removing painted textured ceiling

I'd like to remove or flatten out a textured ceiling in our living and dining rooms. I'm not sure if 'textured' is the correct term and don't know how the texture was achieved.
You can see our ceiling at: http://www.math.uwaterloo.ca/~mrubinst/ceiling/index.html
1) Any suggestions on how to remove it or flatten it out? Is there some material that I can use to make the job of getting rid of it easier? Searching on the web I found a product called x-tex, but the only about it was from a company that sells it: http://www.decoratingdirect.co.uk/viewprod/e/ECOXTEX
2) Can you tell just by looking whether there might be asbestos in it? The layer doesn't seem to be very thick. The last photo on the posted website shows the transition from the ceiling to the wall.
Thanks for any advice.
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is this ceiling drywall or plaster?
if it's drywall, then the texture is probably joint compound covered with paint. the paint basically seals in the texture and makes it more difficult to get rid of. in any case, getting rid of it is no small matter. if you didn't have the crown molding, you could just hang new drywall over it, but this wouldn't work with the molding i think. it's possible there is some kind of stripper that would remove this stuff, but it would be a ton of work and terribly messy. i think you might be better off tearing the drywall off and starting over. if you scrape it off somehow, you will spend many hours working over your head, and then you will have a job of fixing the existing surface. those hours could be spent on ripping out the old and redoing it.
if your ceiling is plaster, then things are more difficult yet.
i wouldn't hazard a guess whether there is asbestos there or not, since i have no idea of the age of this ceiling and whether it is drywall or plaster, etc. asbestos tests are cheap (usually less than $20) and readily available. i have seen test kits in our local big box store.
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I'm not an expert, but your ceiling doesn't look like the common sprayed on popcorn coating. It looks as though it was plaster finished that way. Have you tried scraping a small section to see if it comes off easily?
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It isn't the sprayed on popcorn ceiling. We had that in other places in our house and we easily removed it by wetting and scraping. This stuff is pretty old and does not come off easily when I scrape.
The house was built in 1927 and the ceiling is plaster, at least under the textured stuff. I'm not sure when the textured portion was put in. Was it common in 1927 to make the ceilings the way they appear in the photos?
http://www.math.uwaterloo.ca/~mrubinst/ceiling/index.html
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On 6 May 2006 22:02:28 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

No it was likely added afterwards, probably to hide cracks or imperfections.

Looks to me like something I've always known as a stomp texture. They were typically rolled on then stomped with a texture brush.
Best bet if water won't penetrate the paint would be to skim it with several coats of mud.
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It looks like plaster splattered, then painted. You're right, removing popcorn involves wetting it down and then scraping it. You won't be able to wet and scape. One option that works well is to hire somebody that does this kind of work, and if they're good, then can float 2-3 coats of mud on top of that plaster and smooth it out. I've seen 3 houses done like this, 2 were good (Professional did it), and 1 was bad (homeowner didn't know how to float mud).
good luck, tim1198
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