Popcorn ceiling texture - is contractor's work acceptable?

marg143August 17, 2014

I hired a contractor to, among other things, demo a soffit between KT and DR and patch the ceiling/popcorn texture to match. (The other soffits will be covered by cabinets/crown so don't matter).

Is this a good / acceptable job? I can sometimes be too detailed/picky so I don't know if it's just me. When we discussed this at his hire, he said he would get it "as good as it can". The ceiling had been recently painted so it's not a paint color issue. He also 'feathered' the texture into the kitchen and repainted the entire kitchen. What is visible seems to be result of slight differences in depth as well as some texture difference. I'll post a couple other photos following.

When I'm standing directly underneath the section, it's also visible, but what is most bothersome is to see this at a distance and have the ceiling seem marred (humble abode though it may be). They are 8' ceilings so a little more in field of vision than higher would be.

Thanks for any help from anyone, and also especially from any contractors/experienced with ceiling texture.

This post was edited by marg143 on Sun, Aug 17, 14 at 23:17

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tomatofreak

We just did the opposite. After taking down the cabinets/soffit between kitchen and family room, we peeled off the popcorn. I hired a drywall/texture guy to re-texture the entire space, ceiling and walls. Does the ceiling look perfect? No. I don't think a 'fix' like this ever passes for original. Still, I'd have taken down all the popcorn rather than try to have it matched. No one does popcorn anymore.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 12:12AM
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susanlynn2012

Marg143, now I see why the kitchen contractors all seem to want to remove my popcorn ceiling as they feel it will be too difficult to patch up. Thanks for sharing. It is an OK job for how difficult popcorn ceilings are to patch up.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 12:33AM
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greenhaven

I would not be happy with it but I am not sure there is any fix for it.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 12:38AM
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Texas_Gem

It seems passable for a popcorn ceiling. Obviously you can tell where the line is but popcorn is next to impossible to match up.

Honestly, I'm surprised you aren't having them remove the popcorn from everywhere.

As I have been remodeling my house, I've been slowly removing popcorn. I can't wait for the day when I look up and see smooth ceilings everywhere!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 1:29AM
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Trebruchet

He did not get it "as good as it can". He mistakenly thought the popcorn would cover the poor feathering job. It didn't.

How fussy do you want to be? Offer him a heavily discounted payment or a chance to do it over.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 5:31AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Scrape it off. That will improve it immensely.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 7:53AM
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Fori is not pleased

Popcorn in a kitchen is a little odd anyway--I don't hate popcorn (except when playing with balloons, naturally) but even in popcorned homes, I've never seen it in a kitchen. Usually there is just a cutoff line, right about where your paint changes, where the ceiling becomes smooth.

But anyway I'd try to get it done better.

Just because no one does it anymore is no reason to remove an architectural feature from your home. (Not liking it would be one, though!).

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 11:35AM
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sjhockeyfan325

I have to say this is the first time I've ever seen a popcorn ceiling referred to as "an architectural feature". It was nothing more than an easy and inexpensive cover up -- rather than having to smooth the ceilings. There was never anything "architectural" about it.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 11:53AM
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Mags438

We had a patch and match job done years ago. From some angles, it looked like that. It was acceptable for a popcorn patch job till we had the monies to re-do the entire ceiling.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 12:27PM
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tomatofreak

I think a lot of people think removing popcorn is something super-difficult, so they're reluctant to do it. Nothing could be further from the truth; it's a snap to do. I would **never** want popcorn in a kitchen; it will trap everything - odors, steam, grease. Ugh. Honestly, why not 1) tell your contractor that you're not happy with the job he did and 2) ask him for a discount to remove it all and smooth it over.

This is how easy it is.

Here is a link that might be useful: removing popcorn fast and easy

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 12:43PM
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nosoccermom

unless it has asbestos in it.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 12:45PM
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susanlynn2012

tomatofreak, thank you for the link! Now I am thinking of not patching up the Styrofoam balls that is my popcorn ceiling and removing it.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 12:59PM
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Texas_Gem

I had popcorn in my kitchen and yes, it did catch everything and look terrible.

After spending several hours on a ladder with a drywall knife scraping, my arms were sore but my ceilings looked great!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 1:47PM
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nancyocean

I would definitely hire this job out, and IâÂÂm a do it yourselfer. While it may be easy to take off popcorn ceiling, itâÂÂs extremely messy and you need to have some sort of texture replace it, and this is a definite skill. Another problem is that once you paint popcorn ceiling, as you said you did, you canâÂÂt just spray with water and scape it out, the paint makes it kind of waterproof, so there will be much more work involved in removing it. Popcorn ceilings were one of the worst inventions made by man, they are impossible to keep clean in a bedroom, but a kitchen itâÂÂs a really terrible idea. I personally think your guy did a good job as far as matching the old with the new, maybe he does removal? You really need everything covered like they had in the video, and this takes a lot of time.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 3:04PM
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marg143

Thanks, everyone!! 3 years ago, I had entire townhome repainted including painting trim vs. dark wood, and recarpeted. I had popcorn ceilings painted at that time, for better or for worse, not wanting to spend more $ at that time to resurface, and just not having vision to do it. Sigh.

