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Popcorn Ceiling & Potlights Installation

  • Last Updated:
  • Oct 16th, 2020 6:24 pm
[OP]
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Sep 13, 2007
428 posts
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Toronto

Popcorn Ceiling & Potlights Installation

I'm having a hard time finding someone who can do both popcorn ceiling shaving and potlight installation (albeit with permits) together.

To help me piece it together, what's the normal order for a main floor?

Update: The order after asking around i've been told is:

1) Electrical cuts holes and do the wiring
2) Sander moves the popcorn ceiling and finishes it
3) Painter paints the ceiling
4) Electrical puts back in potlights
Last edited by noobienoob on Oct 16th, 2020 6:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
18 replies
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Oct 24, 2016
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When I had this work done many moons ago, ceiling was done first and then the potlights. Subsequently I also had crown molding done. Three separate individuals were involved in the work.
Isn't it great to live in the 21st century where deleting history has become more important than making it.
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Mar 22, 2017
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Ceiling first, then the lights. The lights just drill circular holes and thread the wire through, it's pretty easy on the ceilings. If the light are already there, they'd have to be popped off to properly smooth the ceiling.

Only exception is if you end up replacing the drywall, then remove the drywall, install the wiring, put the new drywall on, tape and mud it, paint it, then drill the holes and connect the wires to the lights.

You'll be pleased with the upgrade. Smooth ceilings are a big difference.
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Apr 18, 2005
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My contractor scraped the popcorn.. then did the Potlights... then skimmed the entire ceiling to get it truly smooth ..followed by sanding (and dust everyehere).... then primed and painted 2 coats...
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Jun 26, 2019
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TLSRULZ wrote: My contractor scraped the popcorn.. then did the Potlights... then skimmed the entire ceiling to get it truly smooth ..followed by sanding (and dust everyehere).... then primed and painted 2 coats...
This is what I would generally do, except actually capture all the dust.

Depending on the spacing of the pot lights and the joist direction, you may have to make extra holes and patch them. So if you're going to make extra holes, do potlights and running wire first.

Then let your person come in and do the whole ceiling after the fact. I assume the potlights will be able to just be popped out.
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Yes.. the guy had a power sanding stick.. with an attachment to his shop vac. He even sealed off the rooms doors with plastic wrap taped .. But even then its dusty.. can't get away from it.
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I've found that stripping the popcorn first, installation of the pots (or better yet, just cutting for openings) second, then sanding/finishing third is best. There's a good chance that the drywall will need to be patched to accommodate running wire, and it's easier to do patches before the final sanding.
It is also easier (IMHO) to not install the actual pots until the ceiling has been sanded. Cut holes and run wiring, but don't install the pots.

Mind you, that would require two trips each for both an electrician and and a drywaller, so you'd pay a premium. A highly skilled drywaller might be able to give you a good finish without a repeat visit and with the pots in place.

If your ceiling has been painted, expect to pay more to have it removed. I did a 20x30 living room a while back, and had to knock it down then skim coat the entire ceiling.

Just an FYI; if your house was built in the 70's or earlier, there is a possibility that the popcorn may contain asbestos. The only way to know for sure is to have it tested.

tl/dr: 1): Electrician; 2):Drywaller; 3): Painter
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Jun 26, 2019
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TLSRULZ wrote: Yes.. the guy had a power sanding stick.. with an attachment to his shop vac. He even sealed off the rooms doors with plastic wrap taped .. But even then its dusty.. can't get away from it.
I've only used a Planex, but I know others who have used the Mirka, Makita and Dewalt drywall sanders + vacs and said it was great.

Can 100% attest to the fact that a Planex with a CT36AC will give you a truly dustless experience. Maybe some big chunks of popcorn may escape, but they are not airborne.

With all the new tools coming to market, I feel like anyone removing popcorn, and skimming/sanding the whole ceiling should make use of them. They will honestly pay for themselves in a few jobs, and your clients will be so much happier that they aren't breathing in dust for days.

Again, maybe another thing for OP to ask their contractor: What tools do you use and how much dust is there going to be?
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Jun 26, 2019
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MrFrugal1 wrote: Mind you, that would require two trips each for both an electrician and and a drywaller, so you'd pay a premium. A highly skilled drywaller might be able to give you a good finish without a repeat visit and with the pots in place.

