The Easiest (and Cheapest) Way to Transform a Popcorn Ceiling: A Farmhouse Style Planked Ceiling Tutorial

If you’re home is plagued with unsightly popcorn ceilings, this one’s for you!

Easy and Inexpensive way to cover popcorn ceilings: A farmhouse style planked ceiling tutorial.
The way I see it, you’ve got three options – you could choose to take on the tedious and messy job of scraping away all of that awful popcorn, or worse yet, you could choose to do nothing and just live with it (but really, who wants to do that?).

Or, you could cover them with some lovely farmhouse character all in an afternoon’s work!

Obviously, I went with option three! And friends, I’m not sure I’ve ever loved a ceiling more!

I was so head over heels in love, I couldn’t help but share some sneak peeks on Instagram:

Here’s the thing…

I’ve been just itching to try planking our popcorn ceilings for a while now. I’ve actually come across quite a few tutorials about planking over popcorn ceilings in my “research”, but not one of them showed me how to do it on a budget. Each and every tutorial I found showed a DIY tutorial using tongue and groove planks and, though they looked gorgeous, I knew from experience that that would be a pretty expensive option to go with (see our tongue and groove plank wall here). How could I justify spending hundreds (many hundreds) of dollars on a ceiling? Especially one in our farmhouse master bedroom or upstairs hallway that just doesn’t see many visitors except us.

I’ve seen (and pinned) a ton of brilliant plank wall tutorials using less expensive products such as underlayment or hardboard cut into strips and, I’ll tell ya, it didn’t take me long to connect those dots to try this with my ceiling.

Turns out creating a planked ceiling with hardboard isn’t as straightforward as it might have been on a wall (made clear by our falling ceilings), but friends, in the end we managed to find a way to create our own, inexpensive and easy version of the DIY planked ceiling – effectively getting rid of that awful popcorn once and for all, not to mention adding a ton of farmhouse character! Dreams really do come true!

Alright, enough talk … let’s get to the good stuff!

A Farmhouse Style Planked Ceiling Tutorial

Step one: Gather a pile of planks. We picked up six sheets of underlayment like this at our local Home Depot and had them cut each one into 8″ strips (the last one on each sheet was just 7″ wide, which actually came in quite handy for our space). Usually they charge a few bucks extra for this, but I guess this was our lucky day as we scored all those cuts for free (another win for the budget)!

Step two: Hang your first plank. After using a level to ensure this first plank was nice and straight, we used an air stapler to attach the plank to our ceiling. This my friends is the most important part … nails don’t work (see aforementioned falling ceiling planks). In order for the planks to actually stay on the ceiling, you’ll need to shoot a few staples into them. HUGE thanks to my gal Ashley at Bigger than the Three of Us for that brilliant tip!

DIY Planked Ceiling |

Step three: Cover the rest of your ceiling. Get rid of all of that popcorn by covering every inch of it with planks. You’ll need to make a few cuts as you go to ensure a proper fit all around and of course, staggering your boards.

DIY Planked Ceiling |

DIY Planked Ceiling |

DIY Planked Ceiling |

DIY Planked Ceiling |

We also used a jig saw to cut out any holes for our lighting.

DIY Planked Ceiling |
Obviously, this was a two person job – one to hold the far end while the other staples, but it all went up pretty quickly actually.

Step four: Clean up the edges. We chose to cover the edges of our ceiling all around the room with some simple 1×3 trim, but you could just run a bit of caulking along where the ceiling planks meet the wall to cover any little gaps.

DIY Planked Ceiling |
Step five: Paint This one’s pretty self explanatory. I wish I had some brilliant tips about painting out a ceiling, but the truth is, I stuck with the old tried and true extension pole and roller. I’ve read really great things about this though! In keeping with the rustic look, I didn’t bother filling in any of the staple holes, but you might choose to putty those before painting over everything.

DIY Planked Ceiling |
And that’s it friends! A gorgeous (and inexpensive) farmhouse style planked ceiling all in one afternoon’s work!

