quiet room. Now in modern times, people are less focused on reducing echo, we’ve gotten used to it.

37 Callie June 27, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Same here! I’ve watched a LOT of House Hunters with my mom, and I always find myself asking my mom (since we have popcorn ceilings, which I didn’t know until she said ‘you know, we have popcorn ceilings) “WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL?”

Honestly, I barely bother looking at the ceiling. I see the walls, the floors, but I don’t spend that much time looking up. I think people make a much bigger deal about it than it actually is. Hence me googling “what is so bad about popcorn ceilings??”

38 New Jersey Girl July 1, 2012 at 6:17 am

I’VE LIVED WITH POPCORN CEILINGS FOR 28YRS. OFTEN WONDERED WHY PEOPLE HATE THEM SO MUCH. I ACTUALLY HAVE JUST SOLD MY HOUSE (ceilings still untouched in some rooms because they still looked good!) IN FACT,WE HAD AN ADDITIONAL SUITE BUILT ABOUT 8 YRS AFTER WE PURCHASED THE ORIGINAL HOUSE. I MUST SAY THE ADDITION HAD NO SMOKING OR COOKING EVER IN IT & THOSE CEILINGS REALLY NEED TO BE REPAINTED.ALTHOUGH SOME OF THE POPCORN CEILINGS HAVE BEEN REPAINTED, OVER ALL THEY TRULY HAVE HELD UP BETTER THAN THE SMOOTH NEWER CEILINGS!

39 Theater Guy July 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I am in the custom home theater business and work mainly with new construction properties in the 5000 sq ft. + range. While my customers tastes are all different I am amazed by the slavery to trends that diminish the actual comfort level of the very place you want to feel most comfortable in!
I must admit that smooth or slightly textured ceilings look cleaner however they are not going to dampen sound at all. As a matter of fact they amplify it and create the echo effect many have mentioned. Then it is compounded by wood floors, huge glass windows, tile finishes , the lack of defined spaces and ridiculously high ceilings. So what you end up with is an echo chamber. I have actually had to install active noise canceling systems in a few “Great rooms” so that the customers could here themselves think and have a sense of privacy When more than two people are in the house.
To be honest in the last ten years I have only worked in two custom homes that were comfortable and felt like home from the moment you walked in, only because they actually worked with an architectual firm and knowledgable responsive decorators to design the house they wanted to live in and threw out the McMansion plans offered by most builders. And yes there are some acoustic/popcorn ceiling treatments in those.
In the end it really is your preference, I have acoustic ceilings in my house and will live with them until I want to sell it, that is unless its back in style by then!
I should have never threw out all my bell bottom jeans…could have made a fortune today!

40 Cathryn Mataga July 29, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Yeah, fashions change. I’m expecting in another 20 years, all those granite counter tops will be out of fashion and will be ripped out to be replaced again with tile. That’s how it goes.

41 Noe Velasco August 16, 2012 at 1:23 am

Seems like people either hate these ceilings or are indifferent to them. Does anybody actually LIKE these ceilings though? Not that I’ve heard of. By the way, if you are concerned about noise traveling from room to room, a good solid-core door does much more to fight noise than acoustic ceilings ever could.

42 Chichi Tulinda August 16, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Noe, I like popcorn ceilings because they reduce echo. Solid core doors might reduce sound transmission from room-to-room but they won’t do anything for echo.

43 Big Parent August 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm

I saw someone on TV
talking about the evils of popcorn ceilings. I didn’t know what they were. Well it turns out thar’s what we have in our houe built in 1995. I never noticed them until today and see no problem with them

44 LiZ September 10, 2012 at 5:51 pm

If a contractor takes the popcorn ceiling off, does the residue go into the air vents and you enhale the particles?

