Asbestos Popcorn Ceiling Removal: A Step-by-Step Solution

Asbestos popcorn ceiling removal

If your popcorn ceiling is applied somewhere before the 1980s, you must check it for the presence of asbestos. Asbestos, which originally is added in the form of fibers into the spraying mixture, can become available as stranded particles in the air when the ceiling is disturbed during a renovation or cleaning work.

The airborne particles of asbestos can end up damaging your respiratory system. Therefore, it is important to determine the presence of asbestos in your ceiling so that you can get away with it before it is too late.

In this article, we will guide you through the process of asbestos popcorn ceiling removal by suggesting what precisely should be done and what should be avoided.

How to Test for Asbestos in Popcorn Ceiling?

The first step is to determine whether your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos fibers or not. This is because not all such ceilings contain asbestos, however, the ones constructed before asbestos was banned are more likely to contain its fibers which were added as a reinforcement.

To test for the presence of asbestos, visual inspection is not dictating at all. You need to have a laboratory test of your ceiling sample to figure this out. The sample can be obtained by either calling a professional at your place or it can also be collected on your own but with great care.

Oftentimes, asbestos ceilings that are not disturbed over the course of history, are not harmful because the microscopic particles do not become available in the air unless disturbed. In this regard, extracting a ceiling sample can become a possible source of agitating the latent asbestos in the ceiling spray mixture.

But you have no other option than getting your ceiling texture tested. You must collect a couple of samples (each equal to a full tablespoon) at different locations of the ceiling and put them into separate zip-lock plastic bags. Send these samples to the laboratory for testing and make sure you wash your hands thoroughly once the sampling is done.

These samples are then tested in the laboratory using either polarized light microscopy (PLM) or transmission electron microscopy (TEM) techniques. The test results indicate the presence of fibrous asbestos.

Precautionary Measures While Collecting Asbestos Popcorn Ceiling Sample


If you are collecting the samples on your own without calling in any expert or professional, you need to be extra cautious because you aren’t adept at the job. Here are a few tips that must be kept in mind as a safety measure when you collect your ceiling samples for an asbestos-check test.

  • Make sure you wear gloves while scraping the popcorn texture.
  • Wear a mask so that you do not inhale any dust when the ceiling sample is being collected.
  • If underneath your ceiling, you have a carpet, place a plastic sheet over it so that the carpet doesn’t absorb the ceiling dust which is likely to fall.

How to Get Rid of Asbestos from Popcorn Ceiling?

Getting rid of popcorn ceiling asbestos is mandatory. There are three ways you can protect yourself from airborne asbestos;

  1. Scrap Off or Remove the Popcorn Ceiling

Scraping off the popcorn ceiling texture is one way to remove or get rid of it and it is the most common of all. To do so, you will first need to dampen the surface so that the texture comes off easily. For this, take water in a spray bottle and spray it over the popcorn surface.

The grainy texture of the popcorn ceiling will instantly absorb water if it has not been top-coated with another paint layer. Once the water is absorbed, the surface will become soft and can easily be scrapped off the ceiling. You must take every minute precaution to avoid contact with the popcorn ceiling.

If the popcorn ceiling has some paint coat applied over the texture, spraying water will take a longer time to make it soft. So, in that case, you must periodically spray water on the surface and it will take a little long but you will be able to get rid of it once and for all.

  1. Apply a Drywall Layer or a New Panel on Popcorn Ceiling

For popcorn ceilings containing asbestos fibers, all we want is to shush every possibility that heads up to allow asbestos go free. For this, the viable solution may not necessarily be removing the ceiling texture; rather, you can also go for applying a drywall layer on top of the popcorn texture so that the dangers from asbestos going free when disturbed can be subsided.

Drywall panels

Sometimes, homeowners want to preserve the look of their house, so they are reluctant to agree on flinging the texture off their ceilings. So, providing panels made of gypsum and securing them in place a little below the popcorn ceiling will definitely be a good option on the go.

Ceilings panels can be applied over the popcorn ceiling

  1. Skim Coat a New Texture on Top of the Existing One

A new texture layer can also be applied on top of the popcorn ceiling. This option will be particularly useful in scenarios where the ceiling is intact and the risks from asbestos are abated.

The new texture application is something you can do as a DIY project without having to rely on experts or professionals. However, adequate care must be exercised while you skim coat your ceiling to hide the popcorn texture and unveil something new and fresh.

New texture can be applied over a popcorn ceiling

Which Method is the Best to Get Rid of Popcorn Ceiling Asbestos?

There is no such definition of any one method topping the list and getting plus points all along for being excellent in terms of getting rid of popcorn ceiling asbestos. The choice of which method to opt for depends upon the age and existing condition of the ceiling.

If your ceiling is disturbed during a renovation job or a cleaning work, the asbestos particles will possibly be left free. Such a case would necessitate scraping off the ceiling texture. However, if your ceiling contains asbestos but has not be disturbed, you can go for alternative easier methods such as using panels or applying an additional skim coat of a new texture.

What is the Cost of Removing Asbestos Popcorn Ceiling?

Asbestos popcorn ceilings should never be scrapped off as a DIY project. This means that to remove the textured surface, you ought to call in professionals or experts who have prime knowledge and experience in dealing such risky cases.

The total cost of the work is a variable number and will depend on several factors. However, a unit area (measured in square feet), the cost of removing the popcorn ceiling texture is $1 to $2. The following factors will influence the overall cost of a removal job;

  • The ceiling area that has a popcorn texture
  • Whether or not the ceiling has already been disturbed
  • The level of safety measures to be abided by during removing work

Tips for Dealing with Asbestos Popcorn Ceilings


If your ceiling has tested positive for asbestos, you do not need to panic over the thoughts of lung cancer and mesothelioma that your mind will drive you towards. A positive outlook involves taking the right step in the right direction. Therefore, you will need to call some experts to stop by your place and proceed with the next step.

Here are a few tips for you to deal with asbestos popcorn ceilings;

  • Avoid disturbing your ceiling surface by inserting anything during cleaning work or driving nails into it.
  • If you go for scrapping the texture, make sure you call in experts instead of manually diving into this risky work.
  • If you witness the popcorn ceiling peeling the surface at any spot, you need to take the next step immediately.
  • Do not throw even cushioned or fluffy items on your ceiling because these soft materials can trap the asbestos in the popcorn ceiling.
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