Not crazy about the popcorn

Ever since first glimpsing what has become our cozy crooked cottage, there was one thing about it that bothered me. When deciding whether or not to buy this house, my Pro/Con list looked something like this:


  • 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths!
  • Nearly 1 acre of yard!
  • New windows!
  • Updated flooring!
  • All appliances included!


  • …Popcorn ceiling.

One Con versus all the Pros isn’t bad at all, so we bought the house! But even in my staged photos after decorating, you can still tell that it’s THERE, yuck. I’ve thoroughly researched popcorn ceiling removal and have come up with a few options, but I can’t make up my mind! Here are my ideas:

1. Remove the popcorn ceiling.

(from here)

(from here)

Bloggers invariably agree, removing it yourself is the easiest, cheapest way to go. Popcorn ceiling is made out of a kind of shredded, crumbled cardboard. To remove, you just spray it down with water and then scrape it off. Seems simple enough, right? Some issues arise with this method. Houses built before 1978 potentially have asbestos in the “popcorn” bits. You’re supposed to scrape off a sample of the texture and send it away to an asbestos testing company for answers before beginning the project. If there’s no asbestos, green light! If they find asbestos, red light, and it will cost $$$ to have the texture professionally removed by guys in Hazmat suits. When I heard this (our house was built in 1970) I began viewing our potentially cancer-laden ceilings with fear… neeer ner ner ner, ner ner, ner ner CAN’T TOUCH THIS!


  • The ceiling would have its smooth, pre-popcorn drywall texture.
  • I could prime & paint the ceiling easily after the popcorn removal.


  • Potential asbestos exposure.
  • Our popcorn ceiling has been previously painted over in glossy white paint. This makes the whole “get it wet and scrape it off” thing more difficult- the water can’t soak in past the paint.
  • The ENTIRE HOUSE has popcorn ceilings. This would be a project of epic proportions!

2. Cover the popcorn ceiling with bead board sheets.

(from here)

(from here)

Lowes sells 4′ x 8′ bead board sheets for about $20 a pop, and it would be easy enough to use  a combo of liquid nails & regular nails to stick these up over top of the popcorn ceiling.


  • The bead board would feel appropriately cottage-y.
  • No potential asbestos exposure.


  • We’d find out pretty fast if our home is square or not! And I’m betting not.
  • I couldn’t do this by myself- lots of fancy saw-work for Mark, and it’s so hard to pin him down to a project these days.
  • Expense- it would take probably 8 sheets to cover just the kitchen/living room, plus crown molding to make the edges seamless- you do the math.

3. Cover the popcorn ceiling with pallet wood.

(from here, tutorial included)

(from here)

(from here. I would probably whitewash the pallet wood if I went with that option- more beachy)

I’ve seen several variations on a DIY-theme regarding old pallet wood. I’ve seen it used for accent walls, headboards, coffee tables, and now ceilings!


  • No potential asbestos exposure.
  • The wood would (haha) create an awesome rustic feeling.
  • It’s green! We’d be reusing materials that would otherwise be thrown away.
  • I could do the labor-intensive steps by myself, no man required=)


  • It’s labor intensive.
  • We’d lose a good inch off our already low (7’4″) ceilings.
  • We can find the pallets for free, but would still need to purchase crown molding & corners.

4. Rip out the popcorn-covered drywall altogether, exposing attic beams.

(both pics from here)

What would you say if I told you that the ceiling height in the two pictures above is an even 7′? It looks so much higher than that! It’s a fabulously rustic look that would be perfect for the great room in our cozy little cottage.


  • Instant character!
  • Ceiling feels higher.
  • It would be basically free- nothing being added, just taken out.


  • It could look like crap under my drywall ceiling, I honestly have no idea.
  • I wouldn’t be able to do this by myself! I would definitely would need to call in help for this idea.
  • We would have to re-think the ceiling light fixtures- everything is exposed.

…See what I mean? They’re all good ideas, I just can’t decide what is BEST. Most likely (after I make up my mind) I’ll do the kitchen/living room first, to see how everything goes. We spend the majority of our time indoors in that “living area”- so updating the ceiling of one room will have a huge impact on the entire house.

Do you have any input for me on this project? Let me know which idea is your favorite!



12 thoughts on “Not crazy about the popcorn

  1. I love your post! I have one room that has a popcorn ceiling. I don’t think I hate it QUITE as much as you seem to, but I wouldn’t be upset if it magically went away over night. Thanks for the ideas, I never even thought of pallet wood!

    • Haha! “I wouldn’t be upset if it magically went away over night” Where are fairies when you need them?? You’re welcome to the ideas, I’m leaning towards #4, but that’s because I sometimes fantasize about ripping the popcorn ceiling down with my bare hands… I’m in favor of a violent end! =P

  2. Deal with the asbestos question first if you haven’t heard back yet as that will open up your options quite nicely. Asbestos? That will have to be removed so the removal will be done for you. =)

  3. My 2 cents: I am utterly in love with the pallets turned ceiling. If you remove the drywall to expose the beams (also, an awesome look) you will still have/need to do the whole asbestos testing thing. You don’t want to run the risk of letting those little bits of dust from the popcorn ceiling removable get into your lungs, so while there is little to no expense in removing the drywall, the cost of the testing and possibly having it removed by hazmat suit wearing dudes would be pricey. You may want to check and see what the laws are regarding asbestos in your state. We had to do a lot of research when we last moved having moved into an old building ourselves. Best of luck! *crosses fingers and hopes you go for the too fantastic for words pallet ceilings*

    • I’ve played detective since putting up my post about the popcorn ceiling…and I don’t think it IS asbestos. We might have been spared the blight! I discovered a type of swirled plaster application that is a dead-ringer for what is in most of our house- plaster, not asbestos. The living room & studio have a different ceiling texture altogether, but it appears to be troweled on, not sprayed like asbestos-filled popcorn is.

      Funny story- I showed my mom the pics of ceiling ideas, and she thought the pallet wood one was hideous. Which is weird, because I love it! It would just be a LOT. of work. Right now I’m leaning towards the “remove drywall and expose beams above” option, most likely because I love demo-ing=P I’ll keep you updated!

      • So glad to hear it’s most likely not that icky stuff. Good for you, doing your homework! *gold star* I think it will look awesome with the exposed beems. And then I won’t feel so bad for coping you because I must have those pallets for me ceiling. I don’t even want to think of how much work it will be though. Oh…maybe, I will use old wine crates in place of the pallets. I would feel less like I am stealing your ideas and it would look really cool too I bet.

  4. I can tell you right now working with pallet wood is VERY labor intensive. Luckily, I my square footage was small. Also consider this about attaching wood to the ceiling, do you like paint with your arms up over your head? [I think anyone who has ever painted a ceiling will tell you it sucks! lol] So now just imagine carrying and hammering all those boards above your head. Just a thought. 🙂

    Butttt, I wish you the best of luck!!! It will be rewarding which ever way you go, and I think that is what makes DIY projects the BEST!

    • Nancy- Yeah, reviewing my post I have to say that I will probably not be using pallet wood! Maybe as a feature wall at some point, but not on the ceiling. Wouldn’t it just look AWESOME though?? Sigh.

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  6. Pingback: Pallet Ceiling Ideas for your Home | Pallets Furniture Designs

  7. looking at a cottage and have the same issue….I am leaning towards beadboard. Although, in our case the cottage is only 700 sq ft and very do able and keeping it white will not make it seem any smaller than it is! My vote for you is the bead board! But who says ALL your ceilings in every room have to be the same? Try out the pallet in one room and decide from there!

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