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Does Your Popcorn Ceiling Have Asbestos? If Yes, Is It Dangerous to Your Health?

Look up and check your ceiling. Does it have texture? That is called a popcorn ceiling, stucco ceiling, or cottage-cheese ceiling. The spray-on textured ceiling was popularized in the 1950s and remained as such through the 1980s. Many construction workers resorted to installing popcorn ceiling because it was an easy way for the builders to hide imperfections in their works.

The problem with this popcorn ceiling trend is the presence of asbestos. The time that the spray-on was popularized was also when asbestos was a high demand for building materials in the United States. Accordingly, the asbestos was around one to ten percent to create the popcorn ceiling. Material containing asbestos is not considered as harmful in general. It will only be dangerous if it releases fibers or dusts into the air, where these substance can be ingested or inhaled by humans. This happens when asbestos is “friable” – as in it can be easily crumbled when you touch it. Sprayed-on asbestos is highly friable, but as long as you do not disturb it and it remains intact, it will not cause you any health problems.

Also, not all popcorn ceilings contain asbestos. The Clean Air act of 1978 is the reason why spray-on asbestos products no longer exist. The law came after there were significant health risks affecting workers who applied asbestos. However, the law allowed companies to continue using spray-on asbestos products until they were all gone. So, it is possible that if they constructed your home not later than 1980, your popcorn ceiling has asbestos.

If you want to check if your popcorn ceiling has asbestos, you can use a test kit from the market. The test kit lets you collect a sample from your ceiling, and you have to mail it to a laboratory. You can also call a professional to see whether there is such a substance present in your ceiling.

So if you do find asbestos in your popcorn ceiling, whatever the percentage is, you should make sure it does not get disturbed. Some tips include never cleaning the ceiling with a washcloth or your hand and not disturbing the ceiling’s nails, screws, or tape. You should likewise tell children never to throw toys or objects at the ceiling.

Scraping a popcorn ceiling.

Removing it needs expertise because it can cause serious problems to your health if you do it hastily. You can leave it as it is as long as it remains intact. However, if it starts to peel, it should be removed or encapsulated. You cover the asbestos popcorn ceiling with new ceiling panels or vinyl paint through encapsulation, so asbestos dust does not get released into the air.

Remember, you cannot do the removal or encapsulation on your own. In some states, the law requires hiring qualified professionals to remove it, especially in commercial buildings and multi-family homes. If you are the only family living in your home, you can remove the asbestos popcorn ceiling from your home, but it is still best to contact a professional so your health will not be at risk.


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