Popcorn ceiling is a chunky texture that was sprayed on to ceilings to hide imperfections and add a certain aesthetic appeal. It may have been covered with several layers of paint. It often contains asbestos, and should be tested by an accredited inspector.
You should have your popcorn ceiling removed by an asbestos abatement company if it contains asbestos, and if it might be disturbed. If disturbed, the asbestos in the popcorn ceiling could enter your lungs, and cause diseases such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Asbestos removal can be done in different ways depending on the type of material, the location of the material, and the ability of workers to safely access the material. In general, during popcorn ceiling removal, the abatement contractor seals off the work area with multiple layers of plastic sheeting held in place with heavy tape and staples, sets up a three-stage airlock, and depressurizes the work area with specialized air handlers. The abatement workers enter the work area with supplied air and protective clothing. They wet down the popcorn ceiling, scrape it off, and seal it in doubled heavy plastic bags. They sample the air at a variety of places including inside and outside the work area, and send those to a lab for testing. Once the air samples pass the tests, the workers return to the site to remove the plastic sheeting.
After the job is complete, you will generally need to texture and paint the ceiling and the areas where the plastic sheeting was held up with tape.