To save you money and time on home renovations, we are going to show you how to cover popcorn ceiling without removing it in this article. We’ll tell you what popcorn ceilings are, why you may want to cover them up, and the best options available for covering popcorn ceilings.
By the end of the article, you should understand the various options available to you and the method that’ll work best for your home.
How to cover popcorn ceiling without removing it
There are many ways to cover popcorn ceilings without removing them and having them replaced, which could cost a fortune. One of the most common and effective ways to cover popcorn ceilings is to hang drywall panels, apply joint compound, and paint over them.
This way, you can reduce the amount of drywall mud needed to cover a popcorn ceiling from scratch. You will instead have a new drywall surface that is smooth and easy to coat.
What is a popcorn ceiling?
A popcorn ceiling, otherwise known as an acoustic or stipple ceiling, is a textured ceiling coated with a polystyrene or vermiculite treatment. The result is a bumpy, popcorn texture that absorbs sound and deafens noise. These cost-efficient ceilings were popularized in the 20th century, and many homes today still have them.
In modern times, the popcorn ceiling has fallen in popularity despite its sound-proofing benefits. Many are opting to have them covered or removed. The reason for this is more surprising than just looking outdated and unfashionable (though this could be a factor too). It is more so to do with the health hazards and economics involved.
Many popcorn ceilings built around the 1970s contained white asbestos fibers, a material we now know to cause illnesses such as cancer and pulmonary diseases (1). Since banning asbestos in the 1980s, popcorn ceilings have been made using styrofoam, producing a similar sound-proofing material.
However, homes built in the 1970s still exist today, and many are still at risk of housing dangerous fibrous materials such as asbestos.
While banning asbestos was a huge step forward for promoting good health and safe living, some additional issues still remain with popcorn ceilings. For instance, they are known to trap dust more easily than normal smooth ceilings, posing a potential health hazard, particularly for young ones.
Furthermore, it can be a hassle to clean and dust the ceiling because of the many bumps on the surface. This makes it tricky to clean out some dust or dirt particles.
From an economic standpoint, customers no longer demand popcorn ceilings. As you would expect, the value of your home suffers because of this. Many home buyers are not willing to deal with the risks of health hazards and the increased labor required to maintain it.
Thus, removing your popcorn ceiling or covered can be a great way to boost the financial value of your home.
Related: The Different Types of Ceiling Texture and Ceiling Finishes You Should Know
Why should you cover it up?
As mentioned, there are many reasons you would want to cover the popcorn ceiling despite its noise-reduction benefits. However, there is also the option of removing popcorn ceilings altogether. So, why should we ignore this option? In truth, covering your popcorn ceiling is a far more affordable and stress-free way than removing it completely.
Once the popcorn ceiling is covered up with drywall or an equivalent, you will be protected from any potential asbestos concealed within. Removing the popcorn ceiling could have the reverse effect of releasing these dangerous particles into the air.
Furthermore, the need for popcorn ceilings was initially to cover up faults in the ceiling. So, removing it will likely incur further costs that may require a full ceiling replacement. If matters are really bad, you may even have to pay for new ceiling joists to be compatible with your new ceiling.
Covering your popcorn ceiling without removing it can even open up many design opportunities. Some potential ones include new ceiling styles, customized light fixtures, and ceiling fans.
The best ways to cover your popcorn ceiling
There are many ways to cover popcorn ceilings without removing the entire ceiling. One or more of these options may apply to your situation and preferences. Depending on your skill level and confidence, you may find some of these options doable as a DIY project.
Of course, if you are more comfortable hiring a professional, there are many affordable options for you.
Cover with drywall sheets
Using a drywall lift rental service, you can install drywall on your own to cover a popcorn ceiling. The cost per square foot is low, but the job can be labor-intensive. You can save on labor costs by doing it yourself or hire a professional.
Drywall sheets are the most common and affordable material used to cover popcorn ceilings. The best part about using drywall for your ceiling is the potential for a new design and the ability to add a ceiling fan and light fixtures.
Then, you can also easily achieve a glossy finish with joint compound. Once the drywall is installed and dried, you can paint the ceiling with any color scheme you choose for a stunning finish.
Use joint compound and paint
If drywall panels aren’t your thing and you would rather save on the installation cost, you can consider using a skim coating of joint compound instead. This is easily the fastest and most cost-efficient way of covering popcorn ceilings. It only requires a thin layer of drywall mud coating applied using a spray can or a paint roller.
You can then smooth out the skim coat using a drywall utility knife or trowel for a clean finish.
Once the joint compound is smoothened out, you can apply your choice of paint over the coating to really put the popcorn ceiling look to rest. Despite its affordability, skim coating your popcorn ceiling can be messy. For some, it can require a skilled expert for the best results.
Thus, you should prepare your budget for joint compound supplies, paint, tools, and the cost of hiring a laborer.
Related: How Long Does Joint Compound Take To Dry?
Another great option for covering popcorn ceilings is the installation of tongue and groove planks. You would typically use wooden planks for this method, though other options may be available.
This method involves directly installing wood planks over the popcorn ceiling. This enhances the atmosphere with a rustic, stylish, and comforting aesthetic for your home. Since it’s a series of individual planks rather than a single piece of drywall, you have more options.
