Asbestos Popcorn Ceiling

There are many different types of internal ceilings for houses and some can contain asbestos. If you have a house built between 1945 and the 1990s, it’s prudent to check to see if there are any asbestos traces. Therefore, if you want to make any alternations, decorate, or install light fixtures, you can prepare accordingly.

A common type is asbestos popcorn ceiling. In the below guide, we explain what asbestos popcorn ceiling is, when it went out of popularity, and how you can deal with it if you have it in your property.

What is Asbestos Popcorn Ceiling?

Hundreds of thousands of homes in the US were made with construction products containing asbestos from the 1940s until 1978 when it was mainly banned. Initially, it was dubbed as a miracle construction material because it had some great properties like fire-resistance and fantastic longevity.

Therefore, it was added to things like sidings, tiles, and insulation. Asbestos popcorn ceiling was also incredibly popular. Popcorn ceilings are those that have textured renderings that create a bobbled effect. The bobbles look like small individual pieces of popcorn, hence the name. Some renders used for this ceiling type were mixed with asbestos to benefit from its properties.

What Does Asbestos Popcorn Ceiling Look Like?

The name is the key, although it can be tricky to properly identify asbestos popcorn ceilings without testing. This is because popcorn ceilings are made from many materials – not exclusively asbestos-based mixtures.
There are a couple of identifiers to look for that can help:

• The ceiling is textured and has popcorn-shaped bobbles.

• Your house (and ceilings) was constructed between 1945-1985

The house age is usually a key factor. Most asbestos was banned in 1978, but contractors were still allowed to sell their current stocks. As a result, typically houses between 1945 and the mid-1980s had asbestos popcorn ceilings.

If your house was built in this period, and the ceilings have that tell-tale bobbled texture, there is a high likelihood that they contain asbestos. However, without testing, there usually isn’t a reliable way to tell just from a pure visual inspection.

When Did They Stop Using Asbestos in Popcorn Ceilings?

As mentioned above, asbestos products were banned in the US in 1978 for the most part. However, there was some overlap and continuation of usage until suppliers had used their stocks.

When the properties of asbestos were first discovered, the negative side effects were not known. This is why it was so widely used and why many houses still have problems with it today. It wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that more research was conducted.

As you are probably aware, the asbestos fibres if inhaled can be incredibly dangerous. They can cause severe breathing and lung issues including asbestosis and lung cancer. This is why it is important to know exactly what is in your house, and if there is any asbestos including the ceilings.

How to Deal With Asbestos Popcorn Ceiling?

If you believe you have identified asbestos popcorn ceiling, you have an array of options. Firstly, it’s advisable to do testing to get 100% confirmation that your suspicions are correct. After that, what you do depends on the quality of the ceiling, and what you want to achieve.

Test first for confirmation

So, you have checked your ceilings and you are fairly sure they are asbestos popcorn ceilings. However, you cannot be 100% sure. Before taking any action, it is always a good idea to reinforce your feelings.

You could contact a professional asbestos removal team who will do the initial checks to confirm for you. Alternatively, you could use one of our asbestos testing kits and do the job yourself. These kits have everything you need to test for asbestos in your ceilings including filter masks, coveralls, gloves, and a return envelope to send your sample off.

Typically, you can get the results back in 72-hours once they arrive at the lab. This is an incredibly convenient method and gives you confirmation and peace of mind.

If the asbestos popcorn ceiling is in good condition, it can be left

On finding that your ceiling does contain asbestos, you can leave it. However, it should be in a good condition. This means no cracks or crumbling parts or obvious damage. Basically, if there is anything that could cause the asbestos fibres to become dislodged then it is unsafe. Otherwise, it can be left as is.

But you still must exercise caution, especially if you are installing anything like light fixtures. If you want to make an alteration that involves drilling into, or puncturing the ceiling, you must get professional help. Trying to do something like this yourself with an asbestos popcorn ceiling could be disastrous.

If you have everything you need and just wanted confirmation, perfect. You can dust the ceiling comfortably using a feather duster. And it can be painted too. A few other useful tips include:

• Avoid using tape, nails, or screws on the ceiling.
• Do not scrape it with anything abrasive. 
• Don’t install anything that allows people to be at head height with the ceiling.
• Try and keep the light fixtures you have and simply change the shades if needed.

Just use your common sense! For example, it’s obviously not a wise idea to throw things at the ceiling, or to start drilling into it without any advice or protection.

If it is damaged or you want to make changes, seek professional advice

At any point that you notice damage to the ceiling, you must evacuate the room and ideally seal it off for use until a professional has assessed it and made the damaged parts safe. Signs to look for include:

• Crumbling popcorn pieces.
• Cracks.
• Flaking pieces on the floor.
• Peeling of the popcorn surface.

Asbestos popcorn ceilings can be removed, but only by qualified professionals. They will have the correct equipment and PPE including respirators, disposal bags, and methods to temporary seal windows and doors to prevent any dangerous fibres contaminating other rooms.

If you are unsure on any of the information given here don’t hesitate to contact us. We have trained specialists available who can give advice and help you make the right decision regarding suspected asbestos popcorn ceiling.