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DIY: Replace popcorn ceiling with coffered ceiling in ONE week

  • Last Updated:
  • May 21st, 2019 1:52 pm
[OP]
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Sep 5, 2011
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Toronto

DIY: Replace popcorn ceiling with coffered ceiling in ONE week

After my super long DIY Curved Staircase project, I wanted to do something a little easier for a fast win so I decided to tackle my ugly-outdated popcorn ceiling in my family room.

Here is what you will need for this project plus about 60 hours (less if you buy the wood all dressed and primed). To save money, I purchased all of my wood directly from the lumber yard: rough sawn.

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Here is the before picture of my dated family room
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Removed the popcorn ceiling and install the layout nailing strips. You can use 2x4s for this but I wanted a perfectly true edge so I ripped it from my spruce plywood and build them up so that they are exactly 3-1/2” by 1-1/4”. I was careful to make sure these are as square as possible.
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After I have my layout all marked out with my nailing strips. I installed the 1/4” MDF sheets. I pre-finished these MDF prior to install because I hate painting up-side-down.

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The next step is to build up the sub-frame blocks for the coffer so that I have something solid for me to nail the coffer to. Here are the blocks. I made 72 of these.

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Installed the blocks on the nailing strips.

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Once the blocks are up, I can install the coffer. I made sure they are perfectly level with a laser leveller. Use shims if needed.

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Finally, I get to install the crown moulding. This is my first time installing crown moulding so I did a lot of research and made this “Crown Stop” jig. It is a MUST if you want to install crown moulding.

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Here is the family room after I installed the crown moulding. Because I took my time to make sure all of my squares are perfectly square and level, installing the crown moulding was a breeze.

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The next step for me is to prepare it for paint. But this will have to wait because I want to tackle some other project first….My arch-way to the dining room! It will be so much fun Face With Tears Of Joy

Final photos
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ceiling01b.jpg
Last edited by PCShutters on May 21st, 2019 10:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
49 replies
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Feb 11, 2007
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Nice work. My only comment is that the security camera kinda ruins the look and seems a bit creepy. Maybe you could find a more subtle one or hide it a bit better?
If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.
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Jun 26, 2009
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Great work for sure, but looks like it lowered the ceiling quite a bit. I guess you don't mind that, but I feel claustrophobic with low ceilings, maybe I'm just too tall ;-) What is the finish room height?
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Way Out of GTA
Once again an incredible write up and project. Well done OP!
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Feb 29, 2008
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OP is inspirational. Would like to do something like that in my own home one day. Just not as handy. What would be the cost to do this professionally in say a living room that already has smooth ceilings?
Sr. Member
May 6, 2013
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Toronto
Great job, but 2 things. The security camera has to go, its sticks out like a sore thumb and is pretty weird to have in a family room like that. Also how high are your ceilings as this seems to eat up about a foot of head space? Other than that great job, I have some experience with this so I can say it looks very well done!
[OP]
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engineered wrote: Nice work. My only comment is that the security camera kinda ruins the look and seems a bit creepy. Maybe you could find a more subtle one or hide it a bit better?
The camera is actually not for the family room. It is for my patio door in the kitchen.
[OP]
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Tommy74 wrote: Great work for sure, but looks like it lowered the ceiling quite a bit. I guess you don't mind that, but I feel claustrophobic with low ceilings, maybe I'm just too tall ;-) What is the finish room height?
Sadly I don't have that problem. I am pretty short so anything over 8ft is fine with me. My ceiling height was 9' 3"...At the lowest spot (the coffer), I still have 8' 7"

