Here’s how to safely cover a popcorn ceiling without the mess, time, and cost of scraping, patching, and painting by using Armstrong Ceiling Planks and the Easy Up Track System. In partnership with Armstrong.
We’ve been slowly remodeling our 1970s galley-style kitchen for the last three years, and we recently started working on the final phase of the remodel. No amount of cabinet refacing, appliance swaps, or tile could hide the age of the house due to the popcorn ceiling overhead. It was faded, peeling in some places, and had some really bad (and noticeable) repair jobs. I considered having the ceiling scraped and redone, but the cost, time commitment, and mess wasn’t something I wanted to deal with. So I researched alternate methods and found Armstrong Ceilings.
In the past, I have covered popcorn ceilings with wood planks, and that involved adding glue to every plank and nailing it into the studs. It was a labor-heavy job and not something I wanted to do again. But Armstrong Ceilings are different. I found out that they have a track system called Easy Up, and you screw them into the ceiling joists first. Then all you have to do is attach the tongue and groove planks onto the tracks with clips. It sounded so easy and I knew I had to try it. Here’s my full review of the installation process, the exact products we used, and tips for getting a professional result.
Prepping For Armstrong Woodhaven Plank Ceiling Installation
Before you get started, you first need to do a little prep work. Carefully remove any crown moulding and trim from the ceiling, as well as light fixtures. Give the ceiling perimeter a quick wipe with a damp microfiber cloth, especially if you had crown moulding. It somehow gets really dusty under crown. How does that happen?
Next gather your supplies. You’ll need the following items to install Armstrong Ceilings:
- One or Two Step Ladders
- Stud Finder
- Chalk Line
- Power Drill
- Safety Glasses
- Measuring Tape
- Extra Long Level
- Table saw or circular saw
- Scaffolding (optional but makes the install way faster. We used homemade plywood scaffolding)
The key to an easy installation process is proper spatial planning. You’ll need to highlight the ceiling joists so you know where to put the tracks. The ol’ ‘knock on drywall to find a stud’ method doesn’t work on a popcorn ceiling, so you need a good quality stud finder. I used this one because it also shows where electricity lines are.
Once you find the ceiling joists, mark them with a pencil in a few places. Then use a chalk line to make perfectly straight lines to follow when installing the Easy Up Tracks.
How To Install Armstrong Easy Up Ceiling Tracks
The Easy Up Ceiling Tracks have pre-drilled holes so you don’t have to drill pilot holes. Start in the middle with the first screw so you don’t have to try to hold it in place the whole time. Then you can just keep screwing into the joists while following the chalk line.
The Easy Up Tracks are easy to cut with a power saw or hand saw and can be shortened if needed. My advice is to install the full length tracks first, then cut the rest down to size to fill in gaps where a full track wouldn’t fit. You can cut down on excess waste by saving the cuts for last.
How To Install Armstrong Ceiling Woodhaven Planks
Now that your tracks are installed, you can start putting the ceiling planks up. If you are not installing crown moulding, you’ll need to rip down the tongue edge of one of the ceiling planks so it sits flush with the wall. We didn’t do this since we were putting back up the old trim.
The first plank involves a little extra work because you have to screw it to the ceiling so the rest of the planks stay in place and don’t shift around. Using a level, ensure the first plank is straight, and add screws directly through the plank and into the track and joists. This extra step locks the plank in as an anchor so all your other planks will be straight too.
Slide the clips onto the tracks and push them into the groove of the first plank. Then you can add your next plank. Simply push the plank into the slot of the other plank on the ceiling, and slide more clips to hold it in place. It’s basically like a big puzzle, and all the pieces fit into each other. Be sure to arrange the planks in a random pattern so the end seams aren’t beside each other for a natural look.
Keep adding planks and clips until you reach the other side of the ceiling. Follow the same method as the first plank by screwing that one in place too. This will prevent any shifts or gradual gaps between the planks.
Now all you have to do is put back up the crown moulding or fill and paint the screw holes around the perimeter. We also took this time to replace the light fixtures in the kitchen, which were long overdue for an upgrade.
My Honest Opinion Of Armstrong Ceilings Woodhaven Collection
Before I started this process, I got two samples from the Woodhaven collection so I could see them in my kitchen. They look a little different (in a good way) in person, so I highly recommend ordering samples first. I ended up going with the beadboard option because I felt like it tied in with the age and design of my house.
The initial reason I wanted to use this product was the ability to install it right over the popcorn ceiling and the tracks would make it nice and level. The Armstrong Ceilings Easy Up tracks 100% delivered on that. It was easy to install, lightweight, and we didn’t run into any issues at all.
My handyman came over to help me since I was on a time crunch before I went on a trip, and we were able to prep, install, add crown, and touch up paint in just two days. I don’t recommend trying to do this project by yourself if you don’t have to, but it is definitely possible.
One thing I love about the ceiling is that once it’s up, it’s done. It’s not like primed beadboard panels you buy from the home improvement store and have to paint and caulk seams. It’s already fully finished so you get instant gratification. And since we ran the beadboard longways, it made our galley kitchen feel spacious and expansive.
I am over the moon happy with how the ceiling turned out, and it honestly did make the kitchen look brand new. There are still four more rooms in my house that have popcorn ceilings and I am so excited to do this project again in all of them.
Find Out More About Armstrong Ceilings
For the full product catalog, project cost estimators, and information on where to buy all the components of the Armstrong Woodhaven collection, visit their website here. You can find all kinds of inspiration, tutorials, and tips for transforming a room in your house and hiding the popcorn without the mess. You can also see the full installation process of my kitchen ceiling on Instagram here.
The design you’ve chose is brilliant! By the way I thought the boards are made from pvc or plastic, they are actual wood…nice
Brad Gandy says
We’re glad you like them, Denisa. They’ve held up extremely well so far.
Larry Fairbanks says
If I just leave the popcorn long enough, won’t it come back around? I’m pretty sure as soon as I cover it up, it will be in style again. (I’m always the last guy to know. 🤷♂️)
Leslie B Pioro says
Covering the popcorn ceilings is a great idea to eliminate scraping. Some popcorn ceilings have asbestos so scraping isn’t an option without abatement.
Love this idea.
Brad Gandy says
Glad we could help you, Leslie!