45 Ken October 28, 2012 at 9:05 pm

I found this, by googling “what’s wrong with popcorn ceilings?” I live in a 1970′s tract house, with popcorn ceilings. I can’t see the purpose in removing them. Ours have probably about three coats of paint on them, so are sealed permanently! I have been in other homes in the area where they have removed the popcorn. Guess what? They all sound like echo chambers! We have no echo in our house. I have done some extensive remodelling, and people have asked, “but you left the popcorn!”. To which I usually reply, “everyone to their own taste, the old lady said when she kissed the cow!” My parents lived in this house with the popcorn, and I will probably live out my days as well with it. I actually like it!

46 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX October 29, 2012 at 7:09 am

Well, a year and a half later, we have nice wood floors but still have the popcorn ceilings. I have a painter coming over this morning to bid a repaint of all the cabinets in the home. Of course, Sylvia said “ask them for a price on scraping the popcorn too”.

I think this ceiling’s days are numbered. Happy wife, happy life. But we’ll see.

Steve

47 Jamie November 2, 2012 at 8:34 am

I have lived with popcorn ceilings all of my life and never gave them any thought until we moved into our new (built in 1976) house. The main living areas have popcorn but for some reason it’s been removed in the bedrooms. I lay in bed at night thinking how ugly it looks up there with out the texture. I for one love popcorn ceilings.

48 Bob Bobson November 3, 2012 at 6:12 pm

I’m afraid I cannot agree. While I admit the acoustic dampening is good if you have hard floors and nothing in the house, for carpeted (blech!) houses and houses with actual furniture, wall art, shelves, etc. it can be more annoying then useful.

I have already accidentally scraped the popcorn from our low ceilings numerous times in the two and half years since we moved in and been quite annoyed by the dust falling in my eyes, clothes, food, etc. I sleep in a loft bed, so I am particularly close to the ceiling which makes it even more annoying.

Worse, we have an Indianmeal moth infestation, and find several bloody waxworms crawling around the walls and roof per day. We vacuum them up frequently to prevent them laying more eggs, but spotting them is made much harder due to the stupid popcorn. This is particularly annoying because they do not stay on the roof, they actually spin silk to come down or even just fall right off, so we are trying to get into the habit of covering all of our food so that we don’t end up with a mouthful of maggots (not to mention that every twitch of the hair makes us think that a worm just fell on our heads). If the ceiling was flat, the task would be so much easier and faster.

49 Bob Bobson November 3, 2012 at 6:14 pm

(I didn’t even know that they could contain asbestos. I’m definitely going to inquire about it at the next co-op member’s meeting!)

50 Sharon November 11, 2012 at 10:44 am

My popcorn is water stained and very cobwebb-y. Should I just repaint or have it scraped? Keep in mind that I am a do it yourself tightwad and want the cheapest most efficient fix.

51 Lizzy November 14, 2012 at 1:31 am

I don’t like houses that sound like an echo chamber. It makes the conversation less pleasant. We don’t want carpets and drapes, so we are installing a ceiling texture coat to improve the acoustics.

52 Heidi (@MamaNibbles) November 18, 2012 at 4:14 am

Moth maggots have been falling from my ugly popcorn ceiling for weeks now. I will hear a light pop and look over to see one trying to snuggle up with me on our leather sofa –GROSS! So I took a tissue and a chair and walked around to try and nap the suckers from their popcorn dream home. I discovered SO many stuck up there inside a small web-like cocoon. I am scraping these dang popcorn things pronto! I can’t have worms raining from my ceiling any longer!

53 mary Healy December 1, 2012 at 8:17 pm

I don’t know why people are so worride about their ceiling’s. I have pop corn an love it

