Category: Walls & Ceilings

The Best Way to Heat a Home with High Ceilings

Don't get left in the cold when you step into a lofty room! Upgrading to radiant floor heating will keep any size space cozy and comfortable.

Heating a Room with High Ceilings - Warmboard Parquet Wood Floor


As summer heat gives way to fall’s cooler temperatures, daily activities—from dinners to DIY projects—migrate back indoors. But really, how much more comfortable are you indoors with your current home heating system? Sure, being inside provides shelter from the elements, but it doesn’t always guarantee a consistent temperature (even when you’ve properly sealed off all air leaks to the outdoors). When you still have to bundle up before walking across your home’s icy floors or need to curl up with a blanket to work comfortably, you may wonder, What am I paying so much each month to heat? The answer is, you’re probably paying most to heat the ceiling and second floor rather than your primary living space. Settling for uneven temperatures or a heating system that underperforms isn’t the only option. Instead, consider a more direct, dependable, and energy-efficient alternative: radiant heat.

Heating a Room with High Ceilings


Radiant-heating systems aren’t new. In fact, ancient Korea used controlled fires to heat air chambers under floors and behind walls. Fast-forward a few thousand years, and the highly evolved innovative materials and designs behind today’s modern systems are capable of providing efficient, uniform heat that offers numerous advantages over traditional HVAC systems. Their silent, dust-free operation eliminates allergy problems often associated with heating ducts while distributing even heat underfoot. And, on top of all these benefits, radiant heating built into your home’s flooring aims to keep the living space comfortable—no matter how tall the ceiling.

Why Forced Air Falls Short
If you currently rely on forced-air heat and are fed up with its less-than-stellar performance, don’t be too quick to put all the blame on your heating system. The way your home is designed plays a part in how efficiently (or inefficiently) the rooms warm up. Think back to your elementary school science lessons, and remember: Hot air rises. When your forced-air heating system pushes heat out of its vents, the heat naturally rises toward the ceiling. Your rooms become cozily warm at the top, but remain chilly down below, where you do your actual living. 

To cope, shivering homeowners may move closer to the nearest vent or resort to cranking up the thermostat to achieve a comfortable temperature at ground level, producing more heat than actually necessary and ultimately costing more money to do so. For rooms with standard 9-foot ceilings, this law of science is simply an inconvenience; but in the case of high ceilings, upwards of 12 feet, it can be costly. In a two-story house, the result is too much heat upstairs, and the only solution is to open some windows to let the heat (the heat that you’ve just paid for) escape the house. What’s a homeowner to do?

Concentrating Heat Where You Need It Most
While forced-air systems push heat into a room in cycles, unaffected surrounding surfaces can remain cool to the touch and actually steal warmth from your body, leaving you chilly despite the fact that your heating system is working overtime. Radiant floor heating systems, on the other hand, are designed to deliver even heat throughout your rooms by radiating constant warmth from beneath your flooring. The process warms the cooler areas it encounters first—the floor, the furniture, and the people occupying the living space. Because radiant heat warms objects in the room as well as people, you won’t be giving up body heat to, say, that favorite chair of yours. It, too, will emit a welcoming warmth when you sit down, rather than cause you to reach for the nearest woolen blanket.


Heating a Room with High Ceilings - Under Hardwood


Choosing the Most Efficient Radiant System
Before committing to an upgraded heating setup, be it in that one lofty room or your whole house, working knowledge of the systems can help you optimize your energy savings with this already highly efficient system. Radiant floor heating travels through flexible hydronic tubes or electric coils installed either inside or adjacent to panels laid beneath your flooring material of choice. The system’s energy source and materials do vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and considerably impact the energy efficiency of this heating system.

Hydronic radiant floor systems lower fuel bills by utilizing a boiler to heat water within a network of tubes beneath your home flooring to relatively low temperatures. Because the whole floor receives even heat, the water doesn’t have to be as hot as what might run through a conventional radiator.

For best possible heat transfer, panels should be made with a very conductive material—aluminum is the most common. Depending on the specific alloy, aluminum can conduct heat 232 times more efficiently than lightweight gypsum concrete, a standard alternative. Put simply, a material that offers better heat transfer means you’ll get more heat, more quickly, and for less energy (and less money). The thin, highly conductive panels produced by industry leader Warmboard require the least energy to operate of any radiant-heating system, providing the same comfort as competing systems while the water in the hydronic tubes can be more than 30 degrees lower than the others. That alone translates into a 10 to 20 percent savings in your monthly energy bills compared to other radiant options!

