Covering up Stucco (Popcorn Ceilings)

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A ceiling partway through the drywall mudding process. We installed a stretched ceiling right over this as it was. The unfinished drywall is now totally protected behind a moisture proof barrier.



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Close up of a high gloss stretch ceiling being installed over a popcorn stucco ceiling.

Stucco is an interior finish material commonly applied to North American ceilings by spray, producing a randomly bumpy finish also called “popcorn ceiling”. New builds here in Toronto often have stucco ceilings because this method of finishing is faster and less costly than drywall (GWB, or Gypsum Wallboard), as drywall seams have to be taped and mudded, a process which involves several applications of plaster and sandings. Stucco is also used to cover existing ceilings, especially if they have been repaired and no longer have a perfectly smooth finish.

PVC Installation 151

A different high gloss stretched ceiling, installation almost complete, with stucco showing behind it.

Older stucco ceilings can contain asbestos, so removal of stucco should only be done by a qualified professional so as to avoid serious health problems. Stucco removal sounds easy enough; just get it wet. In reality, it’s a very messy operation, and once it’s all off of a ceiling, then we often discover why it was put there in the first place; cracks, holes, patches, seams and other flaws which may be difficult or impossible to repair show up in the underlying ceiling.

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Smooth as glass; a completed white high gloss stretch ceiling in a kitchen. What about cleaning food splatters? Just a wipe with a damp cloth will do the trick, if not, a little mild detergent.

Although the bumpy texture hides flaws and improves acoustics in a room, it has become so ubiquitous as to be a décor cliché, and many homeowners and residents long for a smooth ceiling. Stucco is porous, so it tends to turn from its original white to a yellowish or brownish shade over time, and painting it for the first time can only be done slowly by brush. Inevitably, this results in a container of paint which is full of gritty lumps that came off the ceiling on the brush.

Oleg IMG_0956

Popcorn stucco on Oleg’s ceiling before we added stretch ceiling.

If an already stucco covered ceiling should develop a leak, crack or hole, repairs will be visible unless the stucco is removed around the repair and then reapplied by spray, and even then, it is easy to mismatch colour and texture between the old and new areas.

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Oleg’s ceiling after, with white and red sections of stretch ceiling.


Aside from scraping off stucco, options for getting rid of it include knocking down the whole ceiling and re-installing drywall, this time with the full taping, mudding and painting process, or installing a dropped acoustic tile ceiling, which will lower the ceiling height by several inches, and often doesn’t end up looking any better than the stucco did.

There is a better way! Laqfoil stretch ceiling can be installed right over an existing stucco ceiling, and does not need to lower ceiling height by more than one inch! Stretch ceiling, fully installed, costs far less than any of the above options, leaves no mess, takes about two hours for an average residential room, and doesn’t release any toxic substances! Stretch ceiling sits so smooth and flat that it comes in a high gloss version that… well, the best way to describe how perfect it looks is just to invite you to look at these pictures.


A matte white stretch ceiling with a stencil-inspired digital print on it.

Being a fraction of a millimetre thick and held by narrow aluminum or plastic tracks around the perimeter of the room, stretch ceiling involves a lot less material than the other options. That’s less material to go to a landfill during renovation, and at the end of the building’s or room’s life. Better still, both the membrane and the tracks are fully recyclable, so no part of a stretch ceiling needs to go to a landfill at all!


High gloss suits the high glamour look of this living room.

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A matte printed stretch ceiling depicting an old world map.



Stretch ceiling does not need to be painted, and in fact cannot hold paint, so there’s less material use, toxicity, and waste involved with finishing as well. If you ever wish to change the colour of your stretch ceiling, we can remove the membrane from your existing tracks and install a new one. Best of all, you can store the old membrane and have it re-installed if you should ever wish to return to your original look! Alternately, a used membrane can be installed in another room of the same size and shape, or re-shaped to fit a smaller room. We can do this at our Toronto facility.

There is no more cost-effective, attractive, and safe method to change a popcorn stucco ceiling into a smooth one than this! You can choose pristine white, or any of over 260 colours. For surface finish, choose from high gloss, satin, matte, rough matte, or canvas. We can also digitally print any high resolution image on your stretch ceiling membrane prior to installation, so if you want your ceiling to match that of the Sistine Chapel, or to look like an open blue sky, we can do that! We have distributor-installers all over North America and beyond.

–Esther Yates-Abrams

20 Magnetic Dr., Unit # 2
Toronto, Ont. M3J 2C4

Tel: 416 663 1708
Fax: 416 663 1707
Toll Free : 1 888 663 1708

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4 Responses to Covering up Stucco (Popcorn Ceilings)

  1. Rhonda Smith says:

    Interested in knowing basic pricing. Thank you.

  2. Porda says:

    Thanks for the post. Is it possible to install the popcorn ceilings at residential too?

    • admin says:

      Hi Alex,
      We do not install popcorn ceilings, as the blog post which you commented on explains, however, we can definitely install a stretch ceiling over a popcorn stucco ceiling or over anything else in a residential location as well as commercial, hospitality, institutional (including medical), or anywhere else you like, indoors or out!

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