As experts in the ceiling industry, at RemoveCeilingTexture.com, we get asked a lot of questions about ceilings. Here is a Frequently Asked Questions section to help you with anything you’ve been wondering about ceilings and ceiling texture. If there is a topic or question that we haven’t covered, please contact us and we’ll be happy to answer your question.
Ceiling Texture Terminology
Let’s start by looking at some terminology. You may hear popcorn ceilings referred to as stippled ceilings, textured ceilings, knockdown texture, Spanish texture, cottage cheese ceilings or stucco ceilings. All those terms refer to some form of ceiling texture.
FAQ About Asbestos in Ceilings:
1. Is there asbestos in ceiling texture?
Not all ceiling texture has asbestos. Domestic sales of asbestos-containing products were banned in 1978, but any existing stock was allowed to be used. A home built in 1982 or prior could have asbestos in the texture. The only way to tell for sure is to take a sample to a certified lab that does asbestos testing. We recommend taking separate samples if you have different types of texture sprayed on your ceilings. Bring the samples to a certified laboratory in your locality, who does asbestos testing.
It is very important to remember that you deal with a laboratory who does not also provide asbestos abatement services. There are many asbestos abatement contractors who operate asbestos testing labs. Such contractors have a vested interest in reporting positive asbestos results, and scaring the customer into buying their asbestos abatement services. We regularly use and recommend HBM Environmental Laboratories in the greater Vancouver area, because they have a proven and reliable track record.
2. Is it safe to live in a home that has asbestos in the ceilings?
If there is asbestos in your ceiling texture or drywall mud, it is generally not a problem unless you start disturbing it. Asbestos fibres are not dangerous unless they become airborne and can then be breathed in. If you are planning renovations, make sure that you take a sample to a lab for testing, or hire a company that will take a sample for you. At RemoveCeilingTexture.com, we offer a service where we will collect the sample from your property and have it tested by a certified laboratory. Contact us today to get your ceiling texture, drywall mud or linoleum floor tiles tested for asbestos presence.
3. How can I tell if my ceiling texture has asbestos?
Asbestos fibres are microscopic, so the only way to tell if your ceiling texture has asbestos is to have a sample tested at a certified lab. Even if your home was built prior to the asbestos ban (1978), it’s not guaranteed that the ceiling texture contains asbestos.
4. When was asbestos banned in popcorn ceilings?
Canada banned the use of asbestos in popcorn ceiling texture in 1978. However, they allowed any existing stock to be used up. A home built prior to 1982 should have the texture tested if renovations are planned, just to be on the safe side.
5. Is there asbestos in drywall?
Drywall itself does not contain asbestos. However, prior to the asbestos ban in 1978, asbestos was routinely added to the mud that drywallers used to tape drywall joints. If you’re planning renovations, be sure to take a sample of the joint tape and mud to your local certified asbestos testing lab.
6. I scraped my popcorn ceiling and it contained asbestos. Should I be concerned?
Asbestos fibres are so tiny that even a paper mask will not protect you from breathing them in. Only a proper respirator is acceptable. If you used a paper mask, or no protection at all, while you were working and there was asbestos involved, you should be monitoring your lung health. Because asbestos fibres are miniscule and jagged, when they are breathed in, they can become lodged in the lung tissue. Repeated exposure (such as to people who work in the asbestos industry), is most dangerous and can lead to scar tissue and mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer. Scientific observations have also shown that a smoking habit greatly increases the risk of lung cancer in conjunction with exposure to asbestos. Often there are no symptoms until many years after exposure, so make sure to get anything unusual checked out by a qualified medical professional.
7. Is it illegal to paint popcorn ceilings that contain asbestos?
No, it is not. All forms of textured ceilings, including ones containing asbestos are being painted every day in the Greater Vancouver area.
8. Should a home inspector remove a part of a textured ceiling to determine if there is asbestos?
As it is routinely the case, home inspectors come in prior to the sale/purchase transaction of a property. Therefore it is not customary for home inspectors to alter or remove any part of the house. If you are selling your home and you are aware of any part of your house containing asbestos, you are obligated by law in Canada and the United States, to disclose that your home contains asbestos.
If you are purchasing a home, your seller must disclose if they know any part of the home contains asbestos.
9. Where can I go to get popcorn ceiling tested for asbestos?
As mentioned above, you are best off finding a certified local laboratory who performs asbestos testing. We use the services of HBM Environmental Laboratories in the greater Vancouver area.
FAQ About the Ceiling Texture Removal Process
10. How many days do we have to be away from home when having popcorn ceilings removed?
While it’s not necessary to move out while your ceilings are being worked on, if you do have a place to stay, that will make it easier for everyone. The number of days required for the project will depend on several factors: the size of your home, the height of the ceilings, if there are vaulted areas, skylights, if there is asbestos involved, etc., but in general, it will take 5-7 days for an average sized condo or home. If you’re also getting your ceilings painted, add another day or two.
11. What is the process that RemoveCeilingTexture.com uses for smoothing ceilings?
Before beginning, we must find out if there is asbestos in the ceiling texture. If your home was built in 1982 or prior, there’s a possibility that there is asbestos present. Since asbestos fibres are microscopic, the only way to know for sure is to take a sample to a lab to be tested.
