Asbestos and Removing Popcorn Ceilings

Plans for Removing a Popcorn Ceiling – Check for Asbestos First

By Mark J. Donovan

If you are thinking about removing the popcorn ceiling in your home it is important that you first make sure that there is no asbestos in the popcorn ceiling material. Asbestos has been proven to be a major cause of lung cancer.

Popcorn Ceiling and use of Asbestos History

Popcorn ceilings became the rage in the late 1950s and were installed in many homes up through the late 1970s. Popcorn ceilings were popular with builders because they could be sprayed on fast and could cover flaws on the drywall ceiling. Up until 1978, asbestos was frequently used as a binder material in the popcorn ceiling mixture.

Fortunately, in 1978, asbestos was banned in home building materials, including popcorn ceiling mixtures.

Though not all popcorn ceilings were installed containing asbestos, many were. If your home was built prior to 1979 there is a very likely chance that your popcorn ceilings could contain asbestos. For your family’s safety it is important that you check for asbestos before removing your popcorn ceiling.

Testing for Asbestos Prior to Removing Popcorn Ceiling

So prior scraping off and removing your popcorn ceilings you should send a few samples off to a lab that can determine if your popcorn ceilings contain asbestos. You can find testing labs and businesses that will check for asbestos in either your local phone book or on the internet.

Contact them prior to taking popcorn ceiling samples to see if they prefer you to use sample containers provided by them. Frequently this is the case.

They also usually have unique instructions for labeling the containers. You may also be able to have them visit your home and take the samples for you.

To test if your popcorn ceilings have asbestos in them, and you want to take the samples yourself, use a spray bottle and first spray a few small areas around your popcorn ceiling with a water/detergent mixture.

Make sure you fully saturate the areas to eliminate the risk of asbestos particles becoming airborne.

Removing Popcorn Ceiling Sample

Next, using a putty knife scrape off a small section (2” x 2” area) in each area that you sprayed. Put each sample in the container provided by the asbestos testing lab, or a small air tight container, and send it to the lab for testing.

If the samples come back positive hire a licensed asbestos abatement contractor to remove your popcorn ceiling. If they are negative you can continue on with your own plans to remove the popcorn ceiling yourself.

How to Repair a Large Drywall Hole EBook

The cost for testing your popcorn ceiling samples is relatively inexpensive and well worth the investment if you value your family’s health.

For information on repairing a large drywall hole, see the “How to Repair a Large Drywall Hole” Ebook from  The “How to Repair a Large Drywall Hole” Ebook provides step-by-step instructions on how to repair your damaged wall so that it looks as good as new.

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