Whether you are building a brand-new home with a bold design or already live with the luxury of high ceilings, you can ensure affordable everyday comfort by opting for radiant floor heating. Even if the ceiling heights in your home extend only slightly above average, there are enough compelling reasons to choose radiant heat—its ease on allergies, quiet operation, and seasonal energy savings—that the system shines in lofty areas and smaller home additions alike. Install a state-of-the-art radiant-heating system, and you and your family will enjoy its benefits for years to come.


This post has been brought to you by Warmboard. Its facts and opinions are those of

How To: Spackle a Wall

Here’s a quick, easy way to repair minor damage to plaster and gypsum board surfaces.

How to Spackle - Repairing Wall Holes


Maybe there was a mishap while moving a major appliance. Or perhaps someone hung some pictures the old-fashioned way by (gasp!) hammering nails rather than relying on damage-free wall mounting strips. Whatever the cause, you’re now facing small dings, dents, and gouges to your plaster or gypsum board walls. The fastest fix is to use spackle compound—a type of putty not to be confused with drywall or joint compound, which are applied similarly but generally used to remedy larger, properly reinforced holes. What’s great about spackle compound is it dries quickly and shrinks minimally, allowing you to patch minor damage without waiting 24 hours before repainting. Nail down precisely how to spackle, and you’ll make short work of all future wall repair.

- Putty knife (larger than the area that needs repair)
- Fine-grit sandpaper
- Spackle compound
- Clean cloth or sponge

How to Spackle - Putty Knife


First, pick your compound. Spackle compound comes two ways: in a convenient pre-mixed paste or in powdered form that you’ll mix with water for proper consistency. Pre-mixed compound is sold in “lightweight” and “all purpose” varieties. The former, which includes a vinyl binding agent, is best for small holes in areas that aren’t vulnerable to future damage; the latter includes acrylic and is suitable for voids as wide as 3/4 inch. Both vinyl and acrylic add elasticity to minimize shrinkage.

Prepare the area you plan to spackle to enhance the putty’s sticking power. Use the putty knife or fine-grit sandpaper to clean all debris from in and around the hole and make the surface as smooth as possible.

Time to mix and apply to the hole in the wall! The type of putty you picked up will determine how to prep the spackle. If you purchased powdered spackle compound, mix it with small amounts of water until it reaches a thick yet easy-to-spread consistency. Prepare a small batch—you can always mix more if you need it. Pre-mixed compound is generally good to go, but stir it well if you’re using a previously opened container. (Always close the lid after getting what you need so the paste doesn’t dry out.)

Dip the edge of the putty knife into the spackling compound and scoop out a bit more than what you’ll need to fill the hole. Hold the putty-loaded knife slightly above the damage site at a slight angle and apply with a downward motion to patch.

When the hole is filled, hold the knife at a 90-degree angle to scrape away excess, taking care not to pull the putty from the hole. Don’t strive for perfection here as you spackle the wall; you’ll sand it smooth once dry. Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe residual compound from the wall next to the repair site.

Review your work after about two hours, when the compound should be dry. If the patch seems to be recessed, the paste shrank a bit as it dried. (Holes deeper than ¼ inch often need more than one application.) Repeat the previous steps, this time leaving a slight mound that you’ll sand off later. Wait another two hours.

Once your spackle compound is dry, lightly sand the repaired area with fine-grit sandpaper until it’s flush with the surrounding wall. Use the cloth to wipe away any dust.

Now that you’ve mastered how to spackle this gouge and nearly any other dings to come, simply prime and paint the patched area until it fully blends in with the surrounding wall. A seamless look, in a snap!

How To: Remove Baseboard

Try a new way of taking off existing floor molding without damaging it—or your walls. Armed with this innovative tool and a novel technique, you'll make fast, clean, and easy work of the task.

How to Remove Baseboard


Whether you’re planning on replacing a floor or simply wanting to change up the style of trim in a room, your project to-do list will likely start with removal of the baseboard, that strip of wood or plastic that covers the joint between the walls and floor, as well as any shoe molding that may be present. Particularly if you want to save money by reusing the same baseboard over a new floor, it’s important to free the trim without damaging it—and without scratching, denting, or gouging the walls. At one time, achieving such precision required a number of outmoded tools, hard work, lots of patience, and extra time and money spent repairing holes and replacing damaged trim. Now, with the help of an impressively simple new tool called the Trim Puller, obtaining a pro-quality job is a total snap, saving you time and money along the way.

- 6-inch utility knife
- Caulk remover (optional)
- Trim Puller
- Hammer or mallet
- Side-cutting pliers (optional)

How to Remove Baseboard - Trim Puller


Examine the baseboards and determine the type of wall paint used in the room. Latex paint creates a seal between trim and walls, so if that’s what was used, take a 6-inch utility knife (or, in a pinch, a 5-in-1 painter’s tool) and carefully score along the length of the seam where the baseboard meets the wall so that you avoid pulling off any wall color.

