• Revivify Painting

How to Remove that Damned Stippled Ceiling

Stippled ceilings can be a pain-in-the-ass to remove. Decades ago, the new style and the sound dampening capabilities made stipple ceiling all the rave. My opinion? It was a cheap builder's trick that allowed them to get around putting the time and effort into creating flat ceilings. I’m sure they would have stippled the walls if it was socially acceptable!

In 2018, many people want to remove their stippled ceiling and bring it back to the original flat ceiling but where do you start? In this post I will explain what to look for and how to get it done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Step 1: Analyze what kind of stipple you are dealing with. There are a few different finishing textures that have been used over the years. It is not going to effect the steps to remove it but it will let you know how long and how much work it is going to take.

The popcorn type ceiling will be the easiest to remove with the hard stippling being a much tougher task.


Step 2: Identify if the stippling has been painted in the past. If it has, be ready for an even more difficult task. Painted with oil-based paint? Be ready for a very difficult task and you may need to call in a stipple removal specialist.


You should also be aware of the year of the stippling. If it was installed pre-1980's it would be a good idea to have it tested for asbestos by a professional. This is for the safety of everyone working or living in the house after.

Step 3: Remove all items in the room. If you can't, make sure they are securely covered with some form of plastic. You will also want to cover the carpet or flooring with drop sheets as well to protect them from the dust that will be falling from the ceiling.

Step 4: Start the removal process. Our advice is to buy a textured ceiling scraper but drywall knives can work as well. You are going to want to find something with a good enough angle that you won't be scratching your knuckles across the ceiling the whole day, ouch! Make sure you are wearing safety glasses and some sort of ventilation mask so that you aren’t breathing in any dust.

Step 5: Wet the ceiling. The stippled ceiling will be much easier to remove when it is wet. If you have a garden sprayer it may work well, but if not any sort of water bottle can work as well. Soak a couple of square feet of the textured ceiling and let it sit wet for a few minutes. Then take your removal scraper or knife and slowly dig it into the ceiling and scrape away the stipple.

Step 6: Rinse and repeat! Continue to wet and scrap over the whole ceiling a couple of square feet at a time until all the stipple is removed.

Step 7: Get your pole sander and begin to sand the entire ceiling. Keep your mask and goggles on for this part as well!

Step 8: Take a look around at your ceiling and see if you made any gouges in the actual ceiling when you were removing the stipple. You will need to patch those areas and maybe even re-tape the ceiling if it was not done properly or won't give you the look you were aiming for.

Step 9: Once the patching has dried another quick sanding and then apply a coat of primer on.


Step 10: Let the primer dry.


Step 11: Once the primer has dried, pick a ceiling colour and apply the paint. Make sure you are using flat paint for the final coat to deaden the sheen and take away any small imperfections.

Step 12: Clean up and vacuum. Pro-tip: you should always start from the top down when you are painting a room so a great idea to finish the ceilings first before getting started on any of your other DIY projects!


If you attempt to pull off any part of this process and need some help - don't hesitate to give us a call. We would be happy to help!

The Revivify Painting Team