During the late 1950s and well into the ’70s, popcorn ceilings grew in popularity. Covering the ceiling with a popcorn-like finish helped to hide imperfections and reduced the time required to paint ceilings by hand. Here are a few safety tips to consider before attempting to remove and replace popcorn ceilings.
1. Dangers. Until 1979, popcorn finishes could contain lead and asbestos. Before taking any action, it’s wise to have the ceiling tested by a professional. Many labs around the country will test a sample brought in and many home improvement stores now sell a mail-in test kit. If traces of these toxins are found in your ceiling, it is not safe to proceed and you should consult an abatement contractor.
2. Removal. After a safety check has been performed, you can move forward with the project. There are several ways to remove popcorn ceilings, including dry or wet methods, so you should research your options carefully. The dry method helps prevent any sagging or cracking, but it will be quite messy, create a thick layer of dust in the area and take longer. However, it may be the better choice for maintaining the strength of your drywall. The wet method involves spraying the ceiling with a squirt bottle and then scraping. This method can cause problems with the drywall because it makes the ceiling very heavy before it dries.
3. Cover. Ceiling-grade gypsum board can be used to cover up the current ceiling. Another option is to skim coat the entire ceiling with plaster in order to create a new texture. Applying plaster to the ceiling can be a strenuous and time-consuming process, but it is a less messy way of covering up the popcorn.