How to remove popcorn ceiling with asbestos?

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I want to remove my popcorn ceiling, but it has asbestos in it. How do I go about this safely?

q how to remove popcorn ceiling with asbestos
  28 answers
  • Paul Dempsey Paul Dempsey on Jul 20, 2018

    Popcorn from that time may contain asbestos. As the homeowners you can remove it yourself, but use a respirator and wear a tyvek suit and eye protection. Mask all walls and floors with disposable plastic sheething and tape it all together so you don't track the dust into other areas of the house. Wear footies too.


    Wet the popcorn and scrape it off letting it drop onto plastic tarps on the floor. Bag it and dispose of it.


    Remember that the drywall seams will not have been finish quality and you will likely have gauges also from the removal process to patch.


    Of course, you could always just hang new drywall right over the popcorn and leave it in place.

  • Lynn Sorrell Lynn Sorrell on Jan 29, 2019

    Half water & half Downy in spray bottle spray then scrape clean up well and keep it contained in room your working in; most popcorn ceilings have asbestos in it. Keep cleaning as you go along wear face mask gloves eye protection and don't let kids/pets in it.

  • Judy Capone Mantell Judy Capone Mantell on Apr 06, 2015
    If it has been painted, it will take more time to soak in the water. A steamer might work. We used hot water by connecting the hose to the hot water heater and using the mist setting on the hose sprayer. Don't forget protective masks as it has a small amount of asbestos in it. Most communities consider it hazardous waste, so check to see how/where to dispose of it. Good luck!

  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Mar 10, 2013
    I have been working on a condo where the ceiling was a very fine popcorn. This popcorn contains asbestos, so we are doing an encapsulation method of mitigation. Basically it is a Venetian plaster overlay.

  • Montnan Montnan on Sep 12, 2017
    Asbestos must be professionally removed, with the whole area sealed off, an airlock, proper disposal (you aren't supposed to just put it in your garbage nor take it to the dump), and is very expensive, due to all the regulations.. We had most of our house ceilings done during some remodeling. But for the remaining 3 bedrooms and office, we are going to cover over the popcorn, which will be relatively inexpensive. Get your popcorn tested! Our house was built in '76, when a lot of asbestos was still being used. We put a new type of flooring over the basement tiles rather than pay to have them removed and disposed of. Your house, built in the 80's, is much less likely to have asbestos, but better safe than sorry. Don't risk your health.

  • 2dogal 2dogal on Sep 12, 2017

    I've removed the popcorn from ceilings the way others wrote. It works well.

    The only caution you MUST be aware of is that many of the popcorn ceilings have asbestos in them. Wear a mask. Wetting the popcorn will keep most fibers from becoming airborn so you don't breathe them in, but please, wear a mask just in case.

  • Bren Bren on Sep 12, 2017
    If you suspect there is asbestos in the texture, take a sample in for testing. If asbestos is present, it must be removed professionally. The dust can get on your clothes, Your shoes, and all over everything in the room. It is strongly recommended you not do this yourself but hire a professional if asbestos is present.

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Sep 23, 2015
    When asbestos is dry and you try to scrape it, that is what causes the problems of inhaling in the chemicals. Keep it wet and you won't have a problem. Sometimes they used it to cover up dry wall mistakes so it might not be as smooth as you like underneath the popcorn.

  • Sheri Gomez Sheri Gomez on Apr 28, 2017
    Get some of those painters coveralls with hoods and it will save you a lot of time getting cleaned up afterward because it can get pretty messy. We used the hot water in a sprayer then came back with a large squigee type tool and it comes off pretty easily. Like the comment above, remember asbestos is deadly so wear a mask or respirator if you have one. Keep it wet so it's easier to scrape off.

  • We have done this a few times in our house and still have more rooms to do. Wear a mask to protect you and consider if it has Asbestos, which would further determine what kind of mask you will need. Removing popcorn ceilings although a simple process it is a lot of work. You will have to spray the ceiling with water then scrape and remove the popcorn with a putty knife. Then you will need to sand it and mud any uneven areas. Then you will need to apply texture to the ceiling to match your current wall texture. When that is dry you can prime it and paint it.

    • Nancy Woelfer Nancy Woelfer on Nov 25, 2021

      We rolled two coats of paint over ours which made it appear a bit smoother or softer. Did scrape some off where we will be installing bead board for ceiling, and want it to lay smooth. Hot water in a mister soak it in and scrape with putty knife. Ours is not safe either built 1976.


  • Lmallarts Lmallarts on Sep 22, 2015
    Just an FYI: In early formulations it often contained white asbestos fibers. When asbestos was banned in ceiling treatments by the Clean Air Act of 1978 in the United States,[1] popcorn ceilings fell out of favor in much of the country. However, in order to minimize economic hardship to suppliers and installers, existing inventories of asbestos-bearing texturing materials were exempt from the ban, so it is possible to find asbestos in popcorn ceilings that were applied through the 1980s. After the ban, popcorn ceiling materials were created using a paper-based or Styrofoam product to create the texture, rather than asbestos. Textured ceilings remain common in residential construction in the Upper Midwest of the United States. Although the process is messy, popcorn texturing can be easily removed by spraying it with water to soften it, then scraping the material off with a large scraping trowel or putty knife.[2] As the texturing may have been applied before the ban on asbestos, its removal should only be done by a licensed professional or after testing of a sample by a qualified laboratory has ruled out asbestos content.

