Before and After: A $350 Project Expertly Disguises Popcorn Ceilings in a Builder-Grade Basement

published Oct 31, 2022
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Before: Office with windows
Credit: Hana Sethi

Popcorn ceilings were popular from the ’50s through ’80s, but these days, they’re one of the first things to go during a home renovation. However, removing popcorn texture from ceilings can be an expensive ordeal, especially if you hire someone for the job.

When Hana Sethi (Hana’s Happy Home) inquired about removing popcorn from each floor of her three-story home, she was quoted $3,000 CAD — per floor. “I never understood why the builders didn’t put the extra effort in to make a smooth ceiling,” she says of her home, which has a blend of old popcorn and flat ceiling. You can see the combo in the center of her basement, which she uses as an office, family hangout space, and a home gym.

Credit: Hana Sethi

Hana looked into removing the popcorn ceilings herself, but in addition to costing around $500, it’s also a super messy project that involves dampening the ceiling and then scraping the texture onto the floor. So instead, Hana remade her basement without removing any of the ceiling.

To mask the ceiling, Hana — with the help of her husband and nephew — used pre-painted white shiplap. They attached it using a nail gun and adhesive; Hana filled in the holes with a finishing kit. Total cost: about $350 (no messy scraping involved).

Credit: Hana Sethi

“Before you install the shiplap, it’s important that you know where your joists and studs are in order to ensure an even installation,” Hana writes on her blog.

Even though Hana marked out the joists on her ceiling ceiling, she still had trouble getting nails from the nail gun to go into the studs — likely because her joists are steel, she says. As a solution, she used construction adhesive and shot the nails at an angle so that they formed an “X” in the ceiling and held steady.

Credit: Hana Sethi

Another project hitch was cutting the shiplap to fit around the light fixture outlets. “I had to redo this several times as there isn’t much room for error,” Hana says. She used a miter saw and jigsaw to cut her shiplap and to cut quarter-round trim for around the shiplap. “I am most proud of the finishing touches,” Hana says. “The quarter round, caulk, and holes filled really makes it look professional.”

The other finishing touches in the space are a new light fixture, and new desk chairs — not to mention a good decluttering. (You can read about another project in the room, Hana’s cool textured door, here.)

Credit: Hana Sethi

Hana’s best takeaway from this room revamp? Covering up popcorn ceilings this way is a relatively mess-free, budget-friendly alternative, but it’s definitely a two-person job. Also, pre-painted shiplap is definitely the way to go. “Painting the ceiling would have killed my shoulders,” Hana says.

Credit: Hana Sethi

She’s proud of the way her project turned out. “I think this adds SO much character to the ceiling,” she says. “Lately, ceiling design has been trending, with making the ceiling the fifth wall in the room.” For more incredible homes that might inspire you to tackle a statement-making ceiling project, check out these 10 rooms.