One of the most sworn at design details in housing is the popcorn ceiling. They collect dirt, dust, spiderwebs, and all sorts of crap. You can’t wash them. You can’t dust them. You can paint them if you want to spend an enormous amount of money on paint, and don’t mind a stiff neck.
You can remove them.
Here is a quick look at the procedure.
Take down any lights or fans on the ceiling. Remove the furniture, because you need to bag the entire floor. If you cannot remove the furniture, you will have to move it to cover the floor, move the stuff and cover the rest of the floor, and move it again to keep it out of your way while you are scraping the stuff off. If you are not painting the walls at the same time you will want to poly the walls. A quick look on bagging the walls can be seen here.
Bagging the floor consists of covering it with a layer of poly sheeting to catch the popcorn as it comes down. You can buy it in 10′, 12′ and even wider sizes. .7 to 1 mil. is all the thickness you will need. Buy the widest stuff you will need. It comes in 400′ rolls. Clean up is a lot easier with not having seams on the floor.
First up is moistening the ceiling. This does two important things for you. It softens the popcorn making it easier to remove and the moisture reduces the dust, which is especially important if you are living in the house.
Here my friend Rich from Arrowhead Drywall is using a simple pump up sprayer to spray plain water to moisten the popcorn.
Here is the floor after the popcorn is down.
Here is the ceiling after.
At this point you need to roll up the plastic and dispose of the trash.
You will need to decide how you want to finish the ceiling. Skim coating it for a smooth surface, or a texture effect like a skip trowel, knockdown, or some other effect. You will need to rebag the floor.