A popcorn ceiling may not be the most attractive finish in your home, but I was recently investigating what benefits they could have. Someone mentioned to me .
Scraping off popcorn ceiling by house improvements..
A popcorn ceiling (slang), also known as a textured ceiling, cottage cheese ceiling, stipple ceiling, a stucco ceiling or formally an acoustic ceiling, is a ceiling with a certain spray-on or paint-on treatment. It was the standard for bedroom and residential hallway ceilings for its bright, white appearance, ability to hide imperfections, and acoustical characteristics. In comparison, kitchen and living room ceilings would normally be finished in smoother skip-trowel or orange peel texture for their higher durability and ease of cleaning. Popcorn was used pre-1970s and in early formulations, it often contained white asbestos fibers. When asbestos was banned in ceiling treatments by the Clean Air Act in the United States, popcorn ceilings fell out of favor in much of the country. However, in order to minimize economic hardship to suppliers and installers, existing inventories of asbestos-bearing texturing materials were exempt from the ban, so it is possible to find asbestos in popcorn ceilings that were applied through the 1980s. After the ban, popcorn ceiling materials were created using a paper-based or Styrofoam product to create the texture, popcorn than asbestos. Textured ceilings remain common in residential construction in the United States.
Since the mid-2000s, the popularity for textured popcorn ceiling has diminished significantly across North America. A movement towards more modern, clean lined design features has influenced home improvement professionals to provide popcorn ceiling removal services. This feature has a multitude of benefits over the textured ceiling, such as its association with a high-end aesthetic, it multiplies natural light throughout the space, it does not harbor dust and allergens (only to be re-introduced into the air), easier patching and touching up after a drywall repair, etc. The process can be difficult to execute for the average do-it-yourself home owner, as it requires skim-coating techniques often only mastered by experienced plasterers. Several coats should be administered to achieve a level smooth surface ready to be sealed and painted. The final cost is usually quite high, thus being less favorable to new construction builders, and sourced by homeowners looking to add value to their properties.
How To Remove Popcorn / Stipple Ceiling
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How to remove popcorn ceilings
Photo: Zillow Digs home in Scottsdale, AZ
Half a century ago, popcorn ceilings were all the rage, cropping up above brightly colored walls, psychedelic patterns, and shiny furniture. Less expensive than traditional hand-troweled plaster, the sprayed-on technique—which actually resembles cottage cheese more than popcorn—camouflaged ceiling imperfections, offered a measure of fire-resistance, and provided noise-dampening benefits. These days, the speckled ceiling design tends to date a room’s style. Fortunately, whether you want to get rid of a popcorn ceiling altogether or bring new life to the retro look, you’ve got options.
Understand the Asbestos Issue
First thing’s first: Before attempting any sort of project on an existing popcorn ceiling, a homeowner should determine whether its material makeup may pose a health risk. Asbestos, a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral, was the material of choice for popcorn ceilings until the substance was banned as a health hazard in 1978. Manufacturers switched to paper fiber that year, but suppliers continued to sell existing stores of asbestos-laced material. That means that popcorn ceilings installed as late as the mid-’80s could contain asbestos, and, when disturbed, disperse microscopic fibrils known to cause lung-scarring illnesses and even lung cancer if inhaled.
You can test a popcorn ceiling for the presence of asbestos by carefully scraping a small sample into a plastic bag and having it tested at an EPA-accredited lab. While homeowners are allowed to remove a popcorn ceiling that contains the material, a professional asbestos remediation company should do the job. Contact your local waste authority before having asbestos removed to determine the best (and legal) way to dispose of it.
Patch It Up
A popcorn ceiling damaged by unsightly stains or cracks can be patched, but obtaining an exact match of the original texture and ceiling color can be challenging. Popcorn ceiling patch products are available in spray-on aerosol cans or in premixed containers for application with a brush. Thinned drywall compound, which is commonly used to texture new ceilings today, is not recommended for patching popcorn ceiling texture since it contains water, which can cause the existing popcorn texture to come off.
Give It a Fresh Coat
As long as the texture isn’t sagging, flaking, or shedding, a popcorn ceiling can simply be painted to update the look. Begin by brushing off all dust with a super-soft-bristle brush attached to an extension pole. Then apply stain blocking ceiling primer to prevent stains and water spots from bleeding through. When dry, use a thick nap roller or a paint sprayer to apply paint, remembering to get an ample supply to fill all the nooks and crannies.
