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Popcorn Ceiling: The Bad and the Good of it and How to Fix the Issue With it?

by Marquette Turner Luxury Homes

in Features, Interior Design, Renovation, Variety

Popcorn ceilings were the 20thcentury’s phenomenon when almost every home showcased it. Their unique bumpy texture due to the use of Styrofoam or stucco materials makes them easily identifiable and lends them the name – popcorn. There was a time when these ceilings were everyone’s favorite. But unfortunately, nothing stays forever, and certain things are best to let go of some times. Why did homeowners choose this in the first place? Did it offer any benefit? Why did it lose its popularity? Here is a quick rundown on all the aspects of it for you to read. 

The era of popcorn ceilings

Also referred to as stucco ceilings, acoustic ceilings, or cottage cheese ceilings, popcorn ceilings became an instant hit in residential homes in the 1930s and 1990s. They displayed a distinctive textured look and feel speckled with a sponge, or sprinkled with a hopper gun containing a unique mixture. Bedrooms, entrance halls, and basements – it made its place almost everywhere in the house.

The stippled technique offered an affordable alternative to expensive ceiling paintings. The way the mixture was sprayed gave it popcorn like appearance, having resemblance with cottage cheese. Due to this, homeowner’s headache concerning how to hide imperfections also went away. Only using primer was sufficient. The textured helped cover all the flaws, such as cracks and holes, without the need for sanding them down. Families opted for it for its time and money saving characteristics.

But its popularity began to slide down in the US in the later part of the 70s due to the discovery of a binding material called asbestos in the ceiling mixture. Inhaling asbestos could lead to the risk of contracting cancer, and that’s why the US government banned it as per the Clean Air Act. Later, the use of Styrofoam increased in the popcorn ceilings to create the same speckled shapes. Although popcorn ceiling lost its glory, it is still present in many houses today.

The good side

Contributes to the overall appearance 

Popcorn ceilings can help you enhance the look of your home interiors if done carefully. With this, you can give your substrate a smooth and better feel compared to other options, and cover every imperfection beautifully, thanks to its coarse texture.

Although smooth ceilings give an urban touch to your home, these cannot hide the shadows of cobwebs or the mark of drywall touchups. Nevertheless, don’t bother much about this aspect as there are countless other options also to experiment.

Makes your home soundproof

The ability to absorb sound made them another must-have option in the houses, and they soon became popular as acoustic ceilings. The credit for this goes to its elevated bumps and more surface area that can control noise.

Having these ceilings in the home can feel more advantageous when the flooring has a high amount of traction, or when you have to eat midnight snacks. These ceilings can reduce the level of sound efficiently. For soundproofing, you can try with other alternatives also.

popcorn ceiling

The ugly part

Difficulty with cleaning and repairing work

In addition to having a cancerous material in its construction, these ceilings also pose cleaning and repairing challenges to homeowners. You need to do a lot of things to clean its surface area or cover cracks and holes that develop with time. The bumps get filled with spiders, cobwebs, dirt, and dust, and the surface can turn stained due to smoke. With the help of vacuum cleaner, you can remove the debris. But if you are not careful, you can end up destroying its raised part, eventually hampering the beauty of your home.

Loss of bumps or appearance of holes in the ceilings means you would have to repair it. Renovation work can both be difficult and time-consuming. You need to scrub all the bumps in the surrounding damaged area and sand it to get a smooth surface. After that only, you can proceed with other tasks, such as drywall plaster, sanding, and paint.

For painting, you would need a foam roller as a regular brush cannot work on this. Other than that, you can use some spray products also to get the popcorn pattern, but it might not prove very useful. Once lost, it’s challenging to get back the original texture. 

Additionally, water can also threaten the ceiling texture with peeling over time. Dampness would make the stipple heavy, as a result of which, it would begin to come apart. That’s why bathrooms, kitchens, and other such spaces which are prone to moisture cannot have these ceilings. They need a smooth surface instead.

How to deal with popcorn ceilings?

You can redo your popcorn ceiling by adopting either of the three methods – scraping, covering with a drywall layer, or skim coating it with plaster for acquiring new texture. Which technique would suit your purpose depends on the condition and age of your ceiling.


You need to use a utility knife or drywall knife to create a smooth surface by chipping away the bumps. After that, you would have to apply a thin coating of joint compound to remove imperfections and sand it down before using fresh paint on it.

Drywall layering:

You can buy a gypsum board suitable for ceiling work. This type of board tends to be lightweight, and you can fix it on to the existing popcorn ceiling with the help of screw, mud, and tape.

Skim coat:

A pre-popcorn era thing, skim coat is also a type of textured ceiling. For this, you first have to clean and prepare your existing ceiling with drywall mud and joint compound. Once done, you can then create a new design with a finishing mixture using a knife or trowel.

No matter which option you choose, you have to take care of many things, right from the condition of your ceilings to the presence of asbestos and many others. Proceeding without expert help can prove dangerous not just for your ceiling but your health too. So, instead of trying any of these things yourself, consider getting in touch with a professional company that specializes in popcorn ceiling replacement Manhattan. They can suggest the best solution for your ceilings as well as remodel it too for a cost-effective price.

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