Popcorn ceiling removal

popcornI really would like as much info as anyone may have about removing popcorn ceilings. Whomever invented those things should be drawn and quartered. Also called “cottage cheese” ceilings. I think they look more like large curd cottage cheese than popcorn.

1) How have you tested for asbestos before removing?

2) Any step by steps of the process appreciated

3) If anyone in the Seattle area has had them professionally removed, who did it and can you break down the cost per square foot? I assume without asbestos is cheaper to remove than with asbestos. Is there a cost per square foot?

Anyone know why they were popular? Anyone still like them, and if so, why?

304 thoughts on “Popcorn ceiling removal

  1. They were popular because they made “finishing” a ceiling a piece of cake. I remember spraying a 20×30 living room, with my father in the 70’s, in about an hour.

    Ive had decent luck with wet (garden sprayer), scrape (12″ drywall knife), repeat. This was, of course, for the non-asbestos stuff.

  2. Tom,

    How did you know it wasn’t asbestos? Seems these days most say “might be” asbestos. I really would like to test them all at the time we are writing a contract. Does anyone know a quick service lab in the Seattle area where I could take a scraping? Or a quick turn around mail away lab?

  3. Pacific Rim Environmental
    6510 Southcenter Blvd Suite 4, Tukwila, WA 98188
    Info: pre@pacrimenv.com
    Sales: jlewis@pacrimenv.com

    I used to work here. They should be able to answer any questions and analyze any samples you have. I have been out of the industry for some time and donย’t know how the regulations might have changed. Tell Jeff that Mark sent you.

  4. Thanks Mark,

    I have a closing with popcorn ceilings at the end of the month. The owner asked which things should be done before he moves in and which can wait until he is ready to sell. He may not live there very long, so we are already getting it ready to sell as he moves in ๐Ÿ™‚

    If it is asbestos, absolutely he should get it done before he moves in. I’ll take a scraping on the day of closing and get it over to Pacific Rim. Seems I have heard of them before, but I’m not sure where or when.

    Thanks for the info! I’ll post the results later for others to use as a “how to”.

  5. A few years ago we used a “special” spray, waited a little while, then scraped with a putty knife. Soapy water would probably work too. When it’s wet you aren’t going to get much dust. I don’t remember how we knew, but it wasn’t asbestos.

  6. If the seller is cooperative, see if you can get a small sample to be tested out of a closet ceiling right now. You only need a teaspoon full. If the place was built after 1978, it is fairly unlikely that it is asbestos, but it’s always best to check.

    If it is asbestos, he may rethink taking it out. Supposedly if it is not disturbed, it won’t do any harm. I have heard that if it is asbestos, certified HAZMAT crews in “moonsuits” are required. That makes it very expensive!


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  8. Assuming you have it tested and there is no asbestos, removing the popcorn is fairly easy. You would just need to be careful not to damage the ceiling in the process; not a big concern, just one to be aware of. You’ll also likely need to do some patching after the popcorn is removed since, as was stated earlier, the main attraction of popcorn for builders is that you can easily finish (i.e. hide) an otherwise unfinished ceiling. One thing is certain–doing it yourself is a lot cheaper than paying someone else.

  9. The reason why popcorn ceilings were so popular is that, as has been mentioned, it is a very quick way to finish ceilings and hide the sins of the underlying surface.

    My house was built in 1978 and has popcorn ceilings in all of the rooms except kitchen, bath, and laundry rooms. My neighbor’s house was built at the same time by the same builder; he had the popcorn tested when he bought the house and found no asbestos, so it’s a pretty safe bet that mine doesn’t either.

    I removed the popcorn from the dining room only as part of a kitchen-dining room remodeling currently in process (by myself). I tried spraying it with water first before scraping, but found that this lifted the fibers in the paper on the drywall (I probably would have had to do a ‘skim coat’ of spackle over the entire ceiling). Since I wanted to minimize the rework of the ceiling after popcorn removal, I opted to scrape the popcorn dry. This actually worked pretty well where the material had been sprayed onto the drywall paper, but was difficult in the areas over spackle (along the taped joints). It makes an incredible mess as well, so if you’re thinking about doing this, try to do it before you move in if at all possible. Otherwise, use painter’s plastic on the floor and walls, and then carefully remove the plastic with all of the scrapings trapped inside.

    I have no plans to remove the material from any of the other ceilings. I just don’t want to go through the hassle since I already am living in the house, and the ceilings are in good condition and are painted flat white. Neither my wife nor I object to the look of them. If it becomes an issue at the time that I want to sell, I’ll offer any potential buyers a $2-3K discount to cover the cost of removal.

    • There is a lot of dust that you would not believe living inside that popcorn texture. Plus, when you go to sell your home, the popcorn will bring the value down. Since you know how, you ought to get rid of it. Little by little works…..

      • true! if you do not want a decrease in the market value of your house, better clean or totally get rid of those popcorn ceilings. make sure that if you do the removal process, do not skimp out on the service you will get, if every you will get service from others. or if you want to remove it without using much of your budget, start doing the removal process now by yourself and or with the help of friends and household members. at least you can have their service for free. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Redmondjp,

    Thanks for the practical, hands on advice! Great info with regard to the removal process.

    I’m thinking the owner should maybe remove the popcorn, once they determine it is not asbestos. Then have someone come in just to make the ceilings look really good. This way they are only paying for the finish work, and not the removal and cleanup, and they are insuring the best possible finished product at the lowest cost. That’s what I would do.

    As to selling the house, credits just don’t work. Whether credits are for popcorn ceilings or rugs or paint, they just don’t work. On average, you will get $10,000 to 5% more for your house if it does not have popcorn ceilings or worn out rugs or it needs painting. The average buyer will discount the house by $10,000, to up to 5% in a buyer’s market, based on what they are seeing, AND take the credit. So offering a credit gets you less than if you didn’t offer a credit.

    Buyers always overestimate the cost of change and always charge the buyer for the inconvenience of having to change it. So if it costs $2,500 to change it, they will charge the seller $10,000 off price to do so, not the actual cost of the change out. Based on my experience, buyer estimates to make the change is usuall 4X the actual cost.

    Most times they just leave and go buy the house that doesn’t have popcorn ceilings or doesn’t need new carpet or doesn’t need to be painted. They don’t take the credit…and they don’t buy your house at all IF there are other houses on market, in their price range, that are more aesthetically appealing to them.

    Buying a house with poporn ceilings, and removing the popcorn ceilings before selling, is a great “value added” way to protect yourself against selling for less than you paid, in an uncertain market.

  11. Thanks for the advice, Ardell.

    But here’s another factor which comes into play–if new houses two blocks away from me are selling for $1M (they are), at what point does my 28-year-old rambler (a definite fixer, still having single-pane aluminum windows) on a decent sized lot in a great location (I live 2 mi from MS) become a teardown? Somebody could buy my property (for let’s say $400K), scrape it, build a 4500 sf McMansion (let’s say at a cost of $300K) and put it on the market for $1M.

    Not trying to steer this off-topic, but at what point do you decide just to keep the roof from leaking and nothing else? If new buyer is going to scrape it, doesn’t really matter whether it has popcorn ceilings or not! This would be an excellent topic for a separate post, and I’d be really interested in your thoughts on this. There are hundreds if not thousands of older houses just on the Eastside where this same issue comes to bear (west-of-market in Kirkland comes to mind, and now the same thing is happening on Rose Hill).

  12. Excellent topic, and one I am very well versed on. “What makes a house a tear down.”

    My partner and one of our agents is off to look at a 60’s house on the Redmond side in one hour for a seller ๐Ÿ™‚ and I just helped a buyer purchase a similar one in Bellevue. I live in Kirkland (East of Market) next to a “just keep the roof from leaking” house, down the street from a home that wasn’t a “just fix the roof” house.

    You are quite right… this is indeed a topic worthy of its own post, if not several posts, as the next five to ten years on the Eastside have a lot to do with these issues. I will write my next post on that topic, so if you have any specific issues you want me to address, other than the ones you just have addressed, feel free to list them now.

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  14. You can tell if it is asbestos or not by checking if there are little sparkles in the treatment or whether it is flat. If there are sparkles, it is asbestos.

    One thing I have learned from my time in Seattle is that you can make a ton of money off of people who have no idea what dangers are posed by the presence of asbestos in a house. Popcorn ceilings pose practically no danger nor does old asbestos flooring or adhesives. Still the handwringing types want it remediated. And somehow these same people don’t think that charging them $10,000 for the task is not too much.

  15. I agree Rudy, that is why I think it is important to test for asbestos, and I don’t buy the simple sparkle test. How much could it costs to send it to a lab? Then you know when it is not asbestos and you know not to pay exhorbitant fees for the removal.

    The removal is not about asbestos, from my point of view. The removal is about houses without popcorn ceilings selling better than those with them. If a seller is looking for top dollar, especially in a more competiive market, getting rid of the popcorn ceilings is probably worth as much if not more than adding granite countertops.

  16. Yes, sparkles or not makes no difference. If you are implying the sparkles are asbestos, asbestos fibres can not be seen. My house has popcorn ceilings and I payed about 150 bucks to have them come and remove it safely (Because if it was asbestos, I didn’t want to stir up the fibres), and test it. Luckily, ours was just essentialy paper pulp and 5% other junk. Plus, our ceiling is sparkly in spots, and look – We are asbestos free. Nothing beats a compotent lab.

  17. We just moved into a home that was built in 1916 that has about 600 square feet of popcorn ceilings. Oy. We are in the process of deciding whether to have the popcorn removed seeing that we’re not huge fans of the aesthetics. I’ll be taking a sample to:

    NVL Laboratories Inc
    4708 Aurora Ave N., Seattle, WA
    (206) 547-0100

    today to get it tested for asbestos. The cost is $30 and the turn around time is 24 hours.

    Then we’ll take it from there. Any suggestions for the cheapest way to have it removed it absolutely welcomed.


  18. I went through this process myself last year. There were a few factors that led to the decision to do this. 1. I hate popcorn ceilings, they aesthetically offend me 2. I had skylights put in and had to cut into the ceiling anyway (thus disrupting the asbestos fibers) 3. I hate popcorn ceilings.

    Here’s the process I went through:

    Step 1: Have ceiling tested. $30 (I took a sample to NVL Labs). I highly recommend doing this step yourself. A friend of mine paid $150 for someone to come out and test it.

    Step 2: If not asbestos, consider scraping it yourself (it’s hard work, though. Lowe’s has a great scraping tool that will help. Here’s a great article: http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/shows_wkh/episode/0,2046,DIY_14346_38549,00.html)

    Step 3: If asbestos, decide if you want to do it yourself or hire a professional. Warning: if you do it yourself, you’re exposing yourself/home/family/pets, etc to asbestos fibers. PLUS you have to get a permit and dispose of asbestos properly. (See
    & for disposal–>http://www.pscleanair.org/regulated/asbestos/disposal.aspx)

    Step 4: If you chose an abatement contractor, shop around. Prices vary. Here’s a link to WA state contractors [PDF]: http://www.lni.wa.gov/WISHA/p-ts/Asbestos/AsbestosContractors.pdf.

    Prices ran anywhere from $2.50 – $6 a SQFT.

    Step 5: I chose a contractor because it’s hard work, messy, risky, and pain in the butt to clean up.

    Note: I chose AFJ Commercial Services. They were affordable, efficient and overall wonderful. I had my entire house scraped, except for the bathrooms and kitchen that had no popcorn. It ran me ~$2500. They took care of the permit, did the job, cleaned up and removed the waste.

    Step 6: Go away for a couple of days.

    Step 7: Decide if you want to hire a drywall professional or do it yourself.

    Step 8. If you decide to do it yourself, expect to do a lot of work! You’ll have bare drywall with lots of scrapes in it. Between myself, friends and family, we put in about 80 hours of work in a week (both weekends + every spare moment after work). We worked on about 1000sqft.

    Step 8: Patch the drywall and the tops of the walls who got hit by the scrapers. Clean up the seams (popcorn covers up bad seam jobs, you’ll want to do this or end up with lines). Sand. Prime the drywall.

    Step 9: Spray texture on the ceilings (or texture them however you want).

    Step 10: Paint on your primer (do this. not kidding. I forgot this step and have painted a couple of times, only to still have bad looking areas)

    Step 11: Paint on your ceiling and wall paint


  19. Thanks Katherine and Stacy for the great info!

    I still say do the messy part yourself if it is not asbestos, and let the professional do the finsih work. I see lots of drywall tape lines on the do it yourself jobs After all that money and work, you don’t want to have lines.

  20. This forum has been great! I actually live in MD and am looking to get this popcorn ceiling mess off my otherwise gorgeous cathedral ceilings. Who puts cottage cheese on cathedral ceilings?

    Anyway, I have been pondering over doing it myself vs paying someone. My hang ups are:
    * Time
    * Costs
    * The messy factor
    * Health (asbestos)

    I’m glad I read this posting, because I hadn’t even considered asbestos until then. This is my first night researching, so I might have run across it in my other findings.

    For anyone just reading the bottom postings…Johns name (number 11) has a link, in addition to Stacy’s posting (number 23) on how to do it yourself.

    Just wanted to express my gratitude for the postings.

  21. The responses have been great! Come back when you are done and tell us what you decided.

    I think a lot of homeowners try to bite off more than they can chew by doing too much at once. If your whole house has popcorn ceilings, try doing one room at a time from start to finish.

    In my experience with projects, you get much better at it as you go. So take the least important room, like the smallest bedroom, first. A house values most based on the main living areas and master bedroom. So do the other rooms first so that you are better at it by the time you get to the “value” rooms.

  22. Problem is…my vaulted ceiling is the only area in my house that has this popcorn mess. It is the primary area of the house, and is the only place I would have to test.

  23. Ardell,

    I’ve been reading along on this post, when I have the free time and thought at some point I would chime in. I don’t really want to post all that I have to say about this subject at this moment…because of the depth of the discussion. So…when I get some free time in the next few weeks…I’ll share my knowledge about the drywall trade and some ideas on removing “Popcorn Ceiling Texture”. I’m just going to post it to my blog at NorthwestLiving.net and then post a link here.

    A brief background: My father started in the Plastering trade back in the 1920’s, working in the North Dakota area until around 1945. He came out here to the Tacoma, WA area because Fort Lewis & Mchord military bases were looking for journeyman plaster tradesman to work on a new product called Gypsum. He was one of the first plaster workers to become a drywall finisher in this state.

    He worked in the trade along time and taught many finishers the trade, including a couple of his brothers, numerous cousins and his five boys, myself included. My father would have celebrated his 100 birthday this year. My father had my twin brother and I a little late in life. In any event, I will attempt to give you my version of the removal process that a professional would most likely perform.

    I’ll say one thing, I still believe this should be left to a professional. Most popcorn lids have about 3-5% asbestos and the rest is cellulose, etc. Once you find out it has some asbestos and decide to remove the popcorn…to be continued….

  24. By the way Rudy…

    About the little sparkles, your referring to the glitter that was sometimes put on after all the lids (ceilings) in the house were sprayed with texture (popcorn). My father had a hand held device that he would fill with gold, sliver or etc colored glitter and apply the material to the finshed textured lids while they were still wet. Why the homebuyers liked that stuff…I have no idea. I think I still have that little tool somewhere…smiling!

  25. HI Jerry,

    If you write it on your blog, post a link to it here. Would the inexpensive lab test pick up the 5% to 10% asbestos issue? Do the members of your family who deal in this trade, test first? Or do they
    “assume” it is asbestos and proceed accordingly?

  26. Ardell,

    The lab test is inexpensive and yes, absolutely they would be able to determine the exact content of your sample. By the way…take the sample out of a closet lid, just in case you decide to encapsulate the lids it (painting them) instead of removal by an asbestos abatement contractor.

    I’m the youngest member of that era of drwallers. I’m retired and have been a fulltime Realtor up in Bellingham, WA for the last 14 years. I don’t think any of my cousins are in the removal of popcorn business anymore. Most of them, who are still in the trade, are drywall finishers (tapers).

    When I was working in the trade…I did remove a lot of the pocorn texture…but got out of that part of the trade once the asbestos abatement contractors took that part of our business over. I did remove several of my own homes after that….but not for clients anymore. Again…I would hire a profesional and the very least…get it tested. Ok no more trade secrets till I post down the road….smiling!

  27. Hey all,

    I had the lab test done at NVL labs. It was just a teaspoonful and they found 4% asbestos content. Now I’m going to take Stacy’s (#23) advice and hire AFJ Commercial Services in Seattle to do the work. When I called earlier they quoted me 2.70 per square foot to remove the 605 square feet of *painted* popcorn ceiling.

