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My house was built in 1971. After removing a think layer of popcorn, I found cardboard behind it. Does anyone know what that is? Is it safe to just paint over it?enter image description here

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Edit:

JACK has the correct answer.

I'd just like to add that the reason why I scratched all these holes is that I didn't spray enough water onto the ceiling at one go, so the bond between the popcorn and the ceiling was too tight for me to use a knife to separate them. I subsequently sprayed more water (little by little) and try to scratch. It only made things worse. So you see some of the ceiling is totally wet and some lost drywall paper.

What I should've done is to use a pump sprayer (cost $10) to spray enough water to the ceiling and then scratch.

After learning my mistake, the rest of the ceiling got scraped off very smoothly.

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    Do you know what drywall is? It's extra-crumbly chalk sandwiched between sheets of paper (well, light cardboard). Now you don't have to ask "can drywall support my 50 pound TV with just toggle bolts?" :) – Harper - Reinstate Monica Dec 28 '19 at 21:52
  • i hope that you realize that the function of the popcorn on the ceiling is to hide unevenness and imperfections – jsotola Dec 29 '19 at 2:40
  • @jsotola, not really. It's called "accoustical" texture because originally it was heavier and served to reduce sound echo. Modern applications are much finer and don't do much for sound, but it's the same idea. No good drywall finisher uses it to mask sloppy work. – isherwood Apr 2 at 17:05
  • While popcorn ceilings aren't there to hide a bad mud job the premise is a bit true. I have an incredible drywall crew that works for me. Their pace of install with two guys is maybe on Guiness WR levels. Including edging, tape, mud, finish sanding, and best practices. I will say this - if I want popcorn ceilings it is a discount. They only have to put a first coat of mud and tap on the seam areas. It is way way quicker and it is almost skill free once you get the application thickness down. It isn't hiding bad mud/tape - it requires almost none. – DMoore Apr 2 at 18:10
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What you have is a drywall ceiling that has had popcorn sprayed over it. You can paint over it but you'll have to repair any gouges made from scraping off the popcorn and then prime it. To remove the popcorn, spray water on it, let it soak in for a few minutes and then scrape it off with a mud knife. The larger the mud knife, the less you'll damage the drywall ceiling. It's really a messy job so cover the floor up real good.

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Like Jack said this is drywall which is as expected. But let's dig into your picture a little.

It looks like you oversaturated the ceiling and almost put too much water on it. I have taken down many a popcorn ceiling and you basically have two choices that make the job easy.

  1. You water and SAND. There are actually tools that do both. I have seen guys use large steel bristle cleaning brushes, big orbital pads, and everything in between. But they weren't scraping.

  2. You water water water water little by little until the area is ready to just fall off. This is my method - not saying it is the best as I have seen method 1 been done much faster. I use a vinegar and water solution and I fill up multiple spray bottles (because I have two hands). I spray and area with a heavy mist stream. I go to next area then next. After about 15 minutes I go back to first area and hit it again - albeit not as much - and then go through each area. Once I come back to the first area the third time I use my hands to "rub" the popcorn off to test the saturation. If the water has saturated correctly I should see it almost wet down to the drywall and it should pull off a chunk. If it isn't like this I go through and hit each area again until it is ready. Then I use a 24" drywall knife to scrape off everything.

It looks like you oversaturated the ceiling without letting it sit long enough and then scraped it off too hard because the water hadn't loosened it up enough. I have a little expertise here because I made the same mistake on my first 5-6 ceilings.

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  • So what happened in my case was that I didn't have a proper pressure sprayer, but rather just a regular sprayer for flowers. I sprayed some onto the ceiling. Thinking that's enough, I started scraping the popcorns. It's hard, but I did get some off. I sprayed a bit more water, then scrape, and repeat. This is very ineffective and what's causing pealing of the cardboard and the water stain in the ceiling. I later bought a proper $10 pressure sprayer from Lowes, added the pressure, and spray to the ceiling. Voilà, scraping afterwards becomes very effortless. – ssgao Apr 4 at 2:35

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