Hand held and we used a ladder. It really wasn't that bad. Each side, each "coat" took about an hour. I'd do a section top to bottom, move down a section and my wife came behind me to remove it. Honestly it took us about 10 hours total and was well worth it. I can't even imagine what someone would charge you in labor to do the same job and I doubt that it would be done as well. We did one section an evening over the course of a week. Doing it all in one day would get old quickly but you go through a bunch of towels removing material.Was it a Porter Cable drywall DA on a pole or just a hand held one?