Popcorn to Knockdown: Hiring a Contractor to Remodel your Ceiling [Updated 2020]

ceiling remodel

Popcorn ceiling makeovers have become common in older homes but not everyone wants to do the dirty work. Sometimes it’s just worth it to hire a contractor. But what does this encompass?

What to Expect from your Contractor?

During our kitchen renovation, we learned that the easiest way to fix a hole in the textured ceiling, is to start over.

Due to our lack of know-how, finesse and time, we decided to hire a licensed professional to tackle the week’s long project.

Our sub-contractor was tasked with these projects:

  • remove the popcorn ceiling texture
  • replace the drywall on the kitchen walls
  • patch the holes in the ceiling
  • Tape and add joint compound
  • Sand walls and ceiling
  • Install a flexible ceiling strip
  • Spray on ceiling texture and “knock it down”

We took care of these projects:

  • Priming and painting the kitchen walls
  • Scheduled another sub-contractor to paint the ceiling white.

We learned some valuable tips from this process but first…

Here is the Step by Step Account of our Remodel

After the demolition of our kitchen was completed and the electricians installed new holes into our ceilings (for the new light fixtures), our drywall sub-contractor began by scraping off all of the popcorn texture on our massive vaulted ceiling.

removing popcorn ceiling during a kitchen renovation

During the second day, he finished removing the popcorn. Then he screwed on drywall sheets to the areas of the kitchen that needed it and cut out holes for all the electrical boxes.

adding new drywall during a kitchen remodel

By day three, he was taping and applying joint compound to the kitchen area and the ceiling. By end of day, all the holes in the ceiling were patched.

Multiple tools are needed for a ceiling renovation.

The joint compound needed 24 hours to dry, and then was reapplied. Then sanded, then reapplied again, then sanded again!

Kitchen walls have been sanded and are ready for primer.

Day five, the sub-contractor sprayed on ceiling texture and then “knocked it down”.

Ceiling with knockdown texture during a kitchen remodel

The sub-contractor took 5 days to complete his tasks and we were pretty grateful that we didn’t have to do any of his work. But we did learn a few things about the process.

Here are 5 Things we Learned when Remodeling our Ceiling


It may take more time than you think.

This process will take time. Give yourself plenty of it if you plan on doing this yourself. While I only had one professional work on this, I can assume this would take less time if you had 2 or 3. But it would require more ladders and more equipment to do so.  Your contractor should be well experienced in how much time to plan out for this as well.

5 Days worth of work for one contractor during a kitchen renovation


It might be dirtier than you think.

Be sure to protect your house, because the amount of dust created during this project is substantial. You might find yourself opening windows, vacuuming the floor after every work day, and cleaning windowsills.

Additionally, a zipper tarp will work great to protect the rest of the house from dust. And taping plastic over the vents will help prevent dust from accumulating in there.

The dust will take time to settle over multiple days.

Yes, that is a dust line I created from a shop vacuum!


Use temporary lights during the renovation.

If you don’t want to just rely on day light, you can have your electrician set up temporary lights in your ceiling. In our kitchen, we had temporary light fixtures added to our recessed lights. They stuck out and got really dirty, but the permanent ones were installed much later in the process.


Flexible ceiling strips can be a great way to prevent cracks in a vaulted ceiling.

Our sub-contractor recommended putting in a flexible ceiling strip at the top of our vaulted ceiling. 16 months later, it still looks brand new. The strip allows some flexibility in the shifting of the house and doesn’t show cracks as was the case with our previous ceiling.

Flexible ceiling strip may be used at the peak of your vaulted ceiling.


Prime AND PAINT the kitchen before the cabinets are installed.

It’s much easier to paint a kitchen when you don’t have to lean over cabinets. You should have a general idea of where your cabinets are going; only paint where you need to. Hopefully you have a day or two to do this between your ceiling painter and your floor install.

walls were primed and painted before cabinet installation during a kitchen remodel.


The last step of our ceiling remodel was painting the ceiling. We hired that out for $300. They covered the top of our walls with tarp and sprayed on the white paint.

Ceiling remodeling can be a messy project, but by planning and preparing your home…

You just might love your final result during a ceiling remodel.

What questions do you have for your contractor?

Helping you plan for tomorrow,


Want more information about kitchen remodeling? Click here for the Step by Step Kitchen Remodeling Guide.

step by step kitchen remodeling guide

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Remodeling your Ceiling