How to Deal with Popcorn Ceilings

When we moved into our 1985 Fixer Upper, we had popcorn ceilings in every room of the house. And not just popcorn ceilings, we had dirty popcorn ceilings. We had ceilings that obviously were in disrepair and our previous owners “repaired” them by spray painting them white. Yup, spray paint. We had pieces flaking off. We had dark spots. They were absolutely atrocious and something just had to be done.

After finally deciding on new flooring for our upstairs level, I called in a few painters to give me quotes on scraping those popcorn ceilings off first. If we’re going to get rid of our flooring, we might as well make a mess, right? THOUSANDS of dollars to remove them and repaint. THOUSANDS. I knew it was a messy job, but that much?! Absolutely not.

As I’ve moved from room to room fixing our spaces, I’ve had fun choosing what to do with our ceilings as the popcorn get scraped away little by little. It’s not just a matter of scraping and painting. Why not have a little fun with it? Today, I’m sharing 4 ways that I’ve refinished our ceilings within our house to give you a little inspiration on how to tackle that dirty little trend in your homes, too.

Scrape and Smooth

If you’re fortunate to have your popcorn come off smoothly, or you’re able to take the additional step of skim coating your ceilings after you’ve scraped, leaving your ceilings texture-free can be the classic way to finish. In our upstairs hallway, I was able to scrape the ceilings and repair subtle marks to make a clean finish for our Snowbound white paint color.

Pros of this method: It’s beautiful with a crisp white paint color. If done well, it can really accentuate your ceilings for a classic look throughout your home. This is the most common ceiling texture in homes today, but to get the finish, it will need to be done by a seasoned DIYer or a professional.

Cons of this method: If you have to repair your smooth ceilings later, you risk having your drywall patch stand out and look noticeable. It takes quite the drywall skillwork to make a flawless finish once again. I like this option for this hallway because the ceilings are very high here, leading me to believe they won’t endure too much damage from my kids over the years. And the only other damage would come from water, and we would need to replace all the drywall in this hallway regardless. There would be little need to repair only a small patch.

Knockdown Ceilings

When we remodeled our main level in 2018, we had walls taken down and placed in other areas, vents and pipes taken out or relocated, and a whole new HVAC system installed. To say that our ceiling was left in disarray was an understatement. Speaking with our drywall and paint contractors, we decided that a knockdown ceiling may be our best option. A subtle texture that would allow us to piece together drywall around our floor plan without having to start completely over or to skim coat the entire space. Plus, we had to factor in the possibility that our children may cause a little damage over the years to our slightly lower, 9′ ceilings.

Pros to this method: It’s extremely subtle. When I was editing my photos for this post, I had to continuously work to even make the ceiling texture show up in the photos to show you. The texture is miniscule and gives you the feeling of a smooth ceiling finish without the labor needed to install and upkeep through repairs. It was also extremely cost-efficient. As I mentioned earlier, the costs of refinishing your ceilings can be astronomical. By skipping the tedious labor and skillwork of a smooth ceiling, we saved nearly $1,000. Plus, if we need to repair a spot in this open floor plan ceiling, we can easily recreate the knockdown texture without worrying about it being very noticeable.

Cons to this method: You’re taking one texture down and replacing it with another. I get that. Some still view this method as an outdated look and want to remove the texture altogether. This method isn’t as classically beautiful as the smooth ceiling.

Beadboard Ceiling

This ceiling is a stunner! We are 2 full years after completion and it still can take my breath away when I walk into this space. Not only did it fully cover the popcorn ceilings, but it added dimension, it added beauty, and it added character to this bedroom that I would do again in again in every room of the house if we simply had the time. You can look at more pictures of this nursery on Mya’s Nursery Reveal and a full tutorial on Nautical Beadboard Tutorial.

Pros to this method: It’s beautiful and cost-efficient as far as covering a popcorn ceiling is concerned. Your materials are beadboard pieces, which run about $23/piece and long boards, which can vary depending on the type of wood you prefer. You don’t HAVE to remove your popcorn ceilings underneath this as the beadboard hides all texture and all imperfections without running any risk of being noticeable.

Cons to this method: It can be a time-consuming project for a DIYer to complete. We did this over the course of a few weeks after bedtimes. We were fortunate in this situation that Mya wasn’t born yet so this room remained empty. No one had to relocate or navigate sleep times. It also required a lot of math and problem solving to determine the exact locations of the running boards so it would look symmetrical.


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A little unexpected, but a whole lot magical. This idea popped into my head one night while I was reading with my oldest son at bedtime. We had just finished our book and he was telling me that when he grew up, he wanted to be an astronaut. It just clicked. If he wanted to visit the stars, I wanted to bring them to him first.

Pros of this method: It’s unexpected and fun! Imagine a beautiful pattern on your ceiling to brighten your space. A subtle gold or a pretty neutral as a back drop to a gorgeous light. It’s a little outside the box but I think it could be such a subtle piece that makes your room stand out in best kind of way.

Cons of this method: Looking back, I wish I would have done more prepwork to the ceiling before installation. I can see subtle bumps in some areas when the light hits it just right. To best prepare the ceiling, it needs a good sand to smooth out all the bumps, leftover popcorn, and imperfections. More prepwork = more arm work. This sure did a doozy on my shoulders and arms through installation. It was a lot of work installing over your head, but I was able to install completely on my own. If my 5’2″ body can do it, you best believe you can, too!

I hope this gives you some inspiration as you look at what you can do to your ceilings to make them a little more pretty in your home. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

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