Textured ceilings, commonly called popcorn or cottage cheese ceilings, are often the target of many homeowners' displeasure. The builder or drywall installer mainly benefits from popcorn ceilings, since this style of finishing reduces mudding and sanding. Because achieving a glass-smooth finish takes time and money, builders would texture ceilings as a benefit to themselves.
But homeowners rarely benefit.
Textured ceilings are virtual cobweb magnets. They are hard to clean. They are difficult to paint. They reduce ambient natural light in a room. Many homeowners would rather have these 1960s-era moonscapes gone and covered up by a smooth painted ceiling. Short of removing the texture or the ceiling itself, covering up that texture with a second skin of ceiling is another option.
Cover Popcorn Ceiling With Drywall
Summary: 1/2-inch or 1/4-inch drywall installed over existing popcorn-textured ceiling drywall
Description: Since you already have drywall on your ceiling, why not just add another layer below it?
With home remodeling, it is often easier to cover up a problem area than it is to entirely remove and replace that area. Flooring typically gets covered up with a second layer. Covering an existing ceiling with drywall means that you do not have to worry about asbestos or lead paint, which are often contained in both the texture and the paint.
Cleanliness is a plus, too. Since you will not be pulling out drywall, you do not have to deal with the immense amount of attic insulation, debris, and vermin droppings that rain down on your house interior when drywall comes down.
- Inexpensive: you only need to purchase low cost drywall and screws.
- "Skinning" with drywall is the only cover-up option that allows for a smooth ceiling.
- Of the three cover-up methods listed here, this is the one that is least likely to compromise your resale value if you put your house on the market. Because it is a traditional type of ceiling, it will be accepted by nearly all potential buyers.
- Adding another ceiling layer increases total weight of ceiling.
- Thicker ceiling makes it difficult to install recessed lights and junction boxes as their connection clips often cannot accommodate thicker materials.
- Drywall is extremely difficult to install alone without a drywall lift. Half-inch drywall, even ultra light drywall, is still too heavy (at 44.5 pounds) for one person to manage. You need to rent a drywall lift or have the help of two other people. Quarter-inch drywall is lighter but equally unwieldy. Also, since it is thinner, it is more prone to breakage when you handle it.
Cover Ceiling With Prepared Ceiling Planks
Summary: Cover with fiberboard planks made specially for this purpose. The planks are laid atop furring strips.
Description: Armstrong, best known as a flooring manufacturer, markets its Woodhaven Ceiling Planks as an alternative to removing popcorn ceiling, among other features.
These MDF ceiling planks are tongue-and-groove, each measuring 5-inches by 84-inches.
For best results, you may wish to use Armstrong's Easy Up grid system. Like a traditional drop-ceiling grid, it keeps all of the panels stable and in order. But unlike a drop ceiling grid, the grid is not visible. Boards attach to the outside of the grid via snap-in clips.
Woodhaven Ceiling Planks can be installed directly to drywall, provided the drywall is flat. Alternatively, attach a grid of furring strips (1 x 2 boards, available at most home improvement centers). While this allows you to shim out the grid so that it is perfectly level, you also lose some ceiling height from the added layer of furring strips.
- Planks fit perfectly together.
- The optional grid system is beneficial is you have a severely warped or damaged ceiling.
- Eliminates the need for staining and finishing.
- This system is the most expensive option listed here.
- Availability is limited. Likely, you will not find this on the shelves at your local home supply retailer. Typically, it is a special-order item.
Cover Ceiling With Tongue and Groove Pine Ceiling Planks
Summary: Individual natural wood pine planks purchased at a lumber yard or home improvement store.
Description: As an alternative to expensive ceiling systems, why not install something cheaper over your furring grid? This DIY method uses low-cost lumber found at your local retailer. Most home improvement stores carry tongue-and-groove softwood (pine or fir, for example) that you can nail directly to furring strips.
- While no ceiling cover-up can be considered cheap, this is the least expensive option listed here.
- This option allows the greatest variety of styles, since the wood can be stained and finished to your specifications.
- If you do not own a truck, it will be difficult for you to transport the lumber since it is beneficial to purchase the longest planks available.
- Long planks are often not perfectly straight and require adjustments to make them fit into place.
Alternatives to Covering Popcorn Ceiling
If you're not interested in any of the cover-up options, there are still two other methods: removing the popcorn itself or removing the entire ceiling.
1. Removing the Popcorn Texture
Line your floor with sheet plastic. Get on the ladder. Scrape off the popcorn texture. Bunch up the plastic and throw everything away. Paint the ceiling.
In a perfect world, it should be that easy, but often it is not. Removing popcorn ceiling texture comes with its own set of problems.
For one, assume that the texture contains asbestos. Removal of even some of this material requires special care. Hiring an asbestos-removal company is expensive. For another, removing the popcorn is much like scraping paint: it is deceptive to assume that the easy sections are indicative of the rest of the surface area.
One area easily drops away, while other areas are so fiendishly difficult that you are gouging drywall paper to get it off.
On the plus side, removing the popcorn provides you with maximum ceiling height. For height-challenged areas like basements, where every inch counts, you may wish to remove the texture for that very reason.
2. Removing Entire Drywall Ceiling
Total removal of both popcorn texture and drywall may prove to be easier, in the end, than trying to scrape away the texture and fix it so that it can be painted.
One reason this may be better is because old drywall is usually nailed in place, rather than screwed. Many nails will come out with the drywall when you pull it down. Another benefit: you do not have to worry about fixing up old, gouged drywall.
But you do still have the potential problem of asbestos in the texture. Removing the entire ceiling does not reduce the danger of this.