    Tomorrow, I’ll be getting a quote from the plaster folks to see what the cost would be to have them do the follow up work.

    If I space posting on this blog and you want to know the outcome, don’t hesitate to email me at kbragdon@seanet.com.


  28. Hello all,

    I live in Texas, just bought a house built in 1970, and am having my asbestos-infested popcorn ceilings removed this weekend by an abatement contractor. Yay! (did that sound sincere?)

    Sounds like I got lucky in my neck of the woods, I’m paying about $1.90 per sq ft. Anyway, when it’s finished I figured I’d just have to do a little patching with joint compound, prime and paint and I’d be on my way. Sounds like it may be more complicated than that if folks here are looking at hiring plaster contractors. Is that really necessary? Does it just depend on exactly how gouged out my ceilings look? Any rough idea on how much THAT costs? I thought the $3300 for the removal was bad enough, I didn’t figure there was more to it for the finish.


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  30. hello all.

    I am a ceiling contractor in texas that removes, retextures and repaints popcorn ceilings, I am liscenced asbestos abatement contractor, you all have common problems that can be remedied inexpensively and quickly by a knowledgable crew. if you have questions I would be happy to help. e-mail me at bigrig864@yahoo.com. one word of advice, if you get a bid from a contractor that is going to remove spray on acoustic texture by “dry
    scraping and skimming with mud then retexturing. please run him out of your house and dont let him come back. then e-mail me and I will help you

  31. Hello Everyone,
    I too have a house full of cottage cheese. What I am wondering is there a way to paint it?? Maybe that would help. What do you think?

  32. Amber,

    I’ve seen them white and I’ve seen them sparkley. Color doesn’t seem to help and I hear they are hard to paint except with a sprayer which can be messy on a ceiling. Not worth the effort, I think. If they contain asbestos and you are knocking the stuff loose when painting, that could be dangerous.

    Whatever you do, send a small piece to a lab first and test for asbestos content.

  33. Hi,
    We are removing a ceiling currently. The problem is that a 2 X 2 area that I had previously painted over will not easily come off with the basic removal using water. Any ideas or help would be appreciated. We have someone coming in 3 days to redo the ceiling so HELP!

  34. This has been a very helpful forum. I am in MD and am considering the purchase of a new place that has these types of ceilings. I am NOT prepared to handle this task and won’t fool myself into considering it. Does anyone know of any good contractors in SoMd that you could recommend? Also someone mentioned just replacing new drywall overtop of the old. This seems like there might be a problem with screwing the new sheets onto the studs. But who am I? Any other suggestions would be great! P.S. Tell me why people installed borders along with these ceilings… BOOOOOO

  35. I just had AFJ Commercial Services remove the asbestos/popcorn ceilings in my home; appr. 800 square feet for $2k + tax. It cost me an additional $2k to have the ceilings flat finished, primed and one coat of paint (I purchased the primer and paint). I am very pleased with the results. I did do some comparison shopping and feel I got a nice deal for the work performed. I highly recommend their services.

  36. Hi Stacy,

    Thanks for stopping by with that info. Is AFJ local? Do you have any before and after photos you an email me that I can post?

    Thanks for giving the cost info. Very helpful. I just left a house with popcorn ceilings. It always amazes me when people do almost a full remodel, and leave the popcorn ceilings.

  37. I live in Shoreline, Washington — just North of Seattle. I tried to take before and after photos but you really can’t capture the popcorn and how bad it looks. We did put an extra coat of ceiling paint on ourselves and we did not have them reattached the light fixtures because we are replacing them. As they will tell you, expect some minor wall damage — they enclosed everything in plastic and in a few spots when the tape was removed some of the wallboard went with it, not a big deal. As was planned, we painted the interior after the popcorn was removed.

  38. Stacy,

    Do you know what the word is on school closings in Shoreline? Last I heard they were going to close at least one, but they didn’t know which one.

  39. I just had my ceilings tested for asbestos at Seattle’ Best Asbestos. I did the test myself, took a scraping from a corner and took it to the lab in Lynnwood. It cost me $30 and I had the results in 24 hours. They can do the scraping for you for $175. They found asbestos and recommended I contact Affordable Environmental, Inc. in Mountlake Terrace to get the work done affordable. 206.793.1321 – I am getting a quote from them now. Tell Steve at Seattle’s Best Asbesto I sent you there by indicating promotion code ‘H20’ to get a free gift with testing.

  40. Thanks Katie! Keep us posted.

    Do they tell you the “degree” of asbestos, like 4%? Someone in one of the other comments said they would do that. Or is it just a yes or no answer?

  41. Yeah, they told me I had 5% asbestos. Anything above 1% has to be reported.
    I received a quote from Affordable Environmental to remove the asbestos on my ceiling by scraping for $3/ sq ft.
    I talked to Tony, he has been doing this for years and is very knowledgable. (206) 793-1321. Apparantly it will cost more if the popcorn ceilings have been painted to any degree and if the ceilings are vaulted. My condo has flat ceilings that were never painted, so it was $3/ sq ft. Not too bad.
    After they finish, I will have to get a drywall person in to patch the damage done by the scraping and make the ceilings look nice and smooth.
    I was quoted that it would take 2 days to do my 525 sq ft condo. The first day they mask everythign off, the second day they scrape and when they are done, you can put all your stuff back. Luckily I haven’t moved in yet and will be getting this done before all my stuff is there.

  42. “Apparantly it will cost more if the popcorn ceilings have been painted to any degree and if the ceilings are vaulted.”

    Thanks, Katie. I’m repeating that sentence as I am often asked by sellers if they should paint the popcorn. My answer is always to get rid of it or leave it alone, as painting it will make it harder for the next owner to remove.

    Thanks for confirming that, and I’m posting it here for others who are thinking of painting it.

    Why are they “done” after it is scraped? Will it be painted?

  43. Anyone needing to have this or any other materials tested at a fair market price is more than welcome to e-mail me with any questions or concerns you have regarding the material. I work for a company specializing in the testing, removal, air monitoring, and clearing the area for re-occupancy. Have a safe and wonderful day.

  44. Thanks to Katie Pederson who took a sample to our laboratory for asbestos testing, and later posted our laboratory information on this board.

    Just to give you a little bit more info about us. Seattle Asbestos Test is located in Lynnwood, next to The Biglots, carries NVLAP accreditation by the government, has 20+ years experience, and treats customers great.

    There’s a page for Homeowners, and one for Realtors. Thanks for reading
    Seattle Asbestos Test, LLC
    19711 Scriber Lake Rd. Suite D, Lynnwood, WA 98036
    Tel: (425)673-9850
    Fax: (425)673-9810
    Email: steve@seattleasbestostest.com

  45. Katie,
    Can I ask how old your condo is? Our house was built in 1978 and has popcorn ceilings throughout the upstairs. It is our first home and we bought the house 7 years ago. At the time the real estate agent reassured us that because the house was built in 1978 we didn’t need to worry about asbestos. We took her at her word. Naive, maybe? We’ve scraped two of the bedroom ceilings ourselves and repainted them. We’re thinking of selling and we’ve been debating on whether or not to get rid of the popcorn in the rest of the rooms. I’d hate to think that we’ve been breathing in asbestos during our remodeling jobs. Especially since we have 2 young children in the home. Is it true if the house was built in 1978 or later it won’t have asbestos in it?

  46. I just had my asbesto’s-containing popcorn-ceilings removed. An amazing company did the work for me.

    Affordable Environmental (Tony) – 206-793-1321

    They had my 675 sq ft apartment done in 2 days. One day for set-up and a second day for the removal. I was quoted $3/sq ft for all areas needing removal. (Kitchen and bath excluded) They were professional and left my place in the same condition as they came. Minus the popcorn ceiling of course. Oh, and they had removed the light fixtures and doors, which would be put up by the drywall repair company. They did little damage, which I was warned could be an issue. I was so pleased when I walked into my condo to find the ceilings in good shape, all they needed was some drywall mud and texture. I have pics of what the ceilings look like after the removal, just email me.

    I think Ardell answered your question. My condo is from 1976, but structures built after 1978 can ahave asbestos if the builder had supplies that were purchased before that time. They were granted the ability to use the remainder of their stock.

  47. Asbestos,
    Hi all, I am Tony with Affordable Environmental,inc. we do asbestos Removal, full demolition and lots of other stuff here in washington state.

    I been at it for a tad over twenty years and if you have any Questions about just about anything Environmental give me a call, advice is free.

  48. Thanks Tony!!!

    I LOVE this thread…it’s turning into an “Everything you Ever wanted to Now about Popcorn Ceilings” thread.

    I think I’ll move it over it up to a new post and incorporate some of the comments. So can you read the comments and highlight anything you agree or disagree with. If you post costs, I’ll include them with the others.

    I think some people would like to do it themselves…can they? Is it possible if there is 4% asbestos vs. a higher rate? I think lots of peoople DO do it themselves, but the advice is always that they CAN’T, and that is confusing.

  49. I don’t, Lily, but I will email Tony up there and see if he can lead you in the right direction. I’ll ask him to post it here if he has any ideas.

  50. Removal costs and rules vary from state to state. what you need to do is check with the local air pollution. some states dont have a local
    Air pollution agency so you need to contact your department of ecology.
    A few things about Hiring an Abatement contractor. first of all make sure he is certified to remove asbestos. again most states have a department of labor and industries. you can go to that departments website and check to see if the contractor has had any citations and
    what they are for. It is a rare contractor that has none.
    case in point is Washington state. all contractors here will be inspected at some point by labor and industries. just because they
    have a citation because of a out of date program our a ground was broken on one one extension cord does not make them a bad outfit.

    But some of the red flags are:
    Contractor wont give you references
    Contractor has willful citations
    both are bad signs.

    If you need to talk to me my E-mail is tc@affenv.net or phone
    206 793-1321
    Tony Chase

    • Hi, What I would like to know is why can’t you just remove the whole pop corn ceiling. Can’t I just replace it like I was just building a new ceiling? Or is it thousand and thousand more dollars? Thank you for your help. David

      • That’s the best question and solution. Most states agree on a level of encapsulation. You can paint the popcorn using a cheap latex paint, let it dry then remove the ceiling.

        As you read through this thread there are a lot of “issues” that can come up depending on how or why the popcorn was sprayed on. If you have coved ceiling plaster then removal is probably the best thing. For sheet rock, encapsulation, remove, and replace is usually the best result.

        In terms of cost you’d be surprised what it takes to fix a ceiling after you remove the popcorn.

      • The ceiling drywall being removed might lead to having to gut all the drywall, so no, removing the whole ceiling and putting in all new dry wall is generally not the recommended fix .

          • David B. asked that and you said yes when the answer is obviously no. I think you misunderstood his question.

          • Removing the sheet rock on the ceiling is a fairly simple task. You cut the edges, clear off the insulation above, and remove the ceiling in sections. You replace the sheet rock, on the ceiling, then tape, and mud. It’s a simple process because it takes all the guess work out of the results.

            The ceiling has no trim work unless there is crown molding. Even if it does it’s the same principle as any other repair, it’s cheaper, and easier, in a lot of cases to remove and replace.

            In the case of popcorn over plaster, yes it would be cheaper to scrape. Sheet rocking over the existing ceiling adds weight that will eventually crack.

          • Great info David L., if you have any recommendations for people you trust to remove the ceding in it’s entirety, can you post that info here? I’d appreciate it.

  51. Thanks Tony!!! I appreciate your input.

    This is a GREAT thread! I think I’ll start similar ones on other types of needed “fixes”. I’m doing one now on how to care for your PNW Rhodies after you move in ๐Ÿ™‚

  52. This was an interesting read – Any questions that I had in my mind are fully answered. I now know who to go to for testing – And – who to go to for removal. I do not like my popcorn ceiling. It sucks the light right out of the rooms and have been hesitant to do anything about it because of cost concerns and having an occupied home with four children and a dog.

    One question: If it comes down to my ceilings having asbestos and I call in the experts to remove it – do I need to take me and my family out of the house. We live in a split-level. Could we stay downstairs while upstairs in being worked on and vice versa?

    Thanks for ALL of the GREAT info.

  53. I am interested in popcorn ceiling removal too. Anyone know of a reputable company in the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami Florida area?

  54. Has anyone ever used American Environmental Construction to remove their popcorn ceilings and if so how pleased were you with the work?

  55. Popcorn ceilings are pretty easy to remove – just messy.
    1. Test for Asbestos by taking a small piece to a lab ($35) response in 24 hrs.
    2. Damp the ceiling down a small area at a time to keep dust down.
    3. DO NOT over wet the ceiling as this will damage the sheet rock that the popcorn is fixed to.
    3. Use a 8″ or bigger spackle blade.
    4. Scape off in clean motions do not “jab” at the ceiling etc.
    and were a face mask………………..

  56. after reading this blog a few days ago…

    As suggested the was popcorn tested… 1% asbestos…
    apt was built in 1963. Downtown Edmonds.

    Appears the average cost of removal is about 15-1800 (600sq ft).

    Now the next question is… HOW much damage is typical UNDER the popcorn??? How much are people paying to have someone come in and repair and paint the ceiling after the popcorn is removed?

    • Has anyone ever had the test done and had a 0 result for anything built in the 60s? Does that happen? My thought, why spend the money on testing if nothing in the 60s was ever asbestos free?

      • Paige,

        The main purpose of the test is to determine the % of asbestos, not a yes or no result. I personally would think 1960 would have asbestos, but 4% asbestos is usually more costly to remove than 1% asbestos. I don’t think there is any way to know from the year built what the % of asbestos is.

        If you do have it tested, please pop back in and let us know. Sometimes you can tell from a neighbor as I would think all homes built at the same time by the same builder would be the same. But I’m not 100% sure about that. The test is not expensive, but most contractors will need to know the answer before beginning the work of giving you a quote as to price to remove it.

  57. Justin,

    I just read the comments through again. Read them carefully as a couple of people had the same contractor remove the popcorn and leave the ceilings in order. One quoted $2,000 for $800 square feet for the after removal work. One had it all inclusive with drywayy mudding only. Both were pleased with the results and have the contractor names in the comment.

    See comment #40

    If I were you, I’d call commenter #60 had have a chat about what he normally finds under the popcorn.

    Commenter #54 Offered some photos. I’ll email her and try to get them for you and post them here.

  58. Justin,

    The email I sent for th ephotos to comemnter 54 bounced back. I have a client who I think removed popcorn ceilings recently. I’ll email them and try to get some before and after photos. No one had any horror stories in the comments up there, so you should be fine. Let us know how it goes.

  59. Justin, there are to ways to get an Idea how much work is to be performed after popcorn removal.

    For Sheetrock look kitty corner across you ceiling like you were looking at the Horizon, if you see waves that’s a pretty good indicator
    that you have a bad tape and mud job.

    Another is probing the popcorn with a small nail, if it goes way in without hitting Sheetrock you have issues and it will cost more to remove and repair.

    if you have lath and plaster and you see something like a bowing
    or cracks check your wallet, plastering is more of an art and repairs
    cost bucks.

    I hope this helps you,


  60. I have noticed lately that sometimes when homeowners remove the acoustic material themselves they will sometimes not completely remove the light fixture but instead mask off the baseand remove the ceiling material up to it. This can present a problem in the future should you change fixtures as not all light fixture bases are the same size. Also if the ceiling contains asbestos (some jurisdictions allow homeowners to remove their own asbestos ceilings) the home will still contain asbestos which might present a problem if uncovered during a sale IMO.

  61. Good point! I have to say this is the best post I have ever written. There’s a wealth of knowledge in the comments section. Thank you everyone for your contributions here.

    Tony Chase should definitely have his own blog. Call me Tony, I’ll set you up so that your name Hyperlinks to a place that advertises you better. I’d sure call you. I like your style and would be more than happy to help you hyperlink better via this thread. 206-910-1000

  62. Hello everyone,
    I live near the Raleigh area of North Carolina. My wife and I just bought a 2K sq foot home filled with popcorn ceilings. We had it tested and it came up with 2% asbestos, which unfortunately leaves us in a bind, due to many of the reasons list here.

    1. Now we have to disclose it, effectively reducing the value of our home by at least 10K.

    2. It’s ugly.

    We’ve contacted contractors, and the prices varied. Absolutely every single one of them had no problem with the fact that the ceilings contained asbestos and were more than willing to remove it for us, which we found surprising.

    Are we as owners over reacting to the dangers of this material?

    Also, I guess you folks have it lucky in the Seattle area, because the 2 abatement companies in our area quoted us at $7.5 a square foot, so you can see why we are struggling.

    Just to have the popcorn removed (by the abatement people) would cost us $15K. That’s a heck of a lot of money to shell out. Money we don’t have.

