Not sure if the chemical paint thinner route is the best or if I should just rent a large sander from Home Depot?
Wetting the the stipple/popcorn with a pump-sprayer is the best way if it hasn't been painted too much. If it has been painted lots or with a gloss paint, or, if you're taking off a large square foot print, consider renting a Festool Dust extractor with the Planex dust attachment. Call Atlas tools to see where you can potentially rent one. Purchase price is over $4,000. The biggest challenge you will have will be applying your 3 skim coats of mud, however. Most people don't know this and think that their ceiling will be flat once they scrape the stipple off. Let me save you the dissapointment ahead of time.
Hope this helps,
The Patchboyz Team
Just a word of caution - in a home built before 1972 you may encounter asbestos (I see nobody else bothered to mention that possibility).
First of all test for asbestos, if your home is over 40 years old there is a big chance to find asbestos in that ceiling, if not painted spray with warm water, will come out very easy with a large spatula, apply two coats of compound(preferable a higher quality mud to avoid fish eyes, machine Mud or CGC BLUE), there is a product in the market you can mix with your compound as well to avoid fish eyes(ask your local drywall supplier), depending of how tick was your pop corn if for whatever reason you can't remove everything you might need a third coat of Mud, sand prime and paint, but keep in mind this is a task that requires high skills with the alleged taping tools you decide to use, if you don't have a lot experience with those tools you might see bumps on your ceiling.
Yup test for asbestos...cover all floors and walls with plastic sheeting!..if it is not painted, wet down good it with a paint sprayer or spray gun, get a flat wide scraper on long handle and scrape 4x4ft sections it will come off in sheets. If painted you are hooped! You only have (3) more costly options now: 1-have entire ceiling skim coated with plaster, 2-attach 1x3 pieces of wood (strapping) perpendicular to joist or rafters and install 1/4" drywall, electrical boxes will likely need to be also lowered same amount, 3-remove and re-drywall
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