Popcorn Ceiling Update

5 Materials
3 Hours

I have popcorn ceiling throughout my home. I have been wanting to update and decided to try wood planks. I wanted to try out in small space to perfect my skill, so I chose a small bathroom. Be careful to really check the boards when purchasing. You want the ones with the best look and grip.

Mark studs

Since I planned on nailing directly over ceiling, I marked the location of studs in ceiling. I trimmed the first board so that it would be a full board and then planned on staggering boards on even rows.

Additional rows

I started with the leftover piece from first cut and cut another board to needed length. I used finishing nails and nailed to studs I had marked earlier.

Continue adding boards

I continued adding boards and trimmed them to fit around ceiling vents and light fixture. I used a miter saw to make the cuts.

Finish nailing board

I was expecting that I may need to trim the width of the last board but it actually fit perfectly. It may be necessary to trim the last board before hanging.


Next I added trim. I chose a simple l-shaped trim that would add support to boards on ceiling.

Whitewash boards

I wanted white boards but wanted to allow wood grain to show through. I used white interior latex paint and watered it down to achieve a whitewash look.

Add paint as needed

It took 3 coats to get the look I wanted.


I am pleased with how it turned out. It was not difficult and now I will use this and maybe a few other techniques to do the rest of my ceilings.

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Leslie
    on Jun 4, 2020

    Hi Michael, This is a great idea, thank you for sharing it. I have a narrow hallway I might do this too. I was wondering if a nail gun would work or even construction adhesive that has a quick grip to it. Did you think to use these alternative attachment methods and if you decided not to may I ask why? Thank you for taking the time to answer.

    • Evie
      on Jul 19, 2020

      Keep in mind that dark boards in a ceiling will make a room dark, even with good lighting. In any room especially a small one the lighter the wood the less claustrophobia will take over!!

  • CJ Mac
    on Jun 4, 2020

    If you live in SW Florida and termites are often showing up, is it possible that they will munch on the boards??

    • Robyn Garner
      on Jun 6, 2020

      I had a damaged small bathroom ceiling that needed to be repaired. I used beadboard because the width worked in the small room. This was easy to do because I merely had to cut the large piece to the proper width, adding to it from the first section. You may want to consider using beadboard also because you will have far fewer cuts to make. Also, because this was done using large sheets (started with 4'x8' sheet) I was able to put it up using screws into the studs. I left it the stained wood color I purchased, I merely painted the screw heads with nail polish that matched the wood stain. Another plus to doing it this way is that it's easily removed in the future should you decide to re-drywall.

      Definitely use an exhaust fan!!! But, this method keeps most of the moisture from being able to get behind the wood. If you're concerned, you can caulk around the edges of the room.

  • Merri
    on Jun 5, 2020

    does This work well in a steamy bathroom? What do you suggest to seal the wood?

    • Pmono7690
      on Jun 25, 2020

      We use a plastic bead board we found in Home Depot for a bath area. No moisture problems with it.

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