Tip: If you notice caulking along the top edge of the baseboard, apply caulk remover to the seam before scoring.

Loosen the pins or finishing nails that hold the baseboard to the walls. In the past, this task involved inserting a putty knife between the baseboard and the wall and giving it a twist. Now, you can instead enlist the Trim Puller, an ergonomic new tool that incorporates a 15-degree center wedge that’s designed for easy, efficient extraction, just perfect for this delicate process.

Starting at one end of the strip of baseboard, position the Trim Puller’s front face against the wall with the sharp edge on the scored seam. Next, strike the top of the Trim Puller with a hammer or mallet, driving the device between the baseboard and the wall. You will notice that the integrated center wedge automatically begins separating the baseboard from the wall, minimizing the work and speeding the process along. The Trim Puller’s comfortable EPDM rubber handle absorbs the impact vibration of the hammer, making the job pain-free!

Once you’ve wedged the Trim Puller between the trim and the wall, gently twist or pull to slightly separate the two. Continue along the wall in 12-inch increments, increasing the gap as you move toward the end of the wall until the baseboard is free.

If you’ve ever damaged trim, wall, or flooring while using a chunky, clunky crowbar or pry bar to remove baseboard, or sweated to insert a shim just right to keep those dings and dents at bay, you’ll really appreciate the ease and efficiency of the Trim Puller. It features a larger, flatter, and wider contact area than offered by older tools used for removing trim, and it boasts three contact points instead of one to make the job quicker and cleaner.

Voilà! Three simple steps later, your walls will be in fine shape, and the freed-up baseboard—once you get rid of any remaining pins or finishing nails with the claw end of a hammer or side-cutting pliers—will be ready for reuse so you can wrap up your weekend project.

This post has been brought to you by Zenith Industries. Its facts and opinions are those of

Dos and Don’ts of Repairing Drywall

Got a gouge in that gypsum board? Fix it the right way with these tips!

Repairing Drywall - Cracked Wall


Drywall is tough, but it’s not indestructible. Over time, gypsum-board walls can sustain ugly cracks or holes. Fortunately, drywall is fairly easy to repair, but there is an art to it. Here’s what to do—and what to avoid—when fixing drywall damage so it’s indiscernible to landlords, homebuyers, or visitors.

Repairing Drywall


DO use the right stuff.

When repairing minor scratches or dents smaller than ½ inch across, fill them with a thin layer of joint compound (also known as drywall mud). Apply using a 3- to 4-inch putty knife made for drywall work—rather than, say, the kind of narrow utility knife you’d use for wood putty—smoothing the filler till it’s flush with the wall. Cracks or holes larger than ½ inch require reinforcing mesh prior to spackling. If you apply joint compound directly to large gouges, the damage will reappear as the house settles and the joint compound dries and crumbles.

DON’T waste time.

Avail yourself of pre-made products designed to simplify repair tasks. Patch kits with reinforced center panels and self-adhesive tape work great for smaller holes. A drywall compound and primer combo (such as 3M Patch Plus Primer) leaves a surface that’s ready to paint.

DO remember neatness counts.

Use a box cutter or other sharp blade to cut random strands of mesh tape or frayed edges of wallboard paper around holes or cracks before applying joint compound. Otherwise your finished work will show bumps and other blemishes.

DON’T cut the cords.

Be safe and don’t cut into a wall to repair a hole until you verify that electrical cords and plumbing lines aren’t running through the cabinet behind it. If the hole is just a few inches wide, shine a flashlight into it to see what’s there. If you must enlarge the hole, carefully cut horizontally with a drywall saw—but avoid going deeper than an inch. It’s safe to assume that hot wires will be present near an electrical outlet, but don’t bet your life—or life savings—that homebuilders or renovators followed all electrical and plumbing codes. Wires and pipes are often found where they don’t belong.

DO keep it light.

Less is generally more when it comes to joint compound. A thin coat is easier to sand, and you’ll be less likely to remove too much while sanding and expose the patch. Also, for joint compound to appear flush with the wall near the damage site, “feather” the mud as you apply it. Hold the knife at a 70-degree angle, pressing harder on the outer edges of the mud as you move away from the center.

DON’T skimp on sanding.

If you cut corners on sanding, the repair site will be noticeable, so take your time. Once the repaired area is dry, use a fine-grit (100 or 120) sandpaper. After the first round of sanding, add a second layer of mud, spreading it about 2 inches beyond the boundaries of the first layer. Once dry, re-sand.

DO use protection.

The fine particulate of drywall compound could injure your lungs if inhaled. So always wear a dust mask when sanding drywall compound. Disposable gloves are also a good idea to protect your hands from the dehydrating effects of gypsum dust.

DON’T forget to inspect.