    So let me throw this scenario out there for everyone:

    What if we had a regular contractor that we trusted remove it, then had the place washed, painted(everything), floors sanded, and the one carpet removed, AND the HVAC systems cleaned.

    Would we still need to be concerned?

    Are we over reacting to this whole thing?

    If we did the above, couldn’t we just have the air tested to see if it was contaminated? If it was, does anyone know what it would cost to have someone come in and clean up the air?

    Thanks in advance

  63. Jason,

    The whole reason for Abatement Contractors is we take on risk.
    we contain the work, we run air monitoring that we in my state must keep for thirty five years after the project is done. In the event we
    go out of business the Washington state dept of l&I keeps them.

    Regular contractors that take on asbestos rarely place any engineering controls at all on the job, they dont like to use water,
    and they do not perform air monitoring on their personnel or
    inside or outside of the area they are working on. then they unlawfully put it into the waste stream of your town.
    (something you have cradle to grave responsibility for)

    The biggest issue is risk, we carry insurance for our work where a GC
    does not, they tend to have a attitude that they dont care about the persons that work for them, and they can be replaced.
    They also see a quick buck by offering half the cost, we call them
    rip and skip artists. if something goes bad they more often than not
    say they didn’t know it was there, that you did not tell them it was asbestos so its all your fault, they were just a very concerned contractor and you duped Them.

    The sad part is they dont monitor thier workers so who knows what the exposure to them is. so thirty years down the road this guy gets sick and he has no help.
    We Abatement contractors know how many fibers per cc was in the air Outside of thier mask.

    this is not to say all abatement contractors are good ones, we have rouge contractors that do the work wrong or rip folks off.

    I would like to offer a couple of Ideas for you.

    First. check with your local air pollution board or department of ecology to see if you can file notices and do the work yourself.
    You will find they are more than happy to share information plus
    If you can do it yourself you can do the job for much less money.
    I would hazard to guess about ten grand or more.
    but check first and if they let you be sure to file a notice
    that’s a biggie, you can then take that notice and lawfully dispose of it.

    Also check with your local Labor and industries, you may have OSHA
    and some will let you enlist the help of friends and family as long
    as you dont pay them for the work.

    If that fails see if you can wait until the off season that is December
    thru end of may. abatement contractors like to give their family nice Christmas gifts as much as anybody. and dont just take a square ft price, Haggle with them!

    There are lots of reasons not to have a general contractor do this work. but I am not here to scare you, look around the web,
    see just how big this issue is. and then trust your heart.

  64. Thanks Tony. And get me that link! You are too valuable of a resource to remain “anonymous”.


    Can 1% asbestos be removed by the homeowner? I thought I read somewhere that 1% asbestos did not require the same procedure. What’s the highest you have seen? Seems to me the average is 4%.

  65. Hi Ardell,
    one percent asbestos means that it is asbestos, if you find
    one percent in one spot you can be sure that it is in other
    places at a higher or lower percent.

    Whoever sampled it should do a composite sample, that is done
    by taking a small sample from at least three areas and mixing the samples into one bag as you take them.

    This gives a much better Idea of what you have, chances are it will
    be 2% or higher.

    Yet another thing is your lab may have found trace amounts of
    asbestos in the sample, The labs will sometimes be on the safe side and call it one percent because it is so close.

    Something was found there, it may have been as simple as someone not cleaning the tool they used to sample really hot popcorn.
    or even a bit of the wall mud between the Sheetrock was hot.

    The highest I have ever seen was about 15%

    A homeowner in Washington state can remove popcorn in their own home regardless what it tests at, but If you find amosite asbestos
    have a abatement contractor do it, we have issues with that stuff
    even with all the gear we have.

    I can give you a link to my current site but we are still polishing it.

  66. In regards to my last post, any homeowner in washington state can remove their own popcorn, but they must file a notice prior to the work. you can file in the morning and start that same day but you
    must file. that gives you a paper trail and allows you to lawfully dispose of the waste.

  67. Thanks for your response Tony. Yes, we finally got an abatement contractor to do it for less than some of the othersz($3 per foot). They came recommended by the lab that tested our stuff, and he communicated a sound procedure.

    (We heard different things from different (non-abatement) people, and I’ll tell you what – scary.

    The puzzling thing, even from Tony, is the suggestion that I do it myself. How am I going to do it myself? I don’t have the necessary gear to contain those fibers in the air. Isn’t that why we would hire you abatement people?

    Anyway, the story is simple. If you have popcorn in your house, and you want it removed, AND you are going to remove it one way other other. GET IT TESTED.

    No matter what.

    And have abatement pro’s get it out of your house, not contractors. The health risk to you and the environment are much too high.

  68. Jason,
    I am happy for you that you found a capable abatement contractor at a good price. here in Washington our Puget sound clean air will
    allow home owners to do the work on their own, you brought up a good point.

    How can a home owner do it themselves? truth be know its a gamble,
    they may, and many have, caused more problems doing it on thier own than if they use a contractor.

    Its very hard overhead work, not just anybody can do it, that’s
    why I always recommend if they file the notices with DOE ( department of ecology) or with say Puget sound clean air in the Puget sound area of Washington state and follow the advice they give.

    Its best you take on a very small area like a closet or a small hallway.
    use engineering controls, ventilate outside, use amended water,
    (soap and warm water) dont get it so wet that its going to drop the Sheetrock as well. be sure to contain the area you are working in.
    use drop cloths (the more th better)
    and try to get a good clean scrape.

    The big issue is have I done it right?

    Here’s how you know,
    First, did you have a pre abatement sample done? did you use drops inside of your work area and have bagged up ALL the popcorn in your area of work without spreading it all over the place?

    Second, did you bag out the waste without smears and popcorn hanging on the outside of the bag to dry and become airborne?
    Did you not leave a trail through your home to the truck you are going to haul it in?

    Did you use a hepa filtered mask and bag up you clothing or Tyvek
    (Tyvek is called a moon suit by many.) if you or your wife wash the clothing you used and placed it your dryer, is like a super particle accelerator, you cant see it but its going all over the place

    Third, The True way to know, did you mist water and wet wipe every level surface in your home after you removed the asbestos? have you Had post abatement or clearance sampling? the lab will tell you if you have met the clearance criteria. did you lock down your work area with encapsulant?
    ( that’s what keeps fibers stuck to surfaces inside the work area.)

    So here’s the rub, yes you can do it yourself in some states,
    Asbestos fibers cannot be seen by the human Eye, so did you do a good job? if you dont do air sampling you wont know.

    That’s why we have Abatement contractors, you pay them to do it correctly, use third party laboratories, have Trained people.
    The difference between a contractor and abatement contractor is night and day.

    A contractor wont do it right because they are not certified by your state to remove Asbestos. An Abatement contractor has vastly more experience with removal Plus has all the right gear to do it correctly.

    A homeowner is following directions like putting a puzzle together,
    its hoping you did it right and that you have not contaminated your
    home worse than it was before you started.

    Many have done it on their own and done a great job, but if you dont use a third party lab after you are done you really dont know for sure.

  69. Hi all – what a wealth of information this site has become! I am about to purchase a 1950’s home in the Houston area. The only downfall is the horrible popcorn texture on the WALLS! The ceilings were lucky enough to escape this horrible act. I thought I would just be able to do it myself, never even considering the thought of asbestos in the texture! ๐Ÿ™
    Can anyone recommend a company that will remove, repair and paint the walls, who is located in the Houston, TX area?


  70. Tony, What kind of air monitoring is done outside the work area during the removal and also for after the work is done? I had popcorn removed by a licensed abatement contractor (per WA L&I) and did not see any monitoring outside the work area. The area was completely sealed up with plastic sheeting, so I could not really see what was going on inside. Should they be abvle to give me copies of their monitoring records? Thanks. –North End Seattle

  71. ABC,
    The Company that did the work will have copies of the air monitoring they performed. the samples should have gone to a third party laboratory for analysis
    A Pre Abatement sample, worker samples, an outside area
    sample and a hepa exhaust sample. the outside area will be done every other day as well as the hepa (the machine that blew the inside
    area outside after it was filtered)

    The first outside area should have been done the first day that they went into abatement.

    Ask your contractor for a certificate of completion as well as a close
    out packet including air monitoring. this packet will contain copies of
    all of the air monitoring as well as copies of the psca and L&I notices.
    You can also ask for a copy of the waste manifest. this will let you know in what EPA approved landfill it will rest in.

    most contractors will cheerfully give you this data, however, give them time to gather it, sometimes it takes weeks before the hard copies of the air monitoring as well as a hard copy of your waste manifest. most contractors try to get a truckload of waste before they turn it in to keep from doing to many trips to the transfer station
    or the landfill.
    if you have had a three day abatement you should get two copies of
    your area samples.
    Take care,

  72. ABC,
    You will also have you clearance sample in the results, they cannot take down the containment without the results from this.

  73. Great advice Tony, as a finisher I am always amazed at the home owner who tries to save a buck while exposing a day laborer, a contractor and their employees, themselves, their children and loved ones, their community, potential future home owner, and the environment to asbestoses.

    There are many drywall finishers that got into the business in the fifties and sixties that paid a heavy price due to their exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is not something for the homeowner to fool with and best left to a professional.

  74. Tony,

    Thanks for the insight. I’ll follow up as you suggest. By the way, what is the actual air “sample” that is tested? Is it a filter pad? Or it is an actual sample of air in a bottle or canister? On my job, they used a machine in the containment area, but nothing (that I saw, at least) outside the containment area. I tried to find out from PSCAA what (as an “educated” consumer) I was to look for in the licensed abatement contractor’s scope of work (i.e. specific monitoring protocol) and they were of no real help. It really would be great if they (or some other knowledgable source) would post a sample scope of work. Something more specific than “remove XX sq ft of popcorn ceiling in accordance with all regulations.” How is someone supposed to know if the “right” procedures were followed?

  75. ABC
    The air sample in a very condensed description is a known volume
    of air that is passed thru a sample Cassette. the sample cassette
    will be black or clear in color with a screen at the top near the neck.

    The sample is then capped and taken to a third party laboratory
    where the laboratory tech (niosh 582 trained) counts the number of fibers on the screen with the aid of a microscope. they count all of the fibers that are of a certain size, sometimes rug fibers, dusts,
    and fiberglass is in the air and it will throw the sample off.

    I am an ahera project designer, however for me to write a whole work plan here I would be at it for some time.
    The best way for a home owner to find out exactly how the work is done requires an homeowner to sit down or at least spend some time
    talking to the contractor you intend to hire.

    If he cant tell you how its done you may need a different abatement contractor.

  76. Least I forget, The machine you heard in the Regulated area
    is called a high volume air pump.(high flow)
    one of the men that works in the containment will wear a low volume air pump, (low flow)that sample is taken in the breathing zone of the worker that is doing the dirtiest task.

  77. Wow! What a wealth of information! My home has popcorn ceilings that I intend to remove. Fortunately, my home was built in 1988 so i don’t have an asbestos problem.

    I wanted to know if I could dry scrape the ceilings, leaving a little texture behind for a sort of knockdown look. Thanks to all the information provided I see I can do just that. Great thread and a special thanks to redmondjp!

  78. The pup,
    Sample the popcorn before you dry scrape it. also test the sheetrock mud, why? because asbestos is still being placed into even brand new homes. a dry scrape is the best way I know for a fiber release.
    I kid you not, I have found hot popcorn in homes that were built in the early 1990s. a cheap sample is worth the peace of mind.

  79. There is a lof of information here, but I don’s see someof my major concerns addressed. We bought a house in Boise, Idaho in 1976. It was built in 1975 and has popcorn ceilings everywhere except in the kitchen, laundry room and bathrooms. This means that over 1000 square feet of ceiling are affected. First of all, if you have samples lab tested and they are positive for asbestos, are you required to remove it immediately? And if so, and you absolutely can’t afford to do so, what are your options? I am a 59 year old single grandmother that has been raising my grandson for over ten years now. Because the knowledge of the problem didn’t surface for so long, is there any kind of government program that can help with this? If so, how would I find out? Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  80. I do not believe any state has a requirement that popcorn ceilings be removed. If they do, I haven’t heard of it. Take the test in a place your grandson does not normally go, like your bedroom closet, and get it tested. Would appreciate your posting the test results here. If you do that, I will post any info I can find regarding that test result and also get Tony back to talk about your level of asbestos.

  81. Gosh, what a thread! I’m looking for some bottom line dollar figures, and here is what I have discerned from this conversation. Please tell me if I am wrong:

    Non-asbestos ceiling acoustic (popcorn) removal – roughly $3 sf
    Retexture and paint ceiling – roughly $2 sf

    What do y’all think?

    I’m in Austin, which is cheaper than the rest of the country for work, but the most expensive spot in Texas.

  82. Frances,
    First off ardell is right, you do not have to remove anything in your home if you test for it and find it contains asbestos.

    however, if it is asbestos lagging or furnace material you need to find
    an abatement contractor.

    If the ceilings have been painted and nothing is falling down you dont have anything to worry about.
    for that matter even if it is not painted You have nothing to fear if it is not falling down.

    let me know what kind of shape it is in and I will try to steer you in the right direction without killing your wallet.

    Don’t let anyone Buffalo you into removing it by saying you have to.
    It is patently untrue.

  83. Auntie em,

    get three bids from abatement contractors and then check on the one you want.

    Then after the popcorn is off get three drywall contractors to bid the fixing of it. same drill, check on thier references.

    I cant impart enough how important that is.
    also do some fishing by phone, think about what you want to ask them, write it down and gently stick to the point when you ask them.

    Here is what they will want to know.
    1. how high are your ceilings? the higher they are the more it costs.
    2. is it encapsulated (painted) if it is very heavy it dont come off easy and it costs more to abate.
    3. how many square feet do you have? take a tape, figure it out.
    (length X height) if you have a large amount the square foot price should go down a bit.

    4. check your closets, if it is in them tell them so, you dont want them
    to ask for a change order (more money) if you have it in them be sure the contractor knows about it before he gives you the numbers.

    hope this helps,

  84. I now know more about popcorn ceilings than I thought possible!! Are there ways to cover the ceiling? Beadboard over it or possibly cover it with joint compound?

  85. I have checked with Puget Sound Air and they have no problem with you covering the popcorn with anything. Bead board, decorative ceiling tiles, plywood, whatever you can come up with. My neice used joint compound in Fresno, California.
    Tony Chase came to our home for an estimate just recently and we feel he is very honest and upfront and has fantastic advice and is very knowledgeable. Tony looked at our ceilings and since we had painted over them, they are sealed with the paint (however paint can make it harder to remove) and they are in good condition Tony said why do anything. He could have said they needed down and here is the cost but didn’t. We did have the popcorn tested. So if they are in bad shape, stuff falling on the floor have Tony take a look at them.

  86. Jason, who did you get in the Raleigh, NC area to quote $3/sf for asbestos abatement? I haven’t seen any estimates nearly that low. Did you have the work done, and are you pleased with the results?

  87. My house has popcorn celings with 4% asbestos…all of the ceiling is in good condition and painted, except for the ceiling in the pantry.

    A leaking pipe had to be repaired in the ceiling above the pantry and all the popcorn in about 1 and 1/2 foor square area fell off and is probably still in the pantry. Fibers were probably released and then spread through out the house every time the pantry door was opened or closed.
    This was about 7 months ago and at that time we did not know that the ceilings contained asbestos. Is it best to remove all the popcorn throughout the house so this does not happen again? Would a contractor just work on the pantry? How do I know if the pantry or the rest of the house has been contaminated?

  88. “1. Now we have to disclose it, effectively reducing the value of our home by at least 10K.”

    Jason, being that you are a Raleigh native, I will chime in. Unless you are an agent, you (the seller) does not have to disclose a single thing. Just check the no representation box. If your house was built prior to 1978 (I think that is the year) you have to provided the buyer with a lead based pain addendum but that is it.

    Locally, since I know the Raleigh area, you have local laws to disclose if you live close to RDU about the airport noise but I am 60 miles east so we do not have to worry about RDU junk.

  89. Popcorn burned,

    It would be helpful if you could tell us your city and state. There is some mention of “air monitoring” up in comments 82 and shortly thereafter.

  90. I am in California, Orange County area..
    If any one, any where has had a similar experience and has had to make a decision…

    Ardell..this blog has been the best source I have found for other home owners experiences with pop corn ceilings..I don’t like to just rely on contractors or the official web sites.
    Thank you.

  91. Just want to thank everyone for their informative posts. I’m debating tackling this project in my condo and I’ve found some great information in this thread.

