Popcorn Ceiling Removal Cost [Per Square Foot Pricing]

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante

Until the 1980s, popcorn ceilings were quite popular. Popcorn ceilings are made of a spray-on stucco material, and many contain asbestos. The material asbestos can lead to serious problems such as cancer and asbestosis, so homeowners often remove popcorn ceilings.

The average cost to remove a popcorn ceiling is $2,150 between labor and materials. Homeowners spend $2.50 per square foot for popcorn ceiling removal and another $25 per hour on labor. It costs $5.50 per square foot to remove popcorn ceilings that contain asbestos, and it costs $800 to replace it with knockdown.

Popcorn ceilings that contain asbestos are more expensive to remove and cost $3-$8 per square foot due to the risk. The costs of removing your popcorn ceiling includes preparation, materials, and the cleanup. If you are having your ceiling repainted, you’ll spend another $400-$1,000.

Let’s explore the costs and cost factors of popcorn ceiling removal.

Do You Need Popcorn Ceiling Repair or Removal?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

How Much Does It Cost To Remove a Popcorn Ceiling?

It depends on the size of the ceiling, but it ranges from $300-$4,000 or more. Ceilings vary in size, but many are 300, 500, or 1,0000 square feet.

Removal costs include the removal itself, labor, cleaning up debris, and putting in a new ceiling, or simply painting it. If your popcorn ceiling tests positive for asbestos, removal increases to $3-$8 per square foot. You have to pay up to $100 for an asbestos test before removal.

Popcorn Ceiling Removal Cost Factors

There are many cost factors involved in removing a popcorn ceiling. Some of the costs, such as painting, and furniture removal may not apply in all cases.

Labor Costs Popcorn Ceiling Removal

Labor costs vary greatly based on the professional that you hire. However, many professionals charge $15-$35 per hour. Large projects with 1,000 square feet ceilings can take as long as 40 or more hours. Otherwise, 300-500 square foot removal jobs take 20 hours maximum, and can save you $300-$700 at least.

Popcorn Ceiling Size

How big is your popcorn ceiling? Many popcorn ceilings are either 300, 500, or 1,000 square feet. Whether your contractor charges you by the hour or by the square foot, the size of the ceiling matters.

Bigger ceilings mean more hours, and that means more labor costs. It only costs $1-$4 per square foot to remove popcorn ceilings that don’t contain asbestos. If the ceiling does contain asbestos, however, it can cost $3-$8 per square foot to remove.

For example, if you have a 300 square foot popcorn ceiling without asbestos, the removal itself could cost $300-$1,200. That number could increase based on other cost factors we are about to explore.

Ceiling SizeRemoval CostAsbestos Ceiling Removal Cost
300 Square Feet$300-$1,200$900-$2,400
500 Square Feet$500-$2,000$1,500-$3,500
700 Square Feet$700-$2,800$2,100-$5,600
1,000 Square Feet$1,000-$4,000$3,000-$8,000

As you can see, if your ceiling contains asbestos, it will be costly no matter what size it is. It is well worth the expenses to remove asbestos, and you’ll thank yourself later. Asbestos causes lung disease, cancer, and respiratory illness.

Furniture Removal

This is a cost that you can get rid of on your own by removing the furniture yourself. Many services will charge you extra for furniture removal, and it adds $50-$100 to the bill.

Sometimes, contractors include furniture removal in the labor costs, and others charge a flat rate for it. Your best bet is to remove the furniture yourself if possible if you want to save money.

Painting Over the Popcorn Ceiling

Once your popcorn ceiling is removed, it will look bare. Many homeowners choose to have the ceiling painted over where the popcorn stucco once was. Painting over a newly-removed popcorn ceiling is a great idea because the surface is often smooth.

You typically have to hire a painter outside of the people that you hired for the removal. Painters charge $1.00-$4.00 per square foot to paint a ceiling in most cases.

