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captainehh 02-07-2011 04:07 PM

Help Removing Mt. Everest Ceiling Texture
Great forum here. Looking around I didn't find the exact answer to my question so here it is:

My house was built in 1938 and at some point in its history, someone added a "popcorn on steroids" texture to all the ceilings. The walls and ceilings are lath and plaster.

The texture looks like stalactites you see in an underground cave. Many of these "stalactites" are 1/2-3/4" long as they hang from the ceiling. I'm sure there are many coats of paint on it.

I see 4 paths to having smooth ceilings again:

1) Scrape off texture (if possible) and re-mud

2) Mud ceilings to fill in gaps and eventually make smooth

3) Sheetrock over texture

4) Sand off texture

What do people think? I will be doing the work and will be sure to test for asbestos. I'm not afraid of messy hard work. I just want to make it as "easy" as possible.


Jackofall1 02-07-2011 05:29 PM

Welcome Captain, to the best DIY'r site on the wed.

Hmmmm cave dwelling, you could always get some bats, they like caves with stalagtites.......:).

Is this kind of texture throughout the entire place? I would be looking at putting up furring strips and sheet rocking over the whole mess.


Gary in WA 02-07-2011 06:22 PM

Plaster and lath weighs 8# per square foot, add the heavy texture and the new strapping and drywall and texture..... Older house had 2x4 ceiling joists 24"o.c., which you may want to think twice about, especially when most are already over-spanned....What is the largest span and the size, on center spacing of yours?


Bud Cline 02-07-2011 06:36 PM

If it has never been painted (good luck with that) then you could wet it down with a garden sprayer and scrape it off. Lot's of work but do-able.

If it has been painted I suppose a power sander is in order.

Getting firring strips up through the plaster without wrecking the plaster in many many places would be a challenge and even then how would you get them (firring strips) "on plane"?

To drywall over that mess wouldn't be feasible because you would be sucking the screws through the drywall and still wrecking the plaster.

If you want a smooth finish then filling what's there simply isn't the way to go either.:)

Jupe Blue 02-07-2011 07:40 PM

If you end up going for the scraping method, consider pulling all the lath and plaster off and starting with fresh drywall. You can upgrade any electrical wiring at the time. Of course if you have blown in insulation this might not work for you.

boman47k 02-07-2011 08:38 PM

1/2" to 3/4"? Even if you could mud that, I doubt it would hold with cracking/falling off.

Might try a closet. For the heck of it, if it was me, and it has been painted, I would cut into it with a blade then wet it, give it time to soak under the paint and try to scrape it. I'd be prepared to skim if this did work. In a closet or wash room maybe. Try not to cut too deep, just some slots so the water can get through the paint and get to the texture material.

Might be worth a shot in a closet to see if it would work and get an idea of how much time you are looking at. I expect it will be a slow process.

redmanblackdog 02-08-2011 10:08 AM

Plaster has a life of about 50 years, give or take. Once it has run its course it will start cracking. If you are going to be there a while and want to do it right, I would strip all of the lath and plaster off. As Jupe Blue said, it then also gives you the chance to upgrade wiring and lights. It is a very messy and difficult project, but well worth it if you have the time, energy and money.

stoner529 02-08-2011 03:50 PM

test for lead to. If it is painted, i think your best bet is to rent a power sander with a vacuum on it. That should take it off. It is still going to take time.

captainehh 02-10-2011 05:44 PM

Thanks for the great responses. Great group of people here.

I may have over-estimated the depth of the stalactites hanging from the ceiling. Looking closer, some have been sanded 1/2 way down already. I think I'm looking at closer to 1/4-1/2".

I think I am going to try filling with mud ;first in a closet. I don't plan to be in the house more than 5 years so am not worried a ton about cracking. With this in mind, what's the best type of mud to choose for the job?

If that doesn't work, I'm going to try the different scraping ideas. If option A & B don't work, I will sand. I'd prefer not to do this because of the dust factor. Even with a vacuum, I see sanding making a HUGE mess.

Thanks again.

boman47k 02-10-2011 07:47 PM

Man, I don't really know. Maybe you could clean strips out of the texture (4 t0 5") then strip with 1x4x3/4" perpindicular to the joists? Still alof weight.

Like was stated if it has never been painted strip all the texture off to a good even surface. Go from there. May have a couple of options then.

Bud Cline 02-10-2011 08:13 PM


I think I am going to try filling with mud....
Ain't gonna work!:)

SuperHans 02-10-2011 10:30 PM

Ideally you would take down the whole ceiling and re-drywall. In my experience skim coating and sanding are both time consuming, tedious and messy. weigh your options, but you could locate the joists and and screw on some thin drywall over the texture. This would add negligible weight.

I'm guessing if you're living in this house and all your possessions are in it you probably won't want to demo the ceiling. I hate layering new on top of old as much as anyone, but I've seen this method used and it's holding up a decade later. Screw the sheets in properly and mesh tape the joints. Let us know what you end up doing.

Bud Cline 02-10-2011 10:41 PM

Quote: could locate the joists and and screw on some thin drywall over the texture.
That ain't gonna work either.:)
Maybe using Fender washers!!!!!!:eek:

boman47k 02-11-2011 09:23 AM

I just can wrap my head around thin dw on a ceiling and just attaching it to the joists alone, especially if the spacing is over 16". If the plaster keys are turning loose, at some point that that thin dw is going to be baring the weight of failed plaster. Right?

captainehh 02-11-2011 02:57 PM


Why won't filling in with mud work? Guaranteed to crack?

What type of sander do you recommend?

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