Asbestos in Popcorn Ceilings

Frequently when conducting a home inspection we come across homes with ceilings that are textured, acoustical or ones often referred to as "Popcorn ceilings". They are easily identified by their cottage cheese appearance. When some potential buyers see these ceilings that are often viewed as a negative as they fear they may contain Asbestos Material.  It is true that some of these ceiling do in fact contain asbestos. It is also true some do not.  With that said, there are a few things one should know about these ceilings.   

          Many homes built between the 1930's and the 1990's have popcorn ceilings or some type of textured material applied to the ceilings. A true spayed on textured popcorn ceiling method was utilized form the 1950's to 1978 when banned by the Clean Air Act of 1978.  The date of these homes is crucial in determining if you are buying a home that contains asbestos material.  Some facts one should be aware of are listed below:      

*     The use of asbestos in textured ceiling paint was banned in 1977.

*     To definitively determine the presence of asbestos samples must be analyzed by a certified lab.  Sample testing generally starts at $50.00.  The lab should be accredited by the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program. (NVLAP)

*     In the early formulations of the 1950's and 1960's, it often contained actual white asbestos fibers.  


*     Though it was banned, however as not to pose an economic hardship to suppliers and installers, existing inventories were exempt from the ban.  Thus it is still possible to find homes with asbestos in the ceilings built through the 1980's.

*     If inhaled in large quantities asbestos fibers can cause lung disease.

*  *     It is not all that expensive to remove popcorn ceiling material. It is however very messy.  Or you could leave it and encapsulate ceilings by painting over them.   If the ceiling material is in good condition it does not pose a major health risk simply because it contains asbestos.

*     There are professional abatement companies that offer professional removal.  For a listing of certified asbestos removal companies you can log onto the website. Or check with your regional and local EPA office. 

*     Anytime you work with known asbestos material be sure to wear a respiratory mask and gloves.  Do not dust, sweep, or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos.  Remove dust by wet mopping or with a special HEPA vacuum cleaner used by trained professionals.

                                                                                                                    HHI Article #42