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Stipple Ceiling Removal

By Jud Menshal | Jan 13 2024 | Stipple Ceiling Removal

Did You Know?

⚠️ Did you know Smooth Ceilings are safer for asthmatics, easier to clean, easier to repair and brighten up a room by properly reflecting natural sunlight? 

✅ If you're looking to truly raise the Real-Estate Value of your home, Stipple Ceiling Removal is a great investment - REMAX Realtors

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How we were doing it before investing $18,000 into equipment.

Background on Stipple Ceilings

Stipple ceiling, popcorn ceiling, textured ceiling. These are all terms you’ve probably heard while hearing someone talking about a bumpy ceiling. Whether people are talking about, repairing it, or removing it goes by many names.

Stipple became popular in the 1970s when production housing or tract housing became popular. As builders were starting to build 100s of homes at a time, they started searching for and applying methods of building and finishing houses at a quicker and more affordable pace than custom homes. It became all about speed and cost rather than beauty and pride. As you can imagine, these ceilings are less labour intensive to put up than a conventional flat ceiling.

Benefits of Stipple Ceiling Removal

Safer for asthmatics

Stipple ceilings collect a lot of dust. Being that they're hard to clean, they can often trigger asthma attacks. Smooth ceilings do not collect nearly as much dust. Consider this if a family member has a pulmonary condition of any kind.


Easier to clean

Once a stipple ceiling has been smoothened out, there is no more need to vacuum it and they can even be wiped down and disinfected, depending on the paint sheen chosen


Easier to repair (water leaks)

When a stipple ceiling suffers water damage or any damage it takes a well equipped expert to properly match the ceiling. Smooth ceilings can be fixed much easier, by either professionals or someone with a bit of experience or persistence.


Brightens up a room

Stipple absorbs the light and darkens a room. Flat surfaces reflect light. Poor basement ceilings.


Requires less paint

Painting or repainting a stipple ceiling is more expensive in materials as is gobbles up the paint through its porous textured surface.


Easier to install devices (cables, hooks & cameras)

If you're looking to install cables, plant hooks, cameras or fire detectors, you'll see it much easier to install these on a flat surface. It will mount easier, look better and most importantly, not go in crooked.

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CAUTION If Your House Was Built Before 1986

Woman testing for asbestos in a high end bedroom

Until the clean air acts came out in the late 70s in Canada and the US, these ceilings contained asbestos. While harmless if left untouched, sanding these and allowing particles to become airborne creates a health hazard for owners within the home as well as workers in charge of its removal. If you do have a company come in to remove your stipple it is a wise precaution to have an air duct cleaning crew scheduled immediately after. You will want to have this done before sleeping in the home, unless your contractor is using a dustless setup.

Another issue that is often overlooked is home-owners having electrical work done without knowing whether or not there is asbestos present. Using Dust extractors is a good way to mitigate the dangers during times of uncertainty if someone forgot to test..

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How do I Know If My Stipple Ceiling Contains Asbestos?

PatchBoyz highly recommends hiring a trained professional to collect samples. Not only is asbestos exposure a risk if not properly suppressed, but different sample quantities are required depending on the materials tested and the square footage planned for removal.

To test your materials for asbestos, you have but a few steps. One is to grab several small samples from your ceiling (or have a trained professional do it, such as PatchBoyz), open your favourite search engine on your phone and lookup “[city] asbestos testing”. Listed on the page will be a selection of local labs that will be able to tell you what the materials composition is and whether or not there is any danger.

An important aspect of having a company do the testing for you is the interpretation of the results. A company such as PatchBoyz will create a report interpreting the lab results for you as these are not always clear and come with conditions that sometimes require interpretation.

Be very weary of the contractor that prices the job cheaply. Cutting corners on a non-hazardous job site can result in poor workmanship. Cutting corners on a hazardous worksite, however, can result in health complications for yourself and your family.

Make sure to ask your contractor what their abatement procedures are for removing asbestos from your home. If you are comfortable their answer after having done your research, move forward. Otherwise, feel free to call us or any 3rd party contractor for a second opinion.


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Different Removal Methods For Stipple Ceilings

This is a before and after of a yellow room that has had the stipple removed.

The steps vary depending on the removal method, what you plan on doing after the removal and which tools are at your contractor's disposal. The first step is to lay traffic paper down to collect the falling stipple. Many contractors like to put 2 layers down. One to catch the stipple which can be wrapped up and taken away, the next layer remains there to catch falling mud during the mudding/plastering application.

To remove the stipple, several methods can be used:

1. Wet with a sponge and then scraped off

This is a method typically used by DIYers and one we recommend. Especially if your stipple ceiling has been painted. Use a pump sprayer and give each section time for the water to soak into the stipple. The bad side about this method is that Home-owners often gouge the drywall paper, which means more prep and more work when mudding.

2. Simply scrape off what easily comes off.

Many Stipple ceilings remain unpainted, if so you may be able to scrape with ease.


3. Sand it off, usually using power sanders, preferably ones hooked up to a dust extractor.

This is the method typically used by experienced contractors who've invested thousands into their tools. A good Dust extractor with a self cleaning function for the filter (necessary if you don't want to be cleaning it every minute or two) will run you between $4000 and $5000 plus the sander ($1500+).

The method you choose will determine how many coats of mud will be applied after wards. Depending on the method and the contractor, you can expect 3 to 5 layers of mud. Some contractors will sand a bit between coats, others will not. There is no right or wrong way to do it here in terms of how many coats. What matters is that the final product be flawless.

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Finding a Reliable and Professional Stipple Ceiling Removal Contractor

Picture of 2 patchboyz trucks in a driveway in spring

If a contractor explains that he/she will be using a power sander hooked up to a dust extractor, you can rest assured that this contractor is serious enough about his/her craft to have invested several thousands of dollars into the equipment in order to do his/her work and that you will be left with much less dust than the contractor that decides to do this by hand. Quality equipment can often be a sign of a good quality contractor that reinvest into his business to provide a top quality service for his or her clients.

Another sign that will demonstrate how serious your contractor is about this kind of work is how they will apply the mud to the stipple ceiling after removing the stipple.

PatchBoyz, for example, has a $13,000 machine that sprays the mud onto the ceiling for a better finish. Seeing as request thousands of square feet of application a week, it makes sense for us to carry such a tool compliment. Ask your contractor what they're using to see if this is a once in a while thing for them or a specialty.

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Article By

Jud Menshal | 📚

Jud is a 14 year Asbestos Removal Type 3 & Supervisor certified remediation technician with additional experience and certifications in Mold, Lead and Finishing. He holds all mandatory safety credentials important for running a safe project site.

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