How to Hang Things from Popcorn Ceiling

If you have popcorn ceiling in your home, you’ve probably wondered just how exactly you hang things from it. Popcorn ceiling can be fragile. If you’re not careful, you can cause the texture to crumble, getting crumbs in your eyes and mouth. But that doesn’t mean you can’t hang things from a popcorn ceiling.

You just need to be careful. The same thing can be said about any type of textured ceiling. There are methods that we’re going to talk about today for hanging things from a fragile textured ceiling without damaging it or possibly releasing potential asbestos dust from inside the ceiling.

Can You Hang Stuff from a Popcorn Ceiling?

Can you hang stuff from a popcorn ceiling? This is a bit of a trick question. The problem with popcorn ceiling is that it’s almost impossible to use an adhesive for sticking things to your ceiling. Because of the uneven and rough texture of the ceiling, you can’t really use ordinary adhesive strips or even normal tape. The surface is simply too bumpy for anything to stick to it properly.

The second issue with hanging stuff from a popcorn ceiling is that the texture could contain asbestos. If you decide to drill through your popcorn ceiling, you may get a bit of asbestos into your lungs, and this is obviously very dangerous.

The third problem is that any kind of weight will probably pull the texture off the drywall. For example, if you’re looking to hang light fixtures from your popcorn ceiling using any kind of adhesive tape, it’s just going to rip the popcorn texture off.

You can indeed hang things from a popcorn ceiling just like any other ceiling. The only difference is that you need to be a little more careful and a bit cleverer. The best option is always going to be drilling into the ceiling and damaging the texture.

How Do You Stick Things to Popcorn Walls?

Popcorn walls, typically known as textured walls, can be just as difficult to hang things on as popcorn ceilings. You have two main options for getting things to stick to texture walls. You can either screw in hooks or use putty.

Screw-In Hooks for Textured Walls

Hooks work great for textured walls. The hole left behind is tiny and unnoticeable, requiring no patches when you decide to take the hooks out. There are two main types of hooks to use, depending on how heavy the object is that you’re mounting to the wall.

For small paintings or pictures, you can use a small hook screwed directly into the plaster. The plaster is going to be strong enough the hold anything light. This doesn’t require any tools. Simply jam the hook into the plaster and hang away.

For larger paintings or pictures, or even plants, you need to drill a small hole into the wall joist. Find the joist with a stud finder and use a cordless drill to make a hole that is slightly smaller than the nail you’re using to hang the picture or slightly smaller than the shank that comes on the other end of your hook.

Joists are extremely sturdy, so you can hang pretty much anything you want, including shelves.

Putty for Textured Walls

If you’re trying to put up a poster, you can use putty or thumbtacks. Putty works well on textured surfaces because it gets in between all the grooves for a stable adhesive. The only issue with putty is that if it’s too sticky, you might rip off some of the texture when removing the putty later on.

To be quite honest, thumbtacks are better for hanging posters on popcorn walls. Thumbtacks don’t leave large holes and stick easily into the rough texture.

Do Command Strips Work on Popcorn Ceilings?

Command Strips and hooks are designed for hanging things from ceilings or sticking stuff onto walls. The strips are safe to adhere to most kinds of surfaces found inside homes, such as varnished wood, glass, tile, plaster, drywall, painted cinder block, and even metal. Command Strips will stick to just about everything in your house.

That is, except for popcorn ceilings. The texture of a popcorn ceiling is simply not reliable. The adhesive strip doesn’t have anywhere to cling onto. Throw a bit of gravity into the mixture and it’s pretty much impossible.

The only option you have to use Command Strips with your popcorn ceiling is to shave the texture where you want to put the strip. Use a small knife and clear a 1” strip where the adhesive can stick firmly. You need to get rid of the irregular surface for the strip to work.

What Tape Sticks to Popcorn Ceiling?

