Is It Better To Remove Popcorn Ceiling or Cover It?

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Does your house contain a popcorn ceiling, and you have grown tired of it? Would you like to eliminate it but don’t know which is the best idea between covering it and removing it? If this is the case with you, don’t worry, as we got you covered. 

Even though covering a popcorn ceiling with new drywall has proven to be a big job, it’s the most innovative approach to take. Covering the popcorn ceiling can save you headaches, money, and time in the long run compared to removing it. One benefit of covering popcorn ceilings is that you can cut holes in the ceiling without worrying about fussy repairs such as adding light fixtures, run networking cables, and install ceiling fans. 

If you have living space over the ceiling, you can run new plumbing or fix floor squeaks for future adjustments. This article will explore why covering a popcorn ceiling is better than removing it and what it entails. 

Why Isn’t Removing Popcorn Ceiling Perfect?

Most of the time, removing the popcorn ceiling takes too much effort, and it cost you a lot of cleaning during and even after. That is why covering the popcorn ceiling is much preferred than dealing with a big, sloppy mess that leaves with a lot of repairs to managing afterward.

If you have a popcorn ceiling and don’t like its look, you have at least two options; remove it or cover it up. You can choose the option of withdrawing it by misting it with a spray bottle and then proceeding to scrape off the soft texture. 

The scraping of dry texture is a mess, while skim coating requires a lot of expertise to achieve. If your house was there before 1979, the surface could be having asbestos which can cause severe problems to your lungs. 

It would therefore be good practice to test the texture before removing it. There are several instruction guides and labs to direct you on the testing. You can easily remove the layer of asbestos as long as you follow the procedures carefully. Due to removing a popcorn ceiling is time-consuming, messy, requires many skills, and has dangerous asbestos, covering it is the best option. 

How Much Does It Cost To Drywall A Popcorn Ceiling?

When you drywall a popcorn ceiling, if you have an average of 12×12 ft room, that will cost you around $160 for the materials, including paint, joint, drywall, and drywall lift rental. 

If you get someone to help you out, you can easily cover an average-sized ceiling within one day. Taping or finishing all the joints might require more time since it needs drying time between coats. There is also painting and sanding that will also take some time. 

Even if you can put aside a few hours of your evening into this project, it’ll likely take at least one week to complete.

If you want to cover a popcorn ceiling, we recommend using a ½ inch thick and lightweight drywall. Apart from being lighter than the standard drywall, it’s also more robust. You might come across brand names at the home centers such as high strength lite, ultralight, and rugged rock at the home centers. 

You can acquire sheets that are long enough to cover your room. Although short sheets are easier to work with, you’ll end up paying dearly for the convenience when the time for finishing the butt joints where the ends of the sheets meet comes. 

However, butt joints are challenging to finish, and you should avoid them at all costs.

Most centers have 8-ft and 12-ft sheets. There are specialist suppliers who carry those lengths and additional 10-ft, 14-ft, and 16-ft sheets. Before you buy long sheets, you should ensure that you can get them into your room. 

Sometimes, the 8-feet sheets might be the only option available. Most home centers have all the other things that you need, including primer and paint, joint tape and compound, tear-away bead, 2-inch screws, and mud rings for the junction. 

What Can You Use To Cover Popcorn Ceiling?

In most cases, here are materials you can use to cover a popcorn ceiling.

  • Ceiling Planks
  • Ceiling Panels
  • Metal Tiles
  • Paint
  • Texture and wooden beadboard

When you cover the popcorn ceiling, you end up replacing it with something that looks way better than the ceiling itself. The good news is that you have several time-consuming and affordable options that can make your ceiling look brand new and attractive without having to remove anything. 

With these options, you can easily install them over the existing ceiling in a project that could take a weekend to complete without getting outside assistance. 

Considerations While Covering Popcorn Ceiling

Here, we’ll highlight some of the approaches you can employ to cover up the popcorn ceiling in your room. The options below are affordable, and you can easily manage them without getting any assistance from a family member or a professional. You’ll also spend less time finishing the project compared to removing the ceiling.

Texture And Paint the Ceiling

Applying texture and paint is one of the simplest and most common options you can do for covering your popcorn ceiling. To achieve this, you use spray textures to spray on your popcorn ceiling in small smears. You then flatten everything out using a drywall knife. 

You can also opt for a slap brush texture which involves applying the surface using a paint roller and then going over the surface using a coat of ceiling paint. 

Ceiling Tiles

There is no argument that ceiling tiles provide one of the most affordable and straightforward options for covering up popcorn ceilings. Ceiling tiles offer the best alternative for covering your popcorn ceiling, especially if you don’t want to mess with texturing. 

There are several options that you can choose from here. You can either use a PVC grid or suspend metal to hand tiles. There is also an option of buying unique popcorn ceiling tiles that are screwed or glued right onto the ceiling. 

Wooden Ceiling Planks

There is no denying that the look of natural beauty offered by wooden ceilings is something that many people find exciting and attractive. Wooden ceiling planks (or groove and tongue paneling) present an affordable and stylish option for covering up the ceiling in your room and are also simple to install. 

Since the wooden ceiling planks are heavier than the options we have mentioned above, it will be better to screw the wooden ceiling planks right into the ceiling joints. If you would like to achieve added personalization, you can paint the wood. 

There are various wood options that you can choose from, ranging from the minimalism of the European design to the rustic-looking wood. 

