Cost to Remove Popcorn Ceiling

The cost to remove a popcorn ceiling is $1.75 to $3.00 per square foot. Multiply the length times the width of each room with popcorn ceilings, and add up the totals. In a 1,500 square foot ranch home with all popcorn ceilings, popcorn ceiling price will be about $2,600 to $4,500. Why the wide range? A lot of it has to do with your location and the difficulty of getting that ceiling the heck out of your home.

Here is an overview of popcorn ceiling removal cost. It includes the standard popcorn ceilings and the asbestos popcorn ceiling cost. 

Ceiling Material


Cost Per Sq.Ft.

Cost Per 250 Sq.Ft.

Non-Asbestos Unpainted




Non-Asbestos Unpainted




Non-Asbestos Painted




Non-Asbestos Painted












Does the popcorn ceiling have asbestos? Frankly, there’s a fair chance it does if the popcorn ceiling was installed in the early 1980s or before. More on that below, but here’s a video showing the techniques involved in safely removing asbestos popcorn ceiling. Again, the key is to NOT create dust, and if you do, contain and safely remove the dust.

If you have concerns about whether there is asbestos in your popcorn ceiling, then we explain below how to get a DIY kit or hire a professional to test for asbestos. Then, you can choose the way to get rid of that ugly ceiling in the way that makes the best sense to you.

Asbestos popcorn ceiling removal cost is $7.00 to $10.00 per square foot if you hire an asbestos abatement company. That’s roughly three to four times the cost for non asbestos popcorn ceiling removal cost.

But here’s an “insider tip.” Many contractors can safely remove a popcorn ceiling with asbestos for little more than the normal cost. An “asbestos removal” contractor might not be necessary.

The key is to cut out the ceiling without creating a lot of dust that might be breathed – and cause the health issues asbestos is known for. If you hire an asbestos abatement contractor, expect to pay full price. Other remodeling contractors are capable of doing the same work, just as safely, at a fraction of the asbestos popcorn ceiling removal cost.

What is a popcorn ceiling?

A popcorn ceiling is also called a stipple, stucco, cottage cheese, or acoustic ceiling. The popcorn or textured effect is created by a variety of spray-on treatments. This is usually done to hide imperfections and provide acoustical characteristics to the room. It was applied as a cheap fix for a ceiling stained by water damage from a leaky roof. But that wasn’t the most common use. Apparently, many of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations thought popcorn ceilings looked good, and that was enough for them to choose a popcorn ceiling to update their home’s decor. Times and tastes in home decorating choices have changed, as they will again in the next few decades.

Prior to 1986 the materials used to create popcorn ceilings often contained white asbestos fibers. The terrible health hazards of asbestos weren’t known – or they weren’t revealed to the public, during this period. In 1977, asbestos was banned for use in homes, although materials that were made prior to the ban, were allowed to be used until the early 1980’s.

After the ban, popcorn ceilings were made using non-hazardous paper or Styrofoam-based materials to create the texture. Since the mid-2000’s, popcorn ceilings have lost their popularity in favor of smoother, easier to clean, ceilings. Popcorn is now commonly removed  when updating or remodeling the home.

Popcorn Ceiling Asbestos and Asbestos Testing

Asbestos is a hazardous material, and breathing it can cause lung damage and cancer. Any kind of disturbance to the ceiling can cause the asbestos fibers or dust to become air borne and breathable. Before you begin removing the popcorn ceiling, the so-called experts recommend that you find out if your ceiling contains asbestos.  The only sure way to know if your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos is to first moisten a small area of the ceiling and carefully scrap a sample of the popcorn into a plastic zip lock bag. Take the sample to an EPA accredited lab for testing. Testing will cost between $75 and $150. Local pros will take the sample and have the testing done for $100 to $250.

Costs to Remove Non-Asbestos Popcorn Ceilings

Handy homeowners and property owners remove popcorn ceilings every day of the week. Here is a look at the techniques for how to remove popcorn ceiling.

Unpainted Popcorn Ceiling Removal Costs

Removing popcorn ceilings can be done as a DIY project but it is time consuming and extremely messy. If the popcorn ceiling has not been painted, cover the floor with a tarp, spray the ceiling with water, and scrape away the popcorn with a large putty knife or trowel (we’re thinking a 4-inch to an 8-inch knife based on your hand and wrist strength.

