A popcorn ceiling , also known as stucco or acoustic ceiling, is a term for a spray-on or paint-on ceiling treatment. It was the standard for bedroom and residential hallway ceilings for its bright, white appearance, ability to hide imperfections, and acoustical characteristics. In comparison, kitchen and living room ceilings would normally be finished in smoother skip-trowel or orange peel texture for their higher durability and ease of cleaning. These ceilings have an instantly recognizable “cottage cheese” texture.
In early formulations, it often contained white asbestos fibers. When asbestos was banned in ceiling treatments by the Clean Air Act of 1978 in the United States,popcorn ceilings fell out of fashion in much of the country. However, in order to minimize economic hardship to suppliers and installers, existing inventories of asbestos-bearing texturing materials were exempt from the ban, so it is possible to find asbestos in popcorn ceilings that were applied through the 1980s. After the ban, popcorn ceiling materials were created using a paper-based or Styrofoam product to create the texture, rather than asbestos. Textured ceilings remain common in residential construction in the United States. Not all popcorn ceilings contain asbestos. Only homes built prior to the early 1980s are suspect. Of the ceilings that do contain the material, asbestos only makes up about 5% of the texturizing spray. Despite the low percentage content, asbestos needs to be treated with caution.
What is the Danger of disturbing popcorn ceilings ?
Asbestos-containing material is dangerous if it is torn, sanded, drilled, worn, scraped, sawed or generally mishandled. The asbestos fibers become “friable” and airborne. Breathing asbestos fibers has been linked to a type of lung and abdomen cancer called mesothelioma. If you suspect that you have asbestos in your popcorn ceilings, home tests kits are available at your local home improvement store.
Can I remove asbestos containing popcorn ceilings my home myself?
The best step is to hire a professional contractor or consultant familiar with asbestos removal. When hiring, confirm that they are qualified and have insurance that covers the type of asbestos work they will be completing.
The person you hire should discuss the specific steps that must be taken to prepare the work area to make sure that:
- The dust is controlled.
- The right personal protective clothing and equipment is used.
- There is appropriate clean up of the work area and waste removal.