    I’m pretty clear on how to remove the popcorn from the ceiling but the issue of asbestos does concern me. I live in NY and construction on my building started in late 1989 and completed in 1990. The building engineer assures me no asbestos was used. How likely is it that asbestos was used during in my building?

    Also, my building was constructed using pre-cast concrete slabs and currently the grooves of the joints are visible on the ceiling. This makes the ceiling somewhat uneven. Does anyone have any tips on how to cover the expansion joints and even out the ceiling?


  92. I am the owner of ExtremeMakeoverProos.com…we charge $1.65 per sf fpr popcorn ceiling removal. We charge another .90 cents per square foot to retexture and paint…thats $2.50 total investment. If you need it tested for asbestos that will cost about 430 bucks. If asbestos is contained in your ceilings you’re looking at 2-3 times the cost I just quoted. Check out our website if you have any other questions or our Blog.. http://www.extrememakeoverpros.com/blog

  93. WOW! That is expensive to have asbestos testing done if you are charging $430.00. We just had ours tested at a major Seattle lab and I believe it was about $35.00. We found that having painted over the popcorn when we removed a spot for the testing it was actually easier to remove. It was a like removing icing from a cake. If you use a little water not much because you do not want to ruin the underneath board it should be even easier to take off. Also as I said before in a previous Post Puget Sound Air does not care what you cover it with sheetrock or bead board or putty or tin tiles. So the fact it is painted should not increase the cost of removal too much more. We are going to have one room sheet rocked over. If it goes great we may do the rest of the basement.
    Once it is painted over it is contained and if it is in great shape no reason to spend the money doing anything to it unless you really want to. Our reason for doing the one room is kids bounced balls and knocked the popcorn off in a couple of spots and roof leaked discoloring the ceiling so it looks like someone tinkled on the ceiling.

  94. I am considering putting in an offer on a 1963 house with about 1000sf of popcorn ceiling in Greenwood. Not sure what is best; Should I get the popcorn ceiling tested for asbestos and then have it removed or skip the test and just bring in a drywall contractor and cover it up? Am I taking a risk in “knowing” that there is asbestos in the ceiling.

  95. Look at the Form 17 Seller Disclosure Statement before making the offer. It may already inform you that the ceiling has asbestos, even if you don’t test it.

  96. Ardell,
    The hazards box on the Form 17 (lead, asbestos, etc) is marked unkown. My concern is having to disclose in the future that the house has asbestos, where as if I never test it, I can say it’s unknown.

    If I have it tested and professionally removed, do I have to disclose this in the future?

  97. If your offer is accepted, I would have the ceiling tested for asbestos during the inspection process. Maybe by showing a report that the ceiling contains asbestos, you can get the seller to contribute to the cost of its removal as part of the inspection negotiation. Have the original inspector get the sample and then call for a 2nd inspection to give you 5 more days for the response time, giving you time to get the lab results and a bid for removal.

    If possible, have it removed before you move in. As to needing to disclose that the popcorn ceilings were removed, I think that’s a plus and not a negative. Whether or not you have to, may depend on how long you live there before you sell it. You have to explain a yes answer but not a no answer. Any home built prior to 1978 requires the blanket disclosure regarding lead based paint, etc. That you removed the popcorn puts you ahead of other homes built similarly and in the same timeframe.

  98. Does it cost more to have popcorn ceilings removed if it has been painted over two or three times? One contractor tells me it is more difficult to get the water to soak in and so it will be more costly per square foot that if the ceilings had not been painted.

  99. We painted over our popcorn ceilings and it was a piece of cake to remove the big patch we did for testing. We did not even use water. It just slid off like icing on a cake.

  100. Hello Popcorn removal teams!!!

    ok, so this is our deal….we are flipping a home and the home is 1700 sq ft has the popcorn ceilings and we are debating whether or not to attempt doing this ourselves OR paying someone to do the work.
    QUESTION – is the removal very tough to do??? since we have not done this before and I know some say yes, some say no….we are not sure??

    received initial quote for $1500, now have gotten it down to $800 that includes removal of the popcorn, float out the joints , seal your perimeters, and retexture.

    IS this a great price and not worth even taking the time to SEE if we should do ourselves or not?

    All comments are appreciated

  101. John,
    For that much sq ft I would have them do it for $800 it’s a great price.
    It;s not worth you doing it yourself even though it is pretty easy to do – just messy and dusty.

  102. Okay John tell us all who agreed to do it for $800.00 what company are you using so we can have ours done too. We have about total 1000 square feet.but will probably only do part of that.

  103. In Phoenix, let me know your name and I can add it to the listing of people in the neighborhood that want to have theirs done…negiotiating a price for everyone now !


  104. Arlene,
    sometimes popcorn that is encapsulated will come off pretty easy,
    what causes the problem is if it is painted many times with latex
    or if it is painted with enamel. yet one other issue is if the popcorn was sprayed on a porous surface.
    some are as follows:
    lath and plaster, unless the skim coat is even you find many divots and cracks that require the use of small toothbrushes to clean out
    after the bulk is gone.

    Concrete: air entrained concrete is the worst, if it is both encapsulated and sprayed on concrete you have hundreds of little holes full of the stuff.

    there are other factors but I don’t want to get to windy.

    Regarding an abatement contractor that will do the job for $800.00!
    I have never heard of a price that low for 1200 sf of popcorn.

    Removal alone is never that cheap, let alone including including Repair. that in itself can run over three bucks a ft.
    do yourself a favor and check to make sure that the outfit you are using is a certified abatement contractor.

    Perhaps he is and just is very hungry for work, but at that price
    it barley covers the costs of of the material’s, disposal & air monitoring.

  105. I think Tony we will just go with your original advice. The ceilings are in good condition like you said. If we do anything in the removal of the popcorn it will be you doing it. I thought $800 was a little too low.
    HAPPY NEW YEAR every one.

  106. I would like to address asbestos pricing nation wide.
    Depending what your state regulations may be the contractors
    have to adhere to them. case in point is California vs. Washington
    State. here in Washington we have to build a full negative pressure enclosure, three stage decontamination unit and a two stage waste out. Then our Personnel must don full face supplied air respirators
    and a air line hooked to an air compressor or air bottles.

    In California they don’t have to wear full face supplied air, so whats the difference? it takes about twice the time to work while dragging an air line, the decontamination procedure is more complex, and
    the mobility of the personnel is restricted. California allows its
    workers to wear unencumbered half or full face respirator’s without an outside air source.(no air Lines)

    all states must meet or exceed federal OSHA guidelines in order to
    do asbestos abatement. The minimum is a half face respirator.
    California has chosen to follow the minimum guide lines for abatement.

    Here in Washington State we have our own labor and industries that
    follows WISHA,(Washington industrial safety and health act)
    our laws are more stringent than OSHA regarding worker safety, so everything takes longer to do.

    Time is money, the more stringent the laws the more money it costs.
    So when you look at prices for abatement you need to find out what
    is required in your state, you may find that it can be much cheaper or much more expensive pursuant to your local laws regarding Asbestos Abatement.

  107. Does anyone know who will do the asbestos testing in Springfield, MO.? Our house was built in 1985. But after reading the trail, I want to be sure.

  108. ARLENE

    Joseph is his name and he has done excellent job, just superb! he is by himself but really good. removed the popcorn, resealed the joints, perimeter and knock down texture
    480-458-5404 Joseph

    tell him John gave you his number!

  109. My friend is in a panic. Her neighbor just found out ceiling is asbestos..same builder, same time period. So she has questions.
    1) if she sells does she have to disclose that her ceiling is probably asbestos? She hasnt tested and doesn’t plan on it
    2) How dangerous is it, if she occasionally has dropped pieces not major just there have been a few?
    3) Is having a ceiling fan on an asbestos ceiling a bad idea? Is it spreading dangersous asbestos particles every time she turns it on?

    Mtlk Terrace, WA resident

  110. Normally I see something on the Form 17 that says “Popcorn ceiling may contain asbestos”.

    Most home inspectors have an exclusion in their contract from identifying asbestos, since it cannot be seen, so the only way for a person to know is if the buyer agent points it out, or if it is in the form 17.

    It surprises me that everyone doesn’t know that homesย built prior to 1978 likely have lead based paint and asbestos. Clearly people buy these homes every day knowing these things. I have had a couple of people in 17 years fully address and remove all lead based paint or asbestos, orย encapsulate it. But most do not.

  111. I’ll try to find the link when I have time, but the removal process apparently isn’t that much different if it has or doesn’t have asbestos in it. The disposal is different. But as long as you don’t disturb the stuff it’s not really that big of a deal.

  112. Connie,
    If just a small amount falls its easy to clean up. I would suggest a
    small hepa filtered air scrubber. they are getting less and less

    there are also some pretty quality hepa filtered vacume cleaners on the market. unless she has had allot fall there should be no big problem with the ceiling fan.

    if she has large areas starting to delaminate that is another story.

    I am based out of mountlake terrace and Everett but handle work anywhere in the state. I can look at it for free anytime.
    Tony Chase
    206 793-1321

  113. Ardell, I am an AHERA Building inspector. I look at allot of homes
    for people prior to them purchasing homes. sometimes a
    regular building inspector will point out things that he thinks might be asbestos. more often than not he will not because it is not his
    area of expertise.

    Sadly many of the issues arise after the home is purchased and the
    new owner wants to renovate. I do many inspections for those type of projects as well as the clean up after they have made messes.

    dont be scared that abatement is to costly. its much less than a plumber or a general contractor in most cases.

    The only time it gets bad is when someone removes asbestos popcorn, sheet goods,and worst of worst boilers and furnaces.
    stuff gets scattered all over and it can become a big project to clean it up.

    Never do a renovation without at least talking to a guy like me first.
    the wallet you save would be your own.

  114. Tony Chase and his crew just took down the popcorn in three bedrooms and a hallway for us this month and they did a great job and Tonys crew were wonderful. Our ceilings were in good condition but decided since the rooms needed painting might as well do it. Tony also has a person he can suggest to touch up/paint and finish the ceilings. We hired Rick of Star Ceilings and they could start the week following the popcorn removal. So in less than two weeks it was all done. Two days to do the popcorn removal and three days time wise to do the finishing work. Just a couple of hours each day on finishing the ceilings though. Not whole days.
    I suggest to everyone to start moving everything out of the rooms now if you are planning on doing this it makes it much easier and a good time to de-clutter. The hardest part will be putting the “stuff” back in the rooms and deciding what to keep/get rid of.
    Thank you again Tony and Rick it is good to have it done.
    Les and Arlene
    Bellevue, WA.

  115. Arlene,

    Can you give us more detail as to square footage and cost. Often people are faced with “should we buy this home WITH popcorn ceilings or this one without them”. Knowing the cost after all was said and done can help a lot of people with these kind of home choices.

    Plus buying the one with popcorn ceilings and then removing them will likely end up with a better return when and if they ever sell. I would venture to say that the return is between 3% and 5% of purchase price. How do costs stack up against that return?

  116. The rooms we did was a master bedroom and two childrens bedrooms and a hallway that went from the end of where the first bedroom starts to end of the last bedroom. Yes, it does cost money but in the long run it makes it better if you do sell. Or makes it easier for the kids to sell if we aren’t around to do it.
    Over all it just now looks nicer. One person said it was 375 feet total.
    It was around $2,700.00 (including tax) total for the popcorn removal and repair and painting of the ceilings. For us to do it was just too much. It does come off on our ceilings anyway, pretty easy but for safety/health let the experts do it. Our neighbor let her husband do the same amount as ours and he now has issues with his health/sinuses since then from breathing the dust he inhaled. We were able to stay home while this was going on because we have a split entry home so we could just stay downstairs and they seal off the upstairs vents so it can’t get in the duct system and they seal off the hallway too so it can’t get out in the other rooms.
    It was a lot of work moving the rooms stuff out but we feel now it was worth it. But then we had a lot of stuff in the rooms. I would use both companies again that I previously mentioned. I had the two main abatement companies come out and decided on Tony Chase. Tony’s guys are nice and would help with a heavy item if it needs to be moved when they get there.
    Hope this helps.

  117. great thread! I’m buying a condo built in1979. Im going to have the ceiling tested but am wondering if all the labs are affiliated with the abaitment companies. I want to get an unbiased/independent test result, not one that comes with a backside handshake.

  118. The lab I used and the abatement company were absolutely not in cahoots together. The labs do have a list of abatement companies but you pick not them. There are only a few abatement companies that I know of and the two I know of are very good and reputable.
    We used Tony Chase. He is professional and so is his crew and he is good at what he does.

  119. Labs are third party, they have to be. they are also monitored
    by an industry wide testing that takes random samples from
    ones the lab has done and re tests them.

    All labs will have a list of contractors to use, its up to you to
    call, meet with, and chose the one you feel good about using.

    I have a new website affenv.net I dont charge for advice, I figure
    if you ask questions you are on the right track to making your
    small part of the world a better place to live.

    No one should have to pay for thier safety. so that’s why I dont mind taking the calls I get from all over America. caring about your indoor air quality is a good thing. I get no back slaps, paychecks from it,
    I just do it on my nickle.

  120. I scraped a “popcorn ceiling” off the ceiling of a 2-car garage in Punta Gorda Isles Florida. I wore only a particle mask because I had no idea that it contained 2-3% chrysolite asbestos until I got it tested. I hope my 2-days of fairly intense exposure will not negatively affect my health. What most surprises me is that most Punta Gorda Isles cookie-cutter homes built in the period 1970 to 1978 all have the same 2-3% chrysolite asbestos popcorn ceilings spray-painted throughout the house. However, you cannot find any information online and most of the locals are completely unaware of the existence or danger of the asbestos problem.

  121. MarkusC,

    One of the reasons this issue bothers me so much is because there is so much talk about “full disclosure” and yet there is little done in the area of asbestos. Most home inspectors exclude asbestos as an issue they inspect for or report on. Hence homes are passed in escrow from one to another with no mention of the asbestos in the popcorn ceiling.

    I understand that is because you can’t SEE asbestos, but why aren’t tests done the way there are radon tests done in areas that have radon issues?

    Given popcorn ceilings were more popular prior to 1978, I think any homeowner should assume that a popcorn ceiling contains asbestos. This thread on Rain City Guide is likely the best source of that information on the internet, and that is nothing to brag about, that is something to say WHY? about.

  122. I would like to thank Tony Chase for all of his hard work in the comments portion of this thread. Tony has done more for providing information regarding popcorn ceilings, via his comments here, than anyplace I have seen on the web.

    Thank you Tony, on behalf of RCG and our readers.

  123. I am wondering if a light spray of new texture over the cottage cheese, then doing a knock down finish wouldnt work. Instead of having to spray and scrape the old down. I would like to try this in a small room, say the bathroom. On a painted cottage cheese ceiling, I dont see why a light spray of texture and then knock down finish wouldnt work. I may be a genius for thinking of this…!

  124. what do you mean by knock down finish? sorry I guess I am a dunce.
    you can however cover the popcorn ceilings with what ever you want to. puget sound air said so when I called them.

  125. bbb,

    I can’t help but think that removing asbestos once and for all, if your ceiling contains asbestos, is the better remedy since both are a lot of work.

    That said, I believe every room in my house has a knockdown ceiling. They were extremely poplular in Florida, though not here so much. So perhaps it depends on where you are.

  126. We just recently had Tony Chase and crew take down the popcorn in three bedrooms and a hallway and I am glad we made the decision to do so.
    Was worth it. However if you want to go over it with sheet rock or tin ceiiling squares or texture you can. I called Puget Sound Air and asked them. Since it was about 900.00 to do the touch up repair and painting of the ceilings (not the popcorn removal that was additional and different company) afterwards I think it would be about as much to do something else anyway unless you save the labor and do it yourself. I always look at it this way unless you are really handy dandy leave it to the experts if they mess up you know who has to make it right.
    But I would absolutely have Tony’s crew again if we do the downstairs ceilings. I agree in the long run the right thing to do is have it removed and let the experts do it. It took us a lot of thinking it over to finally decide to just bite the bullet and do it. If we ever sell it will have been a good decision.

  127. well house was built in 92 so i doubt asbestos? Plus the living room is two story angled. So I am just figuring the cheapest way to get rid of the cottage cheese is a spray over.

  128. How to tell if asbestos is in the popcorn. Scrape off a wee bit which contains some of the popcorn kernels. Simply rub them between your finger and thumb.

    If it is just think drywall compound then it will turn to dust. If it contains beads of styrofoam then you will end up with the small piece of plastic foam (as if you had torn up some foam packaging material). If there is some papery stuff left behind, then you probably have asbestos.

    Also, if the ceiling was done in the past twenty years or so then it is about 99% certain that there isn’t any asbestos present.

    Not scientific, but still works rather well. Also, always wear a good quality mask.