  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Feb 20, 2013
    Here is an article I wrote on this. http://www.networx.com/article/the-mostly-painless-guide-to-removing Also depending on the size and nature of the popcorn there are other means to redo it. I'm currently working on a project where the very fine sized popcorn tested positive for asbestos. We are undergoing an "encapsulation" mitigation plan. This entails a skim coat of drywall mud, we are hand texturing it in a rustic venetain plaster type look.

  • Precious Pins Precious Pins on Sep 18, 2017
    this should not be done by ones self, it's highly toxic and require professionals to come in for removal. Once you see how seriously they take it (dressed in head to toe suits) you'll be glad you didn't attempt it yourself.

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Oct 31, 2021

    you have to call in someone who does that for a living and can suit up, wear masks, etc not something you should try yourself unless you know the codes and correct way to do this without causing harm to yourself and your home

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Nov 01, 2021

    Unless you have a way to isolate this from your home, HVAC, and a full hazmat protective gear I would not recommend you removing. Either hire a professional or cover over it.

  • Hire a professional is the only answer here as they have the tools and capabilities to keep everyone safe.

  • FrugalFamilyTimes.com FrugalFamilyTimes.com on Nov 01, 2021

    I wouldn’t mess with asbestos! It’s so dangerous. This is a job for professionals.

    Maybe cover the ceiling instead with an idea like one of these? https://www.frugalfamilytimes.com/2021/09/low-basement-ceiling-ideas-diy/

  • Mogie Mogie on Nov 01, 2021

    You can attempt to remove it yourself BUT professional removal is encouraged.


    Precautions for Safely Removing Asbestos Popcorn Ceiling
    • Remove furniture from the room, and cover whatever is left in the room with plastic.
    • Turn off the home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit to avoid spreading contamination beyond the room.
    • Seal the doors and windows with plastic flaps.
    • Keep pets and all people without protective gear away from the area.
    • Wear a respirator with a high efficiency particulate air filter. Set up an air purifier as well.
    • Wear disposable coveralls. Cover your skin and hair to keep ceiling debris off you.
    • Keep the popcorn ceiling material wet. This helps prevent dust from getting into the air.
    • Place asbestos-containing waste in sealed and labeled plastic bags.
    • Find a landfill or trash-pickup service that can accept asbestos, and call them in advance.

    Ignoring these guidelines can be costly. Insurance policies often do not cover asbestos contamination caused by careless renovations. This could leave homeowners with a huge bill for asbestos abatement, on top of the health risks.

    If you are in doubt call your insurance company to find out if they have any requirements.

  • Phaedra Phaedra on Nov 01, 2021

    BTDT. I know from experience that the ceiling will most likely not be smooth and blemish free once the texture is removed. Most of the time the joints are not taped and mudded properly. Also there are bound to be gouges from the removal. And sometimes the texture was done to cover up things like leaks and other bad stuff.


    You dont want to be breathing that stuff. And if it gets in the air the furnace will circulate it all over your house. So save yourself a headache and encapsulate it with drywall. Drywall is not that expensive. A 4x8 sheet of 3/8" drywall at Home Depot costs about $8 a sheet.



  • William William on Nov 01, 2021

    Don't even think of messing with asbestos. They particles are so fine the will go everywhere. My crew and I used to remove popcorn ceilings before and after 1978. Any with asbestos needs to be removed by pros. There are regulations and standards that have to met from the time of preparation for removal, handling asbestos, to the proper disposal. It's a terrible health hazard. Drywall manufacturers started making 1/4" drywall that can be used to cover the popcorn ceiling. That is what my crew eventually used. Less work, less mess, and less cost to the homeowner. You can also use wood planks, ceiling tiles etc. to cover the ceiling.

    • Ellis Ellis on Jan 09, 2022

      I agree, it is not something anyone should be doing on their own. The proper removal and disposal, as well as sealing off the area, air vents, etc., is beyond the ability of most do-it-yourselfers. Asbestos is truly a terrible health hazard; my beloved grandfather, a carpenter, worked in construction where asbestos was widely used. He was too sick to work for many years, and eventually died of a lung disease caused by asbestos. His last 10 years were spent gasping for air, an agonizing death.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Nov 01, 2021

    Either have it professionally removed or cover it up.

  • Ellis Ellis on Nov 21, 2021

    I agree with everyone who cautions against dealing with asbestos popcorn ceilings. I say this having seen a loved one die as a result of breathing asbestos. Do not take chances with your health and that of your family!

  • Barbara Buchan Barbara Buchan on Nov 25, 2021

    Has anyone mentioned styrofoam tiles? Square foot tiles with a variety of patterns. some like old fashioned tin ceilings. Just put up with mastic, rather like tiling a floor.I read about this here on Home Talk, I think.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Nov 26, 2021

    Please be safe! Call in the EXPERTS for this job!

  • If there is asbestos, you need to hire a professional.

  • Deb K Deb K on Jan 09, 2022

    Hi Abby, you can remove it yourself providing you take all the precautions to ensure the asbestos does not get into you lungs or air system. I would advise you to plank or panel over the popcorn ceiling rather than removing yourself, or hire pro, they have all the equipment to do this and the proper way to dispose of the remains.

  • Janie Lewis Janie Lewis 7 days ago

    What was the last year absbetos was used, own home was built in 1977?