There are two options for putting ceiling tiles onto a popcorn ceiling. The simplest option is to install polystyrene or Styrofoam tiles over the top of the existing popcorn ceiling.
Preparing for Styrofoam Tiles
If you are taking this approach, then you must be sure that the ceiling is both solid and stable. If the surface is not suitable, then the additional weight of the tile and adhesives may cause the popcorn to separate from the ceiling. If the surface is not smooth, then the Styrofoam tiles will form an uneven layer and poor finish.
If the surface is suitable, then clear the room and put down protective coverings over the floor. Remove any light fittings from the ceiling, and clean the popcorn ceiling to remove dust and dirt. Fill any significant cracks to make sure that the adhesive will stick well. Any flaking paint should be removed carefully so as not to damage the popcorn. The ceiling can be cleaned with a brush or vacuum cleaner to remove the dust and cobwebs, with any stains removed with a damp cloth.
Now that the ceiling is ready, the Styrofoam tiles can be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Installing a Drop Ceiling
A second option is to install a drop ceiling. The grid system for the drop ceiling can be installed straight onto the popcorn ceiling using the manufacturer’s instructions, saving time and money in preparation. As the popcorn ceiling is entirely hidden, no further preparation work is required.
Removing a Popcorn Ceiling
The final option is to remove the popcorn coating entirely, and replace with new tiles attached to the ceiling. This is a messy job, which should not be undertaken lightly! You will need a number of tools for this, such as:
- Putty knife
- Waterproof drop cloths
The first step is to determine how old the popcorn is. If it was installed prior to 1980, there is a chance that contains asbestos. Should this be the case, it is recommended that you seek professional assistance to test and / or remove the popcorn.
Assuming that it is safe to proceed, ensure that the room is wholly covered – both the floor and the walls. As the popcorn ceiling removal will use water, ensure that the floor covering is waterproof.
The first step to removal is to wet the ceiling using a sprayer to soften the popcorn texturing. Do not wet the whole ceiling at once, as you will be working smaller areas at a time. Do not use too much water, as this risks getting the drywall underneath wet, which may risk the integrity of the structure.
Once the water has been absorbed, work with the scraper to remove the popcorn coating. If there are any hard spots left, these can be softened with a wet cloth, and removed with a putty knife. The putty knife can also be used to clear awkward areas such as mouldings and corners.