What’s the Likelihood of Asbestos in a Popcorn Ceiling?

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testing popcorn ceiling for asbestos

You might not know that your popcorn ceiling has asbestos. If popcorn texture starts to crumble, that asbestos could cause serious health risks for your family. As a homeowner, you need to be aware of this problem so that you can keep your home safe.

Here is everything that you should know about asbestos-filled popcorn ceilings.

If you find a high concentration of asbestos in your popcorn ceiling, we wouldn’t recommend removing it yourself. In saying that, there are cost-effective methods to cover it over hiring a professional. For more info, see our detailed guide on how to cover popcorn ceiling without removing it.

How Dangerous is Asbestos in Popcorn Ceilings?

If popcorn ceilings with asbestos are left untouched, they could cause no problems for your home. However, if the ceiling starts to peel or flake, that asbestos releases into the air. Airborne asbestos can be very dangerous.

Popcorn ceilings are very friable, so they can be damaged easily. Even if you are careful not to disturb your popcorn texture, it could start crumbling. After this, the airborne asbestos could enter your lungs and cause health risks.

Asbestos fibers could cause coughing, shortness of breath, asbestosis, mesothelioma, or lung cancer. These are all serious health issues. To avoid exposure, have your asbestos-filled popcorn ceilings removed by a professional.

Why Was Asbestos Used in Popcorn Ceilings?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fiber that is strong, flexible, and resistant to heat and chemical degradation. These are ideal qualities for building materials.

It was used in hundreds of building materials, including shingles, floor tile, roofing, and pipe insulation. Popcorn ceilings commonly had asbestos in their texture.

Popcorn ceilings were easy and cheap to install. No one knew the dangers of placing a carcinogen inside homes.

When Was Asbestos Used in Popcorn Ceilings?

Years Asbestos Was Used in Popcorn Ceilings

Asbestos was regularly used in popcorn ceilings from 1945 to the 1990s. At the time, the health risks from asbestos were unknown.

Once asbestos was discovered as a hazardous material, it was banned from use. You can still find asbestos fibers in older homes, but any popcorn texture installed after the 1990s should be asbestos-free.

When Was Asbestos Banned in Popcorn Ceilings?

The Environmental Protection Agency banned asbestos and other hazardous material from ceiling coverings in 1973. This is now known as the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.

Although this ban was in place, asbestos was still found in building materials until the 1990s. The ban did not include previously existing inventory. Workers continued to use materials that were produced before the ban.

Do All Popcorn Ceilings Have Asbestos?

Not all popcorn ceilings have asbestos in them. Modern popcorn texture do not contain asbestos fibers. Older homes with popcorn ceilings installed before 1979 could have some level of this dangerous material.

What is the Likelihood of Asbestos in My Popcorn Ceiling?

Any popcorn ceiling that was installed between 1945 and the early 1990s could have asbestos. It is common for older popcorn texture to have between 1 and 10 percent of asbestos.

Generally, if your popcorn ceiling was installed before 1979, it doesn’t have asbestos. It’s always a good idea to have your popcorn texture checked, though. This is an important step to take before starting any DIY repairs.

What Does Asbestos Popcorn Ceiling Look Like?

Unfortunately, you can’t look at a popcorn ceiling to determine whether it has asbestos. Asbestos fibers are so small that they can only be seen with a microscope.

Popcorn ceiling texture with asbestos fibers will look the same as modern popcorn ceilings. This is why you should purchase testing kits or have a professional inspection.

You won’t know when you are exposed to airborne asbestos. To prevent any health risks, have older popcorn ceilings removed professionally.

How To Test Popcorn Ceiling For Asbestos

The safest way to check for asbestos is to hire a professional to inspect your popcorn ceiling. However, you could do this yourself by buying an at-home testing kit.

On Amazon, this Asbestos Test Kit has a turnaround time of three days. The cost of the kit includes lab fees, so this option is significantly cheaper. Any professional inspection will be much more expensive.

To use this kit, simply follow these steps.

Step one: Go on Amazon and purchase the testing kit.

Step two: Follow the included instructions to take a sample from your ceiling. Make sure you wear a mask during this process.

Step three: Mail the sample to one of their accredited labs for testing.

Step four: Wait for your results.

Can You Remove Asbestos Popcorn Ceiling Yourself?

Removing a popcorn ceiling with asbestos is dangerous and should only be handled by professionals. Even minor repairs should be performed by professionals because they are trained in dealing with hazardous substances.

Popcorn ceiling removal creates the greatest risk for the release of asbestos fibers. As a homeowner, you are likely not knowledgeable or prepared enough to properly clean the toxic debris.

If you are determined to do this process by yourself, make sure to contact your local health department. You can go through asbestos training programs so that you can safely handle asbestos.

There are no federal laws that will prevent you from removing asbestos from your home. The Environmental Protection Agency does state that hiring a professional is the safest option.

Different US states may have regulations about this process. In some areas, you will be required to get a demolition permit. You should also know about the proper disposal of asbestos waste. State laws require that you dispose of toxic materials at an approved facility.

How To Safely Remove Popcorn Ceiling With Asbestos

The safest way to remove asbestos-filled popcorn ceilings is to hire a licensed professional. An asbestos abatement company will have experience in dealing with popcorn ceilings.

Although this process can be expensive, these workers have the proper training, tools, and protective gear that help them safely remove hazardous material.

Because asbestos comes with serious health risks, we’d recommend avoiding DIY removal methods. It may be legal to do it yourself, but it’s better to leave it to the professionals.

Asbestos Popcorn Ceiling Removal Cost

For a licensed professional to remove an asbestos-filled popcorn ceiling, it can be expensive. The average cost to remove popcorn ceilings with asbestos is $2,000.

Removing a ceiling with asbestos is going to cost more than a regular removal because the workers are dealing with hazardous materials.

Final Thoughts

Many popcorn ceilings used to contain asbestos. If you own an older home, you need to be aware of any crumbling popcorn texture. Once this occurs, it’s important to have the popcorn ceilings removed immediately.

Your safest option for removal is to hire a licensed professional. If you attempt this process yourself, you could cause greater health risks.

Most modern homes do not have asbestos-filled popcorn ceilings. Even older popcorn texture with asbestos could never become a problem if it is left alone. You should only become worried about asbestos after any damages to your popcorn ceiling.

  • Gregory A Seely
  • Gregory A Seely

    Greg is a self taught home renovator and writer for RenoViso. His shares his experiences with Southern Living, Traditional Home and other publications.

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