Ceiling DimensionsPainting Cost
300 Square Feet$300-$1,200
500 Square Feet$500-$2,000
700 Square Feet$700-$2,800
1,000 Square Feet$1,000-$4,000

Sometimes, you can get better rates from painters for larger ceilings, such as $0.50 per square foot. Ether way, painting over what used to be a popcorn ceiling is a great use of the new space.

Popcorn Ceiling Replacement

Not everyone wants to paint over the old ceiling, and you may want to replace it with a new material. There are several common and popular popcorn ceiling replacement options, such as:

  • Tile
  • Knockdown
  • Wooden planks/beams
  • Panels

Tiles are a great option, and a tile drop ceiling costs $5 per square foot on average. One of the best and most affordable popcorn ceiling replacements is Knockdown. Knockdown only costs $2 per square foot, on average, and is easy to install.

Knockdown’s easy installation keeps the costs to $400-$1,200. Wood paneling is a more costly, but still common ceiling replacement choice and costs $5-$20 per square foot.

Popcorn Ceiling Removal Cleanup Cost

Removing a popcorn ceiling creates quite a mess, and of course, it needs to be cleaned up. When you remove a popcorn ceiling, you scrape it while it is moist. The moisture helps reduce the mess slightly, but the material still falls and spreads through the air.

The cleanup is another cost involved in popcorn ceiling removal. Professionals charge $0.30-$0.50 per square foot for cleanup after removing the ceiling. It would cost $90-$150 to clean up after removing a 300 square foot popcorn ceiling.

Cleanup is entirely necessary, especially if asbestos was used in your popcorn ceiling.

Why You Should Remove Popcorn Ceiling

Your popcorn ceiling may not contain asbestos, but you should still remove it. Popcorn ceilings do have a certain visual charm with the stippled stucco look, but they are messy. Just like their namesake snack food, popcorn ceilings crumble easily.

Popcorn ceilings crumble and it creates a mess of stucco on the ground and in the air. However, if your ceiling does contain asbestos, that mess becomes dangerous. Most popcorn ceilings that contain asbestos are only one part asbestos.

Don’t let the small amount of asbestos fool you, however. Many popcorn ceilings only contain a minuscule amount of asbestos, and it still poses a threat. That is because the crumbled debris that falls from it contain a toxic material that is dangerous even in small doses.

Related Questions

How long does it take to remove a popcorn ceiling?

It takes 20 hours to remove ceilings that are 500-600 square feet or smaller. More time is added for larger ceilings, and the time is split up among 2-4 days usually.

How is a popcorn ceiling removed?

You remove a popcorn ceiling by moistening it with water, and then scraping it. Professionals always wear mouth and eye protection when removing popcorn ceilings. If the ceiling contains asbestos, professionals must be extra careful while scraping it and use goggles, a respirator, and gloves.

Is a popcorn ceiling dangerous?

A popcorn ceiling is dangerous if it contains asbestos. Popcorn ceilings are somewhat brittle, and as such, debris from them can spread easily. If it contains asbestos, that means the dangerous material could be spreading through the air and you may be breathing it in.

How do you test a popcorn ceiling for asbestos?

You can test your popcorn ceiling for asbestos by carefully obtaining a sample, and having it processed. Check online and see where the closed lab is that can test for asbestos and bring in your sample. Otherwise, be safe and hire a professional asbestos abatement worker and spend up to $100 to have the ceiling tested.

Do You Need Popcorn Ceiling Repair or Removal?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Summing It Up

Popcorn ceiling removal can cost as little as $300, and as much as $4,000 or even more. It all depends on whether it contains asbestos, the size of the ceiling, and the rate of the professional.

You may spend another $400-$1,200 on replacing the popcorn ceiling with materials like wooden panels, knockdown, or tile. Many homeowners choose to have the ceiling painted, and that costs just as much as removal, roughly $300-$4,000.

However, the average person spends $700-$1,000 on removal and or painting. If your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos, it will cost $900-$8,000 to remove. Contact a professional and get your popcorn ceiling tested for asbestos, and eventually removed.

Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

More by Nick Durante