If your ceiling has been painted, expect to pay more to have it removed. I did a 20x30 living room a while back, and had to knock it down then skim coat the entire ceiling.

tl/dr: 1): Electrician; 2):Drywaller; 3): Painter
All good points.

Depending on what lights you are putting in, the electrician could rough in and put in everything, and most pot lights the homeowner could just plug in the connectors and slap them in the ceiling after the fact.

Making the ceiling flat will probably take a couple visits, but again, a lot will depend on what kind of finish you are going for. If its all pot lights or downlighting, you can probably do that in 1 skim. If you're going to have some up lighting or cross lighting across the ceiling you will need a true level 5 finish, so needs a bit more work.

Painted ceilings are a pain to remove, but really if you have the right equipment, its not that bad. Unpainted I will usually hit with 80grit, half ass painted I can do 40-36 grit, and multiple coats I usually just reach for the 24 grit. It takes a little bit more time but its not too bad. This said, if you're doing it manually, it sucks.
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SubjectivelyObjective wrote: All good points.

Depending on what lights you are putting in, the electrician could rough in and put in everything, and most pot lights the homeowner could just plug in the connectors and slap them in the ceiling after the fact.


Painted ceilings are a pain to remove, but really if you have the right equipment, its not that bad. Unpainted I will usually hit with 80grit, half ass painted I can do 40-36 grit, and multiple coats I usually just reach for the 24 grit. It takes a little bit more time but its not too bad. This said, if you're doing it manually, it sucks.
Unpainted, I use a garden sprayer and a 10" drywall knife. That crap peels off like nothing. I never even considered sanding only, because 1); you have to tarp everything off anyway 2): I dislike sanding ceilings 3): I dislike drywall dust even more.

Good points on the finish level. North facing windows are your friend.
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Jun 26, 2019
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MrFrugal1 wrote: Unpainted, I use a garden sprayer and a 10" drywall knife. That crap peels off like nothing. I never even considered sanding only, because 1); you have to tarp everything off anyway 2): I dislike sanding ceilings 3): I dislike drywall dust even more.

Good points on the finish level. North facing windows are your friend.
Yeah, I used that method many moons ago.

A number of years ago I borrowed someones planex. Then I bought my own to use for 3 houses and then sell afterwards. Lets just say, I still own the planex and I would not want to go back to the old way.

Its faster, there is no dust, and there is no cleanup. Also, for sanding the ceiling after the skim coat its faster/easier as well.

Ill still usually roll some paper over the floors because I usually skim coat with a roller.
[OP]
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Sep 13, 2007
428 posts
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Toronto
SubjectivelyObjective wrote: I've only used a Planex, but I know others who have used the Mirka, Makita and Dewalt drywall sanders + vacs and said it was great.

Can 100% attest to the fact that a Planex with a CT36AC will give you a truly dustless experience. Maybe some big chunks of popcorn may escape, but they are not airborne.

With all the new tools coming to market, I feel like anyone removing popcorn, and skimming/sanding the whole ceiling should make use of them. They will honestly pay for themselves in a few jobs, and your clients will be so much happier that they aren't breathing in dust for days.

Again, maybe another thing for OP to ask their contractor: What tools do you use and how much dust is there going to be?
Thanks i would agree. i am noticing that planex sander with ct36ac makes a lot of sense, and would only go with people who use that equipment....unfortunately....

all the good contractors are gone right now :(

any place offers rental for the planex sander?
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SubjectivelyObjective wrote: Yeah, I used that method many moons ago.

A number of years ago I borrowed someones planex. Then I bought my own to use for 3 houses and then sell afterwards. Lets just say, I still own the planex and I would not want to go back to the old way.

Its faster, there is no dust, and there is no cleanup. Also, for sanding the ceiling after the skim coat its faster/easier as well.

