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Thread: Popcorn ceiling - probably asbestos, or not?

  1. #1
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    Popcorn ceiling - probably asbestos, or not?

    A friend asked me to help him get his new workshop ready. He wants to strip off the popcorn ceiling in the office.

    What are the chances this popcorn ceiling contains asbestos?

    Ceiling.jpg

    The building dates from the 1950s.
    I have ordered an asbestos testing kit, but testing will take at least a week turnaround, and he's keen to get this done.

    So, what's your take?
    thanks, Mark

  2. #2
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    1950? about 100% asbestos. Cheap, fireproof, light weight, easy to apply, whats not to like?
    Bill D

  3. #3
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    Yeah, I agree. Drywall compound contained asbestos right up to the early 70's.

    Which is a few years after I started using it. And sanding it. And breathing it. But we wore masks. Usually.

  4. #4
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    I always assume it is going to contain asbestos unless I know for sure that it was done post 1979. I try to get it off without creating a huge mess. I empty the room, cover the floor with plastic, mist the ceiling several times with a mild soap solution in a pump sprayer and use a pizza box with a handle (like a big hawk) to catch the damp scrapings. If it has been painted, I use Savogran brand "Fast" wallpaper remover, mixed strong, in the sprayer. Fun times!
    Best Regards, Maurice

  5. #5
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    I covered one up in our rental house. Just let the water stained old popcorn ceiling up there.
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  6. #6
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    Thanks guys. I agree with you, pretty sure that stuff contains asbestos. I think he should cover it with a layer of 1/4" drywall.

  7. #7
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    Asbestos in plaster can have a nice sparkle like spider webs embedded here and there. At least the dry mix in the box does. Mica chips will be big enough to actually see with the naked eye or a small hand lens.
    I wonder about the safety of glass fibers in concrete etc.
    Bill D

  8. #8
    We still have that crap on the ceiling in our dining and living room. Kitchen and hallway had it until a few years ago, the wife scraped it off with just a push broom I think- came off real easy, needed no wetting first or anything. My parents had it sprayed on in the early 70's...

    Get a cheap respirator and safety goggles (tape over the holes in the goggles), gloves etc...
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  9. #9
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    I agree with the consensus it is almost definitely asbestos. Your options are to remediate or encapsulate. I suggest a hybrid approach from the pic in post one.

    I would tape up disposable drop cloth about 2" below the ceiling/wall edge all around, drop cloth on the floor. Take out the current fluorescent lights, I can't imagine you want those when you are done, perhaps put in one or two temp light fixtures so you can see what you are doing.

    Full face respirator with P100 filter, or half face respirator with P100 and goggles. Some kind of bunny suit, should be able to find those at a paint store, and a paper hat. Your are going to need a bucket of water with some clean rags. I would spritz that down with water pretty good to keep the dust down, knock off the easy parts, then scrape the remainder to about 75-80% removed. Wipe down the ceiling with clean water and rags, let the air dry a little bit, then paint the ceiling with a 50-50 mix of bright white primer and drywall mud, using a super coarse roller cover. I only have one, I think the package said texture application. The roller cover I am thinking of would be uncomfortable to walk on barefoot.

    Next while the primer/mud mix is still wet on the ceiling take down all the drop cloth onto the floor, fold all that up. Extra points if you can fold the drop cloths into the bunnysuit as you take the bunnysuit off. Carry all that outdoors, close the door behind you, and then take the respirator off. Have several gatorades, like four or five of them, take a shower, then have a beer.

    Give that a couple days, then wipe the walls down with damp rags and prime.

    I am in a 1980 build house, with suspicious looking shiny specks in the popcorn. We are scraping back to about 90% removed. It is a pain in the neck to scrape overhead, and the room ends up pretty live, reflects a lot of sound, compared to leaving the popcorn alone. Having a little bit of texture on the ceiling can make a huge difference in how acoustically "live" a room is, we did one of the bathroom ceilings with the mud/primer mix (had to drywall about half the ceiling) and I am a fan.

    In the garage we elected to leave the popcorn on the ceiling, mostly to keep the noise down - but ours is pretty well adherent where your pic in post one shows some sections ready to fall off. You could just take off the easy parts, and get the modern popcorn in a can to cover the bare spots, and then prime. For our garage I used a tinted primer to ensure complete coverage, and then I needed 2-3 coats of flat ceiling white to cover the tinted primer, but I am ensured of at least double coverage.

    Sucks for sure. I have not found a solution that does not suck. But I have found two quick, less painful ones.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Kev Williams View Post
    We still have that crap on the ceiling in our dining and living room. Kitchen and hallway had it until a few years ago, the wife scraped it off with just a push broom I think- came off real easy, needed no wetting first or anything. My parents had it sprayed on in the early 70's...

    Get a cheap respirator and safety goggles (tape over the holes in the goggles), gloves etc...
    The reason to wet it is to keep the fibers from getting airborne as it is being scraped off and handled. Undisturbed asbestos isn't particularly dangerous, it's when it gets moved, abraded, frayed, etc and into the air that it becomes a problem.
    Last edited by Andrew Seemann; 06-15-2022 at 5:55 PM.

  11. #11
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    The test kit arrived yesterday so I'll take a sample today and send it in.
    But overall I think my buddy is on his own with this one if he decides to scrape it off.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kev Williams View Post
    We still have that crap on the ceiling in our dining and living room. Kitchen and hallway had it until a few years ago, the wife scraped it off with just a push broom I think- came off real easy, needed no wetting first or anything. My parents had it sprayed on in the early 70's...

    Get a cheap respirator and safety goggles (tape over the holes in the goggles), gloves etc...
    Are you saying it was an asbestos ceiling you scraped off? Without wetting? And wearing cheap respirators? Even if no asbestos you should at least wet and wear a good respirator. Those cheap ones don't do much more than offer an illusion of protection.

  13. #13
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    It may be lead paint under the asbestos. Check that too.
    Bill D

  14. #14
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    If you wet that stuff, it's going to start coming off very easily. I'd just wrap it up. I lost very little of it when I covered this ceiling with plywood beaded board. I used a sheetrock lift to ease it up in place.
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    Last edited by Tom M King; 06-15-2022 at 10:11 AM.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Dufour View Post
    It may be lead paint under the asbestos. Check that too.
    Bill D
    Sometimes it seems like old houses are made of nothing but lead, asbestos, and arsenic with just enough cellulose fiber to hold everything together.

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