Cover It Up
You can hide a popcorn ceiling by installing rigid foam ceiling tiles, drywall panels, or even wood planking right over the existing texture. Feather-light decorative foam ceiling panels can be installed with adhesive, while drywall and wood must be attached to the ceiling joists with nails or screws. For high ceilings more than 8 feet from the floor, you might want to consider installing a drop ceiling, which involves mounting a metal grid that holds individual ceiling panels a few inches below the existing ceiling.
Photo: instructables.com via Sonata85
Scrape Ceiling Off
Unpainted popcorn ceilings are not necessarily difficult to remove, but the process is messy and time-consuming. After spraying the ceiling with water to saturate the texture, which causes it to release, it’s simply a matter of scraping it away with a large putty knife or taping trowel.
If a popcorn ceiling has been painted, water won’t saturate the texture beneath; you’ll need to apply a stripping product. You can find stripping solutions specifically designed to remove painted popcorn ceilings at your local home improvement center. These solutions, which often come in gel form to reduce drips, can be rolled or brushed on. After giving the solution adequate time to soften the paint and texture, you’ll proceed to scrape both away with a wide trowel.
This tends to be a nasty, dirty, potentially dangerous task, so gear up appropriately: Wear a facemask, eye protection, and old clothing that you can dispose of when the job is done. Keep the texture constantly wet to prevent the distribution of fibers, which can present a health risk if inhaled.
Photo: Zillow Digs home in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Give Your Ceiling New Popcorn Pizzazz
Homeowners intent on hiding ceiling imperfections with subtle popcorn texture are in luck: Today’s popcorn ceiling material is asbestos-free and easy to apply with a hopper gun, popcorn available for rent at the lumberyards and DIY centers that sell the product. It comes in dry powder form and is mixed with water per package instructions. To protect from overspray, remove furnishings, drape walls in plastic sheeting, and use a drop cloth on the floor. Popcorn texture comes in standard ceiling-white and, for a uniform look, it’s a good idea to prime the ceiling before spraying it on. The texture is also paintable, so if you want a color other than ceiling-white, plan on painting over the texture after it dries.
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Asbestos Popcorn Ceilings: What Is Considered Safe?
Spray-on textured ceiling was popular from the 1950s to the 1980s because it was an easy way for builders to hide imperfections.
Unfortunately, this was during a period when ceiling was a high-demand building material in the U.S.
Known as “popcorn ceiling,” “cottage-cheese ceiling” or “stucco ceiling,” it was typically 1 to 10 percent asbestos.
To find out if your old popcorn ceiling contains asbestos, you can purchase a test kit or hire an asbestos abatement professional.
If you buy a test kit, you will have to collect a sample of the ceiling and mail it to a lab. Hiring a professional to do it is safer but more expensive. Many inspectors recommend testing your ceiling for lead paint while you are at it.
So what do you do if you find out your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos?
Any percentage of asbestos makes popcorn ceiling dangerous. Make sure nothing disturbs it, and decide whether you want to have it encapsulated or removed.
Removing asbestos popcorn ceiling requires many precautions. It’s a job best left to qualified professionals.
Popcorn ceiling is a friable material — meaning it is very easy to damage. Friable asbestos materials release popcorn dust at the slightest disturbance. Inhaling asbestos dust is what can lead to serious diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
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.
How to Encapsulate Asbestos Popcorn Ceiling
Encapsulation means covering an asbestos material so it cannot release asbestos dust. Asbestos popcorn ceiling can be covered with new ceiling panels or vinyl paint.
One way to cover popcorn ceiling is with gypsum board ceiling panels. This material is like drywall but lighter. You screw it into the framing of the ceiling. It’s best to hire a professional to cover asbestos popcorn ceiling. They will know how to mud and tape the new ceiling seamlessly.
Another method is to spray the ceiling with a special vinyl paint. Ordinary house paint will not work. In fact, putting normal paint on the ceiling will actually cause the exposure you are trying to prevent. Spray-on vinyl paint can work, but keep in mind the old popcorn ceiling texture will still be visible.
Encapsulating asbestos is a safe solution, but if you do renovation or demolition work in the future, the asbestos will become a danger again. If you decide to sell your home, you will have to inform potential buyers of the asbestos you found.
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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