The Quest for Flat Ceilings

Popcorn ceilings are something I have never understood.

I guess sometime back in the eighties a bunch of drywallers got together and decided this mudding and sanding of ceilings to a perfectly flat surface was time-consuming and difficult, and they weren’t going to do it anymore. I get it, I hate drywalling ceilings. I hate drywalling anything really.

But the solution of spraying this texture on to cover up any imperfections was really a bad idea. Nothing makes a house look dated like popcorn ceilings. And the ugly white kitchen fan really isn’t helping either.

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When Max asked if I wanted to try and get rid of the popcorn ceiling, I left the decision up to him. I figured that if he decided we were doing it, he would have to be the one to mud and sand.

I was wrong. Max went hunting all weekend, and so for once, this is a project that I’ve done 95% of the work on myself, and as proud as I am, I’m also tired and full of regret.

Let’s get into it.

I started with these supplies; a flat taping knife (aka my scraper). a drywall pan, ladder, and a spray bottle. I know it says X-14 or something on it but I just rinsed out the bottle and filled it with warm water so that’s what I’m actually spraying on the ceiling in the coming photos.

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After watching a few youtube videos, I started spraying little sections – just a few sprays until it is almost about to drip but not quite – and then used my scraper to scrape it off in straight lines.

This is the most satisfying activity ever.

At first I tried to scrape it into the drywall tray but that was a pain so I just let it fall to the subfloor to be vacuumed up later.

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It took me maybe 45 minutes to do the entire ceiling and at this point I thought we should do all the rooms! It seemed so easy!

It took me longer to clean up than it did to actually scrape. I vacuumed the popcorn remnants off the floor with the shop-vac and had to give all the walls a quick wipe as they had some moisture from the spray and it was dripping a bit.

Here comes the bad part.

At first things looked really smooth to me. I naively thought that maybe we would just have to give it a quick sand, and maybe do some heavy sanding on the edge and call it done. Max was still home at this point so he did the initial sanding of the edges.

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He started by taking down the fan. He also put up a work light.

And then things got really dusty. I shut the door on him and let him work so that my entire house didn’t end up with the drywall dust layer as it had when we did the bar area.

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My friend Kara picked up this light fixture for us in Dryden, so heading into the weekend I had some serious motivation to get this ceiling done.

Max finished his initial sanding and we realized we were going to have to do some mudding, especially on the edges where the ceiling met the wall and formed a corner (aka the worst spots to drywall ever).

I watched The Jinx while I mudded and sanded all Friday night and Saturday morning. It is a six-hour docuseries so that gives you an idea of how long I was doing that for. It’s also fantastic, I would highly recommend, but then again I have a penchant for true crime and unsolved murders.

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I used this drywall compound and went all along the perimeter of the room, flattening out the transition from the corners.

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This is really hard to show in a picture but I am no expert anyway (it took me six hours, remember). I highly suggest looking up a video on drywalling if you’re going to attempt this yourself.

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If you look closely where the wall paint meets the ceiling, you can see a bit of a ridge. This is what I was trying to flatten out, so I would put a bit of mud at the corner, and smooth it out towards the centre of the room.

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See how much flatter?

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Then I had to wait for it to dry overnight, and go around the room and sand out any imperfections.

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I used a variety of these little drywall sponge sanders for that, they can work wet or dry.

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When that was finally all done, I vacuumed and then I wiped down the walls and trim, and mopped the floor because THERE WAS DUST EVERYWHERE.

Next it was time to paint, so I put on All Good Things while doing this. It’s the movie about the true events in The Jinx. Clearly obsessed. I used standard white ceiling paint and attached my roller to the handle from my mop (it just screws in). I must have been pressing too hard because it broke after about three swipes and I had to drag the ladder around for the rest of the ceiling.

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I did two coats on the ceiling before moving on to the walls, but that is another post. I was very excited to complete all the mudding and sanding, paint the ceiling, closet, cut in, and do a first coat on the walls by Sunday afternoon.

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And most importantly, I was all ready for Max to come home and install the pretty new light. I have a pretty firm belief that I can do anything I set my mind to, and I probably could have installed it myself, but I figured I’d done enough over 2.5 days and didn’t feel like electrocuting myself.

So we have a flat ceiling! And I love it! Would I do it again? I don’t know.

I would certainly not do it by myself again, and I’m going to need another murder series to watch if I attempt this in any other rooms. How nice would it be to have a flat ceiling in the master bedroom though? Max?

Let me know if you have any questions and stay tuned for the rest of the painting (walls and closet!) and the new light fixture! Then we get to work on a PALLET WALL!

Linked up via Thrifty Décor Chick.

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