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We want to get rid of the texture on our ceiling. It's a very ugly stipple effect.

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However, there's a foot and a half of insulation over this ceiling. Knocking it down to install new drywall is not an option.

We also don't really want to slap another layer of drywall on top of it, because we don't want to give up any more height than we have to.

So we are torn between sanding it down with a very coarse paper on an orbital sander or just skim coating the entire thing (and yes I do know how much effort that is, I skim coated a whole wall once to eliminate the texture).

Is there another option, and if not, which one of the two above should I use?

Edit: The stipple I mention is joint compound which, while wet, was pulled down upon with a wet sponge, creating lots of peaks. It has subsequently been painted many times presumably over 72 years. (House built in 1940)

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Are you talking about popcorn texture? Tried wetting it and scraping it? –  Steven Oct 16 '12 at 19:50
    
No, not popcorn. Stippled as in they put the mud on then use a damp sponge to pull down ugly nasty peaks. –  The Evil Greebo Oct 16 '12 at 19:52
    
Ah - my answer won't apply then –  ChrisF Oct 16 '12 at 19:53
    
Yep, that's the crap, @tester101 –  The Evil Greebo Oct 16 '12 at 19:58
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If you glue-and-screw new Sheetrock, you're only losing 1/4". That seems well worth it given the hours upon hours of labor you'll be saving. –  DA01 Oct 16 '12 at 21:26
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6 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

As with many textures, it is likely formed from water-soluble base like drywall topcoat. If so, spray it with water from a spray bottle until you think it's saturated enough then take a wide drywall knife and see if you ca scrape it off. If this works, you'll need to tape and re-texture afterwards.

Alternatively, a drywaller can skimcoat over the top of it, then re-texture to your liking. They may often use a giant heavy-nap roller of sorts and "paint" on drywall mud. Then they scrape it flat enough to base whatever texture you intend.

If you could manually scrape off the large peaks before this, though, it will work better.

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I think brute force is going to be the way to go but I'm going to try dampening it per your suggestion as we go along. Too bad I can't pick multiple answers since I'm going to basically combine them in the approach... but you got here first. :) –  The Evil Greebo Oct 17 '12 at 11:36
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I have the same thing. We used two methods: 1st we used a sander to lower the high points of the texture, this is something you want to use as last resort. After the sanding was finished I did a skim coat, then had to sand again to smooth the skim coat. Super labor intensive. The next room I just put up 3/8 drywall, took half the time. It seems more practical to just give up a little space and hang drywall.

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I was going to say "At least its not popcorn"!. You can also get a drywall sander that hooks up to a shop-vac to cut down on dust. I think I would do what Matthew suggests and see if it can be knocked down some with a scraper first. I would try a wall paper scraper, which I call a "razor blade on a stick". You can wet it to keep down dust, but I doubt it will soften it since its covered with 40 years of paint.

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Yeah, I don't think it will soften up either. I have both the vacuum drywall sander and razor blades on a stick and even heavier duty scrapers (like for removing tile). I think we'll go the brute force route, in that regard, but try the dampening as well, cause it can't hurt. –  The Evil Greebo Oct 17 '12 at 11:32
    
<vendor plug warning> HD rents a 9" Porter-Cable "sander-on-a-stick" that hooks up to a synchronized vac, fabulous and fast for overhead work. Saw recently that Festool came out with their version, one upped with a segmented pole for more flexible access. –  HerrBag Feb 28 '13 at 14:34
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This kind of textured coatingis generally known as Artex in the UK (Wikipedia link.).

Take great care if you set to it with a sander as other answers have suggested, as old Artex can contain asbestos.

The two ways I've dealt with it previously have been to either skim over it or to remove it by first using a scraper to knock the tops off the peaks then to steam it with a wallpaper stripper and to scrape the Artex off the ceiling. Knocking the peaks off helps the steam penetrate through the layers of paint.

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One coat of base coat Durabond 90 and one coat of regular 90 mud. First you have to knock down the high spots with a scraper. The 90 is a mud you have to mix yourself; it's made by Sheetrock brand.

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However, there's a foot and a half of insulation over this ceiling. Knocking it down to install new drywall is not an option.

It's an option, just one you're too lazy to do.

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