Do Popcorn Ceilings Have Asbestos? How to Tell + Removal Cost

Asbestos was a common mineral additive in building materials from the mid-late 20th century due to its fire-resistant properties. Popcorn ceiling, a popular type of ceiling texture at the time, often contained this mineral additive. However, asbestos has health implications, as it can trigger lung cancer and other health issues if inhaled. Read this guide if your home has popcorn ceiling that you’d like to safely remove without being exposed to asbestos.

Do all popcorn ceilings have asbestos?

Popcorn ceiling (also known as acoustic/stucco/stipple ceiling) is a ceiling texturing style that features a pockmarked surface. It’s typically sprayed in white or beige shades. Following the ban of asbestos as an additive in building materials in 1973 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), industry players replaced it with fiber paper in popcorn ceilings.

However, the ban did not prohibit suppliers from selling their existing supplies of asbestos-laden ceiling texturing products. As such, popcorn ceilings containing asbestos were installed in homes as recent as the early 1990s. Thus, if you have a popcorn ceiling that was sprayed on from 1945-1995, it’s highly likely that it contains asbestos.

However, for a popcorn ceiling installed after 1995, chances of it containing asbestos are close to none. Still, you can never be too sure! The safest approach is to test the ceiling for asbestos before attempting to scrap it off.

How to tell if popcorn ceiling has asbestos

It’s impossible to tell if a stucco ceiling has asbestos or not by simply gauging it with the naked eye. The most accurate way to determine if there’s asbestos in your textured ceiling is by having it professionally tested. You can call in the pros to collect the samples and take them to the lab for testing.

Collecting Popcorn Ceiling Texture Samples by Yourself

However, if you’d rather collect the samples yourself and send them for testing, follow the appropriate EPA asbestos-handling guidelines. These include wearing a protective face mask to avoid inhaling any dispersed asbestos fibers; and instantly cleaning any debris with a wet wipe. You should also install plastic sheeting on the flooring surface to capture the dust.

When self-collecting popcorn ceiling samples to send for asbestos testing, take samples from to different sections of the ceiling and ensure they’re of sizeable quantity. This ensures increased accuracy of the test results. Finally, before sending the samples off via mail, secure them in Ziploc casings.

DIY Asbestos Testing Kits

While sending samples to local labs to be tested by professionals may provide accurate results, it’s rather costly and time-consuming. You have to wait for the lab technicians to send you back the test results before proceeding with your textured ceiling removal project.

A more time-saving approach is to purchase a DIY asbestos testing kit. These usually retail for about $30-$40 per sample on Amazon and are easy to use. Once you take and send the samples using the kit, the retailer brand will mail you back the results within 24 hours.

Asbestos popcorn ceiling removal

One way to ensure you and your family don’t become exposed to asbestos dust from your spray-on textured ceiling is by encapsulating it with wood planks or fiberboard ceiling panels. However, this won’t completely solve the issue. You’ll still have to deal with the asbestos issue later on should you ever decide to remodel the ceiling.

A more effective fix would be to completely remove the asbestos-containing popcorn ceiling. Also known as asbestos abatement- asbestos removal usually raises a lot of health and safety concerns. It’s- thus- paramount to adhere to the safety guidelines.

If you’re looking to remove asbestos popcorn ceiling inside a commercial establishment, refer to your area laws. Some building codes don’t allow DIY asbestos removal if the structure is not a single-family home. To safely abate an asbestos-laden textured ceiling, follow the EPA guidelines detailed below:

  1. Clear the room of all furniture and use painter’s plastic to cover up any fixtures, fittings, and appliances that can’t be easily removed.
  2. Switch off your home’s HVAC system to prevent asbestos dust from being sucked into the vents and being dispersed into other areas of the house.
  3. Seal all openings in the room, including doors, windows, and air vents with plastic sheeting.
  4. Keep your family, pets, and anybody else that’s not directly involved in the project out of the room.
  5. Install an air purifier within the room, and put on a HEPA respirator.
  6. Wear disposable coveralls to protect your hair and skin from asbestos exposure.
  7. Spray the popcorn ceiling to moisten the texture and minimize the spread of asbestos-laden dust as you scrap the texture off.
  8. Keep the asbestos waste contained inside air-sealed plastic bags. Don’t forget to label the bags for easy identification.
  9. Arrange for disposal. Some landfill services are well geared-up for asbestos disposal and accept all forms of asbestos-containing waste.

Remember, it’s very crucial to follow the above EPA instructions when undertaking DIY asbestos removal. Failure to do so could result in serious health consequences for you and your family members.

What’s more, insurance companies don’t provide coverage for asbestos contamination caused by negligence during renovation projects. Your claim for insurance settlement due to asbestos exposure is, therefore, likely to be denied if you didn’t follow these guidelines during the popcorn ceiling removal process.

Best asbestos test kits for popcorn ceilings

ASBESTOS Home Test Kit

The ASBESTOS Home Test Kit from SLGI Certified Test Kits is one of the best asbestos testing kits in the market right now. For a mere $35 dollars, you can purchase this kit and send a single sample for testing at the credible Schneider labs. The price also includes professional consultation services by SLGI’s asbestos experts.

Despite its obvious advantages, there are a couple downsides to the ASBESTOS Home Test Kit. First, if you want to send more than a single charge, you’ll be charged an additional fee. Second, it takes them 1-5 business days to send back test results. Five days is a rather long wait time. These disadvantages, though, don’t take much away from the awesomeness of this product.

Asbestos Testing Kit

The Asbestos Testing Kit from is another great product if you want to collect popcorn ceiling samples from your home and send them for professional testing. The retailer allows buyers to send up to five samples, though with additional fees attached.

With a 24-hour turnaround time, you’ll receive your test results in a timely manner, allowing you to proceed with your ceiling renovation project. What’s more, the samples are tested at NVLAP-accredited labs, which guarantees accuracy.

Asbestos popcorn ceiling removal cost

If your popcorn ceiling doesn’t contain any asbestos, you should expect to part with about $4 dollars for every square foot of the ceiling surface. However, if the ceiling has asbestos, you should expect the professional removers to charge more. This is to cover for the costs of the extra gear required for safe removal of asbestos popcorn ceiling, as well as the extra effort. A professional asbestos popcorn ceiling abatement job may cost up to as much as $6 per square foot.

Other factors that typically affect the overall costs of removing asbestos-laden stucco ceilings include:

  • The cost of the actual asbestos test- usually from $50-$100.
  • Amount of labor- for instance, if the room has lots of furniture to be removed and wall fixings to be covered up, the project will take lots of elbow grease. As such, pro contractors will charge more.

When was asbestos banned?

The use of asbestos as a fire-resistant additive in building materials was banned by EPA in 1973. However, spray-on ceiling texturing products containing asbestos were still on sale well into the late 80’s-early 90’s.


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