Popcorn Ceiling & Recessed Lighting! (Must Know Things)

By - Ron Singh

Updated -

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Popcorn ceiling solution is an effective way of making your home look nice without extra effort.

It makes life easier, saves time & energy, and also saves you the stress of having a drywall finishing.

If you’re wondering how to install recessed light in a popcorn ceiling, the answer is the recessed lighting should go first before installing the popcorn Ceiling.

The electrician may need to cut a few holes in the wall or ceiling to run the wiring to your lights before your ceiling is refinished and installed.

A popcorn ceiling is a ceiling with a rough surface caused by particles of vermiculite. It is widely known as a stipple or acoustic ceiling. They are the off-white color that looks like popcorn or cottage cheese kernels. The thick texture results from the three layers of paint –the spray-on, sponge-on, and then spray-on.

Popcorn Ceiling Removal and Recessed Lighting

Popcorn Ceiling Recessed Lighting

Far back in the 1980s, popcorn ceilings were widely used in residential construction because of its fine qualities, like their bright appearance and sound.

Manufacturers formerly used asbestos as one of the materials for production until it was banned by the Clean Air Act of 1978 because asbestos contains a harmful substance that causes cancer of the lungs. 

After the ban, manufacturers used Styrofoam instead of asbestos, which is still used to date.

If you’re tired of looking at bumps every time you look up, you can hire the services of an expert to remove them safely. 

However, you should know that removing the popcorn ceiling can be done without spending a penny on the services of a technician.

Instead, it is a DIY project that requires a bit of your time and energy. So the first thing to do is to test for asbestos and ensure your ceiling doesn’t have asbestos. 

You can get it tested by scraping some portions into a bag and then taking it to the nearest test center.

If the test shows that asbestos is present in your ceiling, you must call a professional to do the removal.

But if that’s not the case, let’s dive into removing that grumpy surface from your ceiling. 

  1. Get the tools and materials you need
  2. Prepare the workspace
  3. Remove the popcorn ceiling
  4. Sand prime and paint

Firstly you need to get all your materials and tools ready for work. Luckily the task doesn’t require a unique tool; you only need a set of hand gloves, safety goggles, garden sprayer, ladder, dust mask, drop cloth, and a 4″ utility knife or a taping knife.

The second thing is to get the workspace ready. Clear the space you’re working on and remove all furniture, including other valuable things in the room.

Cover the floor with a drop cloth, cover the wall with painter’s plastic, turn off the electric power source to the room and open all windows to have adequate ventilation.

Next is to spray the ceiling with water using a sprayer; this might look messy, and the process might be slow, but one person can do it, and in no time, the ceiling is off.

Gently spray about five by seven ft. space with water, and leave for 20 minutes to allow the water to penetrate the entire ceiling. By now, the popcorn ceiling would be soft and ready for work. 

With a knife, scrape off the texture and be gentle enough not to damage other ceiling materials underneath it.

Continue this process as often as possible until all stubborn textures are out of your ceiling. Lastly, after removing the popcorn ceiling, the next thing to do is sand, prime, and paint.

Before you begin, check if there’s any damage in the ceiling, such as damaged drywall, visible joint, or gouges, and make sure to repair it.

You’ll need to add a tiny layer of joint compound to smooth any imperfection before you begin sanding. 

After sanding, paint the surface. When the paint is dry, then your job is complete. Take off the drop cloth, Reinstall all fans and lights and replace the furniture.

Pat yourself in the back because you have successfully replaced the popcorn ceiling.

Can You Install Recessed Lighting In Popcorn Ceiling?

Recessed lighting, also known as can lighting, highlights particular areas, gives the room more floor space, and adds more value to your home.

When you install recessed lights by yourself, most of the cost comes from the price of the light itself.

Recessed lighting is a unique type of lighting installed in a popcorn ceiling. First, you must know that it is a challenging project to complete if you don’t know about electrical wiring.

Some fixtures are installed directly into any surface, including ceilings, walls, or countertops. The fixtures have three main components: housing, trim, and bulb. 

The majority of the fixture is the housing. This component contains all the electrical aspects of the fixture and is placed directly in the ceiling or wall.

The trim is the visible part of the fixture, while the bulb is what creates the light.

What Is the Cost of Installing Popcorn Ceiling Recessed Lighting?

Usually, it costs about $20-$50 to hire a professional to do it. Doing it yourself is cheaper; you might spend only about $2-$5 on renting a ladder.

People install 4 -6 recessed lights in a room space. The national average cost is between $800 and $2,000.

Below is the cost of installation according to the various housing types.

Types of HousingCost of Materials Per Light
IC Rated recessed lights.Recessed lights come in either IC Rated or Non-IC Rated. For IC Rated cans, the cost ranges from about $10 to about $100. If you have insulation in your ceiling or plan to have then you should consider choosing an IC Rated can as the most suitable option.
Non-IC Rated can lights.Unlike the IC Rated, you can install the Non-IC Rated light without insulation. It only needs to be insulated 3″ apart from the can, costing an estimated $150.
Airtight Recessed lightThis type costs about $10-$130. Additionally, this type has a tight seal around the can that stops airflow from the top of the ceiling, thereby reducing energy bills.
Shallow Recessed lightYou can find shallow recessed light in old homes. It is usually 2″ deep, unlike the modern designs that are mostly 5″ to 6″. You will likely spend a minimum of $10 and a maximum of $150 for the cost of installation.
Canless recessed lightingThey Averagely Cost $20- $130; they come in designs that sit flush with your ceiling when installed.
Wet Rated Recessed lightThis recessed light is the best option for lighting damp and moist places in the house, such as the bathroom, kitchen, and saunas. However, it costs $15 to $100.

Pros of Popcorn Ceiling Recessed Lighting

One of the ways builders use to save time and energy is to use popcorn ceilings. When it is not tampered with, it can last a lifetime.

It has so many advantages, they include :

  • Reduced noise pollution: popcorn ceilings have a wide surface and rough texture, which helps to absorb sound emanating from the room. The porosity of the ceiling gives it the ability to reduce echoes and sound drastically.
  • Reduces cost: it is budget-friendly, a perfect way of reducing cost during your ceiling finishing. In addition, it is a good way of making your home look nice without the extra cost of general maintenance.
  • They hide imperfection: it conceals shortcomings in the ceiling such as dents, cracks, and lousy drywall.
  • Easy installation
  • Fire retardant


Installing lighting in concrete ceilings such as popcorn ceilings increases the value of your home.

In addition, if there’s a power source available close by, you can fix recessed lights easily and by yourself.

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