54 Don Butler December 1, 2012 at 11:33 pm

I just bought my house two years ago. Looked at many houses on the market, saw some real junk. The most beautiful house, and the one we bought, has popcorn ceilings–very subtle, however, small textured. Not my choice, but…. The house is a colonial, with beautiful hard wood floors, ceramic tile and granite throughtout wet areas. The whole house pristine–built in 1989 with textured ceilings. I thought, “but textured ceilings are supposed to be bad…” Nevermind, the house was gorgeous, even with the ceilings. In fact, I have to say that the ceilings were very nice, too. Very evenly applied, small sized texture ceiling. Bright white! I thought the house was beautiful, but still was nagged about the ceilings because of what I’d been told was a bad thing. Ultimately ignored what everyone else was saying about these ceilings and bought the house. It is a gorgeous house, with gorgeous ceilings. EVERYONE who comes into the house is struck by how beautiful it is. I am now so happy that I bought the house, and happier still that I kept the ceilings. Due to a leaky roof, which we just replaced, I just had to patch a small part of the upstairs ceiling. It was easy! Bought the tub accoustic ceiling goop, followed directions, painted the ceiling to achieve consistent paint color across the entire ceiling. AND IT LOOKS WONDERFUL! No sign of a water stain or patch! Forget what we’re supposed to think about popcorn ceilings, if you like them keep them.

55 NoseyNeighbor December 31, 2012 at 12:02 am

For 15 years we lived in a home with popcorn ceilings–I never really thought about it at the time. It was new construction in 1991, and that is how “everyone” was doing it in that area.

When we sold our home to move across the country–the popcorn ceiling was NEVER an issue–in fact the home was on the market for only a week and we got our asking price (this was in a different economy, 2006).

The house we now live in dates to the early 90′s but doesn’t have any textured ceilings–al flat. The echo in the tiled kitchen/breakfast room is SIGNIFICANT!

I’d put money in the floor, before I’d put in in the ceiling–unless the ceiling in poor repair was harboring bugs like a couple of respondents upthread have reported about their own circumstances.

56 Sharon January 4, 2013 at 9:20 am

I have popcorn ceilings throughout my 20 year old home. They look fine, except in the great room, where the edge tape is separating from the main ceiling. But no worries. I just found out that a bead board ceiling can be placed on top of the popcorn. It’s going to be beautiful!

57 Patti January 4, 2013 at 12:20 pm

My popcorn ceilings have an added bonus ,little sparkles! I get compliments about my ceilings all the time. (maybe sarcastically) ,but I just say” thanks!” Does anyone else have sparkles in their’s? My house was built in 86′ in Fl. I have wooden floors also, and there is definately more echo since removing the carpet, but I dont want more echo and noise and really cant afford to remove them, so like my 80′s kitchen I am waiting for them to go back in syle!

58 Anne February 7, 2013 at 4:19 am

thank you so much for your encouragement over “popcorn” ceilings Steve Patti. and others I bought my darling Mums little home in respect of her wishes (although I was not sure when she asked me before she died) and it has popcorn ceilings and sparkles, and mostly pristine. I like to look at them when I lie down, they remind me of starlight and give me such tranquillity. Now unfortunately I placed a robocan ona shelf too close to the ceiling in the dining room and it has left a small nasty stain. I would love to somehow disguise it (A robocan is an automatic flykiller dispenser that sprays every few minutes) But after reading such informative blogs I definitely will not be wasting my limited funds trying to remove it. Anne from Papakura, NZ

59 Pamela Blake February 15, 2013 at 11:58 pm

Well I’m getting ready to paint my living room and redo the hardwood floors this spring.Can you imagine my husband and I actually added popcorn ceilings in our home when we purchased it back in the early 90′s.But I did remove it from a few rooms was nothing more than a hard days work to scrape off(when I decided to paint again).But I’m considering removing from my hallway and living room and putting in a swirl texture pattern.The homes was built in the 50′s solid good ole plaster(any one remember plaster).Walls and ceiling are plaster with the exception of our kitchen remodel when we moved in.I use to love carpet but now after having it removed I’ve grown to love hardwood and by the way thats what my husband has been doing all his life.Hardwood floors.They look beautiful,hold up great and easy to care for.So goodbye 70′s shag,keeping some retro popcorn and starting a new trend mix up my cielings like painting my rooms different colors.Love to be yourself,like what you want.Don’t have to keep up with the trends.They come and go.Good taste is in the eye of the beholder.

