Need help with popcorn ceiling pillowing on 18 inch joists

Our house has asbestos popcorn ceiling and it's pillowing between the joists. In the rooms (bathroom, kitchen, laundry room) with no popcorn ceiling, there is absolutely no pillowing. We'd like to encapsulate the popcorn ceiling, but we don't know if we should go with drywalling on top of the existing ceiling or putting in tongue and groove wood planks. The only thing we cannot do is remove the existing ceilings between cost and livability.
Would it be ok to drywall either a 1/2" or 5/8" on top of the existing drywall using furring strips? Or would the weight be too much?
Would it be better to just do tongue and groove wood planks over furring strips? We've seen on multiple DIY blogs, but would this cause moisture issues? We would be doing this for the living room and 2 bedrooms. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
  5 answers
  • Moisture should not be a problem unless you have moisture in the ceiling now from leaks. You can drywall over the ceiling but you need to make sure to screw the drywall in not nail it. You can go 1/2" or smaller if you can find it and make sure to place the drywall in the middle of the joists. No need for any furring strips and weight is not an issue as long as you screw into joists. Make sure to mark you ceiling joists to make life easier and buy a drywall bit that countersinks the screw. If you do not know how to finish drywall, you can watch a youtube video and at least tape the seams. You could also texturize the ceilings too. If you go with the planking, then be sure again to mark where the studs are so you can screw/nail into them. Planking can cost some money but an alternative would be to put up thin plywood to at least seal in the popcorn ceiling which you could actually cut in large pieces which you could stain. The pieces would be cut to reach from middle of one joist to the middle of another joist. If the room is odd shape, I would cut one large piece and place in the center of the room and then make the surrounding pieces almost equal in size. I know at Lowe's and Home depot there is 1/4" plywood that can be stained that will run about $15 a sheet. You could trim out the seams with some flat screen molding and voila a custom ceiling for not a lot of money. I hope this gets your creative juices flowing on solving your problem_good luck!
  • If between each joist the ceiling is dropping down simply rocking over it will not make that issue go away. You need to screw furring strips perhaps 5/4 x 3" on each joist and then rock on them. You can increase any insulation that may be above the ceiling by placing 3/4" foam insulating boards between each sheet if you like. In any case installing these boards will drop the new ceiling down enough so it will not bow because of the contact with the old ceiling. You should also investigate why the ceiling is bowing. This is normally caused by moisture. So be sure to address exhaust issues when installing the new ceiling. As far as light fixtures located in the ceiling. You can purchase extension rings that go on the existing boxes so the electrical is brought to the surface of the new finished ceiling. Drywall should be 1/2", Anything thicker would make this job very difficult if you have never drywalled before.
  • Pat Dollar Pat Dollar on Feb 21, 2014
    I would trust the answer given by @@Woodbridge Environmental They are very knowledgeable about issues such as yours. I dry-walled a ceiling by myself and at the age of 56 (female) by renting a lift that holds the drywall in place while you screw into the wood. The taping and texture was the most difficult part as it was hard on my back but the end result was quite good. Since you are already aware that your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos be sure to use extreme caution. I would wear a respirator during any installation and preferably utilize a contractor to do the work as they are certified in asbestos removal if you can afford the expense.
  • Mogie Mogie on Aug 19, 2023

    I would have someone look at this to see if there is a moisture problem and then tongue and groove over the popcorn ceiling.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Aug 19, 2023

    I would recommend covering it up, sealing away the problem area rather than messing with it and risking contamination. No one needs to be exposed to asbestos when it can be sealed off.