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Alternatives to Drywall Ceilings

Sidney Johns

For those homeowners who do not appreciate the smooth finish of drywall ceilings, there are options. Drywall ceilings may appear bland and clash with a decorative or texture-filled room. While some paint brightens and cheers up the plain appearance, it does not change the ceiling's flat or smooth appearance.

Drywall ceilings may appear unfinished to those who prefer texture.

Forgo the drywall altogether and select a livelier option.


Stucco is a mud-like substance sometimes found on the exterior of a house. The thick substance sticks to almost all surfaces, including treated wood. Use stucco as a finishing alternative to drywall. Apply stucco with a trowel to create swirls or patterns on a treated wood ceiling. Spray it on for a smooth or popcorn appearance. Adding tint or color makes a more decorative ceiling or leaving it natural offers an earthy appearance. The thickness of the substance provides a small amount of insulation for the room and is fairly durable. Professional application is not necessary but may be desired for intricate patterns.

Drop Ceilings

Drop, or suspended, ceilings offer an alternative to drywall. These ceilings are a system of panels and metal bars. The bars are hung with wire from the ceiling joists and form a frame for the panels. Both the framing and the panels are available in a variety of finishes and colors. The panels may be painted in the future as a redecorating option. The drawback for this alternative to drywall ceilings is the space these systems require. A drop ceiling lowers the height of a room. Before selecting this type of ceiling, consult with a professional installer.


When one thinks of tile, the initial thought may be floors, but tiling also offers an alternative to drywall ceilings. Tiles require a treated wood or similar ceiling surface. Applying the tiles requires only measuring, cutting and gluing. Tiles are available in a wide array of sizes, textures and colors, offering almost endless possibilities to fit any decorating style. The price range may be an affordable option for those on a budget, and the installation can be a do-it-yourself project for those looking to save even more money.


Wood or faux wood paneling is an economical alternative to drywall ceilings. Real wood panels cost more initially but offer durability and the option of refinishing for future decorating projects. Faux wood paneling is affordable and can typically be installed as a do-it-yourself project. Natural wood grain suits an earthy, traditional or even a nautical style for a room.