A popcorn ceiling may not be the most attractive finish in your home, but I was recently investigating what benefits they could have. Someone mentioned to me that they could actually be great for reducing noise. To see if it was true, I decided to do a little research on my own.
So, does popcorn ceiling reduce noise? From my research, I was surprised to find that yes, they do actually help reduce noise. Due to the increased surface area, they have noise-dampening qualities that help muffle and absorb sounds. Don’t get your hopes up too much though, they won’t make a very noticeable difference.
If you’ve been looking for a way to reduce noise in your home, popcorn ceilings could be an option but it’s important to remember they may not help as much as you’d like. Let’s take a look at some ways that popcorn ceilings reduce noise and how to get the most benefit out of them.
How Does Popcorn Ceiling Reduce Noise
Popcorn ceilings were very trendy from the 1960s into the 1980s. I vividly remember seeing them at my grandmother’s house. However, after that, they started to be seen as old, outdated, and unappealing, so they became less and less desirable. But despite their lack of popularity, popcorn ceilings are making a comeback due to their capacity to reduce noise.
Like I mentioned before, popcorn ceilings are also known as acoustic ceilings. They help reduce noise due to an increase in surface area. If you look at a popcorn ceiling, you’ll notice it looks thick and bumpy, kind of like cottage cheese.
Although that cottage cheese texture may not be as appealing as smoother, more modern ceiling treatments, it does help absorb sound. The cottage cheese texture offers a more porous surface allowing it to absorb sounds, which means that more noise will be muffled.
This is a property of popcorn ceilings that is often overlooked. However, don’t expect too much. It won’t make your house soundproof.
Not All Popcorn Ceilings Are Created Equal
Although popcorn ceilings can be helpful at reducing noise in your home, it’s important to remember that they are not all equally good at this. Some popcorn ceilings may be thicker and more porous, thus absorbing more sound than others.
So if you already have popcorn ceilings in your home, and you feel like they don’t muffle that much noise, it could be because the “popcorn” is not sufficient to increase the surface area of the ceiling. If you’re considering adding it in your home, you’ll want to make sure you follow the instructions to get a proper application that will reduce as much noise as possible.
Consider the Aesthetic Value
Even though you can reduce noise with popcorn ceilings, it’s still important to remember the aesthetics that you want. The bottom line is if you really hate the look of popcorn ceilings it doesn’t matter how much they reduce the noise.
You want your home to be an inviting place, an environment that you want to spend time in. If the thought of having popcorn ceilings really repulses you, then it’s probably not worth it to have them installed just to reduce a little noise.
At the end of the day, the amount of noise reduced by popcorn ceilings isn’t that much, and it isn’t worth your happiness. So if you’re going to be happier with a different ceiling texture, you should probably do that. But it’s really up to you.
How to Popcorn Your Ceiling
The popcorn effect looks complicated but it’s relatively easy to apply. Popcorn ceilings are sprayed on with a styrofoam-like substance. It’s certainly more time-consuming than other ceiling treatments, but you can do it yourself.
Start by cleaning your ceiling. You’ll want to get some soapy water and a sponge and wipe down the entire ceiling. After that, get ready to paint. Remove any furniture you can and place drop cloths over larger items that can’t be moved, and the floor.
Next, prime the surface. You can get a stain-blocking primer from any home improvement store. Cover the surface and let it dry for 24 hours before continuing.
Now we’re ready to add the popcorn. Be sure the windows are open to allow proper ventilation. Mix the popcorn ceiling spray (13-gallon bag) with 2 gallons of water until it looks cottage cheesy. The secret here is to make sure it’s not too thin or it won’t stick.
Fill a spray gun with the popcorn mixture and begin spraying your ceiling in an even back and forth motion. You can use a trowel to spread it to the hard-to-reach edges. Once you’re finished, you can add a coat of paint to the ceiling after letting it dry for 24 hours. See the video below for more instructions:
Should You Keep Your Existing Popcorn Ceiling?
What if you already have existing popcorn ceilings? If you’re deciding whether to keep them or not, it’s important to remember that if you do remove them, you may lose the small noise-reducing benefits they do have.
Another thing to consider if you already have popcorn ceilings is that a lot of older homes with popcorn ceiling may contain asbestos. If your house was built between the 1930s and 1990s you should get the ceilings tested for asbestos.
If it turns out that they do have asbestos, you should have it removed by a professional. If you find that after it’s removed you need the extra noise reduction, you can apply new asbestos-free popcorn to your ceilings or look for other options.
Consider the Maintenance
One of the drawbacks of popcorn ceilings is that they require more maintenance and upkeep than other types of ceilings. They have more surface area and more pores, so dirt and dust can build up.
If you’re not in the habit of cleaning your ceilings, that’s something you’ll want to start doing if you have or are going to install popcorn ceilings. This may be a factor that makes the noise-reducing benefits less worth your while. Especially if you have higher ceilings that are harder to clean.
What other benefits do popcorn ceilings have? Some additional benefits of popcorn ceilings are that they hide imperfections such as leaks or cracks. They are also easier and cheaper to install than other options.
Do popcorn ceilings have asbestos? This depends on when the popcorn ceiling was installed. If it was before the 1990s, there is a good chance that your popcorn ceilings may have asbestos, so you’ll want to get them tested. However, newer homes and current popcorn ceiling sprays are asbestos-free.
Should I buy a home with popcorn ceilings? The answer to this question is really up to you. Given that popcorn ceilings can reduce some noise, the maintenance required to keep them in good shape, and the risk of asbestos you’ll have to determine whether you want a home that has popcorn ceilings. Overall, they aren’t the worst thing in the world. Just make sure they are asbestos-free if it’s an older home.
Can I paint popcorn ceilings? Yes, you can paint your popcorn ceilings. If you have discoloration on your ceiling due to water leaks or dirt build up, painting your popcorn ceiling can give your room an inexpensive facelift. If you plan to paint your ceiling after installing the popcorn texture, make sure to wait at least 24 hours for it to dry before painting.
Can I remove popcorn ceilings from my home? If you have popcorn ceilings and decide that you don’t want them, it is possible to remove them. It’s also relatively easy to do. This can be done by simply scraping off the popcorn texture with a utility drywall knife. However, it can get messy so make sure to put down drop cloths. Also, if removing it seems like too much work, you can cover it up with another drywall layer.
How do you clean popcorn ceilings? Popcorn ceilings do tend to accumulate more dust, cobwebs, and dirt than other ceilings. You’ll want to make sure you clean them regularly. This can be done with a duster or a vacuum, but make sure you don’t press too hard on the ceiling as the “popcorn” may come off. You want to avoid that as it may result in an unflattering look.