How to remove popcorn ceiling

popcorn ceiling removal preparation

Covering the walls and flooring with heavy duty plastic sheets

Spraying the surface with small amounts of water so that the popcorn ceiling easily scrapes away

popcorn ceiling skim coat

Skim coating any damaged areas prior to sanding to ensure a smooth, properly prepared surface for painting

popcorn ceiling removal painting

Application of a fresh coat of paint primer followed by the paint color of your choice

It’s Not the Percentage — It’s the Crumbliness

Whether your popcorn ceiling is 1 percent asbestos or 10 percent asbestos, the advice is the same.

The ceiling will not endanger your health as long as it remains completely undisturbed or properly encapsulated. In the long run, having it professionally removed is the safest choice.

A higher percentage of asbestos is worse, but popcorn ceiling is dangerous even if it is just a few percent asbestos.

The Clean Air Act of 1978 banned spray-on asbestos products, which were a major health risk for the workers who applied them.

However, the law allowed businesses to use up their existing inventory of products, so asbestos popcorn ceiling was applied well into the 1980s.

The crumbliness of popcorn ceiling puts it in a different class than other common asbestos materials leftover in old homes.

For example, you can walk on vinyl asbestos floor tiles without much risk. Just don’t smash, scrape or sand them.

But merely brushing asbestos popcorn ceiling with your hand releases toxic dust. This makes it as dangerous as old asbestos pipe insulation.

Tips for Living with Asbestos Popcorn Ceiling

  • Do not disturb the ceiling with nails, screws or tape.

  • Don’t put shelves so high that items might scrape the ceiling by accident.

  • Be careful not to scrape the ceiling when moving furniture or long objects.

  • Make sure children do not throw toys or pillows at the ceiling.

  • If a child’s bunkbed allows them to touch the ceiling, don’t put the bunkbed in a room with asbestos popcorn ceiling.

  • If the ceiling starts to peel down because of dampness or age, it must be encapsulated or removed.

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How to Remove Asbestos Popcorn Ceiling

It is always better to have asbestos abatement done properly from the beginning. Cleaning up contamination after the fact becomes much more expensive.

For many homeowners, hiring a professional is mandatory. For others, it is highly recommended.

In most places, the law requires qualified asbestos abatement professionals to perform asbestos removal in commercial buildings and multifamily homes.

Owners of single-family homes are usually allowed to perform their own asbestos removal. Every state and city has its own regulations, though, and it is still safest to leave it to professionals.

Precautions for Safely Removing Asbestos Popcorn Ceiling

  • Remove furniture from the room, and cover whatever is left in the room with plastic.

  • Turn off the home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit to avoid spreading contamination beyond the room.

  • Seal the doors and windows with plastic flaps.

  • Keep pets and all people without protective gear away from the area.

  • Wear a respirator with a high efficiency particulate air filter. Set up an air purifier as well.

  • Wear disposable coveralls. Cover your skin and hair to keep ceiling debris off you.

  • Keep the popcorn ceiling material wet. This helps prevent dust from getting into the air.

  • Place asbestos-containing waste in sealed and labeled plastic bags.

  • Find a landfill or trash-pickup service that can accept asbestos, and call them in advance.

Ignoring these guidelines can be costly. Insurance policies often do not cover asbestos contamination caused by careless renovations. This could leave homeowners with a huge bill for asbestos abatement, on top of the health risks.

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