Because they were painted, I understood that it would be more difficult/costly to remove, which is what some of you have said as well, so I went for patch thinking it would be less $.

That said:

1. It sounds from some of you like it's not "as it good as it can". It is actually the second time - first time it was somewhat worse (and not painted). I had asked him not to paint until I inspected second. I'm not sure if it's his skill, or his (possible) hurriedness with my project to move to another. If I can locate someone, I may have someone else bid a correction and then give him the option to try vs. discount.

2. As for the other option, removing - it will be much harder now with paint, per your thoughts too. Even so - it would seem odd to have the kitchen ceiling be smooth and at the 8' opening to the DR suddenly start the popcorn, no? Even if it would not be odd, it would be important to have that division line look really good so the skilled labor would be important, I'm thinking.

3. At least my experience may be a help to someone, like lynn2006!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 4:21PM
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mmleach

My entire house has popcorn ceilings, except the kitchen. We are removing the dropped ceiling in the kitchen and I will have the same situation as the OP. I am going to have my GC put in a false beam to separate the two ceilings. I am fortunate that I have barn wood to use for the beam. Most of this room has barn wood paneling and we removed some to have space to install more cabinets. He will make a wrapped beam - I had to ask what that was. I hope it turns out as well in real life as it looks in my head.

It is good to know about not painting the popcorn. I was thinking of doing that as a temporary fix for the ugliness of the sparkles. I will now wait until we can remove it.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 5:04PM
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tomatofreak

Ceilings are usually painted with flat paint. If so, it will absorb water easily and come off without much more hassle than the unpainted popcorn. Honestly, the DH was terribly concerned about tackling it, but after watching a couple of videos I found, he got it done in a few hours. Like Texas_Gem, his arms (and back) were sore, but he was very happy with the results.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 6:33PM
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marg143

Yes, it was painted with flat paint - SW Promar 400. Perhaps that's an option to pull off.

Just had a contractor come over - he said it was "C" work and it could have been done better, and he could do it better (though not 'perfectly').

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 7:06PM
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susanlynn2012

Marg143 thank you so much for sharing the pictures and about how difficult it was to patch up a popcorn ceiling. My ceiling in the kitchen has been painted white twice to cover the adobe brownish color that the popcorn ceiling was so it may be more difficult to remove. My ceiling is Styrofoam little balls.

At the end of November 2011, I had an electrician remove the big ugly fluorescent light in the ceiling and install recessed lights. I paid him well and he lied to me that he would do it himself and left me with his helper who did a bad job. Not only is there many circles attempting to install the cans and then not installing it there and other eyesores but the brown paint under my lamp and the hole in my ceiling is still there! My little dog died a few days later and I was grieiving so badly and then I had tax season. Then I had gallbladder surgery.

Then I was told by contactors to wait to fix the ceiling and remove the popcorn when I get 36" tall cabinets and when I do the other rooms with the recessed lighting. I was ready to just give up and patch it up until I had time to look for cabinets again but I see from your pictures, maybe it is best to remove the popcorn before fixing the hole in the ceiling. My townhouse has popcorn ceilings on both floors in all the rooms except for the bathrooms.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 10:44PM
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glitter_and_guns

Even though it was said above, I wanted to say it again - much popcorn ceiling is made with asbestos in it. You should have it tested prior to removal.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 10:57PM
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susanlynn2012

Thank you gliter_and_guns for the reminder. My popcorn ceiling is just pure Styrofoam sprayed on with a spraying gun. My home was build in 1990 so there is not asbestos in it. But others with homes built before mine should take this warning serious.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 11:25PM
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Texas_Gem

Just a note to those thinking of scraping popcorn, I thought I would tell you what I did.

I did NOT wet my ceilings to scrape off the popcorn. I literally just used a drywall knife to knock off all the little Styrofoam balls. The places where the balls were left a nice "texture" which I then painted over with ceiling paint.

I did not need to apply a new texture or patch any damage to the ceiling from the removal.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 11:50PM
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tomatofreak

Texas_Gem, I saw a video of someone removing the popcorn like you did - after DH used the other method. ;0

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 1:59AM
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breezygirl

When we bought it, our house had popcorn everywhere except the bathrooms and kitchen. The kitchen was open to the breakfast "room" and family room. The ceiling simply had popcorn to the kitchen entry area and then switched to smooth ceiling. No special line or border. Just a straight line. It's the same way in many other non-reno'd houses in my hood. Seems fine to me. Maybe you could look at that option to not have to deal with a popcorned kitchen.

DH scraped the popcorn off of the whole house one room at a time, knowing that we were at risk for them containing asbestos given the 1971 build date. We DIY'd it to save the thousands it would have cost for professional abatement and removal. That was 15 years ago. I'm not sure I'd let DH do that again. The texture of popcorn does give me the heebie jeebies though.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 2:13AM
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marg143

Glad to be of help, lynn2006!

