The Easiest Way to Cover a Popcorn Ceiling

Nothing dates a room quite like a popcorn ceiling. Scraping the popcorn off the ceiling is a reasonably easy DIY project. The problems are it’s messy and you still have to deal with smoothing out any imperfections before you can paint. You also have to be extra cautious if the ceilings were popcorned before 1979 because of the risk of asbestos. 

For the dormer bedroom redesign, we decided to cover up the popcorn with planks. This would resemble shiplap and be the easiest option with the most spectacular result.

First, let’s take a look back at my last post’s inspiration photo for the ceiling. If the ceiling of this room was not planked, the room still would’ve been beautiful but not nearly as interesting. The angles of the ceiling are highlighted by the horizontal lines of the planks. The semi-gloss white paint reflects light, therefore brightening the room. 

Plus, the planks turn up the coziness factor by at least 75%, don’t you agree?

The pictures below show how the room looked before. The flat part of the ceiling was covered in popcorn. We also budgeted to cover the sloping wall in the picture on the right. By the way, that’s my dad. He came with me when I viewed the house for the first time. 

before covering the popcorn ceilings with shiplapSupplies needed to cover up a popcorn ceiling with wood planks:

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These are the reversible v-groove planks you’ll pick up Lowes. We used the flat side. Each pack covers 14 square feet so we ended up buying 12 packs. 

Reversible wood planking from Lowes. Item # 763120

We used a stud finder to locate the rafters and marked their location. Once we cut down the planks, we nailed them into the rafters and a 1/2″ away from the walls. When you cut the planks, leave a 1/4″ gap on each side for expansion. 


Use the jig saw to cut out the holes for the light fixtures and vents. 

how to cover popcorn ceilings with planks


Once we got to the larger sloped wall, we staggered the planks. 

How to cover up a popcorn ceiling

My youngest, Mason, dreamed of this being his room one day. Yeah, me too, kid. 🙂

planked-or-shiplapped-ceiling-tutorialAfter filling the nail holes with wood filler and giving the ceiling a light sanding, the planks were ready for a coat of primer and a couple coats of semi-gloss latex. I used a paint sprayer to save time and to get the smoothest finish possible. The paint I used was Sherwin Williams Alabaster in semi-gloss. 


Here’s a sneak peek of the built-in bed and drawers we added. I’ll share details of the built-ins soon!

Shiplap ceiling tutorial

Painting tip: If you have any knots that show through the paint, seal them with a shellac primer such as Zinsser 00908 B-I-N Primer Sealer. It prevents the resin from the knots from bleeding through. 

We then nailed in strips of 1/2″ thick plywood that was cut into 1-1/2″ wide strips around the perimeter of the ceiling. The edges of the plywood were sanded and then given a thin coat of caulk before primer and paint. 

Trust me, it gets messier before it gets prettier.

shiplap or planked ceiling tutorial

Much better, right?

Before and progress picture of planked or shiplap ceiling

All’s that’s left are details on the built-ins and the rustic planked wall behind the bed. Then, we’ll be ready to show you the reveal for the rustic, industrial dormer bedroom! 

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  1. […] The next part of the room remodel was  to add extra coziness to the back wall. To add texture and the rustic look on the back wall, I used various stains on a few packs of the same planks we used when we covered the popcorn ceiling.  […]

  2. […] Covering the popcorn ceilings with white planking adds to that farmhouse charm. […]

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