Following is a video on removing popcorn ceilings that do not contain asbestos:

The cost to remove an unpainted popcorn ceiling as a do-it-yourself project should be under $50.00 for supplies and about $75.00 if you need to hire someone to haul away the material you’ve removed.

Painted Popcorn Ceiling Removal Costs

If your popcorn ceiling has been painted, water won’t saturate the popcorn material, so this becomes a more difficult project.  If you do it yourself, you will need a stripping solution designed to remove painted popcorn which will need to be rolled or brushed onto the ceiling. You will need a face mask and eye protection as well as a trowel for scraping, and a tarp to cover the floor, walls and windows.

The cost for materials to remove a painted popcorn ceiling for a 250 square foot room will be between $125.00 and $150.00, plus about $75.00 to haul away the old ceiling material.

Hiring a professional will cost between $1.75 and $3.00 per square foot, so for a 250 square foot room, the cost will be between $435.00 and $750.00. If you do hire a professional, it’s wise to get a few estimates. Ask about the techniques, potential asbestos contamination and other concerns you have.

Cost to Remove Asbestos Popcorn Ceilings 

If you are thinking about removing an asbestos popcorn ceiling yourself, first check with your local Department of Health. Some states do not allow you to remove an asbestos ceiling and require that you hire an asbestos abatement company. If your state permits it and you do decide to remove it yourself, understand that the job is difficult, time consuming, and dangerous if not done properly. Keep in mind that many homeowner insurance policies do not cover asbestos contamination due to careless or inappropriate removal. However, it is our experience that the dangers of this job are quite overblown, so consider the options mentioned in this article.

If you decide to remove the asbestos ceiling yourself, do your research first. Make sure you understand and can follow all of the necessary steps and precautions. Below are just some of the steps you will need to take to safely remove an asbestos popcorn ceiling yourself.

Getting Ready to Remove Popcorn Ceilings

Take your time, and get this process right. The recommended steps might seem radical, but here is a summary of what asbestos abatement experts suggest.

Remove all furnishings from the room. Disconnect and remove light fixtures and ceiling fans. Turn off your forced air heating and cooling system. You don’t need to shut down a boiler system.

Tightly seal all doors, windows, and vents with heavy plastic to prevent airflow from the “ceiling removal” area to the rest of the house.

Keep all pets and people, not in protective gear, out of the area. For fun, envision your pooch in protective gear. Cover your skin and hair, and wear a respirator with a high efficiency particle filter at all times. Cover the floors with heavy plastic, not canvas, as the asbestos fibers can penetrate the canvas.

You must keep the popcorn wet to prevent the dust particles from getting into the air. You will need to place the ceiling material into heavy duty plastic bags, label and seal them securely. Before you begin, find a landfill or trash pick-up service that accepts asbestos. There may be a fee for disposal.

Removing an asbestos popcorn ceiling yourself is not recommended, especially if you have back or neck problems since looking up for hours on end will surely be a pain. It is time and labor intensive, and potentially dangerous.

DIY Costs

The cost to remove the asbestos popcorn ceiling that does not contain asbestos yourself (or if the contractor has a “don’t ask” approach) will be somewhere between $1.50 and $3.00 per square foot for materials. There may be additional costs of at least $75.00  to haul away or dispose of the materials. We recommend that you have the material tested for asbestos. If it tests positive for asbestos, the best approach for safety and peace of mind and conscience is to have an asbestos abatement company remove it. We simply want to explore the options with you.

Professional Removal Costs

If you hire an asbestos abatement contractor to remove your ceiling, the cost will be between $7.00 and $10.00 per square foot, so for 250 square feet, the total cost will be between $1,750.00 and $2,500.00. The costs will vary depending on where you live and the difficulty involved in removing the material.

The abatement company costs should cover all necessary steps including removing furnishings, installing confinement materials, providing ventilation to the work area, covering doors, walls, and windows, removal of popcorn, preparing waste, hauling and proper disposal of all materials.

The company should provide air quality testing after the removal. Use our Free Local Quotes service to choose a company that is EPA certified, licensed, insured and bonded.

Looking for Qualified Contractor to Remove Popcorn Ceilings?

Some readers complained that they cound't find qualified local contractor or overpaid the popcorn ceiling removal. Then we developed an online free estimate tool to help you get at least 3 local bids in 24 hours. 

This tool is powered by our partner Networx which has been specializing in collecting, vetting and rating popcorn ceiling removal contractors for more than 20 years.

Comparing the 3 bids can help you get the reasonable installation cost and avoid getting ripped.

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