DIY Planked Ceiling |

DIY Planked Ceiling |

DIY Planked Ceiling |

DIY Planked Ceiling |

DIY Planked Ceiling |

DIY Planked Ceiling |
It really adds so much charm and character to our hallway space…

Easy and Inexpensive way to cover popcorn ceilings: A farmhouse style planked ceiling tutorial.
And of course, our farmhouse master bedroom

A lovely Farmhouse Bedroom full of all sorts of dreamy details!

A lovely Farmhouse Bedroom full of all sorts of dreamy details!
*UPDATE: See which one we went with and how it all came together in the end with our farmhouse style hallway reveal here!

Easy ways to add some charm and character to create a beautiful farmhouse style hallway space. |
And check out all of our DIY hallway projects below:

Wishing you SUCH a lovely day!

Happy Notes copy    

91 thoughts on “The Easiest (and Cheapest) Way to Transform a Popcorn Ceiling: A Farmhouse Style Planked Ceiling Tutorial

  1. What gorgeous ceilings, I love them in both the hallway and the bedroom. I live in an old farmhouse that has been somewhat stripped of the original look. I would love to get that look back and that is a great way to do it. Thanks for the info.

    1. Thank you SO, SO much Kelly! I’m thrilled that you love them! They really are such a simple and inexpensive way to inject a ton of character into any space.

  2. Oh how our 60s abode could use this. I would definitely do what you guys did by adding a small crown around the perimeter. Question, it’s hard to tell from my small iPhone screen but did you run all the boards vertically following the direction of the hall? It looks like some boards within the rows are running horizontally – or is that just my poor eye sight?

    1. Thanks so much Marie! We ran all of the boards length-wise down the hallway and then staggered them at the corner to run them length-wise over the stairs. Hope that makes sense! Thanks again!!!

  3. Kristi,
    I love the simplicity and the details your new ceiling brings to your home.
    I really like how you patterned the wood around the corner. It adds so much eye appeal.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. I have this planned out for so many spaces but the budget is always an issue!!! Thank you for breaking it down & making it easy!!! Turned out beautiful!!!

  5. Kristi, what a great idea! I’ve never had to deal with a popcorn ceiling–bought a house built in 1951 just to avoid that very thing! 😀 But I’m going to share this with all my friends who haven’t yet removed the popcorn they hate.

  6. What a great idea. I have one popcorn ceiling left to get rid of, but it is in the great room and is large. Might be a good solution.
    Thanks for sharing at Turn It Up Tuesday,

    1. Thanks Veneta! I think this could be the perfect solution! In fact, we actually plan to plank the walls in the few rooms that have textured walls in our house too.

  7. Way better than scraping the ceiling (I had to do that in my mother in laws house). And it looks amazing too. Thanks for the tutorial!

  8. I love it so much Kristi! I’m wondering if I can convince the hubs to do this to our master. Just curious how much this cost. I’m not sure if I overlooked it in the post or not. Thanks love for such beautiful inspiration.

  9. LOVE this Kristi – and fabulous tutorial!! Amazing job – thanks for sharing it with us at Work it Wednesday. We are featuring you tomorrow!!

  10. Love it! It turned out fabulous!!! Where is the light fixture from? And, what is the paint color in the hallway? Thanks!!

    1. Thanks so much Linda! I found the light fixture at Barn Light Electric and I am head over heels in love with it!!! The paint colour is Edgecomb Gray from Benjamin Moore.

  11. Beautiful ceiling! I would love to know what sheen of paint did you go with… My husband just finished our ceiling and we are not sure what to use semi gloss, satin or flat. Thanks!!

    1. Thank you SO much! I’m thrilled to hear that you’re working on yours too! I used a pearl finish just because it’s what I had on hand, but if you’re buying paint specifically for this you could go with an Eggshell, Matte or even pick up some ceiling specific paint. Happy painting Michelle!

