How To Hang Things From A Popcorn Ceiling

hang things from popcorn ceiling

Hanging objects from the ceiling is a perfect way to spruce up a room and make use of the entire space.

What about from a popcorn ceiling? That can get a bit more complicated in comparison to a flat one. There are a few things you need to be cautious about and take into consideration.

Today, we’re going to cover the different methods to hang objects from your popcorn ceiling and what methods won’t work.

How to Hang Something From a Popcorn Ceiling

The object’s weight will determine what you can use for hanging it, as we want to try and create the least amount of damage possible. This is especially important with popcorn ceilings because you don’t want to make dust or cause the texture to crumble off.

Heavier objects require a stable hold, making it likely that you’ll need to drill into a stud. But if the object is light enough, then using the method that causes the least amount of damage is better.

Note: If your popcorn ceiling was made before the mid-1980s, it likely could contain asbestos. We don’t recommend hanging anything from these ceilings because any disturbance to the texture can release toxic fibres into the air. Have your ceiling tested for asbestos before doing any work or hanging anything from it.

Also see: How to Fix your Popcorn Ceiling

How to Hang Things From a Popcorn Ceiling Without Holes

There are several different products out there used for hanging items without causing damage. Most of the time, these work seamlessly on flat ceilings. But the problem with popcorn ceilings is how uneven it is and the difficulty of creating a clean surface for any adhesive to stick.

The crumbliness also poses an issue; if you attempt to stick anything to it, it will fall off because the texture isn’t secured to the surface underneath. Think of it as being similar to trying to make adhesive stick to dirt.

What Will Stick to Popcorn Ceilings?

Let’s explore a few commonly used products for hanging and talk about their effectiveness with popcorn ceilings.

Tape For Popcorn Ceiling

Unfortunately, no kind of tape is going to be your friend here. Some products claim to stick to textured surfaces, but not for the use of hanging anything.

Adhesive Hooks For Popcorn Ceiling

Adhesive hooks are on the right track, but the uneven texture won’t allow them to create a solid bond with the surface. While they may work for a short while, depending on how heavy the texture is, don’t trust them to hold any significant weight.

Popcorn Ceiling Adhesive

Any form of adhesive won’t cut it for hanging anything with weight. Even liquid glue that can shape itself into the grooves will fail in time. The texture isn’t secure enough to support any weight. It wouldn’t take long for it to rip off, leaving damage behind.

Command Strips

Command strips are known for being able to stick to any surface without leaving damage behind. Unfortunately, the results will be the same as with other methods. The strips will not be able to create a strong enough bond to hold any weight.

If you’re determined to hang something from your ceiling without creating holes, there is one thing you can do to better your chances of the adhesive sticking. You can scrape, skim coat and paint the area where you’d like to hang the object; essentially, it’s popcorn removal and repainting on a much smaller scale.

By doing this, it gives any adhesive a surface it can grip. It’s a good option for objects lighter in weight and ones you plan on keeping up for a while. If you do remove it, you can get a can of popcorn ceiling repair to patch the area so it blends in with the rest of your ceiling again.

Can You Screw / Drill Into a Popcorn Ceiling?

Screwing or drilling is the most secure method for hanging anything from a popcorn ceiling.

You’ll need to use the appropriate anchors and screws intended for the object’s weight you’d like to hang. Alternatively, and usually, a better option would be to drill directly into the framing or joist of the ceiling. That way, you won’t have to worry about it falling out over time.

The downside of drilling into the ceiling is that it will cause dust and leave a hole. The pros outway the cons though, the alternative is using adhesive, which can cause even more damage and can’t hold as much weight.

How to Find Ceiling Joist on Popcorn Ceiling

For the most secure hold, find a ceiling joist or ceiling stud. We have a few different methods on how to do this. Let’s start with the most straightforward.

