What is Under Your Popcorn Ceiling?

under your popcorn ceiling

Popcorn ceilings are textured to cover any imperfections in the ceiling. If you have a popcorn ceiling, you might be wondering: what exactly is underneath?

Although popcorn ceilings could disguise serious issues, they usually hide cosmetic blemishes.

Here’s everything that could be under your popcorn ceiling.

If you’re interested in hanging a plant or tapestry from your popcorn ceiling, you’ll first want to find your ceiling studs. To learn how, see our detailed guide on how to how to find studs in popcorn ceiling.

What is under your popcorn ceiling?

Most people never find out what exactly is underneath their popcorn ceiling. If you undergo popcorn texture removal, you might find some hazardous materials like asbestos or mold.

However, modern popcorn ceilings usually cover ceilings that are concrete, plasterboard, or drywall. There may also be the tape that was used to connect plasterboard and drywall sheets. Popcorn ceilings could be covering shoddy workmanship, but are usually used to cover small cosmetic issues.

Also see: How To Hang Things From A Popcorn Ceiling

Possible Nasties

Asbestos Under Popcorn Ceiling

When popcorn ceilings were popular through the 1950s to 1980s, asbestos was regularly used in building materials. We now know about the dangers of asbestos in homes, but popcorn ceilings installed during this period usually contained between 1 and 10 percent asbestos.

If you have an older home, your popcorn ceilings will probably have some level of asbestos content. Usually, this won’t be harmful if the ceiling stays intact. However, any crumbling or flaking will cause that dangerous asbestos to spread throughout the air.

It’s important to have your ceiling checked for asbestos. Never perform any repairs before this, as airborne asbestos could cause serious health risks for your family.

You can check the asbestos in your ceiling yourself! This at-home asbestos test kit is cost effective and found on Amazon. The kit has a turnaround time of three days.

Mold Under Popcorn Ceiling

Popcorn ceilings collect dust and humidity, providing ideal conditions for mold growth. If there is a water leak coming from the roof or upstairs, moisture can accumulate and cause mold to form underneath a popcorn ceiling.

Once you see water stains on your ceiling, you should identify the source of the leak and repair the damaged part of the ceiling. This will prevent further mold growth. If you don’t take action right away, the mold will spread and may affect your health.

There are a few ways to prevent mold. You can avoid moisture buildup by turning on a fan after you shower or cook. Always check for leaks in your plumbing and quickly identify any stains on your ceiling. Dehumidifiers also work well in preventing mold growth.


There are different materials that construction workers use to build a ceiling. Your home could have concrete, plaster, or drywall underneath its popcorn ceiling texture.

Concrete Under Popcorn Ceiling

If you live in a high-rise building, your ceiling will most likely be concrete. After going through extensive popcorn ceiling removal, you may be disappointed in the rough texture of the concrete ceiling underneath.

It’s common for concrete ceilings to be uneven. Concrete is poured into a frame while it hardens. Since this frame is wood, the concrete may harden with imperfections. Builders usually use a popcorn ceiling spray to cover these blemishes.

Plaster Under Popcorn Ceiling

Residential buildings commonly have plasterboard ceilings.

They are cost-effective and are easy to install. Plasterboard ceilings can easily conceal wiring while remaining aesthetically pleasing. They also can dampen the acoustics of a room and are fire-resistant.

You may have a plasterboard ceiling underneath the popcorn texture. During installation, the plasterboard is screwed into a wood ceiling frame. The plasterboards seams are patched with scrim and painted over. You also can easily disguise these seams with popcorn ceiling texture.

Drywall Under Popcorn Ceiling

Sometimes popcorn ceilings are used to cover poor drywall installation. Without popcorn ceiling texture, imperfections would be extremely noticeable. The drywall could have bulging seams.

Drywall seams usually disappear with paint if properly installed. Sometimes these become more apparent over time as the house settles. Since drywall is installed in sheets that are placed together, the seams could also be noticeable if the builders misused the joint compound during installation.

Popcorn ceilings can easily hide any flaws, including drywall seams. Because of this, you rarely see smooth ceilings in homes.

Tape Under Popcorn Ceiling

There could be tape underneath the popcorn ceiling texture. Whether you have a drywall or plasterboard ceiling, tape is used to connect these pieces and provide structure to the ceiling.

To connect drywall and plasterboard, builders use a combination of joint compound and drywall tape. The goal is to make a smooth surface, even though popcorn texture could disguise imperfections.

Final Thoughts

Many modern homes have popcorn ceilings and if they were installed before 1979, you don’t have to worry about health hazards like asbestos. They are applied to distract from minor defects in your ceiling, most of which will never cause serious problems.

The popcorn texture could cover a variety of different building materials like concrete, plaster, drywall, or even drywall tape. Even though construction workers aim to build smooth ceilings, they are never perfect. Popcorn ceilings are an easy way to improve the aesthetic value of your home.

  • 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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