Given the individualistic nature of this plank ceiling design it is a lot easier to customize. You can select from a huge variety of wood planks and stains, and you can coat it in your own preferred gloss, polish, or paint. The best part is that wood planks are highly durable and sturdy enough to last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance.
On the downside, wooden planks can be significantly more expensive than drywall sheets or skim coating options. Also, since they come as individual blocks, they can take a lot more time to install whether you do it yourself or hire an expert.
While wood planks can be durable and tough, they are susceptible to unique complications. These include warping, molding, or rotting if not properly cleaned and maintained.
A drop ceiling, also known as a false ceiling, suspended ceiling, or grid ceiling, is a secondary ceiling hung below the main structural ceiling. Drop ceilings are commonly used in classrooms and offices and are known for their rectangular grid patterns and built-in light fixtures.
Drop ceilings have a reputation for being dull and depressing, but they have evolved to offer new, contemporary designs and stylish modern aesthetics. Installing a drop ceiling is relatively easy, especially if you go with a classic grid formation. They are also easy to maintain and offer flexibility in lighting fixtures.
Drop ceilings can be more expensive than wood plank or drywall ceilings, but they are still reasonably priced and within the average homeowner’s budget. They offer many benefits, including easier access to structural components like joist reference lines. You can use an electronic stud finder to easily locate the rectangular blocks connected to ceiling joists.
In double-story homes or apartment units, drop ceilings with large acoustic panels can be useful for blocking out noise from upper levels. Their suspended nature can also help reduce heat in the area by adding an extra layer of protection from the outdoors.
You can capitalize on this by using foam insulation panels or applying an insulation panel adhesive solution to your existing panels.
Related: Drop Ceiling vs. Drywall Ceiling in Basement Which is Best?
Cover using fabric
Among the most daring and ambitious solutions to covering popcorn ceiling is by using a fabric cover. This option gives off a somewhat “royal” look to your room, something out of a Disney princess’ bedroom (2). Of course, there are plenty of unisex design choices you could go with, such as a plain white fabric or other neutral aesthetic.
This type of cover works best with a fancy lighting fixture such as a gold or silver chandelier acting as the central point where the fabric spouts outwards. Installing fabric ceiling covers does not require extensive skill or expertise, but it demands a fair bit of fabric materials to cover the ceiling surface.
As a DIY project, there are a few things you will need to do when using fabric covers to conceal your popcorn ceiling. Firstly, you will need to either find a piece of fabric large enough to cover the length and width of your old ceiling, or you will need to sew together some fabric panels to make up this measurement.
You should then install curtain rod brackets at the top of each wall and fold the fabric over these rods. Depending on the type of light fixture you have, you will likely need to cut a hole in the center of the fabric to allow the light or light bulb to pass through.
To cover the edges of your light fixture, it may help to install a ceiling medallion as this will aid in the visual appearance of your new ceiling.
Install faux tin ceiling tiles
Developed in the late 1800s, faux tin ceiling tiles are an American innovation. Its purpose was to promote durability and affordability as an alternative to the more expensive but fragile European plasterwork ceilings.
As its name suggests, the ceiling materials that make up faux tin are not real tin. Instead, they are mineral fibers that resemble the appearance and feel of real tin.
Despite their durability and sturdiness, faux tin ceiling tiles are quite lightweight, making them easy to install. They are also quite practical as the nonporous material does not soak up stains. They only need to be dusted on occasion to maintain their clean look.
Faux tin ceilings also protect your home against fires and floods. They are not flammable (like wood planks) and resistant to rust and mold.
Best of all, using faux tin ceiling tiles can increase the value of your home because of the protective benefits they provide. Not only do they protect the home’s structure against natural disasters, but they can also protect against in-house fires. As such, faux tin tiles are ideal for kitchen areas where cooking, heating, and open flames are present.
How to cover popcorn ceiling without removing it FAQ
What is the cheapest way to cover popcorn ceiling?
The most cost-efficient method to cover the popcorn ceiling issue is by applying drywall mud (joint compound) and paint over the area. Other cheap methods of covering popcorn-textured ceilings include installing drywall panels, faux tin ceiling tiles, and fabric covers.
How can I cover my popcorn ceiling without scraping it?
There are many options for covering up your popcorn-textured ceiling without scraping the surface. These include installing drywall panels, building a secondary drop ceiling, or simply covering the entire ceiling with fabric. You can also apply a coating of drywall mud to the ceiling and smoothen it out with a trowel to ensure a nice flush surface ready to be painted.
What is the best way to cover a popcorn ceiling?
One of the best ways to cover popcorn-textured ceilings is to use wooden planks as they can be sturdy, durable, and stylish. They are fairly easy to install once you have sorted out the correct plank width for each tile, though the installation process can take some time due to the many individual pieces involved.
Can you just cover a popcorn ceiling?
Yes. In fact, a common way to cover popcorn ceiling is to lay a large piece of fabric over it. Other covering options include installing a drywall panel using a tear away bead or building a suspended drop ceiling to provide an extra layer away from the main structural popcorn ceiling.