Stud Finder
Using a stud finder is the quickest and easiest way to locate where to drill. But because textured ceilings aren’t level, you won’t be able to simply slide it along or get an accurate reading. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Put a thin piece of cardboard (or anything thin with a flat surface) between the ceiling and stud finder.
  2. Turn on the device and activate the deep scan option.
  3. Slowly and gently slide the cardboard and stud finder down the ceiling, being careful not to brush off the texture.
  4. Once you’ve reached a stud, a series of indicator lights will flash, or the device will beep.
  5. The closer you are to the center of the stud, the more lights will flash.

The distance between studs in a home is always the same (or should be). For a ceiling hoist, each stud should be 16 or 24 inches apart. With that knowledge, we can use a measuring tape to determine where we can drill.

  1. Starting from the corner where the wall and ceiling meet, measure 16 inches out.
  2. Use your knuckle to knock on the surface carefully; you don’t want to damage the texture.
  3. Listen for the sound is hollow or a solid thud. If you aren’t sure, you can compare it to other areas of the ceiling.
  4. If the sound is hollow, go back to the wall and measure out 24 inches, you should arrive at your stud.

Alternatively, you can also try measuring from areas that are likely to have a stud located:

  • Air ducts are usually placed between two studs
  • Outlets are attached to wall studs, which often line up with ceiling hoists.
  • Baseboards and crown mouldings are also commonly nailed to studs.

Use a Magnet
Joist holders and drywall screws are usually magnetic. You can try running a magnet along the ceiling until you feel it react. From there, you can use the measuring method to find the rest of the studs.

How to Put Hooks in Popcorn Ceiling

You have two different scenarios when it comes to putting hooks into your ceiling. You’ll either be installing it directly into the drywall or a stud.

The tools required will be different depending on which option you choose. Let’s cover the steps for both.

Note: Be careful of any electrical wires that may be running behind the ceiling or beside studs.

Drywall Ceiling Hooks

Drywall anchors and hooks are a good option if you need to hang something without a stud. There are a variety of styles of anchors, with weight ratings between 15lbs-100lbs. Be concious of the capacity when choosing an anchor; otherwise, it could end up seriously damaging your ceiling.

Most drywall anchors are installed the same way, with a few subtle variations between styles. We’ll cover the most common here:

What You’ll Need:

  • Hammer
  • Power drill and a set of drill bits
  • Drywall anchors
  1. Drill a hole in the ceiling using a bit that’s roughly the same diameter as the anchor you’ll be using.
  2. Place the end of the anchor into the hole and gently hammer it into the drywall.
  3. Continue until it’s flush with the wall. It should go in reasonably smooth, with just a bit of resistance.
  4. Take the hook and twist it into the drywall anchor.

For more information, here’s a video comparing different kinds of drywall anchors:

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Ceiling Hooks

If possible, it’s always a safer choice to install the hooks directly into the ceiling stud. It’s more secure and can handle more weight than drywall anchors.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Screw or cup hooks
  • Power drill and drill set
  • Eye hook (optional)
  • Stud finder (optional)
  1. Find the ceiling stud using a stud finder or one of the other methods we talked about before.
  2. Using a bit that’s slightly smaller than your screw, drill a small hole into the stud.
  3. Screw the hook into the hole with your hand or using a pair of pliers.
  4. Optionally, you can insert the eye hook into your drill, hook it onto the cup hook and slowly screw it into the ceiling.

How to Hang Plants From a Popcorn Ceiling

Hanging plants purifies the air in a room without cluttering the floor. But they can be quite heavy because of the soil, especially after you water.

It’s crucial to choose hook screws with the correct weight rating for your plants and the right style of anchor if needed. Here are two ways we recommend hanging plants using the appropriate hardware.

Install the hook screw directly into the ceiling hoist.This method is the most secure way of hanging plants from your ceiling. Install the screw into the hoist using a drill and eye hook.

Install hook with a toggle anchor.If you need to hang anything heavier than 20-25lbs but have no stud to screw into, then a toggle bolt is what you need.

A toggle bolt is essentially a bolt with “wings” that expand after their installed to secure itself to the back of the drywall. Some come with ceiling hooks attached and have various weight capacities.