    If you are SURE it isn’t asbestos then go ahead and wet it with a sprayer, let set for a while and rewet. You will reach a saturation point where the texture will come off rather easily (unless someone added paint when they put it on). Any fibers left sticking up from the wallboard (drywall) can be easily sanded with a drywall sander, one the drywall is TOTALLY dry. This is not easy work and takes time and sweat. Now you begin to understand why we contractors are so expensive…… ๐Ÿ™‚

    One last tidbit: you cannot just keep on spraying texture or paint over an imperfection and expect the imperfection to fillup and match the surrounding area. Won’t work on a car or a ceiling because the entire surface just gets thicker. I add this because I have seen people spray on a quarter inch of texture and still have a depression; then they call. Would have saved a lot of money is they had called first, even for advice.

  129. What an incredible blog, thank you for the wealth of information and links. I found this by MSN search “popcorn removal Seattle”.

    We need to test ours to see if it contains the nasty stuff. My hunch is yes since built in 1963. Once we get it tested will work on pricing. I will report back.

    Our issue isn’t health concern, seeing how we aren’t disturbing the ceiling, but the look and dirtiness of it. Painting popcorn texture is awful and still looks old. Now I’m not sure spending a couple thousand is worth it but will let you know.

  130. Liz,

    Thank you for the kudos and we would certainly appreciate it if you do report back for the benefit of all.

    Consider that more and more people are removing these and fewer and fewer homes will have them. Clearly going out into the future, the effect on value of your home will increase as people have more options to purchase homes without popcorn ceilings in your given area.

    When everyone has them, people will buy homes with them. When only 2 out of five homes on market have them, those 2 may be the ones left behind in weaker market conditions.

  131. Great thread. Lots of extremely useful information. One question that I saw brought up but not touched on, which was homes in the 50’s. I just purchased a home built in ’58 which has the “pops”. It is starting to fall in small places, mostly higher humidity areas (kitchen and bathroom) so it’s going to have to go (which it would have to anyway since it is uuugggly). I’m going to be taking a sample to get tested, but am wondering when did they start the widespread use of asbestos as a binder?

  132. Pete,

    Popcorn ceilings became very popular in the late 50s. I’m pretty sure asbestos was used as binder from the time they came out until that substance was banned from use in the late 70s.

  133. How exactly do you take a sample? Do I just scrape off some of the ceiling so the dust is captured or actually take a chunk?

    Per Seattle Asbestos Test, LLC (where I plan to send the sample) the instructions say “Place the small piece into a clean container (for example, a 35 mm film canister, small glass or plastic vial, or high quality re-sealable plastic bag). Tightly seal the container after the sample is in it. Cover the hole created by removing the sample with a small piece of duct tape to prevent further spread of fibers .” I hadn’t exactly planned on cutting a small hole in the ceiling drywall.

    Also I haven’t called them yet but their site says to take three samples, for my size house, then in the pricing sections says each sample costs $30 to test. I want to call and verify it’d be $90. I think I’ll just do one sample. My goal is to get this done in the next week since I’m driving thru Lynnwood Thursday and can drop the sample off.

  134. Liz,

    I was trying to scan through the comments to find test sample advice. Someone said you need “a teaspoonful” and given you know your are taking it down, I wouldn’t be skimpy on the sample size.

    I agree that one sample should be sufficient. Not likely they used different material in different places.

    Would appreciate your letting us know how long it takes to get the results. Though I think it’s save to assume you have asbestos, the % would be interesting. I’m going to take a guess at it being 4% or so.

  135. Liz,
    all you need to do is get yourself a zip lock baggy, dampen the area you are going to take the sample from and scrape a dime to quarter size amount into the bag and seal it.

    The reason for taking three samples is in some cases you may only have trace amounts in some areas and up to 4 or 5% in others.
    three samples from different places in your home offers a bit more piece of mind.
    don’t cut a hole in your ceiling, that is unnecessary unless you plan to remove the Sheetrock as well.

  136. Asbestos test is positive. We dropped the sample off last night to the Seattle Asbestos Test Bellevue lab (which is very poorly marked, they have no sign and aren’t on the company directory) and already got the results!

    Our sample was 1 tablespoon and per lab report contained 5% asbestos fibers and 2% non-asbestos fibers.

    They recommended Affordable Abatement but we will call a few other places for comparable bids.

    Oh, our house is a 1963 rambler near Rose Hill JR High.

  137. We just took our popcorn down this year with Tony Chase crew. He is listed above in other notes. They did a good job. Make sure you have eveyrthing removed out of the rooms first. Start doing the removal when you schedule it. Shut the heat off because they will have the doors open and be in and out. since we have two levels we could be in the bottom part of the house and not have to leave do not know if you will with a rambler. Then we used Star ceiling who came in and did the touch up repairs and painted the ceilings they were quick and available on short notice.

  138. I plan to call Tony and someone from the beginning recommended AFJ Commercial Services. Although, Tony if you want to zip me an e-mail my address is elizabet@lincoln.midcoast.com. I would love to have you come out and look, you’ve been a huge help on this board!

    What made you change your mind on having them removed – your earlier blogs say you were just going to live with it? This is definitely not something we had planned to do but as we slowly update the old house it’ll be nice and also you had a good point about resale down the line. My husband isn’t as on board as I am with the removal due to cost.

    We’ll ask about leaving. We have a bonus room without popcorn ceilings so was hoping to tarp off and sleep in there. Our goal is to get the popcorn removed, ceilings repaired and painted then walls painted all in one week.

  139. We decided since the rooms all needed painting and needed to take everything out of them anyway the right thing to do was remove the popcorn as long as we were doing all that work. In the long run it was the right thing to do if we ever go to sell the house it would be a better selling feature long term.

  140. BBB, on your march 2nd post you were thinking of spraying a light
    texture on the popcorn and then turn it into a knock down.

    I doubt it will work, the popcorn itself is Styrofoam, you would have to spray the heck out of it to bring the level up to above the popcorn.

    The issue with that is you are adding wet weight to the texture, more likely than not the whole thing will come down making one hell
    of a mess.

    I also would like to point out that even though your house was built in 92″ you may still have asbestos. the law allowed for large companies to use all stockpiles they had on hand, and yes, I have found it to be asbestos containing all the way up to the mid 90s!

    That’s why you always have it tested before you do anything to it.
    that plus I have even seen popcorn texture that has had asbestos containing drywall mud in it.

    Newtons law is alive and well in the regards to applying to much to an existing ceiling, we abatement contractors give bids for free for
    the most part. use the resource before starting a project.
    the money you save will be your own.

  141. Listen to Tony. Is my advice. I get nothing for saying that either.
    When we get the upstairs walls painted and rooms back to normal then we have rooms dwonstairs to do and we are going to use Tony if we take the popcorn ceilings down there too.
    Good luck.
    Les and Arlene

  142. Hey! Anyone have a video of the popcorn ceiling coming down? Tony?

    Picturing the texture making the whole mess come down on someone’s head made me crave a video.

    You are great, Tony. I love your straight answers.

  143. Hi everyone,

    Does anyone on the board know of a good asbestos removal company in the Washington DC area?
    My husband and I are thinking of buying a place and it has popcorn. We’re going to assume the worst – that there is asbestos (which I have to say is very worrying to me…perhaps I’m being irrational, but even the idea of having ‘dormant’ asbestos in the house leaves me feeling uneasy).

  144. Ardell,
    What are the disclosure requierements if a seller knows the ceiling has asbestos? Right now we’re considering all angles which includes removing popcorn or drywalling over. A DIY site mentioned drywall was a good option and less mess them removal but some states require disclosure. What does Washington have? Do you see that scenerio being an issue when selling?

  145. Liz,

    Since you can’t see asbestos, even inspectors have no obligation to tell you that there is asbestos. Unless someone had it tested the answer is “don’t know” even though we all know that popcorn ceilings almost always contain asbestos.

    From a seller’s perspective it’s making a mountain out of a molehill given they’ve lived with it without having worried about it. So generally they feel a buyer is just trying to be difficult.

    Personally, I would never recommend simply covering over the popcorn as now you have sealed in the asbestos and it will never be removed. If you are covering over it, then don’t have it tested so you can honestly say “don’t know” ๐Ÿ™‚ Chances are no one would ever ask if they don’t see popcorn on the ceiling.

    Problem with drywalling over it is that homes that have popcorn ceilings almost always have low ceilings, so making them lower is not a good idea.

  146. Hi Ardell,
    I have cleaned up many texture encapsulations that have gone Horribly wrong. only once was it my own crews encapsulating a
    popcorn project. the owner loved it as I cleaned it up and abated
    the rest for free. The video a good idea though, next time I do a house that I am also tearing down I will take one room and
    have the men load it till it drops.

  147. Tony,

    Thanks! We’d love a video. How many jobs out of 10 would be encapsulated vs. removed? Or is it more like 1 out of 20? Also, why would someone encapsulate it vs. removing it? Is it a lot cheaper?

  148. Ardell,
    encapsulating vs. abatement is almost a push. the issue is you still have to build a containment and that is a big chunk of the work. you also have to monitor the air and build a decontamination unit.
    Truthfully, I very rarely do them at all.

    And of course if you don’t know what you are doing you can cause more problems then they are worth, and when all said and done all you have is made it harder to remove when you want it gone.

  149. Ardell,
    The main reson for encapsulating in a home is ducting and furnaces.
    many times an older home will have duct paper or asbestos lagging on the pipes. in those cases rather than replace all the insulation
    it is sometimes better to encapsulate them.

    What that does is buy time and save from the high costs of replacing
    those systems. plus if you abate some of the older water pipes they will start to leak because the lagging itself has bonded with the pipes.

    Removal could mean you have to replace them now vs. later.
    tad off the subject of popcorn, but I wanted you to know why the term is used so often in regards to asbestos in homes.

  150. Popcorn Burned- Did you ever end up removing your popcorn ceiling? My parent’s home is in Orange County too and they really need to have it removed!

    It’s been painted over a few times and looks terrible. But what’s worse is, some kind of insect (I think it’s a type of small moth) breeds inside the textured areas. I know this because once I was sitting on the dining room table studying and out of nowhere a larvae fell onto my textbook. I looked up, and on closer investigation found little “pods” within the texture. It’s disgusting and I want to have them remove it so badly. They’re a bit discouraged because we had it tested and it has 5% asbestos. It’s starting to feel like such a big job- but I’m determined to get it done.

    Please tell me what you ended up doing- who, how much, how long, as much info as you can give me would be so helpful. Thanks to everyone else also who has any info on any work done in the Orange County, CA area.

  151. I have put together a guide on removing these popcorn ceilings to help those that want to take on the project themselves. I tried to make the online manual as thorough as possible, basically just documenting the steps that we use to take when I was doing this type of work. I did not cover the special steps or equipment needed if the ceiling has asbestos but will add this information as soon as time permits. We had our process pretty well worked out so that we could remove, repair, and texture the average home in less than a day so I am sure you will find some time saving tips useful if nothing else. I hope this information is helpful. http://BIGrehab.com

  152. WOW!!!
    We had Tony and his company remove our popcorn ceilings just recently and we had no issue with anything they did. He did not test the samples we took them to a different company. They did not recommend any one to us but will provide a list of those that remove the popcorn. I have a hard time with what you have said here since he even discouraged us from removing the popcorn said it was in good condition and encapsulated so basically why spend the money? It was several months later we decided to do it because of resale value maybe down the road. We absolutely would use his crew again. Sorry to hear you had a bad experience.
    Maybe we will hear from Tony on what you expressed here.

  153. I think what you stated in your note implies just what you said your experience working for Tony was not a good one. If you are stating what you are. I do have a very good imagination thank you and I am glad I do. I did watch them and what they do and had read up on what is required that the people who do this for a living are supposed to do. I did my homework on it. I called PSA also.
    Just as when we installed a Rinai tankless water heater I did all the checking from calling Rinai to calling who does their billing to the city about permits to water company to the construction division of the water company who pulled the specs to tell me if we could install one to finding out if I installed this thing is our meter big enough to handle all the gas items we have in this older home.
    If they are stupid to not wear the respirators and want to affect their health well I guess that is their choice. I do know what you are talking about when it comes to chekcing the air samples when they finished. One of the workers drove into Seattle to do it while one of the crew remained here. We now have a air place located here in Bellevue which the one crew guy who staye dhere mentioned was unfortunately not opening till the next week. if we do the basement of our house I will have my hubby or myself ride with them to make sur ethey do do it. If you did not have a bad experience then perhaps you will share with the rest of us with imaginery minds why you no loinger work for them.? I did actually see those bodies out in my driveway in the shower and freezing their tooshes off.
    By the way they di dnot walk around in my home when they took a break or when they were done. They also sealed off all the vents in the area they worked in and sealed off the hallway where the bedrooms were that they worked in. They walked into our house up a flight of stairs to short sealed off hallway and did the three bedrooms That was the only area they were in where they actually did the work. They did not come downstairs where we were.

  154. Since you are saying you are working for a much better company than Tony has as to procedures and safety issues then why don’t you tell us who you are so when we decide to do the basment popcorn ceiling removal we can consider your company as well.
    I did have two bids for the work and they were actually pretty much the same price. Since Tony tried to steer us away more so from doing the work that might not be necessary to do that is why I decided to go with him.
    I am very sensitive to the smell of liquor and noticed none of the crew breath smelling of liquor. However I was not that close to their mouths. I also can tell since I do not take drugs pretty much of any kind except prescription and have witnessed people on drugs then I can tell that too and did not see any signs of it here. I think one of the guys smoked but of course did it outside. I do prefer workers who do not smoke since I have a sensitivity to the smell. But if they are outside I can deal with it for a temprorary time frame.
    Again who ar eyou and where and whom do you work for.
    Thanks for the lively discussion I am sure others are enjoying it as well.
    Looking forward to others comments as well and for Tony to comment. Cheers

  155. CB which disgruntled ex employee are you? or perhaps you are a competitor? as I go out and inspect my supervisor and crew in the field I find your statements both unfounded and stinging to say the least.

    Anyone that hires my firm please feel free to call L&I @ 206 515-2786 or PSCA @ 206 689-4090 and request an inspection as we do the work.

    Perhaps if you would identify yourself you would have at least a shred of credibility, as such, you don’t.

  156. Seems to me that C B could be anyone making up what ever he wants about Tony’s company… Keep in mind this blog is anonymous and its up to you to check into what ever company you hire. C B probably got fired from Tony’s company for illegal drug use and is mad that he is now unemployed…explaining why he doesn’t say what company he works for now. Anyone who gives that much negativity about anything without any specific reasoning or examples (besides calling everything smoke and mirrors again and again) should hardly be trusted as credible. – my two cents…

  157. Ardell,
    There has been little changes to the regs in the last twenty years.
    whoever this person is I strongly doubt he ever worked for my firm.

    The QA QC that we provide is for our customers is second to none.
    That is why Affordable Environmental is small, so I can keep a tight
    reign on my projects and provide a service that is both well done
    as well as inexpensive.

    Our air monitoring is always done correctly, and taken to a third party lab. I would welcome comparing the track record of my company against his if he has the spine to tell me who he is and what company he is with.

  158. I hate to say it, but I am leaning towards the former employees assessment of Tony’s company, as he pointed out a person who says they are staying small to keep high QC and QA is not being forthright in my opinion, he also didn’t dispute the drug and alcohol allegations. does his company have drug testing or not? apparently not.
    Second in doing a search for asbestos removal violations, it seems the type of activities he was talking about are the most common violations, and finally Tony recommended checking the PSCAA and labor and industries, however in a Google search I found his company was fined $13,900.00 in Spokane by their regulatory agency, this does not jive with his many post here.
    I believe hiring a asbestos removal company is unlike hiring any other type of contractor since mistakes or poor workmanship can result in cancer or death years after the work was done, I think a zero tolerance for poor work is necessary.
    I also wouldn’t hire ”CB” , this person should have reported this activity much more than he or she did, especially if it happened at Children’s Hospital, shame on both these people!

  159. I was just told by another worker aboout the contreversy here about Tony’s company, Tony’s company has done more illegal asbestos removal than anyone, we call it rip and run! and that term is from his company.

  160. Terry, you are talking about another company, my firm runs one crew and has NEVER done an asbestos abatement job in Spokane.
    also, affordable ENVIRONMENTAL, INC. has NEVER BEEN FINED!

    Please do your homework before you make false allegation’s about anyone! also, I have NEVER done one project at children’s hospital!
    Please do a search on AFFORDABLE ENVIRONMENTAL,INC!
    I have a great drug and alcohol program! and shame on you for your little part in this smear campaign!