The funny thing is, I thought it would make me feel more cramped but it is actually the opposite. With the 1/2" reveal and the crown moulding, it actually make my ceiling look higher with the 3D effect (adds more depth). 9' ceiling in a bigger room doesn't feel that high but the same 9' ceiling in a small powder room will make it feel higher. Not sure if I explained that correctly or not but it makes sense to me.
Last edited by PCShutters on Nov 26th, 2018 10:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
[OP]
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Sep 5, 2011
1024 posts
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Toronto
cartfan123 wrote: Once again an incredible write up and project. Well done OP!
Thank you. I really needed a quick win project.
JayLove06 wrote: OP is inspirational. Would like to do something like that in my own home one day. Just not as handy. What would be the cost to do this professionally in say a living room that already has smooth ceilings?
I am no professional but I would think it cost a little less. For me, I would have saved that $84.75 I spent on the MDF sheets and about 10 hours of work (prefinishing and install it).
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OP what are you doing with that arched entry way?
"If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid." - Epictetus
[OP]
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RSXPrem wrote: Great job, but 2 things. The security camera has to go, its sticks out like a sore thumb and is pretty weird to have in a family room like that. Also how high are your ceilings as this seems to eat up about a foot of head space? Other than that great job, I have some experience with this so I can say it looks very well done!
Thank you for your recommendation but I pretty much have security cameras for most of my adult life so it doesn't bother me. Plus, this camera is not for the family room, it is for my patio door in the kitchen.

I have 8'7" of ceiling height where the coffers are. The 1/2" reveal and the crown moulding make it look more substantial than it really is. The coffers are only 8 inches tall.
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Jan 15, 2004
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This is amazing for a DIY job. Thanks for sharing.
[OP]
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blexann wrote: OP what are you doing with that arched entry way?
I am planning to do something like this to hide all of my security/network system

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Should do a compass rose inlay on the floor as well!
As someone long prepared for the occasion, in full command of every plan you wrecked---
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Looks great


As an aside, those cable runs beside your fireplace vent look like a fire hazard.
[OP]
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Toronto
hoob wrote: Should do a compass rose inlay on the floor as well!
You read my mind! I was planning on doing that but I got a better idea. I will still have that circular compass but instead of a rose or those arrow inlays, I will put a live fish tank under my floor and cover it with 1" thick Polycarbonate (Lexan) glass.
fdl wrote: Looks great


As an aside, those cable runs beside your fireplace vent look like a fire hazard.
Thanks but I have never use that fireplace. Don't plan to use it either. It came with the house.

Plus all of those wires are just temporarily and low voltage wires (network cable, audio cable, hdmi, etc). I will do a build in cabinet there when I have some time and all of those wires will be tucked away safely. I might even separate the fireplace with those Ruxol fireproofing insulation.
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PCShutters wrote: You read my mind! I was planning on doing that but I got a better idea. I will still have that circular compass but instead of a rose or those arrow inlays, I will put a live fish tank under my floor and cover it with 1" thick Polycarbonate (Lexan) glass.



Thanks but I have never use that fireplace. Don't plan to use it either. It came with the house.

Plus all of those wires are just temporarily and low voltage wires (network cable, audio cable, hdmi, etc). I will do a build in cabinet there when I have some time and all of those wires will be tucked away safely. I might even separate the fireplace with those Ruxol fireproofing insulation.
Ok. I didn’t mean they might be a fire hazard due to voltage but rather because they are touching the fireplace exhaust and could quickly catch fire and spread a fire behind your walls.

And while you might never use the fireplace, you may turn it on by accident, or if you ever sold the house the next person would never know about this as it’s hidden.

But it sounds like it’s temporary so this is all moot. :)
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Nov 21, 2007
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Scarborough
Doesn't look finished until adorned with:

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Feb 22, 2007
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Mississauga
is this the normal procedure?

i thought the trim work is usually done to the existing ceiling (after smoothing it out).

also, MDF is so heavy - why didn't you put drywall back for the 'squares'?

you make it look so easy and cheap!
but i know the ceiling take down it probably the hardest and messiest part
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Nov 9, 2011
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pardnme wrote: but i know the ceiling take down it probably the hardest and messiest part
Ceiling take down is messy, but not the hardest part. I would think the hardest part is to make it flush/level and the finishing touches (trim work).

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