They’re installed similarly to other drywall anchors; here’s what you need:

  • Toggle bolt with a hook
  • Power drill with drill bits or paddle bits
  1. Drill a hole in the ceiling large enough for the base of the toggle to fit through, usually between 3/8″ or 1/2″.
  2. Hold the “wings” closed on the bolt and insert it through the hole, hinge side first.
  3. Once inserted, the wings automatically pop open, securing the bolt ceiling.
  4. Repeat wherever needed and hang your plants

How to Hang Plants Without Drilling

Sometimes you can’t drill into your ceiling, whether it’s because you’re a renter or don’t want to deal with patching the hole down the road.

In this case, you’ll have to get a bit creative, but we have a few ideas to get you started.

Tension Rod
Tension rods are great for utilizing the space in gaps and openings. You can hang them in skylights, window frames or an alcove.

Spring-operated and twist and fit tension rods are the most common, with the latter being better for larger spaces. They also feature rubber caps on their ends so you won’t damage any surface when attached.

While these won’t support any large plants, it’s great for hanging multiple small ones under 5lbs in macrame holders or small pots.

Carpenters Clamps
C-clamps (carpenters clamps) make ideal plant holders because you can put them in so many different places. They work exceptionally well in open concept homes with an industrial vibe. Attach them to thinner areas of drywall that divide rooms, stub walls at the end of cabinets and hang plants off the extended bar.

Be careful not to tighten the clamps too much, or you risk damaging the drywall.

Some homes have metal beams in their ceiling that magnet hooks stick to like a charm. If the beams aren’t exposed, you may have to search to find them, but that’s easy using a magnet.

Look for high-strength magnets hooks; with these, you can safely hang plants and other objects up to 100lbs. As always, check the weight ratings of each product your choose.

Suction Cup Pots
Use suction cup pots for hanging small, lightweight plants. They come with the suction cup connected, and all you need to do is attach it to a skylight or window. We recommend only using these with plants that weigh less than 5 pounds.

Can You Hang Plants With Command Hooks

Command hooks are a quick and easy way to hang house plants from walls or flat ceilings. Unfortunately, they don’t work so well with the uneven, crumbly texture of popcorn ceilings. Like we mentioned before, you can scrape and paint a small section of your ceiling if you’re determined to use adhesive hooks.

Adhesive Ceiling Hooks For Plants

It’s worth mentioning that not all adhesive hooks are the same. You’ll want to watch out for cheap products with bad reviews and low weight-ratings.

Command Hooks For Hanging Plants

The most popular and best on the market are Command Hooks. The jumbo hooks are strong enough to hold up to 8lbs, making them great for hanging cacti, succulents and other small house plants.

They’re simple to use:

  1. Clean the area you’d like to attach the hook with isopropyl alcohol.
  2. Separate the strips and remove the liner labelled “wall side.”
  3. Press the strip firmly onto the surface and hold for 30 seconds.
  4. Remove the top liner from the strip and press the hook onto it for 30 seconds.
  5. Wait one hour before hanging anything to allow the adhesive to bond.

How to Hang a Canopy on Popcorn Ceiling

Adding a canopy to your bedroom will add elegance and create a luxurious feel. Canopies are available in many fabrics, from lightweight and airy to more traditional silk or velvet.

There are also a couple of different styles. The most common two either attach to a hook in the ceiling in one spot (a hoop canopy) or four spots above your bed. Either way, you want to ensure it’s secure, especially if you choose a heavier fabric. Let’s go over both:

Hoop Canopy

  1. Choose your placement. Use a stud finder to find a stud centred above your bed. If you can’t locate one, follow the instruction above on installing a toggle bolt with a hooked end.
  2. Install the hook into the stud or insert the toggle bolt into the drilled hole.
  3. Attach the canopy to the hook, draping it evenly around the sides of your bed.

Four Corner Canopy

Installing a canopy with anchors on four corners is a similar process to a hoop canopy. But you’ll need two curtain rods and whichever style of curtains you prefer.