    MARK P, Once again the name of my firm IS AFFORDABLE ENVIRONMENTAL! you know for a fact you are talking about the other Firms, with similar names as mine!

    Also, AFFORDABLE ENVIRONMENTAL,INC I did not invent the term
    RIP and RUN! its been around since the 1980s!

    I take it you are pals of CB, Please Identify yourselves!

  161. Terry, The name of my firm is AFFORDABLE ENVIRONMENTAL,INC.
    we have a great drug and alcohol program, I have NEVER done
    one job in Spokane! or at childrens hospital! and you should be ashamed of yourself for your part in this smear campain!

    The term rip and run came from the 1980s! whoever you three guys are I bet you are having a blast with your disinformation!

  162. Tony and everyone else reading this as a very recent customer of Tonys firm and his workers my husband and I can tell you all because I looked into his firm before I ever hired him or would hire anyone for that matter they are fine to hire and their workers did a good job and they are nice, and they were helpful and not impatient with us when we had a few things we did not or could not move ourselves and they did it for us. Being patient and friendly is important part of anyone who works for you anyway to us it is.
    We would hire them again and we do not believe in taking drugs drinking or smoking for that matter due to religious beliefs. So we feel perfectly content with hiring Tonys team again.
    I think some people commenting need something to do and I notice CB has dropped off the radar screen with his comments.
    If I was Tony I would ignore the naysayers although I understand wanting to defend yourselves. As these negative comments could affect your business. For those wondering no we do not personally know Tony nor are we receiving any thing for our comments. As we stated earlier he did not even encourage us to remove the popcorn because it was in good condition. Actually did not even give us a bid because he felt we should not remove it. He did base his bid on my saying the square footage by email when we decided to do the rooms and took my word for the footage to be removed. He was slightly less than the actual in house and seen, bid by another company.
    I think the purpose of this forum is to help people find help and answer questions not to be doing personnal attacks on a business but to enlighten us out here who need the help. For others to relate a good experience also. Help cut down on the need to track down a good company or companies to use. Tony also recommended a company for us to repair the slight popcorn damage removal which was very, very little and to paint the ceilings they were in and out and also did a good job. We did not have to wait weeks to get that done after the popcorn was removed.
    They are Star Ceilings. Tony we found is the type of person willing to share his knowledge and to share a good place to go or share if it will benefit others in our discussions with him. We find many people who have things to share (knowledge) will not do that.
    Anyway Tony and crew ignore the slamming.

  163. Hi everyone,

    I want to buy an house : we already do the inspection and everythings is fine exept tere are asbestos in the popcorn ceiling . I am french and for me it is a big issue and I consider to don’t buy the house .
    Somebody can give me an advice on should I buy this house or it is a real issue . ( it is my first buying so I am very emotional and I love this house but I am very concern by these abestos).

    thank you so much

  164. Can you have it removed after you close and before you move in?

    Remember, people have lived in houses with popcorn ceilings for many, many years…and lived to tell the tale.

    You don’t get long to think about it. Check with your agent about your “legal out” timeframe. Losing your Earnest Money usually costs a lot more than taking out the popcorn ceilings. Have a heart to heart with your buyer’s agent right now!

    You should have known about the asbestos long before you even made an offer. Now the seller is thinking you are getting ready to close, while you are having second thoughts about something you should have known about before you got the seller involved in this process. So make a decision and act timely.

    And good luck whatever you may decide!

  165. Virginie,
    Most houses have asbestos in some form or another in them.
    just because it has popcorn texture does not mean the
    home is contaminated. truth be known there are other materials in homes that pose a far greater health risk.

    What would be best is if you get a Ahera building inspector to
    look at the home and tell you what you have and how much of it
    needs to be removed. (if any)

    He can also get you in the ballpark about any costs and how it would
    affect your budget.

    Education about the stuff is the key. find yourself a asbestos counsultant and he can help with making sure your first house
    is a happy one.

  166. Hi everyone,

    I just wanted to share my experience …. We are buying a house with a popcorn ceiling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and decided to have it tested. I found Eagle Industrial Hygiene Associates in Dresher, PA (http://www.eagleih.com/asbestos.html) and we were extremely happy with their services.

    We were told to put a sample of the ceiling in a zip-lock bag and mail it to them with a check for $30. They emailed us the results the next! day and send us a hard copy in less than a week.

    And the best part was that there was NO asbestos in the sample! ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you are as lucky as us.

    Have a great day,

  167. Hi Alenka!

    I’m from Philadelphia and I do recall popcorn ceilings there being more of a fad and not an asbestos issue. If you happen by, tell me what neighborhood you are in.

  168. Hi,

    We have put a bid in on a house with popcorn ceiling, and a tile ceiling, the house was built in 1926. We are pretty sure they contain asbestos. We are now balking going through with the buy. Does anyone know of a good asbestos abatement company in the SF bay area?

  169. Mike, while I dont know any contractors down there at this point
    I would suggest a survey company to look at the home before you
    buy. the costs for it very but chances are good you can get it done for around $500.00.

    Houses of that age are wonderful homes in most cases & if you
    have a asbestos survey done (or ask the owner for one) you
    will find out what you are facing.

    Then get on your computer and look up a local remodel company
    and ask who they recommend. a pro will know of at least one good company that has a great track record for what you need done.

    he can then put you in the ballpark simply by having him give you
    a bid off the survey. you are not bound to anything but you can
    then budget what you would like to do to the home. (if anything.)


  170. Very informative board here. Just recently purchased a home built in 1974 with popcorn ceilings, the decision was made that they ARE being removed, no matter what, so I didn’t have them tested prior to purchase. (but will pryor to removal) Was it common to popcorn every ceiling? This crap is everywhere, bathrooms, kitchen, pantry, even in the shower. It is also unpainted but still very white, even in the kitchen. Makes me think it was added and not the original finish. The previous owners say they have done nothing to it in the 15 years they lived there. Also, any recomendations in the north Florida area?

  171. Cinda,

    The only thing I remember from living in Florida (Lake Mary and Longwood) is that mold can grow really fast there. I’d be careful about running fans or something to make sure the drywall is completely dry before painting it. Wetting the ceilings to remove it here is easy enough. But wetting drywall in hot humid areas like Florida…well it could take long to dry and may not dry well without some help.

    The only thing worse than popcorn ceilings is big black mold spots coming through the new paint ๐Ÿ™‚ I remember the grout in my tile floor and showers could get moldy in HOURS! I was always running around with bleach scrubbing something. I even scrubbed the slime on the brick mailbox with bleach while the true Floridians laughed and called me “a Yankee” ๐Ÿ™‚

  172. Hi,

    I’m reporting back after we had our popcorn ceilings removed last week. We used Tony Chase of Affordable Environmental and very pleased. While I never met Tony his crew was very pleasant. They removed approx 500 sq ft in 3 bedrooms, hallway, livingroom and dining. It took two days, the first to plastic the interior and the second to scrape. Mike, the foreman, said the popcorn was very easy to remove and didn’t seem like it had been painted often. We’ve never painted.

    While right now we are still looking at the drywall underneath we are so happy we made the choice to remove. My husband wasn’t really for it b/c of cost but he was the first to say good idea. The area already looks bright and the ceilings look taller. Plus our house won’t look so aged. Granite it was built in 1965 but now it won’t look that way!

    Cost of scraping popcron was $1,800. The drywall needs some repair and the painter, Russell of Pride in Painting is coming tomorrow. It is $1,000 to repair, texture and prime them then $800 to paint. Let me know if there is a way to post pictures and I will, or someone can e-mail me @ elizabet@lincoln.midcoast.com and I will send them to you.

  173. CB,

    You would bemore credible if you used your real name. Otherwise I may have to delete you as your statements a libelous and the site can’t be responsible for your words. You have to own them, by putting your real name down, or I will have to delete them.

    I don’t know Tony, this is just to protect our site. If you believe what you are saying…then sign your real name on it. Otherwise it’s just smelly hot air and I’ll have to delete it. I’ll give you 8 hours to decide and I will email this to you as well.

  174. Ardell as a reader of this site and also a past customer of Tonys I am glad to see you tell this mysterious person this. While I want our family to be safe and protected and if there is a problem with using certain individulas for repair work in our homes no matter what it is or who does it I want to be aware if there is a problem. But to trash someones name without identifing yourself is more wrong than if any individual is doing your project incorrectly. That is attacking a persons character. They do need to identify themselves to all of us reading this site and tell us who their company is if it is so much better.
    My understanding of this site is to be for information only and to find who is out there to answer our questions and who they can recommend and then leave it up to us whether or not we choose to use that individual for work in our homes or business.
    Tony did our pocorn removal and we do not know him personally or anything else he di a good job as far as we can tell. The work was properly done. Everyting was sealed off, vents etc. The hallway was sealed off from the rest of the house also. What else can be done?

  175. Arlene,

    I’m generally fine with anonymous posters. But if someone is going to shoot poison darts, especially at one of our “guests”, they should at least have the courage to identify themselves when doing so.

    I’ll give him/her the full 8 hours.

  176. No response from CB, so I have deleted the slanderous comments. CB, it would be more helpful to readers if you would give advices of how to check their providers before, after and during the asbestos removal process. We would welcome and value such advices given in general, vs. aimed at specific competitors.

  177. Ardell, I have read through most of the 200 or so comments and think you have done a wonderful service to the U.S. (we are in Raleigh, NC). Until this morning I had never heard of asbestos in popcorn ceilings and have known of many people who have removed the popcorn….without knowing about the asbestos.
    Where is the asbestos located? Is it in the mud they use on the ceiling or in the popcorn itself? If it is in the mud then it must also be in every wall in the house where they have taped and floated the joints. Is this something we should get excited about, too?

  178. Ed,

    It was in the popcorn itself. The only “tape” with asbestos that I run across is the insulation tape wrapped around old furnace pipes in the basement. Some old vinyl tile has asbestos. The back or gray white tiles that look like Pollack splatter paint on them are the most common ones I can identify by looking at them, or at least it’s a red flag pattern.

    Since you only chip off a sample of the popcorn for the asbestos test, I’m sure it’s in the popcorn itself. Rarely do you have it tested and it turns out as having no asbestos, especially if it was originally done in the 50s or 60s. Then it goes by % (kind of like radon testing) with 1% being almost none and the norm being 4% or 5%.

    We have TONS of popcorn ceiling houses on “The Eastside”. Mostly ramblers built in or around 1963.

    The test only costs $30 to $50. Well worth doing. That said, I just helped my daughter move into a rental with popcorn ceilings and she’s prenant. I’m not “afraid” of it especially if it’s not touched. The ceilings are really high in the bedroom. No one’s going to be knocking into it even though my future son-in-law is 6’3″.

    Here we have cedar siding that looks exactly like the asbestos shingles I’ve seen on the East Coast. EXACTLY. I’m not believing it has no asbestos without a test. If someone were to be taking it down and disposing of it, I’d want to have it tested.

    Those are the places I’ve seen asbestos over the last 18 years. Exterior siding, vinyl floor tiles, insulating tape wrapped on old furnace pipes and popcorn ceilings.

    If anyone knows of any others…please post.

  179. Hi Ardell,
    Asbestos can be found in many areas of a home.
    here is a few more places:

    window caulking
    Sheet goods (flooring)
    Insulation in attic
    Chimney & Breeching
    wall mud
    skimcoat on walls

  180. I don’t know, Tony. We’ve got to get real here. Scaring people beyond reasonable “can fix it” is not a good thing.

    I would venture to say that at least 80% of all popcorn ceilings have asbestos…maybe as many as 90%.

    Can’t say the same thing about “countertops”. What kind of counter top has asbestos? Jeez…we put our food on it. What are the odds that your kitchen counter top has asbestos, and what might it look like if it did?

  181. Ardell,

    You asked how to choose a good abatement contractor (post #209).

    1) Some say ask for referrals. Typically when asked the contractor will provide names of extremely satisfied clients, rather than those less satisfied. Expect any referrals to give a rave review, so I wouldn’t even bother asking for referrals.

    2) A lot of safety violations information is available online at http://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/establishment.html. Internet search engines can offer misleading safety info intentionally provided by subscribers. One such site has info from the OSHA site above on only non-members of their organization, making it appear their members are safer. Also, the OSHA site allows a little deeper digging to see what the violations actually were. Permit filing typos vs. fatalities, etc.

    3) Ask for ‘asbestos abatement’ insurance. Some states licensing agencies require only ‘general liability’ insurance instead of ‘abestos abatement’ coverage.

    4) Ask if the contractor is OSHA exempt (in Washington L&I exempt). Small firms who have no employees (owners only) are not required to adhere to many safety regulations which not only protect workers, but also prevent occupant exposures.

    5) Most objective tip – ask ‘Asbestos Consultants’. These firms are usually found immediately before asbestos contractors in the phone book. Schools, governmental entities and multinational companies hire consultants to observe contractors during their operations and make final payment recommendations. If you suggested 3 firms who’d given you a bid to a consultant, they’d give you their opinion who’d be best based on their own experiences. Gov’t officials aren’t allowed such candor (either to recommend or to caution), but consultants can openly relay their experiences without fear of reprisal.

    Hope that helps.

  182. Ardell,
    Simply because something has asbestos in it does not make it scary,
    as long as it is in good shape it poses no real Health hazard.
    Asbestos was milled for use in sheetgoods, they were used also to
    cover floors and sometimes countertops.

    As far as the number of popcorn textured ceilings that contain asbestos its a roll of the dice, some do and some dont.

  183. (Recommend determining asbestos presence first.) This method is for an ordinary, less-than-20-yr-old drywall ceiling that was originally finished reasonably well (most are). There will be little or no damage to the ceiling but if minor patching is needed afterward, such as a nailhead or a scraper slip, it’s not all that difficult with a bit of mud and sandpaper. I use a Wagner Wallpaper Steamer. Hold paddle against ceiling for 10-15 seconds, scrape steamed area with small 2″ stiff putty knife (large ones and drywall knives gouge more, especially on tape joints). Heavy popcorn may require a second steaming before you move the to the next area. “Scrape” is not the correct term–you actually “roll” the stuff along in front of the knife edge, in one direction, in one push, from start to end of the steamed area, row-by-row until the steamed area is done. If you scrape back and forth, you get more damage. Then you move the paddle and repeat. Stuff is almost dry by the time it hits the floor. Use old sheets or draperies instead of plastic drop cloths (less boot tracking). Shake the drop cloths after the room is done and use them again. Process is probably a little slower than misting and wiping, but it sure is a lot cleaner and less strenuous. Takes about 4 hours for a typical 12X14 room. You’ll get the knack of it in about 10 minutes of practice.

  184. Hello- I bought my house almost 7 years ago- it was built in the 1940s. It has really new looking non-sparkly popcorn on the common area ceilings (except the kitchen)…as I said, everything looks great (for popcorn) and I haven’t removed it because of my fear of stirring up the asbestos if it’s in the material and because of the cost…don’t like it, but can live with it.

    The thing that worries me is that at the end of the hallway between the master bedroom and my daughter’s room is the attic crawl space opening, just a square of sheetrock that you can lift up to get up there…it was popcorned too and a piece of the popcorn (about half of the square) just fell off one night. We were sleeping and didn’t hear it. In the morning, I saw what happened, kept my kids in their rooms and gently laid a wet towel over it and cleaned it up while trying to make sure I didn’t breathe, and showered right away. the other half is still attached to the opening cover. I haven’t had it tested because I cannot have it all removed…and I’m gonna just bite the bullet I think and try to remove the rest myself outside carefully and then paint the cover.

    Other than the lab thing- really, is there anyway you can tell or get a good idea if it contains asbestos? The house is old, but my husband swears there’s no way our popcorn is from the 70’s…he thinks it’s far newer. One family lived in the house until I owned it (from the time it was built) and the now grown kids have no idea about the ceiling. I am really starting to worry about this.

  185. Taking it to the lab is not expensive and much better than guessing. I was over at my daughter’s the other day and they have popcorn ceilings in their rental townhome. She’s pregnant with my grand daughter, and I can’t say that I’m overly alarmed about it.

    I’ve seen and been around popcorn ceilings most of my life and I’ve never heard of anyone getting sick from living in a house with popcorn ceilings. Most people I know who have had them removed have done so for aesthetic vs. health reasons.

    From what you are saying you are going to assume it is asbestos, so you might as well have it checked. That only costs $50 or less usually. Maybe your husband will be right and it won’t have asbestos, or maybe it will have a low 1% reading. I think you will feel better if you have it checked. Worse that can happen is that you will find out that it is asbestos, which it seems you are already thinking it is.