Think you’re done? Not so fast! Run your hands over the repair to ensure that it feels smooth. Then, with your temple against the wall, look for humps that might need more sanding.

Repairing Drywall - with Spackle


Once you’re satisfied with the look and feel of your patch job, prime and paint the area. No one will ever know your secret!

Genius! The Soundproofing Solution That Doubles as Wall Art

Stop losing sleep over noise in a neighboring room when you try this quick and easy DIY soundproofing technique.



The struggles of sharing a home aren’t limited to arranging furniture or dividing up a chore chart among the household; they also extend to the clamor and clangor that come along with the habits of our everyday lives. Whether because of the TV volume, drum practice, slamming doors, or the traffic outside, getting a good night’s sleep can seem next to impossible—especially if you’re tossing and turning over the steep costs of putting in soundproofing. Luckily, there’s another way to reap the benefits of some much needed peace and quiet without shelling out for materials and installation.

This noise-reducing paneling is both easy on the eyes and easy enough for any homeowner or apartment dweller to make in an afternoon. Start by finding the wall closest to the source of the sound. (Hint: It could be the exterior wall facing the street, or it might be the wall you share with a teenager turned budding musician.) Take measurements, and pick up as many large frames as you’ll need to cover the space. You’ll find an assortment of oversized frames priced in the $5 to $10 range at donation-based shops like Goodwill, or you can achieve a more uniform look by picking up a bulk supply of your favorite style, like these from IKEA. Lastly, gather some fabric in a print you love, craft-store batting, scissors, and a roll of tape.

The key to transforming these function of these frames is in how you fill them. Replace the glass or plastic that typically protects an art print with a sheet of batting slightly smaller than the frame and a piece of fabric slightly larger than it. The padding is thick enough to absorb some of the sound before it enters the space. Since you’re working with cushy materials, arrange the layers on a smooth surface in this order for easiest stuffing: fabric on the bottom, batting in the middle, and the picture frame backing on top. Then, fold the fabric over the batting and backing—similar to wrapping a present—and tape everything down. Pop the layers into the frame, hang it on the wall, and repeat until you’ve effectively padded the problem area.

For a small cost, this DIY has a big payout. In addition to its quieting benefits, the framed fabric fronts also double as memo boards for tacking notes and photos (not to mention a way to add texture and color to an otherwise vanilla room). Once everything is in place, crawl under the covers and prepare yourself for a night of uninterrupted sleep—just don’t forget to set an alarm.



FOR MORE: Ikea Ideas

So, You Want to… Remove a Load-Bearing Wall

Get up to speed on some of the considerations, caveats, and planning involved with the decision to remove a load-bearing wall.

How to Remove a Load-Bearing Wall


In the old days, homes were built with a warren of smaller, sharply delineated rooms, each devoted to its own distinct purpose. Homeowners today often prefer open, fluid floor plans, at least on the ground level. For that reason, many renovations call for the removal of a wall, be it shear or load-bearing. No question, shear walls are a lot easier to knock down. Provided you take the necessary safety precautions and follow local building regulations, you might even be able to do it yourself. That’s definitely not the case with a loading-bearing wall. For a successful result, you must work with a reliable contractor, structural engineer, or both.

There are two common approaches. Both rely on the addition of a bearing beam to take on the load that had been absorbed by the wall being removed. The two approaches differ when it comes to the handling of the beam itself. The less ambitious and less expensive method involves leaving the beam exposed. You can paint the beam or box it in, but the discerning eye will probably notice it’s there. More complicated, labor-intensive, and expensive is to conceal the beam so that it runs between, not beneath, the ceiling joists. This approach leaves behind no visible sign that the load-bearing wall has been removed, only a flat, smooth ceiling.

How to Remove a Load-Bearing Wall - Demolition Work


Because it affects the structural integrity of your home, removing a load-bearing wall isn’t a casual undertaking by any stretch of the imagination. But for professionals in the building and remodeling industry, it’s more or less routine. That said, because every home features its own set of idiosyncrasies, strategies vary. Well before work begins, contractors and/or engineers have to confront a number of questions, chief among them: What type of beam should be employed? Each has its own pros and cons.

Dimensional Lumber: Are you removing only a portion of a load-bearing wall, perhaps to accommodate a new doorway? In that situation, the hired pro may recommend a beam made of standard dimensional lumber (provided doing so would be permissible under the relevant building codes). To create the beam, boards are typically bolted together, with a half-inch layer of plywood between. If you need to support a span wider than a doorway, though, dimensional lumber typically won’t cut it.