As far as finding the perfect material to use for covering up your ceiling is concerned, you have a variety and easy install options that you can select. Within a short time, you transform your popcorn ceiling from old to one that looks beautiful, new, welcoming, and fresh. 

Therefore, the wooden ceiling plank option presents you with a chance to personalize your styles and transform your ceiling to match your style. 

Whether you decide to hang wooden planks or tiles or just paint and texture over your popcorn ceiling, these options afford you an opportunity of avoiding the mess that comes with completely removing the popcorn. 

Some Handy Tips

Covering up a popcorn ceiling is an exciting exercise, putting in mind that when finished, you’ll have a brand new ceiling to enjoy looking at each minute you walk into the room. However, there are several tips you should follow to get the best results and make everything easier. 

  • If you go with the paint option to cover the ceiling, you must do it perfectly to ensure that no flakes peel off the ceiling and make your floor messy. 
  • To avoid such a mess during painting, you should lay down drop cloths on your base so that they can catch any popcorn bits that could flake off during the painting and texturing process. 

It would be best if only painted in a single direction instead of rolling your paint back and forth. If you move the paint roller back and forth, you risk making the popcorn material lose. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Even with such new information relating to covering up your popcorn ceiling, you might still be having some questions. Here are some questions that could come up about popcorn ceilings and their perfect answers. Go through the question and answers to understand more about popcorn ceilings. 

How Do You Discover If Your Popcorn Textured Ceiling Is Painted?

You can determine whether your popcorn textured ceiling is on color or not is when you run your hand on the textured top, and it fails to flake off, then it’s appropriately painted. You can also apply some water to the chosen part of the popcorn ceiling using a sponge or sprayer. 

If the water soaks into the popcorn ceiling, it hasn’t been on paint. If the water beads up or doesn’t soak, the ceiling has been on color. 

How Do You Remove A Popcorn Ceiling Without Making A Mess?

The best way to remove a popcorn ceiling without making a mess is to spray it with hot water on it. This way, you can easily remove it and proceed to spray a tiny part of your ceiling with the water. Allow it to settle for about 20 minutes. You should not apply excess water on the popcorn coat to restrict the underlying drywall surface from getting damaged by water. 

How Hard Is It To Get Rid Of Popcorn Ceiling?

Getting rid of the popcorn ceiling is harder than it seems. It required more than scraping and painting to get the job done; also, it will take hours to finish. It also presents a big, sloppy lot that leaves you with many repairs to do afterward. Some people scrape the ceiling and skim coat it with a layer of joint compound. 

However, you can manage the process in a way that minimizes the mess. For instance, ensure that your valuables, such as furniture, are well covered. 

Is There A Tool To Remove Popcorn Ceiling?

If you have an ugly popcorn ceiling, one tool I can recommend you remove with a scraper. You can use a 6 to 10 inches drywall knife as a scraper. Doing this will offer you an exciting and attractive outcome.

What Can I Apply To Hide The Popcorn Ceiling?

You can apply fiber-board planks, including prepared ceiling planks, available specifically to solve this problem. All you need to do is to place the planks on the metal channels. The channels are positioned on old ceilings and screwed to ceiling beams

What Is The Most Affordable Option Available For Covering Popcorn Ceilings? 

The use of planks is one of the best and most affordable options for covering popcorn ceilings. The planks cost an average of $1 per square foot.

How Can I Remove Popcorn Ceilings Quickly?

Here are ways to remove your popcorn ceilings quickly and efficiently. 

  • You can mist your ceiling with a pump sprayer to get a dust-free and easy scraping. 
  • Leave the ceiling to soak for about 20 minutes before you proceed to scrap it off. 
  • You must keep the mist light to avoid risking water damage to the joint tape and drywall.

How Long Would You Take To Scrape Off The Popcorn Ceiling?

If you contact a professional to do the job, they might take about 20 hours to completely remove altogether and replace your 500 square feet ceiling entirely. 

Can I Paint Over Popcorn Ceiling?

You can paint over a popcorn ceiling with good quality paint and roller. You make sure you go from one path and then stop. It would help if you never rolled back and forth since it might make your popcorn ceiling peel after it becomes wet. Roll or spray the stained section with the same color that you use on the wall if you’re staining. 

Is It Safe To Cover Popcorn Ceilings?

It would be best to cover popcorn ceilings with lighter materials, including planks, paneling, and paint, since this is a safer method to do. You can consider using gypsum board paneling similar to drywall, although more accessible and more lightweight for the ceiling to support. 

Is It Better To Roll Or Spray Popcorn Ceiling Paint?

Your popcorn ceiling will break off if you don’t handle the painting process with care. If the ceiling has never been painted, spraying is the best solution. It’s also quicker to handle than rolling on the whole ceiling to remove wholly and altogether replace your 500 square feet ceiling. 


There is no hiding the fact that the popcorn ceiling looks outdated and even lowers the value of your home. When you want to improve the appearance of your ceiling without worrying about removing it, you should consider covering the texture up. 

However, you should ensure that you handle the task with care. If you don’t know how to go about it, you can call a professional to help you out.


Hubert Miles | Licensed Home Inspector, CMI, CPI

Hubert Miles is a licensed home inspector (RBI# 2556) with more than two decades of experience in inspection and construction. Since 2008, he has been serving South Carolina through his company, Patriot Home Inspections LLC. As a Certified Master Inspector, Hubert is dedicated to providing his expertise in home inspections, repairs, maintenance, and DIY projects.