Ceiling tile OVER popcorn ceiling? Anyone tried this?

williamsemMay 24, 2012

We are remodeling our kitchen and removing soffits and a short wall. Our ceiling is a popcorn texture, so there will be a gap where the wall is, and also new ceiling will need to be added where the soffits are as there is currently no ceiling in the soffits.

Rather than remove all the texture in the kitchen, hall, and 1/2 bath, I am considering tiling over the popcorn. It is not a heavy texture, and it is pretty stable. I'd like to scrap off the high peaks with a quick pass, then use nail up ceiling tiles over the whole thing. There are plenty of glue up options for this, but to me that does not seem like a good idea. Wouldn't the glue loosen the popcorn?

This house was built in 1988 so I am not concerned about asbestos.

Has anyone tiled over their popcorn ceiling? Would you do it again? Pics?

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Nail up tiles normally require a grid of wood to nail into.

If you can put up the grid flat you could tile over the ceiling.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 1:06PM
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Fori is not pleased

What about thin drywall?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 3:17PM
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Hmmm, it might be hard to get a grid to nail to, how thick does the wood need to be? It might be feasible to just focus on removing the popcorn where the wood needs to go. I'm guessing it doesn't have to perfectly flat, like it would to be painted, just reasonably flat?

Would it be crazy to take the ceiling down (already missing under the soffits) and use a drop ceiling grid system? Sounds a bit out there, is that something I would probably regret?

I just need an easy way to make it look nice without having to make the new areas match the popcorn. I hate how it collects grease and gets dirty near the stove. Not really something you can clean!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 9:31PM
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Hands down, the easiest solution is to just install new drywall on top of the old after knocking off the high points of the texture.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 7:46AM
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"Hands down, the easiest solution is to just install new drywall on top of the old after knocking off the high points of the texture."

A lot depends on how thick the texture is.

Pulling down sheets of drywall is not all that hard (unless someone also used mastic to attach to the joists).

If you pull down reasonable size pieces they can be handled by a single person.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 10:43AM
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I'm not familiar with ceiling work, and I'm open to simple finishes. Would it be less expensive to just remove the ceiling and replace with new drywall? The soffit areas will already need a ceiling built.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 1:08PM
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Hey there -- I'm not a ceiling person but I have tackled stucco and popcorn ceilings two different ways.

#1: The drop ceiling grid (as people have mentioned and you mentioned) is relatively easy, affordable and not messy. You will loose anywhere from an inch to two inches for the drop grid and of course you have to buy the framing and tiles you want. I've done one ceiling with black frames and high-end marbled acoustic tiles (also including lighting) and I've done a huge basement with silver framing and tin tiles -- both fabulous.

#2: Cheapest and quickest way to cover popcorn is paint, paint and more paint. I would use a large nappy roller and lather it on, two heavy coats and maybe a third. The popcorn effect will diminish with each coat.

New drywall is the absolute best and most comprehensive fix. I would investigate, however, why the popcorn finish was used in the first place (very important). Often this technique is used on uneven surfaces, really large areas, commercial use areas, track subdivisions, etc.

I'd advise you against knocking off the points with either scraping or sanding. You will experience chips and clumps falling down. Popcorn finishes have a composite mixed in with the paint for adhesion to its primary surface (either vermiculite or polystyrene). Once you start the chipping or sanding you will have to go down to the bare, bare surface and then patch, paint anyway. Going completely over what is in place now with a drop ceiling or paint -- or pulling the primary surface down and dry-walling is they way to go. Even nailing into that textured surface or trying to "glue" something to it will cause the cracking, chipping, clumping and it will not be secure.

My two cents -- good luck.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 8:29AM
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PinesEverywhere again -- another technique that is cheap, easy and unique.

Get several tubs of wall compound and apply to the ceiling with a trowel in a 6x6 Ft area. Apply it as if you were icing a cake leaving spaces for final blending. Use a damp (not soaking) brush or roller for the blending and finish swirling. I use several different brushes like a wallpaper smoothing brush, a heavy brick painting brush and then a fine smooth finish brush. Blend in any random pattern you wish ... sweeping arching strokes, criss-crosses, half-moons, swirls, anything. Make sure you leave very thin (down to the popcorn original level) at the edge of each 6x6 block so you can start your next patch smoothly without having a 'lip' to contend with.

I'm recommending the 6x6 area as it is a nice reach area for one person to work -- this patch can be expanded if you have a helper. Repeat process for entire ceiling area and go over it at patch edges with your damp brush/es so it all looks blended -- again like icing a cake. Your popcorn will be gone and replaced with a pattern of your choice and it will add dimension and height to the room. Let dry for about 3 days and you can even modify the pattern (within one day) by adding more damp brush or roller applications.

Paint all one color, or do a light color as a base and swish a similar but darker tone w/glaze on top. The varied surface will absorb the color different and you'll get a fresco look -- if that is what you might like.

Offering this up as an affordable and fun alternative, however, it still leaves you with a "textured ceiling".

That's it -- no more ideas!! LOL.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 8:57AM
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Thanks, PinesEverywhere. I appreciate the insight.

I'm almost certain the popcorn was put up when the house was built in 1988. It's in a cookie cutter housing development, so I think it was mostly a convenience issue to be able to quickly finish the ceilings.

My biggest concern is not so much the texture, though I don't think it's ideal over the range, but more that the remodel wll remove soffits that have no existing ceiling inside and also include removing some tiny bits of wall that will also need the ceiling addressed.

I could live with a ceiling 1-2 inches lower, even with only 8 feet to start. Looks like drop ceiling or remove and replace might be the two best options. Will have to discuss with the GC when I am ready for a discussion and quote. I just like to start off knowing what my options are so they can be explored.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 2:55PM
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You are very welcome and envisioning the end design is key. You sound like a good planner. You can always keep the old soffit area completely different if it will look like a surround of sorts -- but if it will look like .. "oh there was a soffit there before" maybe not a good idea. LOL.

Good luck -- get lots of quotes for your different design options and contractors have some great ideas too -- heck, they look at ceiling all day long!!

Good luck -- let us know later how you did -- it will be great!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 4:51AM
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I am in the middle of this project and am really liking the texture left behind after I scrape the "hills and valleys" off. Is there any reason NOT to proceed in this fashion? I am planning on finishing by painting with a flat latex ceiling paint.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 3:12PM
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Sorry, never saw that someone posted a question on this thread again with a similar questions. I'd say if you like it leave it!!

I'd go over the scraped finish with a heavy nappy roller first (flat or any sheen latex) with a thick coat to let the paint really seal your scrapings. Some additional clumps may come off on the roller so you may have to change it often Second coat with a finer roller and you should have a nice finish on top of your texture.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 6:16AM
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Thank you for the reply, Pines! We finished scraping over the weekend and got the first coat of paint on. Happy with the results! Was a good choice for us to get the popcorn off, but leaving a little texture to hide a few imperfections. Saved money and time by not having to go back up with more compound and not having to scrape it clean.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 1:04PM
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