How Much Does It Cost To Remove Popcorn Ceiling On Average


    It costs $9 per square foot to remove popcorn ceiling in average residential house. Popcorn ceilings with asbestos cost as much as $15 per square foot to remediate by professional and licensed contractor.

    During large or small remodeling projects, home owners tend to prefer modern look with smooth ceiling. Most common question clients ask is how much does it cost to remove popcorn ceiling in their home

    To answer that, first you need to establish if asbestos will be an issue or can it be simply removed by tapers. Our recommendation is to be on a safe side and always test for designated substances before doing work.

    Here is table with average costs to remove popcorn ceiling:

    Do It YourselfHire ContractorsWith Asbestos
    Lab Testing$300$500$500
    Total Costs$700$4300$8800
    Calculations based on 1000 square feet of popcorn ceiling removal

    Commercial popcorn asbestos remediation is more expensive. For specific quotes discuss full scope of work with licensed local contractors or ask our team for assistance.

    Test for Asbestos Particles

    Popcorn ceiling test for asbestos costs on average $100 – $150 per spot and $500 per 2000 square foot house. This size home needs 5 sample tests to be analyzed.

    Regardless of which method or company you chose for popcorn removal, the first and mandatory thing to do is testing for asbestos. There is no other way no matter how convincing contractor sounds. Cutting corners can lead to fines and health issues.

    To save money we suggest purchasing sample kits on Amazon and sending it directly to the lab. After laboratory results it will be more clear how much does it cost to remove popcorn ceiling in your home.

    Working with sample kits on your own instead of hiring company saves 40%-50% of testing costs, but will not affect other expenses for popcorn ceiling removal.

    DIY Project Cost – Materials and Tools

    If you are reading this article, you either have doubts on overall costs for work or thinking of saving money and doing the work by yourself.

    This type of work is very dirty but not technical at all and there is definitely money to be saved. Tools and materials determine how much does it cost to remove popcorn ceiling in your home without hiring contractor.

    To break down materials and tools we first want to describe process of work. Here we assume that lab test is completed for asbestos and none was found. Before work starts we are down $500 already.

    Water is required to soften settled popcorn that was installed years or decades ago. Of course we assume there are no costs for water and everyone would have it in their house.

    Joint Knife – to scrape already soft cement. Buy it for $20 and use it for taping the ceiling later. There is literally nothing else needed. There are expensive machines that contractors use. They go beyond several hundred dollars and not recommended for DIY one time use.

    Mud/Tape – After scrubbing everything off its time to smooth out joints and make perfectly looking ceiling. Pros need only 2 boxes for 1000 sq ft, but average home owner makes many mistakes and requires 3 of them. The math tells us $0.05 per square foot of ceiling to be spent on mud and tape.

    Paint and Brush – Do not forget to prime ceiling before painting. 2 gallons of paint and 1 of primer is used for 1000 square feet. Two relatively cheap brushes are better than one. Combined costs are close to $0.15 $0.20 per square foot.

    Protection – Scrubbing ceiling and mudding is messy work. We suggest protecting area with plastic and masking tape. $100 would be more than enough for small house.

    Time – Doing work on your own means trading money for time spent. There is no way to estimate cost of your time and most of home owners would do it on weekends anyways.

    For example we calculate 1000 square feet of ceiling and give approximate cost of materials required. For under $400 you can remove popcorn ceiling on your own and make necessary touch ups with finishes.

    Hire Contractors Cost for Popcorn Ceiling Removal

    Of course most of us do not want to deal with any of this work and hire contractors. They know what to do and can get job done much faster than non-professional home owners would.

    Although we can say that average cost to remove popcorn ceiling is $4-$5 per square foot, every contractor can increase or decrease their estimate based on how busy they are.

    In high peaks we can see prices go up to $8 per square foot. When companies have less work and want to grab anything they see it can drop down to $3 per square foot and even lower in some cases.

    On top of that always expect asbestos testing costs to be added on. This is of course if you did not have lab tests completed already.

    Remediation of Asbestos

    Completely different story when there is asbestos in popcorn ceiling. Remediation is quite expensive and hiring licensed company is necessary.

    Small 10 x 15 rooms with asbestos popcorn ceiling can cost $1000-$2000 to remediate and dispose material. Larger projects that involve full house or office popcorn removal with asbestos average $7-$8 per square foot.

    Do not attempt to perform popcorn with asbestos removal on your own. It requires experience and specific equipment.

    Entire area of work is completely sealed and depressurized to create less dust particles in the air. Personal protective equipment looks like space suits and actually prevents workers from breathing in asbestos particles.

    If you or contractors are caught by inspectors removing asbestos without proper procedures in place they can lay fines on both of you. There have been cases when fines were as high as tens of thousands dollars.

    How Much to Remove Popcorn Ceiling vs New Drywall?

    The other popular question we always get is if it would be cheaper to completely remove drywall instead of just scraping popcorn.

    In a way it is easier to take down old pieces from ceiling and install new ones but in this topic we discuss the costs.

    If we compare time and efforts spent for removing popcorn ceiling versus installing new drywall it could seem that new is easy but there are few things that can come across and ruin the budget.

    First of all the biggest driving cost factor would be purchasing and delivering drywall. Cost of material would be more than entire job of removing popcorn.

    Another big problem that can cost thousands of dollars can be hidden under old drywall or plaster. While performing demolition nails have been removed and framing is very easy to damage. Therefore relaying drywall is much higher than how much to remove popcorn ceiling at home.

    Residential and Commercial costs

    As we like to say, it all depends how much does it cost to remove popcorn ceiling in residential and commercial spaces. We can’t simply say one is more expensive than the other. Overall factors make commercial jobs on average 1.4 times more expensive.

    What really matters is access to property, size of the project and complexity level.

    Access – Residential jobs are easy to understand and estimate. Time is arranged for regular working hours. Commercial projects are not like that. Although it can be even cheaper to do same job in unused office building, most of them more complicated.

    Some offices require traveling through other spaces, elevators and retail stores. Time of work can be requested for nights and even weekends not to disturb work.

    Size of the project – using basic logic we may think that more work should be estimated at lower cost per square foot, but its actually the opposite. Large commercial projects need professional crew with more equipment and overheads for company. Therefore big jobs can cost more per square foot of removing popcorn ceiling.

    Complexity – Ever project is different and requires more or less effort to complete. There is no comparison between 20 year old residential house project with 8-9 foot ceiling and 60 year old warehouse/office with 20+ foot ceiling that requires scaffold system for work at heights.

    How much does it cost to remove popcorn ceiling when it takes several hours to move scaffold from one spot to another not even counting actual work? Most of commercial projects are harder to take on than residential jobs.

    Steven H.
    Steven H.
    General Contractor and Home Builder with over 20 years of experience. Write and Edit educational posts for several Remodeling Blogs. Specialize in trade management and technical construction details.

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