How to Change Popcorn Ceilings Without Scraping

Popcorn ceilings, once very popular in new houses, now make homes look dated and out of style. But many homeowners opt to replace their popcorn ceilings. While removing the popcorn finish can be messy and time-consuming, laying lightweight, glue-on ceiling tiles directly onto the popcorn finish can avoid the mess and time required to scrape off the popcorn. These type of ceiling tiles can also be used over other texture finishes as long as the finish is dry, hard and clean.

Corner wall with crown molding
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Step 1

Remove the furniture from the room where you will install the tiles. Make sure the floor is clear so that you can work on a ladder without any additional hazards surrounding you. Set up your work table in a convenient spot.

Step 2

Clean the ceiling in preparation for laying the tiles. Remove any light fixtures or ceiling fans, and take down any vent covers or smoke detectors. Make sure there are no paint flakes, dirt or greasy substances on the ceiling. Fill or patch any cracks. The tiles will not be part of the infrastructure, so make sure the ceiling does not sag or buckle.

Step 3

Begin laying the tile in the corner of the room that is most noticeable when you come into the room. Turn one tile upside down on the worktable and apply the adhesive in several spots with the paint scraper. Put adhesive near each corner of the tile and also in the center and let the adhesive stick up from the surface instead of smoothing it flat. You want it to flow into the ceiling texture when it is pressed down. If the ceiling is smooth you will not need as much adhesive as you would with a popcorn ceiling or other textured surface. Do not use too much adhesive or the lightweight tile will bow under the weight of it.

Step 4

Climb the ladder and press the tile into the corner, adhesive side toward the ceiling. Press down on each spot of adhesive to make the tile lay flat and to spread the adhesive onto the ceiling. Press firmly enough to make the tile lay flat but not too hard to damage it. Slide the tile around a little if necessary to make sure it fits well into the corner.

Step 5

Repeat Steps 3 and 4 in parallel rows, laying each tile next to the previous one and leaving no gaps between tiles.

Step 6

Make holes for light fixtures, vents and other ceiling features. Turn off the electricity to any wiring before laying the tile. Lay the entire tile over any holes in the ceiling where light fixtures or vents will be reinstalled. Remembering where the hole should be, cut out a corresponding hole in the tile you just laid with a utility knife.

Step 7

Cut the tile to size to fit next to each wall. When you reach the opposite wall in your row of tiles, it is likely you will have to cut the last tile in the row to make it fit. If you have to cut it, measure the gap from the last tile you laid to the wall. Then cut the next tile to the same size. Test that the size is correct by holding up on the ceiling to fit before applying adhesive and securing to the ceiling.

Step 8

Replace light fixtures, ceiling fans, smoke detectors or vent covers that you removed earlier once you have finished tiling the ceiling. Turn back on the electricity and you are finished. You can also now add crown molding to further enhance the look of the room.