After our little popcorn texture removal experiment, we still had an entire kitchen ceiling with a lovely stippled or “stomped” ceiling texture. Bonus, now we had a terrible scraped patch to disguise… but it was no problem, the plan from the beginning was to skim coat the ceiling anyway. We originally received a quote to skim coat the kitchen ceiling for around $850 – that seemed a bit steep for one room (at the time) – so… we decided to do it ourselves. We were ready to take it on! … little did we know the effort & time we were about to spend smoothing out this ceiling. In the end we were successful, but … well, let us just share our experiences below and let you be the judge. Onward to the project!
First – before we get to the photographs – we made a project review video!! It’s on the long side … so, feel free to skip around on it. At about 3 minutes in we discuss the tools we used, and further in we talk about the actual steps and process it took. Enjoy!
As we were going to update the kitchen, we knew it was likely that we were going to have damage / holes in the ceiling due to removing the cabinets & pantry – so, smoothing out the ceiling texture was already in the plan from the beginning. Surprisingly, though, the stipple continued behind the cabinets, so if we hand’t removed the pantry, there was a possibility of doing minimal work & keeping the stipple – if that was our goal…which it was not.
We anticipated that the cost to diy the kitchen ceiling would be approximately $150 in project-specific tools & supplies. We ended up spending $215. Here’s the breakdown:
- orbital sander (Bosch 6") - $159
- step ladder - $35
- aluminum work platform (Werner brand, 39 x 12 x 20 in.) - $49
- shop vac (& eventually new shop vac filter) - pre owned & $15
- glasses - $4/$6
- respirator (3M 7502) (x2) ~ $25 each
- respirator filters (2097) ~ $10 two sets
- box fan ~ $20
- putty knife 3" (x2) - $4.37 each
- Taping knife - $9.94
- Knock-down knife 24" - $14.87
- Drywall knife - idk borrowed
- aluminum mud hawk (x2) - $11.77 each
- plastic mud pan 14" - $4.76
- sand paper (Diablo 6") ~ $6
- ultra lightweight sheetrock compound (ready mixed, 4.5 gal.) (x6) - $14.45 each
- plastic drop cloths (6 pack) - $10
- painters tape - $6
- ultra lightweight drywall (1/2 x 4 x 8) - $8.87
- sheet rock screws (1¼ in., 1 lbs.) - $6.47
- self adhesive mesh drywall tape (mold resistant, 300 ft.) - $7.27 each
- drywall saw - $5.48
- zinsser primer - $19.98
- ceiling paint (Behr 1 gal.) (x2) - $29.97
- paint roller frame - $3.74
- extendable paint roller frame - $9.87
- paint roller cover, economy (6 pack) - $8.97
- Metal roller tray - $3.40
- roller tray liners (10 pack) - $6.26
Do not buy:
• Pole sander – it’s frustrating, ineffective, & keeps flipping over and gouges the surface (this could be our own user error). For some reason everyone recommends it.
• Extension pole – too flimsy.
• Inside corner trowel / Curved bucket scoop – they are just not needed.
1) We started this project after the room was clear of all cabinets, the floor was down to the subfloor, and the pantry had been removed (I’ll get to this little bit of renovation later). The point being, we had a room that could be completely covered in drywall dust and that was okay. But first, we turned off the house ventilation and covered vents. We also sealed off the two doorways with plastic drop cloths and painter’s tape.
2) Scrape off plaster points with the knock-down knife. This is relatively fast, easy, and satisfying.
3) Sand down the texture pretty significantly without going deep enough to damage the drywall. I will say that it is super important to wear proper protective gear during this entire process. At first, we tried the pole sander – this was a waste of time, frustrating and was not very effective for us. The sander kept flipping over when it encountered any resistance, so we broke out a regular sponge sand block. As we sanded, we had a box fan in the window to help suck out the dust.
