• Tell Your Friends

Do me a favor, and look up at your ceiling—thanks. Now let me politely ask “WHY THE HELL DID YOU JUST LEAVE YOUR DRYWALL CEILING BLANK BUT PAINT YOUR DRYWALLED WALLS A COLOR?” No, I’m not yelling, I just don’t really understand. White drywall ceilings are fantastic when (a) they’re part of an all-white-aesthetic (b) the ceilings are coffered or (c) they’re clad with beadboard or tongue-and-groove wood painted out white or (d) you’re broke and can’t afford another gallon of $26 paint.

Easy DIY Ceiling Medallion by Layla Palmer of The Lettered Cottage

Sure, this is totally subjective; however, as someone who gets paid to improve people’s homes, I can attest firsthand that it’s an easy way to give a room new identity, play up its assets or tone down its shortcomings. Here’s a few ceiling design ideas for different levels of DIY. Hey, you spend hours picking paint colors, taping off trim, then rolling eggshell enamel on your walls; it’s only fair you pay some attention to their upstairs neighbor. Right?

Painted Ceiling Tiles

Armstrong Residential Ceilings offers a huge assortment of ceiling tiles for spaces with unfortunate but necessary drop-ceilings. In basements, or as I like to call them, “terrace levels,” drop-ceilings allow instant access to leaky pipes or damaged wiring. Sure, the grids can be torn out, then drywall can go up; however, that’s a major headache and if you can’t do it yourself, it’s also major cost. Simply swap out unsightly foam tiles for “Raised Panel” tiles which can be left in their matte white finish to help bounce light around or they can be customized with paint. In this basement’s bedroom, my team updated the ceiling in about four hours; the only tool needed was a utility knife to cut the end pieces to size. Once installed, we sprayed the ceiling and the walls the same shade of dove grey. This is a great project for people with beginner DIY skills.

Beadboard Painted Ceiling

Beadboard is an affordable way to go directly over unsightly popcorn or stippled ceilings, like this, which I used in the makeover of FOX News reporter Stacy Elgin’s home office. In this designer’s studio, I added a layer of architectural interest to boring, new construction, drywall ceilings with Armstrong Residential Ceilings “WoodHaven Beadboard”, then painted it a plum color found in accents of the wallpaper. What’s so great about using this product is that it’s engineered specifically for ceilings; it comes in thin planks which are much easier to install than basic beadboard which comes in 8X4 sheets. Since this involves cuts with a chopsaw, I’d recommend this for homeowners with medium DIY skills.

Painted Ceilings

If you’ve got almost zero DIY skills, I’m certain you can tackle this: paint stippled ceilings the same color as your walls using a flat finish paint. When I overhauled this Rhode Island teachers’ lounge, I couldn’t help but obsess over the ugliness of the chipped, stippled effect above. Limited on time, labor and budget, I needed a quick fix to just simply make it go away. Two gallons of flat paint and an extender pole were all I needed.

Woodplank Ceilings

Woodhaven plank systems are my go-to products for complete ceiling overhauls. You’ll need advanced DIY skills to complete them yourself: be able to make cuts with a chop saw, measure meticulously for proper line-up and attach furring strips to the studs with a nail gun.

Woodplank Ceilings

Once installed, they give the look of a custom, stained wood ceiling. This particular style is called “Weathered”; it took a full weekend to install.

Painted Ceiling Stripes

Here’s a painted ceiling project for medium-skilled DIY’ers with steady hands. Add graphic impact to boring, white drywall with a taped off, painted pattern. In this neutral boy’s room, I revved up the energy with a few bursts of pea green and brown in unexpected places: bookshelf panels and a 14X12 ceiling. To create perfect stripes, I simply measured, then taped off 14-inch alternating stripes, then painted them with a roller. This cost less than $100 and took a weekend. Small price to pay to escape the hell of a neglected drywall ceiling, don’t ya think?

39 Responses

  1. Kristi says:

    I have one of the world worst inventions – ceiling heat. You are not suppose to paint your ceilings when there are coils up in there to heat your home. So sad…. but that is a reason for white blah ceilings.

  2. pixelecho69 says:

    I like the wood ceiling you have on the picture above, but My home still has a popcorn ceiling we just haven't done anything to fix it it's horrible.

