How To Cover A Popcorn Ceiling Without Removing It

Discover some easy ways to cover a dated popcorn ceiling without the mess of scraping it off. Learn about various options to transform your space with minimal fuss, including installing paneling, putting up fabric, or using ceiling tiles.

how to cover popcorn ceilings

It seems that a lot of houses these days (my builder-grade home included) come with popcorn ceilings installed in pretty much every room.

I really hate popcorn ceilings!!

But trying to remove them is a messy job. And it doesn’t always give you the results you were hoping for.  

Friends of mine removed the popcorn from their ceilings only to find out that the drywall underneath was all wavy. I guess the installers figured they didn’t need to do a good job since it was going to get “popcorn-ed” anyhow.

So I have come to the conclusion that covering the ceiling is the route to go!

Keep reading to find out how to cover a popcorn ceiling without removing it. Hopefully at least one of them will help you hide your ugly ceiling, too.

1 | Plank The Ceiling

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Master bedroom with planked ceiling via
Master bedroom with planked ceiling via

Cindy at completely transformed this master bedroom by installing wood planks right over the top of the popcorn ceiling.

The wood looks beautiful and you would never be able to tell that underneath it all is some ugly popcorn.

If you want to see the step-by-step instructions on how to do this, click HERE.

2 | Put Up Faux Tin Ceiling Tiles

Ceiling tiles painted to look like tin

Faux-tin ceiling tiles* are one of my favorite ways to cover up popcorn ceilings.

They come with the patterns already embossed on them and are super-light.

Faux tin ceiling tiles being installed over popcorn ceiling

Which means they are super-easy to install.

All you have to do is paint them (any color you want!) and glue them up there.

Den with faux tin ceiling tiles covering a popcorn ceiling

I’ve covered the ceilings in more than one room in my house with these and I love the way they look.

Not to mention that you can have the whole project done in less than a day. Bye-bye popcorn!

Click here to get the step-by-step instructions on how to install faux tin ceiling tiles.

3 | Cover The Popcorn With Fabric

Ceiling covered with fabric via
Ceiling covered with fabric via

Covering a ceiling with fabric is another DIY project that isn’t too hard to install, but does take a fair amount of fabric. Here are the high level steps to accomplish this look:

1. Sew panels of fabric together that make up the length and width of the room plus some extra (depending on how far down you want it to swag).

2. Sew curtain rod pockets around the 4 outside edges of the panel (just like the tops of curtains would have).

Fabric on the ceiling installed around a chandelier ©kyrychukvitaliy -
©kyrychukvitaliy –

3. If you are installing over a light fixture like this room, you will need to cut a hole in the center of the fabric (and hem it) so that it can be installed around the light fixture.

Using a ceiling medallion around the light fixture will help cover the edges.

If you are not installing over a light fixture, the hole isn’t necessary, but you will probably still want some sort of medallion that will anchor the fabric in the middle of the room.

A girl's room with fabric ceiling via
Fabric ceiling via (post no longer available)

4. Install curtain rod brackets from the ceiling at the tops of each of the walls.

5. Push the fabric pockets over the curtain rods.

6. Install the curtain rods on the brackets.

7. Lift the fabric in the middle of the room and anchor it to the ceiling with your light fixture or medallion, making sure the fabric is centered in the room.

Note that this method does not work well with ceiling fans.

4 | Install Barn Board and Faux Wood Beams

Kitchen with barn board and faux beams via
Kitchen with barn board and faux beams via

If you like a more rustic look, try installing a barn board ceiling with DIY faux wood beams like Jenna from did in her kitchen.

She has a great step-by-step tutorial that will show you exactly how to create this look…click here if you want to learn how.

5 | Paint A Pattern On The Ceiling

Popcorn ceiling with a gingham pattern painted on it

The next option for covering a popcorn ceiling is to paint a pattern on it.

This doesn’t actually make the popcorn disappear, but it does provide a distraction. You are so busy admiring the beautiful pattern that you don’t notice the popcorn.

It’s also the least labor intensive and cheapest way to cover textured ceilings.

I have painted the ceilings this way in a couple of the rooms in my house, like the gingham ceiling in my master bathroom above.

Stripes painted on a bonus room popcorn ceiling

This stripe and leaf pattern was another one.

Just make sure to use a flat paint, since any kind of gloss will just make those bumps stand out even more.

6 | Apply skim coating

If you feel comfortable using joint compound, you can apply a skim coat over the popcorn with a wide drywall knife.

Try to put it on as smooth as possible, then sand off any raised bits.

Watch the video above for the step-by-step process.

7 | Cover with drywall

Covering a popcorn ceiling with drywall is the last option on our list.

It brings the ceiling down by a little bit but completely covers the ugliness.

It’s also a process that requires experience to do it properly so it’s best to hire a professional to do this job.

Well, those are my ways to cover a popcorn ceiling.  

Hopefully, you have found some inspiration to get rid of your own popcorn ceiling the easy way.

Other ceiling decor ideas you might like

Or browse all of our DIY ceiling decorating ideas.

Have comments, questions or other suggestions on how to cover popcorn ceilings? Tell us in the section below.

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5 easy ways to cover your ugly popcorn ceilings

This post was originally published on December 31, 2015 but was updated with new content on June 20, 2023.

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  1. Prior to moving in, I dry scraped the popcorn ceilings with a 4-6” metal blade trowel. It left a slight texture on the ceiling that is rather appealing. This i can live with!

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Thanks for the suggestion, Kathy! It sounds better than leaving the popcorn for sure 🙂

  2. I love the ideas, I have pop corn ceiling and wanted to get ideas and i can upon this and so happy, planks and the tiles sounds wonderful. And I just came across about the nail glue, I heard once its in, you can’t take it out.

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Thanks, Jeannie! I haven’t tried to remove nail glue so I can’t say how hard it is to do. But I’m guessing it would probably require some sanding & patching 🙂

  3. Can you tell me what glue to use and a link to purchase it? Thanks!

  4. Since your tiles have been up for a while, are they still in tack?

    1. Hi Marie…yes, the tiles are still up there…no issues with any coming loose or falling off. They look just the same as the day we installed them 🙂

    1. Thanks, Nancy! I love that plank ceiling, too…now, I just have to find a room to do it in 🙂