60 lucky February 18, 2013 at 8:20 pm

We have popcorn ceiling too. I was not concerned about it at all, but last week the Dr office gave me some baby health hand outs. It indicated about houses builded before 1978 may be harmful for baby. I started to read more, and realized popcorn ceiling could be harmful.
Well, I hope your allegy gets better and the medicine does work for you. Otherwise, here is the article that I just read. Asbestos does affect our health. And it can cause lung desease and create breathing problems.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asbestos

Read under Discovery of toxicity and Health Problems.

Anyways, I have no problem with the look of popcorn ceiling, but if it does have anything to do with my family’s health, then I guess we will have to remove it sooner or later. Now I wonder if my husband’s stuffy nose has something to do with the ceiling. He has been seeing Doc for his nose since last year. Doc kept telling us nothing wrong. But he still blows out blood from it. Well, we have high ceiling in this house, and I’ve heard the price could be much more to remove for high ceilings. Ouch!

61 Doug April 17, 2013 at 8:37 pm

hello everyone ,I have no allergies but two years ago I bought a house built in 1989 with popcorn and it seams to fall like rain ,a light dust you can see at the right angle of sunlight . I wake up coughing white stuff up and that is so bad what is worse is not coughing it up so seal it or hear is what I am doing get a spay bottle spray ceiling lightly with water scrap only as much as you would like it to look like then seal with kilz paint spray it on then paint now you have light textured ceiling and no heath problems dust ect. hope this is useful

62 KJG May 8, 2013 at 7:59 pm

To each their own. It’s too bad that the real estate market applies value to trends. Popcorn today, knockdown tomorrow, knockup next week. If you like popcorn, you like popcorn. If you don’t like popcorn, you don’t like popcorn. Personally, I’m not going to spend $5K on my 1969 home just to keep up with the latest trend. Some people do keep up with trends, and that’s ok. To each their own. I really don’t look at my friends ceilings and judge their home. Some people do. To each their own.

63 Erin May 24, 2013 at 5:45 am

Never knew my popcorn ceilings were a blight on humanity until my sister-in-law started a $150,000 remodeling job. Never had given them a thought until she told me all the terrible things the contractors said about them. Since I don’t have that kind of money, I am stuck with my dated ceilings, my dated “dark” hardwood flooring, my dated bathroom wallpaper, and my dated patio. Structurally sound and maintained is about all I can aim for. I will never be “on trend” in anything, but it isn’t something I worry about. I can truly say I never even glance at anyone’s ceilings, but ,apparently, I am one of the few. The rest of the population seems to have a real vendetta against these ceilings. Now I have to go and work on my wardrobe–still wearing tshirts without layering.

64 Timba Q June 3, 2013 at 6:10 pm

I checked into a brand new 4 star hotel – the rooms had popcorn ceilings. There is a reason for it, the popcorn ceiling absorbs noise and eliminates echo. It is important for hotel rooms to avoid transmitting noise to the neighbor rooms. It works the same way in houses. I like the popcorn ceilings in my house because conversations are pleasant without the echo. When I visit a friend’s house with smooth ceilings and surfaces, it sounds like we’re inside an echo chamber.

p.s. no one stares at ceilings anyway, unless you’re a baby in a crib, and then popcorn ceilings reveal interesting imaginary shapes.

65 Love it July 1, 2013 at 1:10 pm

I live in the upper Midwest where the ‘trend’ of popcorn texture has never, and probably will never, die. I suppose the reason for it might be that we spend so much time indoors during the year. Anyway, I love textured ceilings and have had them in every house I lived in since I was a child.

That is why I plan to re-texture my current ceiling with the dreaded popcorn. I even plan to apply some clear glitter to some of the rooms for variety. I would not decorate my ceilings any other way.

I guess it comes down to personal preference.