Laminated Veneer Lumber: In private homes, pros employ laminated veneer lumber beams (LVLs) perhaps more than any other type. Why? First and foremost, because they comprise multiple wood strands bonded under high heat and pressure, LVLs are exceptionally strong. In addition, as they’re factory-made, LVLs are both uniform and stable. Uniform sizing means LVLs are relatively easy to work with, and their stability (resistance to warping, splitting, and shrinking) makes them ideal for framing.

Steel I-Beams: Laminated veneer lumber has virtually eliminated the need for steel beams in average residential settings, but there are exceptions. For instance, as steel beams are more compact than LVLs, they are sometimes specified in situations where limited headroom exists. I-beams are costly, though. For one thing, they are heavy, which means that installation requires both manpower and heavy equipment. Plus, steel beams arrive on site in one piece, which, depending on the length of the beam, may or may not fit easily into the building.

Are vertical supports necessary to support the new beam? That depends on the length and type of beam, the existing framing, and a host of other factors. An engineer would perform a series of load calculations to arrive at a recommendation, which might call for vertical supports on their own, or possibly entail additional concrete footings at foundation level. A general rule of thumb: The larger the load-bearing wall, the more complex its removal, particularly if the goal is to create sweeping, open space interrupted as little as possible by visible structural elements.

If planning plays a critical role in removing a load-bearing wall, so does prep work. The most visible, dramatic changes take place at a relatively late stage, but a much more modest yet absolutely essential effort goes on at the start—bracing. Here, contractors carefully prop up the ceiling joists on both sides of the work area, using temporary support beams in combination with adjustable jacks. Once set, the bracing more or less prevents the building from collapsing when the bearing wall comes down. The demolition? That’s easy. It’s everything else that’s hard.

Removing Wallpaper—It’s Easier Than You Think!

Peeling back outdated wall coverings doesn't have to be a pain in the neck! Armed with a few wallpaper removal tools from HYDE, you can tackle this weekend project with ease.

How to Remove Wallpaper - With HYDE Wallpaper Scoring Tool


No homeowner wants to be confronted with ripped-up wall coverings as a day-in, day-out reminder of a job not yet finished. For this reason, wallpaper removal is a project that should be done in one fell swoop rather than dragged out over the course of a week in odd spare moments. But the sheer scope of the project—imagine four long walls in a high-ceilinged master bedroom—and fear of failure can be just daunting enough to discourage even the most determined homeowner from taking on the project at all. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be difficult to get rid of that outdated, tired old wallpaper. (And no, we’re not suggesting you run out to hire a professional.) With the proper technique and assistance from the right tools, you can remove even the most stubborn wallpaper on your own and with ease, leaving you free to transform your walls with a fresher, more modern treatment.

- Nonslip drop cloth
- Wide painter’s tape
- Hot water
- Hand or pump sprayer
- Liquid fabric softener
- HYDE Wallpaper Scoring Tool
- Ladder
- HYDE 4-Inch Glass and Wall Scraper
- Large noncellulose sponge
- Trash bag

First, take precautionary measures to protect the flooring and baseboards in the room where you’re planning to remove the wallpaper. Spread a nonslip canvas drop cloth over the floors, then cover up the baseboards with wide painter’s tape. The tape will keep scraps of fallen wallpaper from coming into contact with your baseboards, saving the molding from damage and you from having to unstick the paper all over again.

Test just how tightly adhered your wallpaper is by soaking a corner of one panel with some hot water from a hand or pump sprayer. After 10 minutes, peel back the moistened wallpaper. If it comes off easily, you’re in luck! You have strippable wallpaper. All you need to do is spray each panel thoroughly with hot water and give it time to absorb. After a few minutes, peel the panel off. Work on one panel at a time until all are down, then skip to Step 6.

If, however, the wallpaper remains stuck after you spray on the water and wait 10 minutes, you may be dealing with a vinyl wall covering that resists water absorption. Proceed to the next step for the key to tackling your obstinate wallpaper.

How to Remove Wallpaper - With HYDE 4-Inch Glass and Wall Scraper


To better reach the source of the problem—the wallpaper glue—you’ll want to make many tiny incisions in the wallpaper so the hot water will be able to reach and saturate the adhesive beneath. The fastest, most painless way to do this requires one simple-to-use instrument: HYDE’s Wallpaper Scoring Tool.

Position the easy-to-grip tool against the wall and move it back and forth in circles and swipes, taking care not to miss the areas closest to the ceiling and corners. With 96 amazingly sharp teeth, HYDE’s Wallpaper Scoring Tool makes wallpaper perforation a snap. After you’ve worked your way around the walls, you’ll see thousands of tiny holes in even the toughest paper.

After scoring the wallpaper, spray hot water on the wall; work on only one or two panels at a time so the water doesn’t cool off too much as you proceed through the next steps. Wait 15 minutes for the panel to saturate completely, then peel back a corner to see how easily it releases.

