The unattractive, bumpy surface of your ceiling will thwart even the best attempts to modernise your model abode, says Pavithra S. Rangan

Thinking of revamping your home? Look up. If you spot the acoustic ceiling, which is deridingly called ‘popcorn' or ‘cottage cheese' ceiling due to its texture; you know that this is where you start.

The unattractive, bumpy surface of your ceiling will thwart even the best attempts to modernize your quality, model abode.

And calling these ceilings out of style would be an understatement.

What was yesterday's fad - beginning in the 40s and lasting through the 90s - due to the affordability, sound reduction quality of acoustic ceilings, has today come to cause more than one problem to home owners.

These ceilings have become unattractive for, they are easily damaged, are hard to clean, repaint, or repair. And the mood is now drifting to more natural and handmade finishes. Interior designers explain that acoustic ceilings are also dust traps and hard to maintain, because any attempt at cleaning can rub off the some of the acoustic material, damaging the ceiling.

That apart, popcorn ceilings also do not spare the value of your house.

Prospective home buyers will hate them and negotiate the final cost down, warn architects, as they give the house an out-dated appearance.

Good news

The good news, however, is that they can be easily if messily removed by spraying them with water to soften them up, and scraping the material off with a large scraping trowel or putty knife.

Architects suggest that if you want to remove an acoustic ceiling, you will first need to determine whether it contains asbestos, as it was used as a binder in many construction materials. If your home was built before 1979, they say, chances that your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos are very high.

And paint is not suggested as an efficient way to encapsulate asbestos fibers by interior designers. If your cottage cheese ceiling contains asbestos, the best to get it removed with the help of professionals, they say. If there is no asbestos, there are other ways to deal with these ceilings that fall short of removal. One option is to freshen them up with a new coat of paint.

Using a roller to repaint, though, needs to thought over because acoustic ceilings are said to be very porous and thus absorbents of a great deal of paint.

Also, the entire layer of the cottage-cheese texture may come right off with the use of a roller, leaving a bare strip of drywall.

Designers say that new on the market are thick rollers with slits that are less likely to scrape the acoustic off, but they still require a lot of paint and can be drippy. The most efficient way to put new paint on a textured ceiling is to spray-paint it.

Professional painters can usually re-spray the acoustic ceilings in an average-size home in less than a day for about the same price as materials alone, inform architects.