  3. Brian Patrick Flynn says:

    I've NEVER encountered a home with CEILING HEAT! It sounds quite amazing, actually; however, I really don't think anything would be super safe for cladding the surface. If I were stuck with a heated ceiling, I think I'd simply choose a decorative paint treatment. Tone on tone or a play on finishes would work well: flat with gloss or ultra-white with blue-white. As far as popcorn ceilings are concerned, they're a breeze compared to coil-heated ceilings! Pick up some furring strips; they're made to go directly over any surface, then you attach your new materials to the furring strips. This is an excellent way to say goodbye to popcorn without messy demo!

  4. Bob says:

    We make all types of wood ceilings at 5th Wall Designs for the DIY'er in you. Check us out at <a href="http://www.5thwalldesigns.com” target=”_blank”>www.5thwalldesigns.com

  5. cmg says:

    I saw a beautiful bamboo ceiling in Costa Rica. That's what I want. How do I find someone qualified to do an installation?

  6. Jan Welmers says:

    AN cheap alternative to the plank ceiling. Rip od buy pieces of 1/8" plywood 8 ft long and and 5" wide and 1/6" plywood 8ft long and 6" wide [or wider or narrower] sand the sides of the strips. stain the strips in a not to dark color [i prefer to stain the sides of the 1/6" strips with a darker color] and then use a varnish. mark the middlle of the room with a chalk line. glue/nail a1/6 strip over the line [2-1/2" both sides] now from the middle at 5" apart glue/nail the 1/8 strips 5" apart. until a foot from the walls. [Some lengths of the strips you have to vary so that the butt lines are not in line with each other. just like wallflooring. ] On the 1/8 strips glue/nail the 1/6 strips with a 1/2" overlay both side. For the last foot on both sides you have to figure out how to adapt the remaining strips so that both sides fills up equal. That can be done by using a larger overlap and smaller or wider strips. When you are more experienced in measuring you can make a medallion around a lampfixture or break up the lines by strips that go in an other directions. This is not easy but you can give it a try. If the room is large then using two stains like a faux finish gives a nice effect. Making a ceiling this way is time consuming and you need an extar pair of hands. But the result is very nice and the material very affordable.
    Jan Welmers
    Aruba

  7. Jan Welmers says:

    For a cheap alternative to the plank ceiling, rip or buy pieces of 1/8" plywood 8 ft long and and 5" wide and 1/6" plywood 8ft long and 6" wide [or wider or narrower] sand the sides of the strips. stain the strips in a not to dark color [i prefer to stain the sides of the 1/6" strips with a darker color, that enhances the relief] and then use a varnish. Mark the middlle of the room with a chalk line. Glue/nail a1/8 strip starting with the butt side 1/6" from the wall and over the line [2-1/2" both sides] Now from the middle at 5" apart glue/nail the 1/8 strips 5" apart. until about a foot from the perpendicular walls. [Some lengths of the strips you have to cut so that the butt lines are not in line with each other [just like laminate wallflooring]. On the 1/8 strips glue/nail the 1/6 strips with a 1/2" overlay on both sides. For the last foot on both sides you have to figure out how to adapt the remaining strips so that both sides fills up equally. That can be done by using a larger overlap and/or smaller or wider strips. When you are more experienced in measuring and cutting, than you can make a medallion around a lampfixture or break up the lines by strips that go in an other directions. This is not easy, needs a lot of planning and cutting and is even more time consuming, but you can give it a try. If the room is large then using two allmost same color stains like a faux finish gives a nicer effect. Making a ceiling this way is time consuming and you need an extra pair of hands. But the result is very nice and the material is very affordable. In stead of plywood you can use other materials or a mix of materials to enhance the relief.
    Jan Welmers
    When you are finished send me a picture T awsaua@gmail.com.

  8. Joanne says:

    We live in 1830 schoolhouse and the living room ceiling won't hold paint. After about a month it just peels off and hangs there. Very nice if you're going for the cave effect!

  9. Jay Archer says:

    I often find many many of my potential clients often don't even consider the room ceiling as an Artist canvas. I will sometimes suggest the ceiling for a faux sky paint scheme, or an old world fresco. I often share with potential clients pictures of old world ceiling Art . I have found when talking to others that do what I do , that painting ceilings as a muralist canvas is making a come back esspecially in baby's rooms and formal dining room settings.

  10. olya says:

    There are so many choices in ceiling finishing, it saddens me to see ceilings at my friend's houses in plain white. The room just looks unfinished. I am very happy to see that there are so many options for even those who want to do it themselves.

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