This genius TikTok hack removed a popcorn ceiling using only water - here's how to do it

It’s not the 1980s anymore so we like our ceilings nice and smooth

Popcorn ceiling with a glass chandelier
(Image credit: Future PLC/Darren Chung)

Are you stuck with outdated popcorn ceilings? Also known as stipple ceilings or acoustic ceilings, they were a popular choice from the 1950s all the way to the 80s for their sound-deadening effect. But nowadays popcorn ceilings are top of our list of living room ceiling idea no-nos. If you have the misfortune to have inherited a house with one, then popcorn ceiling removal will be top of your to-do list, and we've just found a super easy hack that has been going viral on TikTok. 

With 16 million views to date, the video was posted by California-based TikToker known as cashmere_baby which sees her spraying her popcorn ceiling with hot water before smoothly scraping off the treatment. This part is very satisfying to watch!

What’s best about this DIY advice is that it lets you remove the texture with a single (and free!) ingredient which you already have at home - water. To see if this hack is legit we consulted decorating experts who also shared interior renovation tips on how to tackle the task of removing a popcorn ceiling.

A living room with pink-painted walls

(Image credit: Future PLC/Damian Russell)

What you’ll need

Popcorn ceiling removal hack

A living room with glass doors and matching patterned curtains and rug

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

While we are excited about this hack, it should be noted that there is no quick and mess-free way of removing a popcorn ceiling. It’s going to take time and it’s going to get messy, so be prepared for that. 

That and the danger of asbestos being present in the ceiling’s material. Thomas Goodman, property and construction expert at, warns about this risk. ‘Before you attempt to remove a popcorn ceiling, you should have it tested for asbestos. It was common to use asbestos in construction up until the early 1990s so there is a chance it could be in your popcorn ceiling if your home dates from before this time. Asbestos is a dangerous, carcinogenic substance which, when disturbed, produces a fine dust. If inhaled, this dust can cause cancer.’

What a dire warning. But if you’re all clear, then this easy step-by-step guide should cover all of your bases. 

Prep work

Popcorn ceiling with a glass chandelier

Example of a popcorn ceiling

(Image credit: Getty Images/ucpage)

As mentioned, removing a popcorn ceiling is a messy job. So you will want to cover all the floors and furniture with dust sheets. Ideally, all furniture and other belongings should be moved out of the room for the duration of this process.

Don’t forget to properly protect yourself, too. ‘You also want to make sure you’ve got goggles and a mask to hand, as you might find bits falling from the ceiling and you want to stay safe whilst you work away,’ advises Natalie White at Rated People.

Spray ceiling with water

A bedroom with colour-blocked painted walls

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Grab your spray bottle - a pressurised sprayer will make the job the easiest but any spray bottle will work - and get to spraying.

‘Start by working in small patches and spray the ceiling with warm water. Make sure you don’t soak the ceiling though as you don’t want the drywall behind it to get too wet. Leave the patch of ceiling for around 15 minutes to allow the water to work away,’ Natalie explains.

Scrape away

White-painted hallway and staircase with pendant lights and photos on the wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

‘Using your scraper start in the corner and run it along the damp surface. The popcorn ceiling should come off easily. If not, respray the area, wait 5 minutes and try again,’ Thomas says.

‘Once it’s all removed, you can sand down any rough bits and then apply a coat of paint to refresh your room,’ adds Natalie. 

It seems easy enough when broken down into simple steps but it is a time-consuming job. Hence, many choose to to go for alternative ways of dealing with this aesthetic nightmare - some sand the ceiling down - ‘It won’t leave you with as smooth of a finish, but it can help you get rid of some of the texture if that’s your main concern,’ Natalie says. Others cover the ceiling over with plaster or with cladding instead so that they don’t have to go through the hustle of removing the popcorn texture.

News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home decor and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.