For years contractors have applied what we term popcorn ceilings. It was quick and cheap, but now it dates your house. The internet is alive with DIY removal ideas; however, there are other options that are inexpensive and will make your room look modern again. Evaluate what you have and consider all the options.
Ugly ceilings don’t take care of themselves so register today and start your ceiling project. Using the free home improvement project software you can create your own electronic home renovation binder and have everything and anything about your project safely stored and easily accessible from any device at anytime!
Evaluate what you have
Is your ceiling drywall and compound texture or plaster? This evaluation matters as removing texture from a plaster ceiling is very difficult as traditional plaster is a much thicker and harder product. How do you know? Evaluate the age of the house. If it's pre 1980s, it may be plaster. Plaster will often crack away from corners or edges. Plaster texture is much deeper and often in swirls.
Are there cracks or areas where plaster or drywall has been damaged? The condition of your ceiling will play into how you cover it. Repairing plaster cracks is difficult as cracks often occur due to load and deflection on the structure below the plaster. Surface repair will often resurface.
Is there anything stopping you from dropping the ceiling a few inches? Look at window heights, overall room height, and stair transitions.
Are there currently any bulkheads? A bulkhead is typically framing around mechanicals (e.g. duct work). Too often bulkheads are only put where they need to be and throw off the balance of the entire room. Have you ever seen a small bulkhead where the owner wasn’t sure if it should be painted the wall color or ceiling color?
Do you need to change or upgrade the lighting or electrical? This is the time to move or add ceiling lights.
Consider your options
Removing the texture if it is a popcorn textured ceiling is relatively easy. To test if it is a popcorn ceiling, put on a glove and rub your hand on the ceiling, does the popcorn come off?
DIY CAUTION: Removing the popcorn will not result in a smooth paintable finish. Sanding and applications of drywall compound in a skim coat can help; however, it may be difficult to get it perfect. Hiring a contractor is a good option to get a smooth finish if that is what you need.
Apply a more modern Orange Peel or California Knock Down texture over the popcorn ceiling. You will want to hire a contractor to apply the compound so that it looks professional. Save money by preparing the room and ceiling before the contractor arrives.
Cover the existing ceiling with alternative products. Barn boards, wooden planks, tin tiles, wallpaper or metal roofing all are great options with little mess! Using alternative products, with the exception of wallpaper, require little if any repair or removal of the existing ceiling; however, strapping will have to be applied to support the new products. Prior to installing the alternative product is a good time to knock holes in the ceiling to change electrical (hire an electrician) and inspect upper showers or toilets for leaks.
The thought of wallpaper often makes people shiver; however, it has come a long way. Give it a chance. Modern wallpaper patterns and textures that look like wood plank or tin tiles are perfect for ceiling applications. The existing texture will have to be scrapped down, repairs made and a good primer applied before application of wallpaper. Consider installing large crown molding after wallpaper is applied to transition to wall finish.
Your mind is swirling with possibilities finally seeing beyond the popcorn ceiling. Let’s take it a little further.
Stop thinking of one solution and think multiple solutions
If your ceiling height permits it, drop a bulkhead around the entire room and create a coffered ceiling. The coffered ceiling frame covers the old ceiling and provides a great space for pot lights. The raised center area can be covered with alternative coverings like wooden planks, tin ceilings or wallpaper. The coffer can have crown molding applied to hide rope lights to really accent the raised ceiling. Coffered ceilings can hide a lot at a low cost, often a feature considered in high end houses. Make your friends jealous.
Use natural wood planks to surround a smooth finished drywall ceiling. The combination of dark and light, rough and smooth will have guests looking up more than down. The natural wood planks can hide areas that need repair, and as the smooth surface is smaller, it is easier to hide imperfections from removing the popcorn texture. If the center area is too bad to repair, simply apply an additional layer of drywall, the thickness of the wood planks will hide the additional layer.
Provided it is not an insulated ceiling, you could remove all the drywall or plaster and expose the floor joists. The industrial look is in, and with a good white washing or stain, this ceiling can have your friends ashamed of their plain ceiling.
Every living space should have one feature that simply amazes guests, why not make it your ceiling?