I have textured popcorn ceilings and would like to panel over them. How do I go about it? -Sonja

Hi Sonja,

Since you have textured popcorn ceilings, the surface would be too uneven to just put paneling on top of it. You could go to the trouble of removing all the texture first, but a simpler method would be to put furring strips (made from 1×3 or 1×4 boards) on the ceiling, then attach the paneling to them.

You will still need to remove the popcorn texture where the furring strips go, and since some ceiling texture in the past contained asbestos, start by purchasing an asbestos test kit to see if the texture on your ceiling is contaminated, since the last thing you want to do is start scraping off asbestos-laced popcorn! If the test is positive, turn to a licensed asbestos mitigation company to remove the texture.

If the test indicates your popcorn ceiling texture doesn’t contain asbestos, install the paneling by:

  • Cover Floor and Walls: Lay plastic down on the floor, and I would even consider taping some on the walls of the room, since removing texture on a ceiling can get messy.
  • Locate Ceiling Joists: The furring strips can either run perpendicular to the ceiling joists, or on top of each joist. In either case, you’ll need to find and mark the joist locations using a stud finder so you can attach the strips to the joists.
  • Mark Path for Furring Strips: Mark the path on the ceiling for each of the furring strips with a chalk line, making the paths a bit wider than the strips.
  • Mix Texture Removal Solution: Fill a quart-sized spray bottle or pump up sprayer with hot water and add a dash of dish detergent. Don’t shake it up, but just gently stir the detergent in so it mixes with the water.
  • Remove Ceiling Texture: Spray the solution in a 3” to 4” wide path where the furring strips will be installed. Using a putty knife, scrape off the texture in the path to create a flat spot on the ceiling to attach the furring strips.
  • Attach Furring Strips: Once the ceiling is dry, install the furring strips by nailing or screwing the strips directly into the ceiling joists.
  • Install Paneling: Now you’re ready to attach the plywood paneling. Before nailing the paneling to the furring strips, I would put a bead of paneling adhesive on the furring strips to increase the holding power.
  • Apply Molding: Attach molding or 3/4” thick boards to the paneling to form a grid to accent the paneling and cover the seams. For that “paneled” look, I would go with a 1×3 board with a mitered cove molding on either side, and a bed or crown molding around the perimeter of the room.

Good luck with your project,


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Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio, TodaysHomeowner.com, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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