  12. I love this cost efficient, work efficient idea for covering the dreaded popcorn. Since I don’t have a hubs and am a bit weak with overhead work, I’m wondering if there’s a reason for not painting the planks ahead of time so that all you have to do is touch up after installation? Thanks in advance!

    1. Thank you Donna, I’m so happy you love it! You could definitely paint them all beforehand if you’d rather – I just found to be faster to paint them all at once on the ceiling rather than individually on the ground, but you should definitely choose whichever might be easier for you. Thanks again!

  13. Thanks for sharing this! I was searching for a cheap way to cover a popcorn ceiling and this was perfect. Turned out great. I went to Home Depot to get my hardboard and found they had it in white. Figured I would still have to paint but it alleviated the need for primer. I had them cut in 4′ lengths rather than 8′. Got started hanging it and realized the board was 36 1/2″ by 84″ not 48″x96″. Ugh..Home Depot is an hour drive. Went to a local store and bought more. Theirs was a 4×8 sheet so I had to do a lot of cutting as they weren’t so gracious about cutting it. I just love it!

  14. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. I’ve been searching for a way to cover and fix the mess that is our popcorn ceiling. We used your brilliant idea and started in the kitchen. I’m so pleased!!

    1. Oh Carrie, I’m SO happy you’re loving it!!! Thank you so, so much for letting me know – I love to hear stories of people putting our ideas to work!

  15. I agree with you and all the posts that the ceiling looks super.
    I would like to compliment you and try covering the popcorn ceiling in my office.
    Would you share the exact hardboard that you used? What was the thickness-did I miss it in your post? Also, have you had any issues with any boards loosening or coming down?

    1. I’m so happy you love it Tanya! We used 1/8″ hardboard cut into 8″ wide strips. It’s been more than a year now and we’ve had no issues with anything at all. Good luck!

      1. just wondering if you cut the boards to be four feet in length or eight feet? I see they are 8 inches wide, just curious about the length
        thanks so much, looks amazing!!!

        1. We just left the boards at 8 feet long and then staggered them along the ceiling, cutting where we needed to to make everything fit. Thanks so much Nancy! SO happy you love it!

          1. Love this idea that you for sharing! To Clarify your board were 8 inches wide and 8 feet long, correct?

          2. Thank you Hayley! I’m so glad you loved it! Yes, our boards were 8 inches wide and 8 feet long, though we did cut some sorter to vary the lengths a bit so the lines between were more random. Hope this helps!

  16. Beautiful end result! Great that this could be removed if needed since no glue was used…. In case of a leak or some issue in ceiling. I think I will give this a try on my pantry walls to start and then move on to a ceiling. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I’m SO happy you loved it and are feeling inspired to try it yourself! I think that starting on the pantry walls is a great idea! I’m sure you’re going to love it!!!

  17. Thanks for the great idea! Everyone have smooth concrete walls and ceilings back home where I grew up, and I feel like living in a cave with the popcorn ceiling. I am planning to try this for my apartment.
    The apartment is from my school and I would probably need to remove the ceiling when I leave. How difficult do you guess it’s going to be to remove everything? Is there going to be any permanent damage to the ceiling?

    1. SO happy you love it Saffir! The way that we attached it using construction adhesive and staples would definitely leave permanent marks. Maybe you can find a way to affix it to the ceiling that would be a little less permanent? Good luck!

  18. So beautiful! I’m doing this for sure. Question: is hardboard the same as underlayment – the really thin stuff you’d use for a subfloor under tile?

    1. I’m SO happy you love it Miriam! Though I don’t think hardboard is the same as underlay, I do think they are both great options for this! Let me know if you have any other questions!

  19. Hi Kristi,

    I’ve been staring at 1/2 renovated popcorn ceilings for over a year now…ugh! Strained myself doing it last time and was sick for a month. So, been procrastinating while also trying to find an easier, inexpensive alternative. Love, love, love your idea and have it saved on my pintrest ceiling board. It’s at the top of my research list.