4) Apply the drywall compound/mud so it fills the gaps in the texture. Glob some compound onto a tray & start smearing it onto the ceiling. Even if you consider yourself a very careful person, some of the compound will land on the floor – but, that’s just kind of unavoidable. The smoother you can be with the mud, the less sanding you will have to do – but at this point, it was just about filling in the spaces between the “spider web” texture.
The step ladder was good for me as I could get closer to the ceiling and I liked the angle better, while Spencer used the work platform. (We already owned the ladder, and were borrowing the platform.) I did have a lot more up and down/ moving the ladder than Spencer had with the platform. As a result, it did seem like he was able to make quicker progress with the platform. I found that I preferred to keep my compound in the troph style pan while Spencer used the flat mud hawk.
The ultra light weight compound that we were using was pretty “airy” in the container, but after working with it (aka smushing it around) most of the air bubbles were worked out and it developed a more smooth/creamy texture. Additionally, to reduce air bubbles, you can also mix about a teaspoon of dish soap in the bucket of drywall compound and mix using an electric drill and mixing bit.
5) Let dry. This will take at least a day.
6) Sand. (In retrospect, we should have sanded between coats – but we did not.)
7) Clean up. This involved the shop vac and the box fan in the window.
8) Apply second coat of mud. (This was tricky – it was hard to tell what you had covered due to being so close to the ceiling itself. This resulted in a lot of up and down the ladder.)
9) Let dry. This will take at least a day.
10) Sand. Again, sanding drywall is super messy. While Spencer sanded (this time he opted for his 6″ orbital sander … not something we’d really recommend but it did get the job done), I mimicked his sander movements with the shop vac hose keeping the hose as close to the sanding as possible. This sort-of worked – but it was far from perfect from keeping the dust down. (Note: this was before we discovered that the shop vac attachment for our sander was super inexpensive, just a few dollars – that would have been nice to know prior to starting this project.)
11) Apply a third coat of mud. (we did not do this… but we probably would have had better results has we done this.)
13) Clean up. This time, Spencer thought it was a good idea to use the leaf blower to blow all the dust out of the windows. It did work fairly well – imagine billowing white dust coming out of the house. I think he did this multiple times, letting the dust settle between. I wish I knew what the neighbors were thinking. Ultimately though, we had to use the shop vac again.
14) Apply primer & ceiling paint. Compared to plastering and sanding, painting was not a big deal. Let dry & repeat with a second coat. Though, it is kind of difficult to tell where you have painted & haven’t – white on white and all.
This process kills your hands, your arms hurt, and your neck hurts from looking up. It’s not just messy, its like glitter messy: drywall dust gets every where. The reason I have no photographs from the process is that this project was so dusty – I didn’t want to expose my camera to the kitchen air. So no in-process photos for you!
Plaster drying on the ceiling after the first coat. Notice that the original spider web pattern is still visible through the first coat of mud. It is a little difficult not to gouge the wet plaster with the putty knife. The lighter areas are where the plaster has dried more, the darker areas are where it is still wet.
The whole process took around five days (not including shopping beforehand for supplies.) During the dry time, we took on some other projects like striping wall paper, priming, and expanding a door frame… you know, little stuff. 🙂
I will admit that it isn’t the most perfectly smooth finish and we could have / should have done a third coat to really get out those last few air bubbles, but honestly we were tired and it was close enough… and this way it would look like a plastered ceiling (which it is) instead of drywall. You can see some swirls from the orbital sander.
In the end, I’m glad we had the experience and spent a fraction of what we were quoted. And, I’m glad we are now informed about the difficulty of the project so we know how to gauge effort and time for other rooms. As a result, I would possibly do some of the smaller rooms in the house, but I am interested in what a whole house quote would look like. At the very least, knocking down the points of the texture does a lot – so that is a half solution option. Like many people, one thing we do not have in abundance is time: I’m glad for the experience, but I don’t need to necessarily repeat it. (Especially when there are other projects that could use our attention.) This is definitely one of those projects that it just might be best to hire someone over DIY’ing it. Now that I know how much labor is involved, that $850 quote seems about right.