How to Cover Popcorn Ceilings

cover popcorn ceiling
  • 5-10 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50-200
What You'll Need
Protective plastic drop cloth
Polystyrene ceiling tiles
Utility knife
Putty knife
Ceramic wall tile adhesive
Chalk line

Covering your popcorn ceilings is probably a better economic decision than removing it. Scraping it smooth and then coloring can require more effort than it's worth. The scraping method involves a lot of substance removal and dust, making it a hazardous task to beautify your ceiling. An alternative method is to directly install ceiling tiles, glued straight over the existing popcorn ceiling. The entire project can be inexpensive and completed quickly.

What Is a Popcorn Ceiling?

A popcorn ceiling refers to a popular spray-on paint treatment used extensively in home construction during the sixties and seventies. It consisted of a bright white, lumpy texture that contained bits of gold or silver glitter. It could be inexpensively applied with commercial spray paint equipment. It became the choice for bedroom and hallway ceiling treatment, due to its easy application. Unfortunately, homeowners and builders alike soon learned that popcorn ceilings are extremely hard to clean or paint.

Step 1 - Preparation

There is practically no preparation, except making sure the ceiling is free of cobwebs, and incidental foreign protrusions. It is a good idea to place a protective plastic drop cloth over the floor.

Make sure when using more than one to overlap the cloths by at least four inches to ensure protection. Rolling the cloths together will help with easy cleanup once you have completed installation. Measure a tile and then apply a chalk line that distance to either side of a center point in the ceiling, marking the first row of tiles.

Step 2 - Using Glue

Here’s where the glue becomes your new best friend. Apply the glue to the back of the polystyrene ceiling tile with a putty knife. Use enough glue for the really really deep effects.

Step 3 - Start Tiling

Although you should start from the center of an average or large sized, you can start in the corner when working in a smaller room.

Step 4 – Optional Molding

If you want a really great look, install expanded polystyrene crown molding to add a finishing touch.

Extra Tips to Consider

Using ceramic tile adhesive for applying polystyrene ceiling tiles makes the project easier to complete, and very easy to clean up after installation. Make sure all installers keep their hands clean or use protective latex gloves. Use a silicone caulk that can be painted to fill in any gaps between tiles. If you want to paint the tiles, use latex or acrylic based paint. It is a good idea to paint the tiles before installing them.