You may think your popcorn ceiling is a bit dated… or you may think it’s downright ugly. Scraping popcorn ceilings is a common DIY project. I urge you to step back a minute and gather some information before you take this project on in your home.

While you may be inspired by that latest home improvement episode, or Pinterest has gotten the better of you… popcorn ceilings can contain hidden dangers that you do not want to expose your home and your family to.

Asbestos is a very common component of acoustic ceiling texture, more commonly known as popcorn ceilings. Simply DIY projects, or even contractor led renovations, can release asbestos fibers into your home if not handled properly.

So What is My Risk of Exposure?

As with most asbestos containing building materials, as long as it is in good shape you really don’t have a lot to worry about. You can safely live in a home with popcorn ceilings and face very little risk of asbestos exposure.

Your risk of exposure increases dramatically if the building material crumbles or becomes deteriorated. Unfortunately, popcorn ceilings are not the most durable and are prone to flaking and falling.

If you have a popcorn ceiling that is showing signs of deterioration, it’s a good idea to figure out if you are dealing with asbestos.

How do I Know if my Popcorn Ceiling Has Asbestos?

As with any other asbestos containing material, it must be analyzed in a laboratory.

You can either collect a sample yourself and drop it off at an environmental firm, or have a licensed asbestos inspector come to your home and collect the sample.

How Likely is it That My Popcorn Ceiling Has Asbestos?

As mentioned before, the only way to know for sure is to sample the material. Popcorn texture is a material that is suspect, and it commonly returns with positive results.

While older homes are more likely to have asbestos, it should be understood that even modern building materials may contain asbestos as well. There is no comprehensive ban on the use of asbestos in manufacturing, and the import of foreign materials is unmonitored.

All popcorn ceilings should be treated as potential asbestos containing material unless proven otherwise.

When Do I Need to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling?

There are two circumstances when an asbestos abatement makes sense:

  1. When you are about to conduct a renovation that will impact the asbestos containing popcorn ceiling in any way.
  2. When the material is deteriorating or damaged, potentially releasing fibers into the air.

How Do You Remove Asbestos Popcorn Ceilings?

Often the best solution is to remove the entire ceiling. This will take care of any and all texture, plus the joint compound that may be positive as well. As far as the abatement is concerned, the cost of removing the ceiling will be only marginally more expensive, though you will have to plan to put the ceiling back as well.

If you do not want to, or do not need to remove the entire ceiling, the asbestos abatement will consist of scraping the texture off. The impacted area will be set up as a containment zone, and all wall and floors will be lined with poly sheeting. The popcorn texture will then be wetted and scraped off.

Because popcorn texture can be difficult to match, it is advisable to go ahead and scrape the entire contiguous ceiling area even if the renovation will only impact a portion.

So What is my Next Step?

Your first step is to determine exactly what you are dealing with. Conducting an Asbestos Inspection will help you know with confidence if you do or do not have asbestos.

If you find that you do have asbestos, you will need a plan to either remove it, or manage it in place.

Managing it in place would mean adjusting your renovation plans to not disturb the material. Left untouched, a popcorn ceiling that contains asbestos will not pose a hazard to the occupants of the home.

If managing in place is not an option, work with an asbestos contractor to plan what type of abatement best meets your needs.