Do not despair if the paper resists your tug. If it’s still stuck in the same spot, repeat the spraying process. Depending on the thickness of the glue and how long it has been in place, you may need to apply hot water multiple times in order to loosen the paper enough for easy removal. Are you up against a real challenge? Mix liquid fabric softener—which helps dissolve wallpaper glue—into the hot water at the ratio of 1/4 cup of softener per gallon of water. Dampen your wallpaper panels with this solution as you did with the plain hot water.

Once the wallpaper seems loose enough to remove, climb your ladder to start where the wall meets the ceiling. Because loosened strips of wallpaper will naturally hang downward, working from the top down allows you to scrape and peel as you go. For best results, use HYDE’s 4-Inch Glass and Wall Scraper to shave the damp wallpaper from the wall. The blade should be turned to dull side out, instead of the sharp blade which will tend to dig into the wallboard.

While no one would fault you for wanting to finish up the project as quickly as possible, use a little caution while you scrape. You may very well be planning on painting the wall after the paper is gone, and you really don’t want to have to fill in nicks and gouges on the drywall or plaster before you paint. To protect the wall, hold the scraper so the blade is nearly parallel to the wall, and draw your tool along the wall carefully.

Keep a large noncellulose sponge and a bucket of warm water handy while you’re stripping off the paper so you can scrub down the wall frequently to remove residual glue. This is easier to do while the wall is still wet; once the job is complete, the glue can harden on the wall and require rewetting and scraping.

When all the paper has been removed, a final wipe down of the entire wall using the sponge and fresh water is all that’s necessary to prep the wall for its new look. Wait a day for the walls to dry completely, and you can move ahead with either a fresh coat of paint or another style of wallpaper—perhaps one with a timeless design so you won’t have to repeat the project too soon!

This post has been brought to you by Hyde Tools. Its facts and opinions are those of

How To: Texture a Ceiling

Things are looking up if you hope to add new character to a room. You can easily bring visual interest by texturing your ceilings, where DIY options abound.

How to Texture a Ceiling - Dining Room

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Sterling, VA

It all too easy to slap a coat of white paint on your ceiling and consider it done. But to really pull a room together, it ought to be stylishly topped off—and putting a textured effect on the ceiling is a great way to add impact to your décor. Another plus? Textured ceilings perfectly camouflage imperfections like cracks or evidence of water damage. There are a variety of techniques you can employ to create your texture of choice (way beyond the “popcorn” look popular in the 1970s). All it takes is a mixture of paint and drywall mud—and a little ingenuity. Read on for simple step-by-step guidance to texturing your ceiling, your way, without sending your budget through the roof.

- Drop cloths
- Painter’s tape
- Ladder
- Primer
- Pre-mixed textured paint
- Wall paint
- Drywall mud

How to Texture a Ceiling - Stucco Texture


Since you’ll be working against gravity, you’ll want to protect your furniture, floors, and fixtures from splatters. Empty the room as much as possible, which will also give you space to move around. Cover remaining pieces of furniture and the entire floor with drop cloths. Next, take off any faceplates, vent covers, ceiling fans, and/or light fixtures. Finally, apply painter’s tape around the edges of the ceiling, right where it meets the wall, being careful to keep it stick-straight all the way across.

You might think that because textured paint is part drywall mud it will adhere to any surface, but for a quality job, you still want to prime first. This step will make application easier and give lasting results. Choose a primer close to the color you’ll be using to texture your ceiling—a dark primer for dark paint and a light primer for light paint. Cover the entire surface in a thin, consistent layer and let dry fully (consult the can’s drying time guidelines) before moving on.

Prep your product. If you’re looking for a subtle texture, you’ll get good results with pre-mixed textured paint. But if you’re aiming for more depth or special effects, mix your own by combining paint with drywall mud. The standard rule of thumb is one part drywall mud to 10 parts paint. Pour paint into a bucket, add drywall mud, and blend, aiming for the consistency of pancake or biscuit batter. Depending on the look you’re going for, you might want a somewhat thicker consistency. Do a small batch first to practice getting it just right.

It’s always wise to start in the least noticeable part of the ceiling when applying the texture—perhaps the darkest corner of the room, or the edge of the ceiling closest to the door. Position your ladder there and make sure you can work from a reasonable angle without arching backwards. The exact technique (and subsequent tools you’ll need) depends on your desired effect.

For a subtle finish: Apply pre-mixed textured product as you would typically put on paint. Cut in at the edges first with a paintbrush. Then use an extended roller and paint tray, taking care to bring your roller as close to the edges as possible. To amp the look slightly, use a specialty roller with a texture of its own. Don’t be afraid to experiment; after all, if you don’t like the initial result, you can always switch gears and apply another coat.