  1. Measure the height of your room to determine the length of curtains you’d like. Next, measure the length of your bed to find out how long the curtains rods need to be.
  2. Use a pencil to mark the four corners of your bed. Now measure and mark the midpoint between the foot and head of your bed on each side. These are where the three hooks will hang.
  3. Using a drill, install the toggle hooks or anchors and twist in the screw. If one of your marks happens to land on a stud, you can install the hook directly into the stud instead.
  4. Slide the curtains to your rods and place them into the hooks along the bed.

How to Hang a Tapestry on a Popcorn Ceiling

Hanging a tapestry from your ceiling can add a bohemian feel to a room and add design and colour to an otherwise white space. Because tapestries are so light, they’re easy to hang, and you don’t have to worry about them causing damage to your ceiling.

Here are a few ways you can hang a tapestry from your popcorn ceiling:

Thumbtacks or Small Nails
If you don’t mind putting small holes in the fabric, thumbtacks or small nails are the easiest way to attach a tapestry to the ceiling. Start with each corner, then tacking the spaces along the top and sides if you want the fabric to be pulled tighter.

Command Strips or Velcro Tape
For this method, you’ll need to scrape away the texture on the ceiling for the strips or tape to attach.

All you’ll need to do is attach one side of the Command Strip to the ceiling and one end to your fabric. Alternatively, you can attach the strip to clothespins instead and use them to grip onto the tapestry.

It’s the same for the velcro tape. One side is attached to the ceiling, and the second is attached to the tapestry.

How to Hang Decorations From Popcorn Ceiling

There are multiple methods to hang decorations from popcorn ceilings; the best choice will depend on the weight of what you’re trying to hang.

Less Than 3lbs
It’s a simple process for decorations like snowflakes, streamers, or anything else made of paper. Tie or tape them to a string or fishing line, wrap the other end around a thumbtack, and attach it to the ceiling.

Scrape off an area of the popcorn ceiling and use adhesive hooks to hang decorations that have a bit of weight. This method may be more work than it’s worth though, and the following approach may suit you better.

Once you start getting into heavier decorations, you’ll need to use a more secure method. This is when you’ll want to screw hooks directly into a stud or use a heavy-duty toggle bolt.

More Than 30lbs
If your decorations are significant in weight, these should always attach directly to ceiling joists. For objects pushing 50 pounds or more, have the decoration hanging from multiple spots along the joist or beam.

How to Hang Christmas & String Lights From Popcorn Ceiling

Hanging Christmas or ambient string lights around a room can create a fun, festive and inviting vibe. There two best options for securing lights to a popcorn ceiling are using hooks or staples.

Regardless of what you choose to anchor the lights, installing them will be the same process.

  1. Choose what outlet you’re going to use to power the lights.
  2. Decide if you’d like to string them around the room’s edges or string the lights in a pattern across the ceiling.
  3. Measure out how far you’d like to distance the anchor points and mark with a pencil. If possible, choose spots with a ceiling stud.
  4. Install your hooks at each anchor point and string the lights around your room.
  5. Alternatively, you can also use a staple gun to staple the wire onto the ceiling. Be careful not to puncture the wire; you just want to tack it lightly to the ceiling.

How to Hang Paper Lanterns From Popcorn Ceiling

Paper lanterns make incredible decorations for a celebration or party. Hanging them is easy; all you need is a drill, hook and some fishing line. Follow these simple steps.

  1. Choose where you’d like your lantern to hang.
  2. Install a hook directly into a ceiling stud, or use an anchor for drywall.
  3. Cut a piece of fishing line to use to hang the lantern. Keep in mind the height you’d like it to hang at when cutting.
  4. Tie one end of the fishing line to the hook and one end to the lantern. Most paper lanterns have a small piece of wire inside where the fishing line can be attached.

Final Thoughts

Popcorn ceilings are certainly more challenging to hang things from than other styles of ceilings. But it’s not an impossible task.

Drilling into studs, using toggle screws or creating a flat surface for adhesive strips are all effective ways to hang something from any textured ceiling.

Be aware of how heavy the item you want to suspend is and the weight rating of products you use. You can hang almost anything you’d like as long as you have the proper tools and can get a little creative.

  • 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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