For fun, I called the second contractor about estimating removal of popcorn. His opinion was not in favor of just removing the kitchen given the large opening to DR. His bid for entire contiguous popcorn removal/conversion to knockdown (about 700 sf -kitchen, dr, lr, halls, entry) was $1800 , plus $800 if it had to be skimcoated, plus $700 to paint after knockdown installed. Um.

Texas_Gem, did you use your method after the ceiling had been painted, by chance?

Thanks about asbestos warning; it's a 1981 build so I don't think so - ?

Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 10:01AM
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Texas_Gem

Marg- unfortunately no. Mine had not been painted.
It should be fairly easy to tell if it would work. Just climb up and brush your hand across the popcorn. If it falls off, it should still work.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 10:27AM
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jellytoast

IMO, when a contractor tells you he'll repair something "as good as he can get it" that means that he is doubtful or pretty sure that he can't get it perfect. Could someone else make it perfect? Maybe, but you hired the guy who warned you that he couldn't. If I were in your situation, I'd be happy with what was done given that I'd been warned ahead of time concerning the outcome, but I'd be happier with no popcorn at all.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 2:08PM
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nosoccermom

"When asbestos was banned in ceiling treatments by the Clean Air Act of 1978 in the United States, popcorn ceilings fell out of favor in much of the country. However, in order to minimize economic hardship to suppliers and installers, existing inventories of asbestos-bearing texturing materials were exempt from the ban, so it is possible to find asbestos in popcorn ceilings that were applied through the 1980s." Wikipedia

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 3:03PM
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snookums2

I can't see clearly, only a bunch of blotches and two large areas that look completely different in color and texture. I would not be happy with that outcome if my goal was to have it look nice. "As good as I can get it" is pretty loose. With experience, you learn that can mean not so good or it could mean pretty darn good. Without knowing the person's skill level, standards and work ethic, it's a shot in the dark.

I've had the "it is what it is" types here and I have found I am able to do a remarkably better job myself, without experience. So when you hear that, those are people you probably don't want working on your house.

If you have it redone, I would look for a plasterer. They will have more experience with working textures, repairing them and using that type of material. Everyone else always says it will never match. It requires skill, technique and a willingness to experiment a little.

I recall Faron in the Paint forum showing people how to get wall texture to match when repairing. I believe he had textured walls to work with. You have to acquire some technique and work at it.

That would be a good project to put in his portfolio. To show people how good it will be - before proceeding.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Tue, Aug 19, 14 at 17:06

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 3:25PM
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breezygirl

If it helps, the opening from my kitchen without popcorn to my breakfast area and family room with popcorn was large also. It's been that way in many houses I've seen in my area. No big deal. Sounds like he just doesn't want to do the work.

EDIT to add that I just looked at your photo in the OP. Mine was similarly sized.

This post was edited by breezygirl on Tue, Aug 19, 14 at 19:25

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 7:24PM
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susanlynn2012

Breezygirl, this does help since one of the reasons my kitchen was going to cost so much was because I wanted to remove the empty soffit and install 36" cabinets with crown molding. Most stores wanted to then remove all the popcorn first in all rooms downstairs telling me they could not patch it up. My most recent quote was in January 2014 and the contractor was going to put a beam to separate the rooms which I did not like as he said he had to remove the popcorn. I prefer no beam and to have just a straight line with the other room having popcorn if it costs too much to remove. I will try to take a picture of my kitchen. I love my tiles and it is helping to see that BM Simply White looks best with my tiles. I am going to put the recessed lights in my living room which is my home office and leave the fixture in the dining room part of the home office. I will then see if that room becomes a mess (has no lights in the ceiling now) before seeing who can patch up my ceilings. I will revisit my kitchen cabinets after the lighting is done downstairs, my wood floors are installed in the other three rooms to close out my insurance claim and my windows and doors downstairs are replaced as the vinyl has cracked and it is cold in the winter time. I really want kitchen cabinets and a counter like Breezygirl. I needed tiles due to little dogs going in and out the sliding door in the kitchen and having a KitchenAid dishwasher that will be 5 years old at the end of October with now poor reviews of a failing pump. I can't afford another insurance claim for my wood floors. I am only using the dishwasher if I am home. I paid a lot for this dishwasher.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 8:28PM
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marg143

Thanks again, all. I think he said to me "as good as it can" - i.e., not addressing his skill or effort, but that any patch job done by anyone can only be so good. But, he's a GC and not simply a drywall specialist - that specialty can probably do it better.

I think that's one learning - specialists vs. GC quality - as you are indicating, snookums2. "With experience..." Yes.

The drywall specialist gave me an estimate of about $2600 to retexture all my contiguous ceilings. Not in my budget. I may ask a realtor about the 'just kitchen' removal option appeal in my market.

I called the original contractor hoping he would say, let's part ways and we would discount the price. He wants to stop by next week and take a look.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 11:36PM
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