Cletus
(just kidding)

66 See July 11, 2013 at 6:48 pm

@popcornhater, I’m pretty sure “hillbillies” don’t try to class up their house. You seem so mad…. I prefer the look of smooth ceilings, but we bought a beautiful house with popcorn (the best I’ve ever seen in my life) and I just don’t despise it enough to bother with paying 5k and even more so – waiting a week to move in! I’ll just make the best of the situation and be nostalgic. When I was a teenager in the early 90s when my childhood home had it, you wouldn’t believe the shapes and little men you will find while on LSD!

67 Kyle July 16, 2013 at 2:35 pm

What they say about acoustics is true. We are in the process of removing the popcorn from the dining room and kitchen to make it flat and install recessed lights. It is halfway removed so I can compare the difference in room acoustics. When I talk inside the room where the ceiling is flat, it sounds like I am talking behind a weak microphone. When I talk inside the room that still has popcorn, it sounds very nice and natural. It is more comfortable to have a conversation in the room with the popcorn. For this reason I am looking for solutions to bring back this natural sound ambience when all of the popcorn is removed. Maybe with heavy curtain draperies along the wall, or floor rugs.

68 Katy July 17, 2013 at 9:51 am

I am in the process of removing popcorn ceilings now. We’ve decided to remove them because some of them have interesting areas in which the prior owners tried to patch the ceiling for various reasons. They also appear to be very dirty looking, as they have collected a lot of dust throughout the years–home was supposedly built in 1950s, and parts of the ceiling fall onto floor when trying to dust. We have painted all of our doors and trim ultra white, so the ceilings look gray. Anyway, what people don’t realize is how CHEAP it is to remove them. We have plastic tarps taped along the walls from the ceiling to the floor, with a drop cloth on the floor. The door way to the room is also taped off with plastic sheeting, and the vents in the room are closed and also sealed off with tape and plastic. In the end, we wear protective glasses and face masks while scraping to prevent inhalation. Spray ceiling with water (if not painted) with 10-12 in blade, and clean up the mess on the floor. It took us 45 min to do our 12 x 12 laundry room… and it looks about 1,000 times better. (And, that’s before the new fixtures, and paint, etc!

69 Robert Yoakam October 14, 2013 at 3:53 am

I have popcorn ceilings throughout my 20 year old home. They look fine, except in the great room, where the edge tape is separating from the main ceiling. But no worries. I just found out that a bead board ceiling can be placed on top of the popcorn. It’s going to be beautiful!

70 Nancy October 14, 2013 at 5:50 pm

I agree! I see nothing at all wrong with popcorn ceilings!

71 Judy Neff October 27, 2013 at 7:18 am

I love popcorn ceilings when they included those beautiful sparklies. I think they would be perfect for a child’s or game room. Today everyone walks in lock-step, open concept (that I love), wood flooring (what a mistake that is, you have to dust those everyday and for those of you that work–good luck! Carpet is warm and appealing and no one notices if you don’t vacuum once a week), no wall panels (depends on the type of room and paneling) and no popcorn ceilings.

Popcorn ceilings do cut the acoustics and when you add the sparkles it’s beautiful. Hope this art and business is never lost. I’ve noticed in society as the masses become more rude, indifferent and pretend to be pseudo-intellects with their e-toys, they lose artistic expression!

72 Okhi November 1, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Thank you everyone. I learned a lot about popcorn ceilings from your comments.
I live in a 7 year old condo in Toronto, and it has popcorn ceilings over bedrooms and living room. This proves that builders still use popcorn ceilings maybe just for condo buildings to cut the noises between floors? Are there any new products or devices to reduce the noises between floors and between walls?

73 Cb January 9, 2014 at 7:37 am

Found this site while looking for an answer to the ” allergies” I’ve aquired since buying this house 4 years ago. No respitory issues prior. Been coughing every morning, excessive phlem. Had house/air tested for mold, passed, new carpet ect. I’ve always had a heightened sensativity to purfumes/chlorine ect. House built ’76, popcorn in bedroom. If youre reading this Steve.. and if you did remove the ceiling, are the allergies you mentioned suffering with any better?

