Popcorn, cottage cheese, Stucco, orange peel, swirl, and other drywall textures are not only an eyesore, they also may contain a carcinogen known as asbestos. The ceiling treatment was commonly used from the late 1950s into the 1980s in homes across the United States because of its ability to hide imperfections in handiwork and its acoustical characteristics.
The Clean Air Act of 1978 banned the use of the ceiling material containing asbestos, but manufacturers were allowed to use up their existing inventory, so popcorn ceilings continued to crop up across the country well into the mid-'80s.
How do I know if my ceiling texture has asbestos?Your best plan of action is to test your ceilings for asbestos. You can DIY this process by purchasing a testing kit available at most hardware stores and submitting material samples to a certified testing lab.
- Make sure no one else is in the room when sampling is done.
- Wear disposable gloves or wash hands after sampling.
- Shut down any heating or cooling systems to minimize the spread of any released fibers.
- Do not disturb the material any more than is needed to take a small sample.
- Place a plastic sheet on the floor below the area to be sampled.
- Wet the material using a fine mist of water containing a few drops of detergent before taking the sample. The water/detergent mist will reduce the release of asbestos fibers.
- Carefully cut a piece from the entire depth of the material using, for example, a small knife, corer, or other sharp object. Place the small piece into a clean container.
- Tightly seal the container after the sample is in it.
- Carefully dispose of the plastic sheet. Use a damp paper towel to clean up any material on the outside of the container or around the area sampled. Dispose of asbestos materials according to state and local procedures.
My ceilings have asbestos. Now what?First, don’t panic. If your ceilings are in good shape, you don’t need to worry, your ceiling likely will not release hazardous fibers. If you still want texture removed, notice damage, or abrasions, or if you are going to make changes in your home that might compromise the ceiling, you’ll need to take action.
Removing popcorn ceilings that contain asbestos yourself can be potentially dangerous job, so this option is not recommended. Instead, you’ll need a certified asbestos abatement contractor to remediate the contaminated materials using certified procedures. This will ensure the safety of everyone involved. Here are some certified asbestos abatement agencies in the USA.
My ceilings do not have asbestos. Now what?If your asbestos test comes back negative there are some DIY removal options available. For ceiling textures that have not been painted just spray texture with a mixture of water and mild detergent to soften texture for easy removal.
For ceiling textures that have been painted (often the more common scenario) you can use EZ Strip Popcorn Ceiling Remover a DIY friendly dust free non-toxic remover product available for purchase at a number of locations across North America. This removal product is unique as it is the only truly DIY friendly (dust free) removal option for painted popcorn and other ceiling/wall textures that safely removes painted texture from drywall and other hard surfaces.
Prefer to hire a contractor? The good news here is you can hire a contractor without the need for special remediation certification for often a lot less than a certified contractor. Popcorn ceiling removal has become the popular home renovation/update project of choice, and a lot of painting contractors are adding this service option to their repertoire.