    I know many people who have removed it themselves not even knowing it might contain asbestos. I’m not saying you should do that, but I’m glad I wrote this post for that reason primarily, so that people don’t just start removing it without having it tested.

    I’ve seen many attic covers covered with popcorn and many inspectors slide it over and crawl in and put it back, and they don’t seem to be worried about it. I’m standing under it when they do that and I don’t worry about it. I think I’ll google and see if there are any stories about people having a problem with it. If anyone knows of any stories like that, I’d appreciate them posting it here. I haven’t heard of any.

  186. Not sure if this is helpful, but I found this.

    “If you have asbestos โ€ฆ
    If your sample comes back positive for asbestos, there are only two ways to deal with it safely and legally:

    1) You can encapsulate the asbestos with a new layer of non-asbestos acoustic sprayed over the top of the existing ceiling. This is the most economical solution to the asbestos problem, but still leaves your home with that dated look.

    2) The pricier solution is to have a certified asbestos-abatement company remove the finish and then have the wallboard retextured and painted. Cost for having professionals remove asbestos vary, but for say, a 15-by-20 foot room you can expect to pay $3,000 to $5,000.

    It is illegal to paint an asbestos-containing acoustic ceiling because rolling or spraying can release the harmful fibers into the air, where they can then be inhaled. Paint is not an efficient way to encapsulate asbestos fibers, according to the EPA.”

    I have not heard of anyone encapsulating it with a layer of non-asbestos acoustic spray. But that might be worth looking into if you can afford that method and it makes you feel better.

  187. When we had the three upstairs bedrooms popcorn removed plus a short hallway between them and one bathroom the square footage was more than a 15 x 20 room and we spent way less than $3,000. That included the ceilings all being re-finished too. Looks great. As Ardell said it is really more for updating and down the road if you ever want to sell.
    I think it was about $35.00 when we had our ceilings tested.
    I would do it again. Was worth it. Plan on doing another room that is about 15 x 20 in the down stairs for sure if not all of the basement.
    The only other advice I would offer is if you have it removed and have the ceilings done by some one and the walls need painting anyway have the ceiling guys do that too. It is worth it. You do need to remove everything from the rooms by the way that is why I say let someone else do the wall painting too so it gets done.:)

  188. Ardell, where did you find that information? I’ve never seen anything suggesting either that you need to encapsulate or that painting over is illegal. Painting does make later removal more difficult.

    Also, I’m fairly certain the idea that you need to hire a professional removal company is incorrect. The information I’ve seen indicates people can remove asbestos themselves as long as they follow proper procedures and disposal rules.

    Your information looks like it came from a removal company trolling for business.

    This is the link I promised I’d try to find quite a while ago in a post above (actually a reprint of something I found).


  189. Here are the rules from the Puget Sound Clear Air Agency regarding DIY encapsulating vs. removal and remodeling. Pay particular attention if it is a rental or condo as well as requirements for disposal.


    “Repair or encapsulate. You may re-seal or encapsulate the asbestos in its location and without notifying our agency if it is not disturbed.”

    “NOTE: We strongly encourage you to employ a certified asbestos abatement contractor to remove any asbestos. The work is difficult, time-consuming, and dangerous to you and your familyโ€™s health if procedures and regulations are not strictly followed.”

    “If you decide to remove the asbestos yourself, you must:

    1) File an Asbestos/Demolition Notification. Before you remove friable asbestos-containing material from the structure, you must submit the following notification along with a $30 filing fee:

    Single-Family Residence Notification
    Print a copy of the Notification you submit and keep it available for inspection.

    You do not need to file a Notice if you are removing:

    Less than 10 linear feet of pipe or 48 square feet of surface area (per calendar year) of friable asbestos
    Nonfriable asbestos-containing material, such as asbestos roofing, vinyl asbestos tile, mastic or caulking.”

    Specifically as to popcorn ceilings:


    “Are you aware of the legal issues involved?

    During removal The law prohibits you from hiring anyone other than a certified asbestos abatement contractor to perform โ€” or assistwith โ€” asbestos removal work in your single-family residence. Homeowners may remove asbestos themselves. But as stated above, this option is difficult, time-consuming, and dangerous to your health if prescribed work procedures are not strictly followed.

    During disposal If you choose to remove asbestos yourself, you take on the legal liability of ensuring proper bagging and identification of asbestos debris, correct transport (in a covered vehicle), and disposal ONLY at disposal sites or transfer stations authorized to receive such waste. These regulations protect your community from the harmful effects of asbestos. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has regulations that may also apply. Call 800-4-BE-SAFE or visitwww.lni.wa.gov/wishafor more information.

    If you answered โ€œNo

  190. Also, and special note:

    “If you are renovating your rental property or condominium, or are a renter, you must hire a certified asbestos abatement contractor to remove the asbestos.”

  191. I need to find a licensed contractor to remove 1,000 square feet of popcorn ceiling (living room, 3 bedrooms and hallway and small closet). 1-2% asbestos.
    House in Los Angeles county.

    Need names and aprroximate cost per square foot for removal only

  192. Is there anything suggesting it’s necessary to encapsulate a popcorn ceiling (encapsulation is often preferred to removal, but I’ve still yet to see that suggested for a ceiling).

    Is there anything suggesting it’s illegal to paint a popcorn ceiling?

  193. From your second link:

    “Asbestos is a problem only if fibers are released to the air. Popcorn ceilings that are in good repair and not disturbed bycuts or tears will not release asbestos fibers. Hence, the safest, easiest, and least-expensive option may be to leaveyour ceiling alone. Sometimes, it is possible to work around asbestos without removing it. For example, popcorn ceilingsthat are in good condition can usually be painted (spraying is recommended) to better encapsulate the fibers. However,be aware that painting these ceilings may prevent you from safely removing them in the future because do-it-yourselfremoval is highly dependent on your ability to thoroughly wet this material before disturbing it. Painting can seal thepopcorn material, making it difficult or impossible to wet.”

    You can paint. You can remove yourself. And encapsulation doesn’t appear to be a suggested option (other than the fact that painting is a form of encapsulation, but that makes it harder to remove later).

  194. It’s too bad MSN gives out such bad information.

    BTW, the condo I lived in needed work in the public lobby. The building was built in the early 60s and had asbestos in part of the ceiling, but not other parts nearby. There was no obvious patching.

    If we’d only tested one area we might have missed the existence of the asbestos.

  195. If you search on ( PSA ) Puget Sound Air they have all the facts and they are the ones who can say yes, yes, or no, no, as to what you do with the popcorn ceilings. I do know a family who the husband decided to remove the popcorn on his own and his wife recently told me she wished he hadn’t done it. He now has medical problems from breathing it because he did not use a mask. Sinuses have been a big problem for him now medically and resulted in one surgery. He also did not use the equipment professionals use. Their house was built by the same builder as ours and is on the street behind us. (1963 time frame) We had ours removed in January and there is no way I would recommend doing it yourself not worth it. We removed a very small patch in the basement and it was all over from the dust just from a small patch. It has been painted over and it did still come off very easily.
    PSA told me we could paint it, sheet rock it or put tiles over it they did not care. The MSN article is pretty much accurate except for the painting part and the cost for us was lower but that is depending on area I am sure or difficulty of some particular job. So no big deal to be made of that article.
    We will have more removed down the road and it is best just for appearance and if you sell people do not like them.

    Thank you Ardell for the site and keeping us informed and we have gotten good advice from it and found trades people to do the work and have been pleased with their work.
    Now if I can just find a good carpenter to build cupboards and shelves.
    Or a storage bench for linens. Anyone know of anyone in the East side area who does good work and is not a fortune?

  196. There’s a difference between recommending someone do something and telling them that it’s illegal when it isn’t. You could say the same thing about electrical work, where the owner also has the right to do certain things.

    Also, as to the story of the guy who removed it himself and later had health problems, rather obviously he did little to learn the procedure if he did it without a mask of any type. I’d be a bit concerned about the other family members too, since he possibly exposed the whole house.

    The main problem I have with the MSN article is it over-emphasizes emphasizes the need to remove.

  197. You know there is an old saying, “better safe than sorry.” I would rather be told when it comes to something like this type of procedure it is illegal then check it out for myself instead of being told in an article it is perfectly safe for instance then be really, really sorry I did what “that” article said.
    At least try to “emphasize” the postive these blogs bring instead of all the negative. In the case of the MSN article over emphasizing this procedure is safer than not over emphasizing it.
    Have a good day.

  198. “The main problem I have with the MSN article is it over-emphasizes emphasizes the need to remove.”

    Everyone has to “consider the source”. When I am talking, I am an agent, and so my opinion has to do with protection and elevation of home value and people’s safety.

    Then I have to temper that with people’s ability to pay for the method recommended.

    In that regard I will always support removal by a professional as the primary method of dealing with removal of a popcorn ceiling that contains asbestos. “leaving it alone” negatively impacts the value of the property long term. So as an agent, removal is the best method from a value standpoint.

    I would like to see a day where no homes contain hazardous materials, so leaving hazardous materials alone and living with them and continuing to sell properties with hazardous materials ad infinitum, is never going to be my position.

    If everyone at least tested their ceilings, at least there would be proper disclosure at time of sale and purchase. Minimally that is the goal…no? Testing should be incorporated into the home inspection process and due diligence timeframe. Anything less is like hoping no one notices.

    Now that we are entering a buyer’s market, I will be making a list of things that I will add to what a buyer should do, even though they are not common practice. Good common practice cannot happen unless the agents spearhead the movement to improve the way we do things.

  199. Ardell wrote: “I would like to see a day where no homes contain hazardous materials, so leaving hazardous materials alone and living with them and continuing to sell properties with hazardous materials ad infinitum, is never going to be my position.”

    This type of thinking is almost 30 years out of date. Years ago whenever asbestos was found in a building, the solution was removal. Now they try to encapsulate more.

    Now obviously it would have been better if it had not been put in at all, but that’s not an option absent creating a time machine.

    Finally, I’ve not found that many people object to popcorn ceilings, at least in entry level homes.

  200. Kary #235,

    I’m probably influenced by the fact that a building (newer at the time) I worked in for many years had asbestos drop ceilings. When the building caught on fire, the firemen were at risk. At one point the firemen had to leave the building and let it burn as a result. I’m googling for the story, but it was a long time ago. Asbestos during fires and demolition, and being disturbed with inadequate precautions, happens when people don’t take the time to test and disclose.

    Perhaps if there was adequate disclosure there would be greater objection.

  201. There was also a case of a condo conversion downtown, maybe 10-15 years ago, where they didn’t take the necessary precautions, and possibly exposed residents.

    It’s nasty stuff (my step father died from it), but often the solution is to let it be.

  202. I have seen where non asbestos texture was placed over asbestos texture.
    In many condos the heat is in the ceiling making removal a hazard to the system. if you wish to test make sure you get samples of both layers.

    Regarding popcorn in starter homes, in today’s market the buyers call me
    allot to get abatement numbers, sometimes the seller will remove it or it is just used as a bargaining chip to get the cost down.

    Mr. Krismer is right, sometimes just leaving it be is the best option unless
    it is damaged.

    I would never recommend encapsulating popcorn, if you dont know what you are doing you can make your problems much worse than if you had left it be.

  203. Yes, it can be done, the issue is most systems are in a layer of asbestos containing mud and cannot be abated without damaging the system.

    What can be done is to skim as much of the popcorn off of the top giving
    it a smother finish. problem is most contractors will not guarantee the system
    will survive the process and the end result is a coin toss.

  204. Tony,
    My hudsband and I are thinking to remove the popcorn ceiling in our house.
    I tried to go to your company web,but couldn’t.
    Can you tell me your company’s phone number?

    also, do you do free estimate?

  205. tomo,

    Comment 23 seems to have a link to a list of contractors who do this type of work, along with a cost estimate.


    If you see this comment and respond, make sure you fill in the url so that your name is a hyperlink to your site.

  206. We have a small downstairs room (approx 250 sq ft), with popcorn ceiling.
    We had it tested and it does contain asbestos. We want to remove the lovely 70’s paneling but this would disturb the ceiling. We really need to have the popcorn removed. I have received 2 estimates $1300/ $1600.
    They seem high to me.
    Does anyone have a name of someone who did this and they were happy with? We are in south Des Moines area.

  207. Hello all,
    I can be reached at 206 793-1321 or you can go through my URL
    If you just have questions feel free to call me at anytime, my firm
    also does Mold as well as any kind of clean up.
    ( I don’t charge for advice for folks that want to do it themselves)
    Happy new year !

  208. Okay, I’ve started removing the non-asbestos popcorn texture from the ceilings of my bedroom closet. Preping and clean up are time consuming and messing. Scrapping the popcorn off the ceiling was the easy part. I have 770 sq ft. upstairs to go. I have 624 sq ft. downstairs to go. I’m already thinking of having someone else do the priming and painting.

    My question is, will this really add value to my townhome, and help it to sell faster?

  209. Ann,

    People sell property with popcoorn ceilings every day. You’ll never know if it sold for more and faster.

    Say your expectation is it will sell for $400,000 in two weeks, and it sells for $375,000 in 2 months. You’ll never know if it would have sold for $350,000 in 4 months, if you had not taken out the popcorn ceilings. There is no way to “prove” it.

    It’s early in the year and you already know it’s messy and time consuming. Try putting it on market by 2/15 at the latest. If it doesn’t sell by 4/1, you can remove the popcorn ceilings and get it on market by 4/15, at the same price. Don’t raise the price after you remove the ceilings. That’s what I would do if I were you, given how you are feeling about the work at hand at this point.

    Two years ago one might have said it would sell for “more”. Today selling in a reasonable period of time may be the best you can hope for.

  210. P.S. This post was written for someone who just bought a house with popcorn ceilings, not for someone preparing a house for sale. Popcorn ceilings were removed for their own use and enjoyment in addition to adding to future value, but primarily for their own reasons while living in it.

  211. If that’s the case, I think I’m going to hold off on removing any more from the rest of the house. Thanks for the information.

  212. I’m coming into maybe a little late, but hopefully some of my input will help. Like Tony we have been removing since the 80’s. What I find as far as sellers and buyers, is the buyers normally like the popsorn removed before they buy. What I try to convey to the buyer is to get an estimate to remove and negotiate with the seller. If the house has been on the market a while, let the seller remove it and the buyer put it back the way that they want it (smooth texture, knock down or orange peel to match the walls). In my opinion, put sheet rock over is the least way to do an acceptable encapsulation. It is still there. And you will have to disclose that on the sellers form. (Most people say I don’t know. This could come back to bite the sellers later. And most people are surpised when they deceide to install a light or fan and find it under the sheetrock. Painting is an acceptable form of encapsulation, but it can still be knocked off (soccer balls, golf clubs, pool sticks or anything else a kid can get hold of).
    The popcorn has to effects, the first is it is accoustial (Knocks noise down) The second effect is it saves astep or two in the finish, one coat of mud below the tape joint and one coat on the tape joint. It saves the next two coats of mud to give it a flater look. And because the trussa or upstair floor joist are not always even, it does hide the waves in the ceiling.
    If anyone wants to remove it themselves The three important things to remember are wear a HEPA Resperator, use Water and Use Water again.
    Sorry this is so long, if anyone needs more info let me know, thanks. Dan

  213. My husband and I are considering a home built in 1975 which has a ridiculous abundance of popcorn! I hate it and was already certain that I would have it removed until I learned about this asbestos problem. However, at least two rooms have already had the popcorn removed, and I am certain it was not tested nor done by a professional. If I have the ceiling tested and find asbestos, what are the risks from the work that was already done? Do we have to gut the house? Replace all the carpet?? I hate to be paranoid, but I do not want to put myself or my kids at risk. This seriosuly makes me reconsider this house…and we just put in an offer today! What timing!

  214. Judi,

    Given where you are in this, I cannot repsond. It is considered “contract interference”. You need to talk to your agent, your home inspector, and possibly call some of the popcorn ceiling professionals who have commented in this post.

    Once you hire an agent to represent you, or decide to represent yourself and are in negotiations with a seller on a home, other agents cannot step into the picture. It’s against our ethical conduct rules.

    Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  215. Judy, we have gone into houses that have had water damage and just done a couple of rooms. Or it was all removed at one time and that was all the insurance company would pay for, so it was put back up. It is possible that could be the case. Or they never had it in those two rooms to begin with. The first thing is to get it tested. A seller would not mind that if they want to sell the place. All you need is about a quarter size sample. Wet it with water and scrape it into a baggy and get it tested. You need mostly the bumps and a little of the mud.
    No since getting the cart before the horse, you have a 50/50 chance that it is ACM.

