My friend and brilliant designer and house whisperer, Chandler Marvin, is helping me renovating  my office/studio. After painting the space the gorgeous green she recommended, the ugly popcorn ceiling stood out like a sore thumb. Chandler found some inexpensive foam tiles online and suggested I give it a shot. Result:

Several people are asking me how it’s done, so here’s my process.

You’ll need these tiles: 50pc of Astana White (20″x20″…

It took me approximately 36 tiles for a 10’x10′ room.

This is the adhesive (Custom Building Products… but I discovered halfway through that nails were working just fine and not making me high and sick from fumes. If you do want glue, the AcrylPro is great because it will adhere to both the foam and to the popcorn ceiling with some pressure. I put dabs on the edges and the center. You have to put enough on that it can sink into the popcorn texture, but you don’t have to cover the whole tile.  For 36 tiles, I would have needed another tub if I hadn’t moved over to nails .

If you want to leave the tiles white, I’d still recommend painting over them with a liquid water-based paint.  The tiles do you look like Styrofoam without any paint on them.

If you want to go with the faux tin ceiling look, here’s how.  Styrofoam does not like spray paint. I knew that going in, but I didn’t want to hand paint everything, so I was determined to find a solution. Here’s what happens if you just hit it with regular  spray paint:

It’s not the worst thing in the world, because it’s kind of nice to have some antique feel to the tiles, but too much corrosion means it starts melting and warping. To minimize the corrosion, start with a two in one primer and paint made for plastics.  I tried both white and cream, and I definitely recommend the cream as you can see where it’s going on and it creates a good base for the gold.


After you have a base of the primer, you can spray it with the metallic paint. I chose antique gold. It will take a few coats.

Once you have good coverage on your tiles  and the spray paint feels dry,  use acrylic paint to apply highlights. The first photo is before highlights. This step really takes the tile over the top!

Then you’re ready to apply to the ceiling!  I started at one wall edge and measured into the middle and placed my first tile there.  Some instructions suggest measuring into the middle of the room, but I just didn’t trust myself to get that first tile straight.


I used nails at each corner and  sometimes one near the middle if it look like it was sagging. The tile is very easy to cut with an X-Acto knife, so trimming the  edge tiles two size wasn’t difficult. Once the tiles were up, I use some white tub and tile caulk to fill in the  obvious gaps between tiles. I didn’t bother to do the whole ceiling with caulk, but it’s easier to paint over dried caulk then it is to paint popcorn ceiling between gaps. I used the same highlighting paint to cover over obvious gaps.

I also used slices of middle pieces to fill in the edges, and I found that that looked just fine and saved a lot of tile waste.

My biggest complaint about this process is a quantity of spray paint needed.  It’s going to be a while before my neighbors talk to me again. I would have upgraded to real metal if I’d known what I was getting into, but I am happy with the result. I will use Styrofoam tiles for my white ceilings for sure.

Goodbye popcorn ceilings and happy renovating!