Ill still usually roll some paper over the floors because I usually skim coat with a roller.
Yowza. That thing with the dust extractor is a $3000 investment. I have tens of thousands invested in tools already, and if I was doing drywalling every day, I might consider it just for the sake of my lungs.
I don't do enough to justify the cost, so 3M respirator it is.
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noobienoob wrote: Thanks i would agree. i am noticing that planex sander with ct36ac makes a lot of sense, and would only go with people who use that equipment....unfortunately....

all the good contractors are gone right now :(

any place offers rental for the planex sander?
I am not aware of anyone who rents out the planex.
MrFrugal1 wrote: Yowza. That thing with the dust extractor is a $3000 investment. I have tens of thousands invested in tools already, and if I was doing drywalling every day, I might consider it just for the sake of my lungs.
I don't do enough to justify the cost, so 3M respirator it is.
I'm a big fan a capturing dust at source, sure you can be protected with a mask, but it will still end up all over the site, and you will have to clean up after the fact. I think thats one of the major time savers. Sure its a fair bit faster to take off all the popcorn, etc, but then after you've done that, in less time, there is zero clean up required afterwards.

The Planex Easy + 36AC is closer to $2k, but once you get attachments, etc, you're again up to $2500.

The Mirka one is around $2k.

The Dewalt and Makita ones are at a cheaper price point. I wanna saying like $700+700+hopefully you have batteries? Somewhere in the $1500 area.

Just like most tools, if you use it enough its well worth the money. This one paid off pretty fast. I've had other, far cheaper tools that took way longer to payoff or maybe even never paid off.

If you look on Kijiji and other market places there are a fair bit of these that go up for sale. I don't remember the exact numbers, but a friend of mine bought one for lets say $2500 and sold it after a year for iirc $2k, or at least close to that. So I think as rentals are not available, a lot of people will go this route, where in the end it costs them several hundred but they have to front more money. I was planning on doing the same thing, with buying it for 3 jobs I had lined up, and then selling it after the fact, but after those 3 jobs were done I just kept on using it and using it and using it. Really, its one of those things, where if I'm doing something already, and someone asks me to flatten a ceiling, its just a few extra hours added to a few days, it can make a fair bit of money, and its mutually beneficial to both parties.

Also, once you have one, its kinda like that friend with a truck. You'll just be the friend with the planex.

I will say two things:

1. There is a learning curve, although I found it pretty quick, probably just do 1 ceiling and you should have a really good grasp on it.
2. Originally I thought I would use it on the walls all the time. I find it still gets a lot of use on walls, but half the time I probably use other stuff and don't bother with the planex for walls. Probably wouldnt miss it all that much if I was only doing walls. That said, I could see if you just put a ton of mud on your wall joints, how it could be more useful.

Ok, that's the end of my sales pitch.
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SubjectivelyObjective wrote: I am not aware of anyone who rents out the planex.



I'm a big fan a capturing dust at source, sure you can be protected with a mask, but it will still end up all over the site, and you will have to clean up after the fact. I think thats one of the major time savers. Sure its a fair bit faster to take off all the popcorn, etc, but then after you've done that, in less time, there is zero clean up required afterwards.

The Planex Easy + 36AC is closer to $2k, but once you get attachments, etc, you're again up to $2500.

The Mirka one is around $2k.

The Dewalt and Makita ones are at a cheaper price point. I wanna saying like $700+700+hopefully you have batteries? Somewhere in the $1500 area.

Just like most tools, if you use it enough its well worth the money. This one paid off pretty fast. I've had other, far cheaper tools that took way longer to payoff or maybe even never paid off.

If you look on Kijiji and other market places there are a fair bit of these that go up for sale. I don't remember the exact numbers, but a friend of mine bought one for lets say $2500 and sold it after a year for iirc $2k, or at least close to that. So I think as rentals are not available, a lot of people will go this route, where in the end it costs them several hundred but they have to front more money. I was planning on doing the same thing, with buying it for 3 jobs I had lined up, and then selling it after the fact, but after those 3 jobs were done I just kept on using it and using it and using it. Really, its one of those things, where if I'm doing something already, and someone asks me to flatten a ceiling, its just a few extra hours added to a few days, it can make a fair bit of money, and its mutually beneficial to both parties.

Also, once you have one, its kinda like that friend with a truck. You'll just be the friend with the planex.

I will say two things:

1. There is a learning curve, although I found it pretty quick, probably just do 1 ceiling and you should have a really good grasp on it.
2. Originally I thought I would use it on the walls all the time. I find it still gets a lot of use on walls, but half the time I probably use other stuff and don't bother with the planex for walls. Probably wouldnt miss it all that much if I was only doing walls. That said, I could see if you just put a ton of mud on your wall joints, how it could be more useful.

Ok, that's the end of my sales pitch.
Fair enough. Thanks for the write up!

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