  216. Judy,
    it sounds like it was done some time ago, ask the current owner when it was done, how old the carpets are, if the popcorn was ever in those rooms
    to begin with? perhaps you have no issue at all other than popcorn texture. if you buy it have someone come in and do air monitoring and
    some tape tests, that will give you some piece of mind and its not that expensive.

  217. Thank you for your feedback. The difficult thing about this house in particular is that it is a foreclusure which means we cannot really find out when or how the previous owners dealt with the ceilings. I think we have resigned ourselves to simply testing it and then going from there…

  218. Judi,
    Remember, you do not have to remove it unless you want to.
    There is no law that says you have to spend the money and take it out.
    Plus if it is in good shape and not falling down it poses no health hazard.

  219. Great information and still alive after 2.5 years! This thread is a great resource for newbies like me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I just bought a home built in 1970 and they do have popcorn ceilings that have asbestos. I will remove it cos I plan to do some renovation that involves poking and cutting small parts of the ceiling in several places. Also, want to get it off the list when I sell this some years down the road (who knows what new paranoia/regulation will exist 5-7 years from now).

    Thanks to this site and Service Magic, I’ve narrow the list to Affordable Environmental Inc (http://www.affenv.net/index.html) and American Environmental Construction (http://www.aeconllc.com/). Quite happy with getting 2 quotes but if anybody has recommendations for a third company I should talk to (preferably close to Bellevue), I’m open to that. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Question: folks who have had removal performed, did you hire someone to perform air monitoring or other checks (like carpets?). I know the removal should be done with wet material and the area appropriately contained but just curious if folks have taken the extra step? If so, who did you use?

    Thanks much.

  220. Joe, if you would like a third estimate, we would be more then happy to provide you with one.
    Partners Constrcution, Inc

    Give Donny a call Monday, and he will set up a time to visit, measure and give you a quote. We are out of Kent, but we go everywhere.

  221. Dan,

    Can you answer Joe’s question about “air monitoring”. How do companies who remove popcorn ceilings prevent the asbestos particles from ending up in the carpet or elsewhere? What assurance do people need after removal that the asbestos isn’t airborne as a result of the removal?

  222. The abatement company will do the air monitoring. The whole inside of room is protected with two layers of plastic. Most abatement companies apply enough water to the ceiling to prevent any fibers being released into the air. Then we apply more water to the ceiling and use scrubby pads to remove any loose fibers. The carpet is protected with two layers of 6 mil plastic including up the sides of the walls. The air is exchanged four times and hour using a HEPA Filtered Fan ducted to the outside. After the popcorn is removed, we spray encapsulant on the ceiling which locks the fibers to the ceiling. Then we take an air sample, we are not allowed to tear down the containment until the sample is read and is below 0.01 Fibers/cc. When removing the containment, the walls are removed and folded in to the floor, then the floor is rolled up. We have not had any release of fibers using this method.

  223. Thanks for the info! We are moving ahead with this abatement project. I’ll be sure to report back here later this month when it’s all done to update everyone on the process and results.

    Thanks again for all the help and great info!

  224. This has been a great, informing thread. I’m looking at putting in an offer for a condo. The building is around 50 years old and many units contain, which are pretty much guaranteed to have asbestos in them given the time frame of construction. In a unit that I was interersted in, I noticed that the owner had removed the popcorn ceilings.

    It’s my understanding in WA, that it’s illegal for anybody other than a licensed abatement contractor to remove asbestos for condos and rental properties. If the owner improperly removed the popcorn ceilngs, what would this mean for me as a prospective buyer?

    If the texture did have asbestos, would this mean that I would have the ceiling drywall and carpets replaced? What about the walls themselves, would they need to be replaced too? If I’m uncertain, would I (or the seller) have to have an asbestos survey to determine the extent of the problem? If the asbestos were illegally removed, what would be a fair credit (or work) to ask of the seller?

    Finally, with whom does the burden of proof lay? Does the seller have to prove that the ceilings didn’t contain asbestos? If not, is it fair to assume they did given the age of the building? If they did contain asbestos and were removed by a licensed abatement contractor, does Seattle require permits, and would I be able to obtain these from public records?

    Thanks for any assistance!

  225. Foo,

    What is or isn’t “legal” is a question you need to ask an attorney. In the general course of a real estate transaction, if there is no popcorn ceiling…well, we just aren’t talking about popcorn ceilings.

    The best source of info would be from the current owner. If they did not remove the popcorn ceilings, you might ask the HOA if they required any type of permissions when work was done in that unit. That might lead you in the right direction at least as to timeframe of when they were removed.

    It’s likely pretty rare for someone to be asking about popcorn ceilings, when there aren’t any in the unit they are buying. I have never had that experience.

  226. I’m with you Ardell. In addition to the asbestos issue, popcorn tend to get really dirty and is difficult to clean. I especially like the ceilings that have the sparkles in them. I have recommended that they be removed before listing a house. I really can’t stand them. I assume they are all asbestos. I don’t even worry about testing.


  227. Foo, you are correct that in Washington state a condo must be abated by a licenced abatement contractor. this may change in the future but not now that I am aware of.

    All notices of abatement are on file with Puget sound clean air, you have to make a appointment
    but under the freedom of Information act you do have access.

    As far as burden of proof, there is none that I am aware of regarding asbestos abatement. if
    anyone has worries you can have an abatement contractor come out and look at the place for free.
    He may not see anything but if someone did a bad removal he will notice it right away.
    Remember, abatement contractors dont have microscopes for eyes, if you need testing hire a testing lab or an Ahera building inspector.

  228. Hi Tony,

    Nice to see you again, thanks for popping by with that info.

    I have a question, Rob in the comment above yours said he assumes they all have asbestos. I don’t and have a house in escrow built much later than 78. We had it tested and it is not asbestos, as we expected given the age of the house.

    Here’s my question. Why would someone assume it is asbestos and not check? Doesn’t it cost more to remove a ceiling with asbestos than one without asbestos?

  229. Ardell, the issue is as the ban took place the suppliers had warehouses full of the stuff, part of the ahera act allowed those that had it to use all stockpiles, not only that but as Canada is still producing asbestos, the closer to canada you get the more you will find. I recently did a survey in whatcom county and the popcorn was put in back in 99, it was 5 %. so in doubt call guys like me.
    we can take a few enxpesive samples and end all worries.

    Not only that but if we are worth our salt we can tell you how to do it yourself without wreaking
    the costs for your new home. many of us are just out to feed our family’s, not rule the world.
    As far as cost ardell, The industry standard is two to three bucks a sf without asbestos, you still need a containment and PPE for your workers, its damn near a push.

    My pleasure to speak with you again, I will try to make myself more available for your questions in
    the future
    Best Regards,

  230. These days, most people want to remove popcorn ceiling texture from their homes. Popcorn ceiling texture was very popular from the late 50s to early 80s, but then fell out of favor, when people realized that such ceilings are hard to maintain, become dust traps and often contain asbestos. Besides, most realtors now say that the dated look of ceiling texture “popcorn” negatively affects a house’s value, causing prospective buyers to negotiate down.

    Many homes built before 1979 have asbestos in the acoustic “popcorn”. Possibly, however very rare, homes built within a few years after 1979 can contain asbestos. Many Contractors will require you to get testing done. They have d-i-y kits that you can pick up at hardware stores.

    The cost to remove “non asbestos” popcorn ceilings runs about $1.50 per foot.
    The cost to remove “asbestos” popcorn ceilings is more pricey and around $2.50-$4.00 per foot.

    The popcorn was popular for many different reasons, some people thought the popcorn looked “cool”, the benefits of the popcorn would be soundproofing, and some contractors would use the bumpy ceiling texture to hide flaws in their workmanship.

    The process

    Step 1. Preparation. Mask off walls and furniture.
    Step 2. Removal. Lightly mist ceilings, and carefully scrape “popcorn texture” from the ceiling.
    Step 3. Repairs. Repair minor imperfections, skim all joints and nails/screws.
    Step 4. Texture. At this point, we will apply texture to match walls, or a smooth finish; (Homeowner preference).
    Step 5. Prime. Apply industrial strength primer to seal the ceiling before paint is applied.
    Step 6. Paint. Apply homeowner’s preference of paint color.
    Step 7. Touch Up. Touch up walls if necessary.
    Step 8. Cleanup. Remove protective plastic and debris.

    My company, R&H Drywall, services the San Francisco Bay Area, (Northern California).


    • Thanks for the info! A shame you aren’t local. ๐Ÿ™ From what I hear, 1% asbestos can be treated as “none”, though I’m not 100% certain on that.

  231. Hello all, thank you for posting all this wealth of knowledge. I am just about to close on a home that has popcorn ceilings. Fortunately, it does not have asbestos, but I am still researching the removal process. I believe I can remove it but I was recently advised drywall finishers tend to sometimes charge more if they re-texture a ceiling that did not have the popcorn removed by their company. Can anyone comment on this? I figured it would be simple enough to remove the popcorn, patch and repair the drywall, and skim coat the ceiling. What are your thoughts?


    • Hi Juan,

      Removing the popcorn that doesn’t have asbestos is messy, but from what I can tell not difficult if it hasn’t been painted. Many have been painted and I have heard differing answers…some even saying it is near impossible to remove depending on how many times it has been painted and how tight the “popcorn” effect was in the first place. Some have been painted so many times that it just looks like a textured ceiling with very little “popcorn” definition. Never painted is the easiest to remove.

      I recently had a conversation with a drywall contractor about popcorn ceilings. and in the painted version they recommend drywalling over it vs removing. But he does say most people who hire him don’t want to do that…they want it removed when it contains asbestos. In your case with no asbestos, you might want to consider just drywalling over it.

      Since you know it doesn’t have asbestos, assuming you tested it vs taking someone’s word for it, you should call regular contractors (vs asbestos abatement contractors) and get some bids.

      As to your question: “Drywall finishers tend to sometimes charge more if they re-texture a ceiling that did not have the popcorn removed by their company.” It is almost always cheaper per job if you have two or three or four jobs done by the same contractor at the same time. If you hire a contractor to do two things at the same time, the cost for each will usually be less than if you call him for one and not the other. This may even be true if you use the same contract0r for the second job a year later vs at the same time.

      Anytime they can bulk the jobs into one trip, you save money. That is also true of new construction where a builder is building 20 homes in one location, vs a custom house for you. There is always a discount for quantity of the job(s). So yes, I would think a drywaller would charge more for the drywall job. The popcorn ceiling removal may also cost more separately than if done by the drywall contractor. Two jobs usually = less cost for each than if you contract for them separately. That is true of most any type of job including plumbing and other handyman type jobs, or doing the roof and the gutters at the same time, or siding and windows at the same time.

      Also the condition of the ceiling after removal can be predetermined by the drywall contractor if his people are doing both. If the homeowner does the removal…the quality of the job they have to follow behind will likely add cost to the skim coating job as the ceiling preparation will be more work than if the person removing the popcorn is a known quantity for the drywall contractor at time of bid.

      As to your last question: “I figured it would be simple enough to remove the popcorn, patch and repair the drywall, and skim coat the ceiling. What are your thoughts?”

      Sometimes the condition of a do it yourself job after the fact, especially if you don’t have asbestos, is not better than leaving the popcorn alone in the first place. Drywall and skim coating is really an artform perfected by years of experience. Very few contractors do it very well without seeing imperfections. A home owner skim coating a wall is more likely to come out better than a homeowner trying to do a ceiling, or any contractor without significant skim coating experience doing a ceiling.

      Unless you build a Michelangelo style scaffold so you can lie on your back…ceiling work can be very difficult to get done well, without a lot of experience.

      Do let us know what you decide and if you can give us the cost, that would be great. Keeping on top of cost on this post is of value to many readers, so I would much appreciate it. Also if you can tell us what State you are in so we can relate the cost to your area, that would be helpful as well.

      Good luck!

  232. Hello,

    I have a 1960 house. Decided to remove the popcorn myself. I had it tested at this great place in Vancouver, WA. I htink it was 2%.

    Be sure to get the special yellow and clear double bags from your local professional supplier. I think they are 6mill??
    Be sure to get the special masks and paper suits. Was a MUST. Home depo sells the same mask they do at the hazmat store but it doesn’t say it is “okay for aspestos.” It is the same thing, they just dont want to encourage their customers to do such removal. I called 3m. I see why.
    The two main tricks – be sure to get the popcorn wet enough. Comes off in globs and is much safer. My house had three different types. Popcorn with a little paint, popcorn with a lot of paint and popcorn with popcorn over top. The double layer needed 4 times the water. The stuff with a lot of paint came off really easily.
    Tip number two – line the walls with plastic. Line the floor with TWO layers of plastic. So, first layer the whole floor and about 2 feet up with walls. Then, layer the walls from clg. line down (besure to staple your taped plastic so the moisture doesn’t loosen the tape before you are done.) Then, put another layer of thinner plastic over the top on the floor again. So when you go to clean up, you take the majority of the glop with the light plastic. Then, you can come in and do final clean up, you can roll the rest up in the first layer of floor plastic.
    I suggest: day one put all the plastic up and get all the materials ready. Day two, scrape one room at a time before you get too tired. I got the majority of it and had to go back and get the little spots I missed and get the corners the 3rd day and it dryed so there was stuff flying around in the air more than had I done it room by room completely.
    Disposal: Besure to tell the dump you have popcorn. They will charge you a fee but you will get to go to the front of the line and you know it will be disposed of correctly. And, the government did not come to carry me off in hazmat suits. All was fine and dandy! In the state of Oregon, it is legal to remove your own popcorn clg. if you are the one who is going to live in the house.
    Besure to sponge all the walls and clgs down when you are done so there is no residue to dry and be scary later. My house was as clean as a whistle when I was done. It was a LOT of work but it only cost me about $350 for 950 square feet. ….and about 4 days of labor and stress. Depends on how much money or time you have I guess. At the time, I had more time and help than money.

    • Thank you SO MUCH for this detailed account of your personal experience! I really appreciate it.

      One question. Did you just paint after you were done sponging everything down? Were the surfaces “paint ready” when you were done with the removal?

  233. If you need help, call your local DEQ. They were VERY helpful and knew where to get the materials etc. And can tell you how to make it legal etc. This is not for the, “I dont like to get down and dirty” type of folks. Working behind steamy goggles and a facemask is a lot of work. I am sure the professionals dont charge enough after having done it myself. But personally, I would do it again.

    Just my two cents

  234. I am reposting Paige’s fabulous recent comments from above, here at the bottom, so they are not missed. Thank you Paige! An awesome account of a Do-It-Yourselfer.


    I have a 1960 house. Decided to remove the popcorn myself. I had it tested at this great place in Vancouver, WA. I htink it was 2%.

    Be sure to get the special yellow and clear double bags from your local professional supplier. I think they are 6mill??
    Be sure to get the special masks and paper suits. Was a MUST. Home depo sells the same mask they do at the hazmat store but it doesnโ€™t say it is โ€œokay for aspestos.

  235. For the most part my clg.s were paintable but some of the seams were faulty, probably mostly due to settling, so I put a “glob it on – knock it down” clg over it. I dont mind knock down.

    • Love that! I think I’m the only person around here I’ve ever heard call it a “knock down” ceiling…except now…from you. It was a common term in Florida…but not here in the PNW.

  236. I lived in Columbia, Maryland and have a home that has popcorn ceilings. Does anyone know of a Maryland contractor(s) who does excellent work removing popcorn ceilings and who is reasonable priced.

  237. On a related topic I just called the Lab on Aurora about testing a floor tile that I believe is asbestos tile. The cost is $35, the turnaround is 24 hours and they need a one inch square “with all layers intact” in a baggie.

    Just an FYI

  238. @Jason in Raleigh,NC… can you tell me who you used? i am also in Raleigh and in the same predicament! 1974 house, 3000 sq feet. i know this is an old thread, but thought i’d try…

  239. Ten years ago we had our Asbestos ceilings scraped by licensed Asbestos contractors. It did have sparkles, but many people paint them, so sparkles are not absolute. Ten years ago, they tented the house, removed all the light fixtures, and scraped the popcorn asbestos off the ceilings in about 3 days and cost $5,000. The word asbestos would scare away most future buyers, so it would probably increase the value of your house more than the cost of doing it.

  240. Pingback: Home Tips: Popcorn Ceiling In Old Building But Ceiling Looks New Asbestos Worries. Building, New, Worries. ~ diy-home-tips.vwx.info

  241. Pingback: Diy Home Improvement: Can I Remove Hvac Pipes After Exposing The Ceiling?. Remove, Ceiling, Can. ~ diy-home-improvement.vwx.info

  242. Pingback: Diy Home Improvement: Can I Remove Hvac Pipes After Exposing The Ceiling?. Can, Remove, Hvac. ~ diy-home-improvement.vwx.info

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