    In one of the comments you mentioned you used construction adhesive and staples, but in the article I only saw mention of staples. Did I miss something? Was going to just try stsples until I saw that comment. Don’t want any planks tumbling down, but was hoping to not need liquid nail. Thanks.

    1. I’m so glad you asked – we did use construction adhesive, but I don’t think it would be necessary, especially with that thin board profile. I’d recommend trying a board or two first just to be really sure before working through the whole ceiling. Hope this helps!

  20. This is Brilliant! I’ve been searching for an inexpensive way to cover the popcorn ceilings in our garage (Seriously! A garage ceiling! Can you say fallout?!?). 🙂 One quick question – do you remember what length of staples you used? Thanks!

  21. Girlfriend, you may just be a lifesaver….I have a very plain contractor grade home built in ’88, but with those dang vaulted ceilings so popular in Central Florida! I bought as a single mom and have had to scrimp and save for every upgrade the last 10 years. These popcorn ceilings are driving me nuts…they’re dirty and outdated. I really want that wow factor without breaking our budget! 🤗😘

        1. Hi Nancy, the staples for the ceiling were 1/4″ wide, 18ga narrow crown staples. Could do it tonight. I checked with my husband, but neither one of us can remember the air compressor settings, though we do remember that was tricky to get the pressure right so that we weren’t just blowing right through the material. The best way to figure out the compressor setting is through trial and error with a scrap price, just adjusting until you get it right. Hope this helps Nancy!

  22. Hi Kristi, Iove this idea! Questions: In the instructions you mentioned staples but I didn’t see anything about construction adhesive except in one of the comments. Did you paint on adhesive? How much did it take? About how many staples?

    1. Hi Pam! I’m SO glad you asked – the construction adhesive we used comes in tubes like caulk and we just added a bead all along the back. I don’t think it was necessary, but we wanted to make sure everything was really secure. As for the number of staples, we put one in each corner of the plank and then every six inches or so down each side. Hope this helps!

  23. Hi Kristi! Thanks for this great tutorial. Would this idea work on vaulted ceilings? And do you think it would work to paint the planks before putting them up, they would be much easier to paint on the ground.

    1. Hi Ryan, thanks so much for reaching out! I think this would work perfectly on vaulted ceilings too – though I would lean more towards using a thinner plywood instead of hardboard to ensure that everything stays straight and there is no bowing. And you could definitely paint the planks before putting them up. Hope this helps!

  24. Hi Kristi! I’m thinking about taking on this ceiling project for entire house. What size staples and where did u put the staples in? ( I can’t tell in pics ) Can u see the staples after you paint ? Do u wish u would have covered? Thanks so much ! 😊

    1. Hi Holly, the staples for the ceiling were 1/4″ wide, 18ga narrow crown staples. We just used them to tack up the boards every 5-6″ or so, down both sides of the plank. You can see the staples, even after painting, though with the paint, you just notice a change in texture – I liked the more rustic look of just painting right over the staples, but if you’d like a cleaner look, you could fill all of the staple holes before painting.

  25. You saved my life! Seriously. 2000 square feet of popcorn ceilings in my new house and I’ve been beyond stressed! Thank you! I don’t close for another month, but I’m preparing now! This will save me thousands of dollars! It looks amazing! My contractor I’m sure will be singing your praises too!

  26. Hi I know I’m late to this thread but wondered if the boards needed to be stapled into a stud or did you just put them up as you went? I’m doing this!!! Thank you!

    1. So happy you’re feeling inspired to try it too Susie! The boards are very lightweight and should be just fine stapled into the ceiling without looking for studs.

  27. I love this idea of yours! My mom’s small country home has all popcorn ceilings in it and budget wise, this would be feasible. How long were your staples and did you use a pneumatic staple gun?

    1. Thank you Rinah, I’m so happy you love it! The staples for the ceiling were 1/4″ wide, 18ga narrow crown staples and yes, a pneumatic staple gun made such quick work of everything. Hope this helps!

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