Getting all up in your ceilings

Few things date your home more than the craggy, pockmarked facade of an acoustic – or popcorn – ceiling.

The spray-on technique for finishing ceilings was made popular in the 50s and fizzled out somewhere in the late 80s. Once the standard for bedroom and residential hallways, it was favourited for its ability to hide imperfections.

Earlier formulations contained asbestos, which we now know to be toxic; paper-based alternatives are used in some versions of the treatment today, although fewer builders and homebuyers are in favour of the look.

If you have a popcorn ceiling in your home today, and want to update the look, what are your options?

Scrape it clean

By far the most common removal method, it’s a cost-effective – albeit slow and messy process. But because of the possibility of asbestos, if your house is more than 20 years old, the material should be tested for lead and other toxins before attempting to remove it.

Install a new one

Using Drywall to cover over the existing facade might be another cost-effective option. You will need an extra set of hands to securely screw the drywall into the framing and be proficient plastering and taping for a seamless job. Also a tricky maneuver if you’ve got crown mouldings.

Go undercover

Instead of wrangling heavy sheets of drywall to create the illusion of a smoother ceiling (and losing a few inches of ceiling height in the process), transform your dated ceilings with decorative ceiling planks or tiles. From wood to metal options, decorative plaster or tin looks, most covers are affordable and easy to install.

Cause a distraction

Hang a large art piece or put up a mural to lead the eye away from your craggy ceilings. Or, better yet, paint your ceiling. Chances are that if you’ve never painted your popcorn ceilings, or don’t know if they’ve ever been painted, they’re dirtier than you think.

Light it up

Well, not exactly. Avoid flush-mount lighting that focuses the light upwards, and opt for flush or semi-flush mounts that direct the light away from the ceiling. And if you’re not able to change the lighting, swap out the hard light of incandescent or fluorescent bulbs for softer, diffused light or a lower wattage.


Thinking of renovating? Need advice on how to modernize your ceilings or any other aspect of your home? The Merenda team can help get your home’s look up-to-date and make it appealing to you – and to buyers. Call us today at 416-240-SOLD (7653).

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