74 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX January 9, 2014 at 8:27 am

Hi Cb,

I don’t think my allergies are related to popcorn ceilingsais I have pollen allergies, “Cedar Fever” as we call it here.Mostly November-Feb from Cedar Pollen. (Though I’m doing fine this year!)

That said, a person with dust and other indoor allergies, like pet dander maybe, might think that the irregular texture of the ceiling can trap and hold dust. I suppose that could be true.

But scraping my ceilings (which I haven’t done yet) would not help the particular type of allergies that most Austinites suffer from.

Steve

75 Debi January 9, 2014 at 8:35 am

For CB … have you had the ductwork and air handler coils cleaned? Could very well be stuff being harbored in there that’s causing problems.

76 Cb January 9, 2014 at 3:27 pm

thanks for the suggestion Debi, we did have new duct work put in. and thank you Steve for your quick response also, I’m glad your allergies are under control. Nice site, good people.

77 Erin January 19, 2014 at 11:14 pm

I never knew I was living in a “hillbilly trash house” until my sister-in-law did a massive renovation job on her house. The contractors informed her that her ceilings were a blight on society. She then informed me of how ugly and hideous they are. I never gave them a glance until then. When I started the internet search, I found out that people who have them are really considered second class citizens! Apparently my ceilings were painted in 1980 when they were finished. I never have any dust or droppings from them. I can can clean them with duster or wet cloth. The little popcorns do not come off. I cannot afford to have them scraped so I will have to put up with them. It is amazing how we must have certain things in our houses now or we are “dated”. I might add that I also have (shudder) almond appliances. God help me.

78 Dana January 21, 2014 at 11:59 am

Well, Erin, consider my house a “hillbilly trash house” as well. We can be second class citizens together, b/c I’m not dealing with it, not worth it! ;)

79 Kip February 11, 2014 at 5:57 am

Can’t believe all of the fuss about these ceilings. I have a house built in 1970 that has vaulted ceilings in the living room. They are popcorn. I am sitting in this room as i am reading this article and listening to some classic country music and the acoustics are amazing. So soft, no echo whatsoever. I’m so glad that I have never been a slave to trends. Seems it just runs you in a circle!

80 Amy April 2, 2014 at 10:53 pm

I have a home built in 1994. Pristine popcorn ceilings. I agree with what everyone has said about noise reduction. I am cracking up about all the hillbilly comment! I’m from the Midwest also. This is a great website. Oh, and I like my ceilings!

81 Jennifer April 6, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Popcorn ceilings…I agree…what is the fuss?? I chose to keep mine when I recently remodelled and ignored the comments of the naysayers. Why? I didn’t really want to deal with the mess or the problems several neighbours encountered with uneven ceilings that became more noticeable when the popcorn was removed. But, I also believe that you can bet your booties that popcorn ceilings will be back into style one day…just as shag carpet is making a recovery and avocado green is creeping back into decorating magazines. Retro…shabby chic…these styles are all about “what was old is new again”. Popcorn will be back one day…then I’ll be “in” again.
As well as renovated bathrooms and kitchen, I put crown molding throughout the house last year and painted the stair spindles white and railings dark and put in contemporary ceiling fixtures, which actually complements the ceilings.
Guess what, I also have new broadloom throughout the house. While wood floors are beautiful…they are tiresome to live with (I don’t care what you say). I hate having to wear socks in my neighbours’ houses to prevent footprints on their shiny wood floors or watch my sister mop her dark wood floors every day because the dust and pet hair is so visible. I also hate the beautiful wood flooring in my children’s homes…with four grandchildren in each household, the noise is constant and annoying and on more than one occasion I have applied bandages to grandchildren who have tried to take the slippery stairs too quickly.

So…while I would not “opt” for popcorn in a new home, it has many positive characteristics, so I choose to be content to keep it in my existing home and make a point of incorporating it into my décor. It’s a lot about attitude, I think.

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