If you need to tape your popcorn ceiling, you’re in for quite a challenge. The issue with normal tape, such as duct tape or painter’s tape, is that is not designed to adhere to a textured surface. Normal tape will almost always fall off a popcorn ceiling. Not only that, but if you’re painting, the paint will almost always leak through the tape where you’re using it as a border.

There is no useful solution to this problem. Textured ceilings are a nightmare and no tape will adhere to them properly. Some tape, like Frog Tape or Scotch Blue, advertise their effectiveness with textured ceilings and walls, but it’s not so easy.

For example, if you’re looking to use tape on your textured ceiling, it’s recommended that you apply a thin layer of paintable caulking to properly seal the tape. This is obviously annoying. You’re supposed to apply the paint, cover it in caulking, then smooth the caulking out and let it dry.

One of the larger issues with tape and popcorn ceiling is that when you take the paint off, if it truly did adhere to the uneven surface, it’s going to rip a lot of the texture off the ceiling. There really is no magical tape that sticks to popcorn ceilings.

How to Hang Things from Popcorn Ceiling

There is no perfect way to hang things from a popcorn ceiling. The texture is too uneven for adhesives to work. Hooks and nails can damage the ceiling texture, which is a horrible idea if your ceiling may contain asbestos – which it almost certainly does if it was made before 1980.

But there are still ways that you can hang lights and decorations from your popcorn ceiling.

Screw-In Ceiling Hooks

Ceiling hooks are your best bet. These are small hooks that you can easily screw into your popcorn ceiling without using any tools. Simply take your hook, climb up your ladder, screw the hook directly through the texture and into the drywall, then hang your stuff.

Before walking away from the job, make sure that you test the strength of the hook by hanging your object gently at first. Make sure it’s not going to fall off before you leave the room.

If your ceiling hooks are too small to go through the texture and the drywall, they’re probably not going to work. The small screw on the other side of the hook needs to screw into a stable surface, which is typically drywall. If you screw something too small into the popcorn ceiling texture, it’s not going to be stable and whatever you’re hanging will probably fall down.

You can also use a drill to make a small hole through a joist in the ceiling. This is ideal if you’re hanging something heavy like light fixtures or plants. Find the stud in the ceiling using a stud finder and then drill a pilot hole slightly smaller than the diameter of the shank on the end of your hook. Then you can screw the hook directly into the predrilled hole. This is the most secure way to hang anything from a popcorn ceiling.

How to Patch a Popcorn Ceiling

If your popcorn ceiling is damaged, perhaps from moisture, a water leak, or failed adhesive strips, you need to know how to patch it. Knowing how to patch your popcorn ceiling is especially important when you’re hanging things from hooks. If the hook rips or you create a hole in your ceiling, you can easily cover the texture and erase the damage with a quick patch job.

Your first step is to find a popcorn ceiling Patch product. These are available at most local hardware stores. The product is sold premixed, meaning you can take it home and apply it to your ceiling right away.

To hide the damage done to your ceiling, simply apply the ceiling patch with a paintbrush. You can also apply the product using a spray-on can if that’s what it comes in. It takes about 3 seconds to cover the damaged area and once the product has hardened, nobody will ever be able to see that there was once a hole in your ceiling. The texture will look exactly the same.

Final Thoughts

Popcorn ceiling can be tough to hang things from. Tape doesn’t work, adhesive strips are basically useless, and if there is asbestos in your ceiling, scraping pieces of it off or drilling into it can’t be dangerous.

Still, hooks drilled into the ceiling joists are really your best option when it comes to hanging things from your textured ceiling – and this goes double for your textured walls. Just be careful not to inhale any of the dust while working.


Tape textured surfaces – Scotch Blue

Do Command Hooks Work on Popcorn Ceiling? eHow

  • Gregory A Seely
  • Gregory A Seely

    Greg is a self taught home renovator and writer for RenoViso. His shares his experiences with Southern Living, Traditional Home and other publications.

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