For a stucco finish: To mimic the look of stucco, you’ll need a damp sponge or cloth as well as a wide compound knife or, if you’ve chosen a thicker-than-average consistency for aesthetic reasons, a trowel. Working on one small section at a time, apply the mixture to the ceiling, and then dab a damp sponge or cloth into your work in a repetitive motion to create the texture you desire. Repeat this process around the room, one section at a time, being careful not to let the pattern become too uniform.

For a popcorn finish: If you like this retro look, you’ll need to buy or rent a drywall texture sprayer. Purchase enough lightweight plastic sheeting to protect your walls from flying particles, securing it to the the perimeter of the room with painter’s tape and covering the walls like a floor-length curtain all the way around. Before spraying, choose the nozzle and air pressure setting that matches your desired result, and then follow its instructions as you move the sprayer across the ceiling. Again, allow your application to look as random as possible rather than aiming for a perfect pattern.

For an artistic finish: Truly advanced DIYers may wish to add extra character by creating a Victorian style rose rose medallion around a central lighting fixture or ceiling fan. This dramatic effect is achieved by using drywall mud and an array of texturing combs (two or three should do the trick, anywhere from 3 to 10 inches in length apiece). Working in concentric circles, you’ll use the combs to apply drywall mud (without paint) in thick, even, decorative stripes to mimic the look of plaster. When completely dry, you’ll paint the entire ceiling. Just keep in mind that this project will require a steady hand and a solid sense of design, so study up on the process before giving it a shot.

Whichever technique you choose, the end result will lend extra punch to your space’s style. The array of colors and effects is endless, so have fun and aim for a look that captures the personality of the room and those who live in it.

3 Fixes for Popcorn Ceilings

Banish that unwanted popcorn texture and lift your ceiling to new heights with these DIY solutions.

How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings


While popcorn is almost always welcome during a trip to the movies or a viewing of your favorite TV show, there is one place the texture of this favorite treat is generally not wanted: on your ceilings. Popcorn ceilings were a fixture in homes from the 1950s well into the ’70s, but their presence today has a way of making a space feel more old-school than cool. Rid your rooms of this outdated ceiling treatment using one of these three smart and stylish solutions.

Before embarking on any of these methods, first test your ceilings for asbestos. You do not want to ingest or inhale the dangerous fibers that can come loose during your project. If an at-home test reveals that your popcorn does contain asbestos, leave any alterations to the pros.



How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings - Scrape

Photo: via Sonata85

If you can scrape together humble household paraphernalia like clear tarp, a flat-edged metal scraper, and a putty knife, you can scrape off that popcorn ceiling. Start by removing as much furniture as possible from the room, and then lay the tarp completely over the floor, radiators, and whatever else remains. Duct-tape the seams together and use painter’s tape to secure the tarp to the wall, creating a big concave sheet to catch all the debris. Next, get up on a steady ladder or stool and moisten a square area of the ceiling with water. Holding the scraper at an angle, use it to gently slide the popcorn texture off; work around hard-to-reach edges with a putty knife. When the ceiling is clear, bundle up the popcorn-filled tarp and dispose of it. Fill and sand any ceiling holes with spackling compound, and wipe the ceiling smooth with a damp cloth. Finally, prime the bare ceiling and paint it, reveling in its newfound smoothness.



How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings - Tile


Although scraping is an effective way to get rid of a popcorn ceiling for good, the process can be more than some are willing to undertake. If you’re not ready to tackle the job, consider concocting a clever cover-up using decorative tiles instead. Styrofoam versions like these are not only inexpensive and customizable, but also easy to cut and install. Calculate the number of ceiling tiles needed to cover the area, and then use an X-Acto knife to slice the Styrofoam down to the desired measurements. Dab construction adhesive on the tiles, and then press them onto the ceiling, ensuring that they fit flush next to each other. Caulk the lines for a seamless finish.



How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings - Plank


If popcorn ceilings are seriously compromising your decor, give them a modern makeover with rustic wood planks. While a higher-grade wood may be easier to work with, a thinner, lightweight version—like the planks that Cindy of Edith & Evelyn Vintage uses here—can suffice just as well and will cut down on costs. To get the look in your own home, start by using a stud finder to identify the ceiling joists, then mark them with chalk. After painting or staining your wood to suit your style, apply Liquid Nails to the back of each of the wood planks, and then nail them into the ceiling joists with a nail gun. Although this project requires a friend or family member’s helping hand and a great deal of patience, you’ll be delighted with the results when you gaze in joy at your ceiling that (finally) reflects this decade’s design choices.

How To: Sand Drywall

Choose from two foolproof techniques to sand out any glaring drywall imperfections—lumps, ridges, and the like—so that you (and your walls) can enjoy a flawless finish.

