Experts and BHG readers answer.
Popcorn Ceiling painting
The popcorn ceiling was very much of the early 90’s along with pickle stained wood. Maybe it will come back into style but I’m with you (and many others--I promise you're not alone!), it is just a big dirt collector. Like any surface removal, you have three basic choices: scrape (or pry off), sand, or dissolve. None of these are great. Scraping can dig into the ceiling, sanding can be very dusty and tedious and a chemical that would dissolve the finish would be even more nasty. In situations like this I have rented a dust-collecting power sander from the local tool rental shop. This made a terrible task only mildly tiring and really did a nice job of containing the dust and debris. You still will probably have to skim coat the drywall in areas before re-painting but less than if you tried the other options.