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How to Decorate an ugly Popcorn Ceiling

Popcorn ceilings are probably one of the worst things you can apply in a home - a lazy way to finish off a ceiling. But how do you decorate a popcorn ceiling?


In my double-storey home, I have popcorn ceilings on the ground floor, where the popcorn plaster effect was used to disguise the concrete slabs that form the floor for the next level. I find these ceilings ugly and time-consuming to decorate, but despite that, I still haven't got round to scraping off the popcorn finish or covering it up. Which leads me to why I decided to write an article about what can be done about popcorn ceilings.

If you have popcorn ceilings, there are a few options that you can consider to remove or disguise this type of ceiling:







Scrape off Popcorn Finish

Removing a popcorn ceiling by scraping it off is probably the best option, but not everyone is going to want to have all the mess that comes with this job.

Before you consider any of the options below, and even if you have decided to remove the popcorn ceiling, do a scrape test. You want to determine how easy - or how hard it will be to remove. If the popcorn plaster was well-applied and shows no sign of cracking or peeling, you could always consider one of the options below to cover it up. If you have decided the popcorn ceiling must go, a scrape test will prepare you for how much work needs to be done to remove it.







For all the options discussed in this feature, cover furniture and fittings that cannot be removed from the room, and put down plenty of drop cloths. It might also be a good idea to have extra drop cloth to tape over open doorways to prevent dust from getting everywhere!


1. To make it easier to scrape off the popcorn plaster, first wet the plaster. A garden pump spray will work well for this, or a spray bottle, although the latter may be hard work if it is a large surface area.

GOOD TO KNOW: Cover up any lighting fittings, electrical points or downlights to protect them from moisture as you spray.

2. Use a scraper to remove as much of the popcorn plaster as you can. You might not be able to remove all in one go, so be prepared to make several runs to remove the entire finish. It's also a good idea to work in small areas at a time.

Note that even after you have removed the popcorn plaster, you will still need to do some work to neaten up the surface for painting. You might even want a professional to come in and apply a smooth plaster finish - or consider one of the options below to disguise the rough ceiling.







Cover with Timber or Board Planks

I like the idea of being able to cover-up a popcorn ceiling with timber or board planks, my only concern with this type of project is, will the popcorn ceiling finish support the amount of timber of board that needs to be applied to cover up? You would have to be one hundred percent sure that the popcorn plaster finish is in good condition and not likely to fall off later on. You must take into consideration that more tutorials or videos look at a plasterboard ceiling, but most popcorn ceilings in this country are applied to concrete ceilings - and you can't use a nail gun to secure the planks!

Despite how many tutorials or videos there may be out there, they are not always honest about their failures but only boast at how the job was done and how is looks - at that time. Having attempted more than a few tutorials myself, I know for a fact that everything is not what it seems.


If you like the idea of securing timber or board planks to cover up a popcorn ceiling, use battens. The battens can be secured into the concrete ceiling and then the timber of pine planks can be secured to the underside of the battens with screws, nails or a nail gun.


Disguise with Ceiling Tiles

Ceiling tiles are a very lightweight material and will apply far less weight than does a timber or board plank ceiling. Again, as long as the popcorn ceiling is in good condition. There are all sorts of designs available in ceiling tiles, from modern to antique, but you may have to do a bit of shopping around the find just what you need.







Create a Coffered Ceiling

The idea of a coffered ceiling is a good one, but only to cover up after you have removed the popcorn plaster effect. As with timber and board planks, the weight that has to be borne by the thin layer of plaster may not stand up to the extra weight and everything may come falling down on top of your head.

Alternatively, affix the coffered ceiling over the top of the popcorn plaster using the battens by securing battens to the concrete ceiling then the boards or panels can be secured to the underside of the battens with screws, nails or a nail gun. Find instructions here for this project.

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