How to Sand Drywall - Sand Drywall Before Painting


Drywall—commonly known as sheet rock—is one of the most popular construction materials used in finishing interior walls. Cheap, durable, easy to install, easily repaired—it’s no wonder that it’s a go-to for do-it-yourselfers and contractors alike. But while drywall installation is admittedly an easy DIY project, a few tips and techniques borrowed from the pros can make the difference between a smooth, attractive wall surface and one riddled with imperfections.

At the top of the list of important know-how is proper sanding technique. Without it, any dings, dents, creases, ridges, or lumps in the joint compound will be magnified once paint is applied, and uneven sections in the drywall can prevent wallpaper from adhering correctly. Here are two sanding methods designed to produce a flawless finish.


Option 1: Dry Sanding

Dry sanding is the typical method used to finish drywall joints, as it produces the smoothest finish—ideal if you plan on painting the drywall. But be warned: It does create an unavoidable dust storm in the middle of your home, which can sway homeowners to consider wet sanding (see further down) in cases where a smooth finish isn’t absolutely necessary.

- Joint compound
- Putty knife
- Sanding block
- Sanding pole (optional)
- Sanding sponge
- Fine-grit sandpaper (120- to 150-grit)
- Flashlight or work light
- Pencil
- Wall primer
- Dust mask and goggles
- Plastic sheeting and tape
- Vacuum cleaner or shop-vac

How to Sand Drywall - Sanding Drywall

Photo: via Georgia National Guard

Drywall sanding produces copious amounts of dust, but proper preparation can help keep the dust from infiltrating every nook and cranny of your home. Before you begin, assemble all tools in the room where you will be sanding, including extra joint compound and a putty knife to fill in any gouges or mistakes. Wear a dust mask and goggles to protect your face; you may want to cover your hair with a scarf and wear old clothes. If you have an exterior window, open it a crack to provide ventilation. Tape plastic sheeting across any doors leading to other areas of your home, as well as over the floor and any furniture in the room.

Affix a section of fine-grit sandpaper to the sanding block. You can purchase pre-cut sections that are designed to fit drywall sanders—anchor one end under the clamp and pull the sandpaper taut before tightening the clamp on the other side.

Attach the sanding block to a sanding pole, if desired, to better reach the ceiling or along the top edges of the walls. If you use one, though, be careful to keep the sanding head slightly angled—never completely perpendicular to the pole, to avoid gouging the surface.

Sand the joints, seams, and around screws lightly with the sanding block. A few pointers:

• Careful to not put too much pressure on the surface to avoid “fuzzing” the drywall or leaving sanding marks; sand the center of seams and joints just enough to remove ridges and bumps.

• Also avoid sanding in a straight line or going over the same area in the same direction, both of which can leave grooves or depressions. Instead, move the sander around in a curved motion.

Use a sanding sponge to get into the corners and around electrical boxes, again, applying light pressure to avoid damaging the drywall paper.

Shine a light parallel to the joints to reveal any gouges, grooves, or ridges. Mark these areas lightly with a pencil. Fill these areas with fresh joint compound, smoothing with a putty knife. Let dry completely, and then re-sand the area.

Prime the walls, then sand again lightly to remove any lumpy spots or paper fuzz.

Use a vacuum cleaner or shop vac to clean up the drywall dust. If your vacuum has a pre-filter, use one designed to capture drywall dust and other fine particles.

How to Sand Drywall - Drywall Sander



Option 2: Wet Sanding

The biggest downside to drywall sanding is that it produces dust—a lot of dust! Wet sanding drywall avoids most of this mess and the associated cleanup. The catch? It does not produce quite as smooth a finish as dry sanding, and therefore is not suitable for walls that will be painted. If the final finish is wallpaper or texturing, however, consider wet sanding to save a lot of time. Just add a bucket (and a mop for any mess) to the materials list above, and you’re good to get started.

Prep your space following the suggestions in Step 1 of the dry sanding process. This time, fill up a bucket about half-full with warm water and place it with the rest of your tools. Then dunk the sanding sponge in the water.

Squeeze all excess water out of the sanding sponge, so that it is damp but not dripping. Work your sponge’s abrasive side in a large, circular motion to sand the joints, corners, screws, and around electric boxes. (Here, too, light pressure will help avoid creating grooves or gouges.)

Note: Every few minutes, dampen the sponge in the warm water. This will also give you a chance to wash out some of the dust that collects in the sponge as you go. Once the water becomes cloudy, pour out the old water and refill with fresh warm water.

Look for any gouges, grooves, or ridges with the help of your flashlight, then fill these areas with fresh joint compound and (when dry) sand the area lightly with your wet sponge. Once the wall dries thoroughly, you can cover with primer, sand, and apply your wallpaper or texturing of choice.