How to Camouflage Popcorn Ceilings


Although popcorn ceiling was a once-favored, textured ceiling finish, homeowners are now often interested in camouflaging it as they update the appearance of a room. This type of ceiling treatment gets its name from its bead-like texture, which resembles popcorn. Not only did it add a simple, uniform, textural dimension to the ceiling but the popcorn finish also hid seam imperfections in the ceiling’s base installation or cracks that later developed through the ceiling’s material. Camouflaging the popcorn ceiling with finishing materials provides ways to update the ceiling for a fraction of what it would cost to completely replace it.

Things You'll Need

  • Styrofoam ceiling tiles
  • Tape measure
  • 4-inch drywall scraper
  • Straight edge
  • Utility knife
  • Adhesive
  • Trowel
  • Rags
  • Ladder
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes

Covering The Ceiling With Tiles

  • Hire a professional asbestos removal company to test the ceiling's material prior to beginning this project. If asbestos are found, have them remove and clean up the popcorn ceiling material. If asbestos are not found, then the popcorn ceiling can remain intact for the rest of the project.

  • Measure the length and width of the ceiling, and calculate how many of the chosen ceiling tiles are need to cover the ceiling.

  • Scrape off any loose popcorn material from the ceiling with a 4-inch drywall scraper. The last thing anyone would want is for the ceiling tiles to peel away because of the loose, underlying material. This does not require wetting the material, since it will remain as is and be covered with the tiles.

  • Apply a generous amount of adhesive to the back of three to four tiles using the trowel. Comb the adhesive with the comb side of the trowel to make even grooves in the adhesive that will make it adhere very well to the ceiling.

  • Mount a ladder, and stick the first tile to the ceiling in the corner of the room closest to the room's entry point. It is important to have full tiles at this point, since it is the most visible side of the room. It is not necessary to locate the ceiling joists since the tiles will be adhered to the ceilings surface and not nailed or screwed into place.

  • Add the next tiles to the ceiling adjacent to the first tile. Continue to add full tiles until the entire surface of the ceiling is covered. Do not leave any gaps between the tiles.

  • Cut out holes for the ceiling's light fixtures. After adding tiles as close to the lighting fixtures as possible, measure the position of the hole on a tile. Measure where the hole is located and then measure the width and length of the hole. Mark these measurements on a ceiling tile, and then cut it out with a utility knife. Fit the tile over the light fixture.

  • Cut the finishing tiles with a utility knife and a straight edge to fit along the final walls of the ceiling tile installation. As the installation comes to the end, full tiles may not fit to complete the ceiling. After cutting the pieces, apply the adhesive and stick the tile pieces into the gaps.

Tips & Warnings

  • Instead of adding ceiling tiles, consider removing the popcorn ceiling finish. Wet the surface, and scrape the finish off with a drywall trowel.
  • Another option is to have a layer of sheetrock installed right over the popcorn ceiling. Not only will it give the ceiling a new surface, it also adds an extra layer of fire protection.
  • Protect the floor from the materials used in this project to prevent a major cleanup later on.
  • Wear a face mask and goggles and work in a well-ventilated area.
  • Make sure the popcorn is stable before you attached tiles to it.

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