Popcorn ceilings were the height of fashion in the 1950s, but their considerable lack of functionality and dated look have homeowners scrambling to do away with all things textured. From their level of difficulty to clean – not to mention repair – popcorn and other textured ceilings are très-not-so-chic. While many homeowners try to DIY their removal, savvy contractors can expand their bottom line by offering this service to clients.
How is Popcorn Ceiling Removal Done?
Removing the texture from the ceiling can be either straightforward or complicated with rarely any in-between. At its simplest, popcorn ceiling removal is performed by scraping off the texture material, fixing any imperfections, and re-finishing the ceiling to client spec. If the ceiling has been painted, the popcorn material becomes hardened and is nearly impossible to scrape: you’ll probably need to cut or sand the material from the ceiling or drywall over it in order to refinish for your client.
Do I Need Any Qualifications to Remove Popcorn Ceilings?
If the home was built pre-1979, removal gets very difficult, very quickly, as it’s possible (even likely) that the ceiling finish contains lead and/or asbestos. Because both materials are incredibly toxic, it’s unacceptable to just scrape the popcorn texture off. Testing the material prior to removal isn’t just necessary, it’s critical.
If the ceiling contains lead, you’ll have to obtain a Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) program certification from the Environmental Protection Agency prior to removal. This training is relatively quick and is a small investment toward your business, as it opens up new job opportunities in older homes and buildings.
If the ceiling contains asbestos alone or in addition to lead, you’ll need to obtain an asbestos abatement certification. Guidelines for obtaining this certification vary depending upon state and local laws and generally requires you to take 40 hours or more of training on the safe handling and removal of asbestos.
Advertising Popcorn Ceiling Removal
Because the finish was designed to mask imperfections in the ceiling, it’s worth stressing in your advertising material that what clients think might be a quick weekend project could end up costing them big bucks when – not if – they discover problems with their ceilings.
For hard-to-convince clients, it’s worth mentioning they’ll need to call you up anyway if they test the ceiling texture material and find it contains lead or asbestos. But the other big advantage you have over a weekend warrior trying to remove a popcorn ceiling is your access to the tools that make it easy to do. Scraping a popcorn ceiling is time-consuming and messy. Not only do you have access to better tarps and drop cloths than your average homeowner does, but your contractor-grade vacuum can make quick work of the mess. And if the texture is stuck on with paint, your knowledge and ability to safely use a power sander is invaluable.
Another major selling point, beyond safety and easy cleanup, is the work you can do after the removal: repairing, patching, and smoothing the ceiling to refinish it for the client once that not-so-beloved texture is gone. If they want it done right, it’s worth it to hire you for the project.
Pitching Popcorn Ceiling Removal or Abatement
With proper certifications to perform lead and asbestos handling and abatement, you can build a pretty sweet business by pitching popcorn ceiling abatement to clients, especially if you work in an area with older homes. But even if you aren’t dealing with contaminated material, your services will still be valuable and necessary for homeowners trying to rid themselves of dated interior design.