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  • Writer's pictureKevin Maxwell

Should You Buy a Home with Popcorn Ceilings?


Looking to buy a home? For better or for worse, a common feature you may find is the so-called "popcorn ceilings," aptly named because of its bumpy texture. Also known as textured or acoustic ceilings, popcorn ceilings look a lot like cottage cheese because of the treatment that is sprayed on to them.

Why are popcorn ceilings used?

Some homeowners spray on popcorn texture because they do not wish to finish the ceiling or they otherwise want to conceal imperfections in its appearance.

Are popcorn ceilings bad?

Popcorn ceilings aren't always bad, but some associate them with asbestos-containing materials and others dislike them because they find them visually unappealing.

Can popcorn ceilings be removed?

Some try to hide popcorn ceilings by painting over them while others prefer to remove them. Removing them is not too expensive, it's preparing what's underneath that can be the problem. Popcorn ceilings can also become substantially more expensive to get rid of if they contain asbestos.

Oftentimes, removing popcorn ceilings reveals bad drywall or muddling work underneath. It's rare to scrape off the popcorn to reveal beautiful plaster, so expect to have some repair work on your hands once the popcorn ceilings are gone.

Handling Popcorn Ceilings Safely

Many people assume asbestos is an antiquated issue, but asbestos is not banned in the USA and it's actually still used in a number of household products. It's a dormant threat unless the fibers are disturbed, and that's when the tiny asbestos dust or fibers can get into your lungs and begin accumulating.

Play it safe and assume any popcorn ceilings you come across contain asbestos. That means testing for asbestos before you disturb it. If your home was built before 1977, your popcorn ceilings very likely contain asbestos. Most homeowners choose to bring in a professional to handle the testing procedure.

Wear safety equipment if you choose to DIY this. Obtain a sample of the ceiling by dampening the surface with detergent and water and then scraping off a small sample with a putty knife, then putting that sample into an airtight container and sending it to a lab. If the ceilings test positive, you'll want a professional to remove them for you as they'll follow the right asbestos abatement procedures.

How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings Without Asbestos

No asbestos? You can consider removing popcorn ceilings to be a DIY job (if you wish). Just follow these steps:

  1. Wear protective clothing, including a respirator mask and clothes that cover all of your skin, including hands and head.

  2. Relocate all pets and children to another room. Cats especially tend to step in the dust and can track particles all around the house.

  3. Cover up the flooring as the fine dust could cause you to slip. Use brown paper covered with drop cloths instead of slippery plastic sheets.

  4. Dampen the materials: Always mist with a water and detergent mixture before removal as this helps minimize dust.

  5. Scrape the ceiling: Using a push pole, scrape the ceiling, ensuring that you aren't directly under the plaster that's falling.

  6. Fill gouges and holds with a joint compound after you've wiped down and allowed the ceiling to dry, then sand it.

You might leave the final "mudding" (joint compound) step to a professional if you want a super smooth, professional finish.

Asbestos testing and inspection are performed through our sister company Albany Asbestos, LLC.

To schedule a Asbestos testing, sampling and inspection call our Team: (518) 964-2081!

The Author Kevin Maxwell is the owner and operator of Maxwell Home Inspection Services, LLC. Kevin Maxwell is a certified Home Inspector located in Albany NY that has performed over 6000 Inspections.

Phone: 1-800-598-4754


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