Popcorn Ceilings Looking Tired? 7 Budget Tricks to Make it Look Brand New

Outdated popcorn ceilings can make a room feel stuck in the past. While removing the bumpy texture requires significant time and money, there are easy tricks to give your popcorn ceiling a fresh, modern look without breaking the bank.

With some strategic paint colors, new lighting, or decorative add-ons, you can transform your ceiling on a budget. Read on for seven affordable ways to make your tired popcorn ceiling look brand new again.

Give Your Popcorn Ceiling a Fresh Coat of Paint

One of the easiest and most affordable ways to update a popcorn ceiling is to simply paint it. Choosing a neutral, modern color palette can instantly give the space a more contemporary vibe. Stay away from dingy whites or beiges, and instead opt for warm grays, taupes, or even a bright white if it complements your wall color.

When selecting a paint finish, lean towards matte or eggshell, which will help disguise any imperfections in the bumpy texture. You can also consider adding an accent wall in a bold, complementary color, or painting a ceiling medallion for some extra pop.

Pro Painting Tips

  • Use a high quality primer first
  • Apply paint with a roller using “W” strokes
  • Consider hiring a painter if ceiling is vaulted or tricky to access

Install New Lighting for a Focal Point

Strategically placed lighting can draw the eye upwards and create a dramatic focal point that distracts from an unsightly popcorn ceiling. Consider hanging a glamorous chandelier or modern pendant lights over a dining table or seating area. Adding recessed lighting across the ceiling also illuminates and defines the space.

how to make popcorn ceiling look good

Swap out outdated fluorescent box fixtures for sleek, contemporary options to complement your updated ceiling. The light cast from new fixtures can make the entire room feel more fresh and current.

Lighting Ideas

  • Pendant lights over an island or dining table
  • Recessed lighting – spotlights, can lights, strips
  • Sconces flanking a bed or artwork

Apply a Skim Coat for a Smoother Finish

Skim coating involves applying a thin layer of joint compound over an existing popcorn ceiling to smooth out the bumps and create a flatter surface. While not completely removing the texture, skim coating can provide a more modern, streamlined appearance and help disguise an outdated ceiling.

This affordable solution levels out the bumps and also allows you to maintain the acoustical properties of a popcorn ceiling. Just make sure to repair any ceiling cracks beforehand for the best results.

Cover Popcorn Ceiling with Decorative Tiles

If your goal is to hide the dated popcorn texture rather than removing it, decorative ceiling tiles offer an easy update. These tiles come in a variety of materials like tin, aluminum, wood, plastic and more. Opt for metal tiles for an industrial vibe or wooden tiles for a warmer, rustic aesthetic.

Beyond material, consider opting for an ornate, geometric tile pattern to really transform the look and feel of your ceiling. Measure carefully and check for level to ensure straight installation. In one weekend, you can cover up an outdated popcorn ceiling with a beautiful new surface.

Tile Patterns and Designs


Draw the Eye Downward with Bold Wallpaper

Bring attention down from the ceiling by adding bold, eye-catching wallpaper to your accent walls. Choose a floral, abstract, or graphic print in contrasting colors to complement the subtle texture of your popcorn ceiling. This creates an obvious focal point and draws the eye down the walls rather than up towards an unappealing ceiling.

Modern peel-and-stick wallpaper makes installation easy. For maximum effect, opt for the largest patterns or prints that your space can accommodate to really overwhelm the ceiling texture.

Install Crown Molding for Added Dimension

Crown molding installed where the wall meets the ceiling adds architectural detail while also helping disguise the transition from wall to popcorn texture. The shadow and depth created softens the bumpy popcorn effect and adds a touch of elegance.

For best results, choose a wide crown molding or dental molding with plenty of detail. Make mitered corners seamless for a polished finish. Paint the trim a crisp bright white to really define the ceiling line and draw the eye.

Add Architectural Details Like Beams

Installing faux wood beams offers visual intrigue while also breaking up the expanse of a flat, tired popcorn ceiling. Beams draw the eye to new focal points across the ceiling away from any flaws in the texture. The wooden elements add warmth and dimension, and can be purchased in kits for easy DIY installation.

Beyond wood, you can also find affordable, lightweight foam options. Make sure beams are level and properly supported prior to installation. This is an impactful upgrade that doesn’t require any removal of the existing popcorn texture.

Don’t let an outdated popcorn ceiling make your home feel stuck in the past. With strategic upgrades like modern paint colors, new lighting fixtures, or decorative add-ons, you can easily transform a tired popcorn ceiling on a budget.

Using these affordable tricks, you can give new life to a popcorn ceiling without taking on the intensive project of completely removing the texture. A few easy upgrades can make a dramatic difference and leave your ceiling looking brand new.

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