If there is no asbestos present, the first step is to remove the ceiling texture. Most DIY sites tell you that you have to spray the texture with water and then take a little scraper and physically scrape every inch of texture off. This DIY process is wet, messy, and very time consuming, and if your ceiling texture has been painted, there is no guarantee that the texture will come off with water. As professionals in the ceiling industry, we have the tools needed to take off the texture in a fraction of the time, with no water and far less mess. We use a special German-engineered Festool machine to sand the texture down. It vacuums as it sands, so the texture falling to the floor is minimal.
If there is asbestos present, we skip the step above and start with the following step.
The next step is the most important part in getting smooth, finished ceilings. Using the same method that plasterers have used for centuries, the hawk and trowel, we apply a mud compound to the entire ceiling. This requires working on stilts, using an artist’s eye to overcome any deficiencies in the ceiling. This generally takes two to three coats of compound to ensure the ceiling is flat and as level as possible.
The final step is a light sanding to make certain the finish is smooth. We then vacuum up the majority of the dust and the project is complete. We can also provide ceiling paint, if required.
12. How much does it cost to have popcorn ceilings removed?
There are many factors to determining the cost of ceiling texture removal. Some considerations are the age of the home, height of the ceilings, vaulted areas, skylights, etc. Be wary of someone who gives you a firm price sight-unseen. At RemoveCeilingTexture.com, we can often give you a rough estimate of the price without seeing the ceilings, but in order for us to give you a firm, formal quote, we need to come out to see the ceilings and take some measurements.
13. Is the process of ceiling texture removal really messy?
If you’re scraping your own popcorn ceilings, then yes, it’s very messy. At RemoveCeilingTexture.com, we have the professional tools and the experience necessary to transform ceilings from lumpy to smooth with minimal mess. That being said, it is a renovation, and like any renovation, there will be dust involved. We do our best to keep your home clean, and vacuum up the majority of the dust. As with any construction/renovation project, a thorough cleaning is the homeowner’s responsibility.
14. I’m having my ceiling texture removed. What do I need to do to prepare?
All areas of the ceilings must be accessible. Move as much furniture as possible out of the rooms that will be worked on. Any furniture that cannot be removed should be pushed up against the walls. Sofas and beds can be tipped up on their sides and leaned against the walls. Cover anything that you don’t want to get dusty with plastic or sheets.
It’s not necessary to protect your floors, as the texture and dust is vacuumed up, and the mud compound used to resurface the ceiling is water-soluble. However, if you prefer to protect your hardwood or laminate floors, use a sturdy paper product like this one, also available Home Depot, not plastic, as that will make the floor too slippery to walk on with stilts. If you are protecting carpet, use a product such as this self-adhering film from Home Depot.
Access to water and electricity is required. A sink and normal household outlets will work.
15. Does RemoveCeilingTexture.com carry insurance and WCB coverage?
Yes, RCT is fully covered by insurance and we have WCB coverage. Information about each is sent out with our formal quotes.
General Ceiling Questions
16. Does popcorn ceiling lower the value of your home?
We’ve dealt with many buyers who are in the process of putting an offer on a home. They contact us to see how much it will cost to have the ceiling texture removed, and they’re going to factor that into the offer. If your ceilings are already smooth, your home will naturally fetch better offers from potential buyers. If the choice for a buyer is between your home and a similar home, you want to get whatever edge you can. If one has modern, smooth ceilings and is move-in ready, it will be more appealing.
17. Why are builders still applying ceiling texture?
Spraying ceilings with texture remains a popular choice with builders because it’s faster, and therefore cheaper, than spending the time on finishing them properly. This is especially true for condos. There are so many units to be finished and there’s usually a tight schedule in order to keep the profit margin as high as possible.
18. Can I just I drywall over my textured ceilings?
Drywalling over textured ceilings is not a very good way to get smooth ceilings. First of all, you’ll lose at least 1/2″ of headroom. You’ll also be adding a lot of extra weight to the ceiling joists. Why add that extra weight when it’s unnecessary? RemoveCeilingTexture.com’s process of smoothing ceilings does not add the heavy bulk that drywall adds.
19. Do popcorn ceilings cause allergies and asthma?
While popcorn ceilings may not actually cause allergies, they can aggravate them. Airborne dust tends to get trapped in popcorn ceilings. It’s next to impossible to clean textured ceilings without creating a huge mess, so this dust builds up. It often floats back down and can irritate anyone’s breathing, let alone someone with a compromised respiratory system. Smooth ceilings don’t trap dust like popcorn ceilings do, and they’re easy to clean, if necessary.
20. What’s causing the cracks in my ceiling?
There are several reasons your ceilings could be cracking. If there’s a leak in your roof, or from your upstairs neighbour, the water that trickles down to your ceilings can cause cracks and can make your popcorn texture peel. The first thing to do is to get the leak fixed. This will most likely involve a plumber. Fixing the ceiling without fixing the leak is just throwing away money. The ceiling damage will keep coming back until the root of the problem has been addressed. Once the leak has been fixed, you can think about having a professional fix your ceilings. This is often the perfect to opportunity to also have the popcorn texture removed.
Cracks can also appear due to the natural settling process of buildings, or if your home was built on improper footings, or on clay soil.
Cracks often appear around the edges of popcorn ceilings, where the wall meets the ceiling. This is often caused by improper finishing of the drywall tape at the wall/ceiling joint.
The important thing to remember with cracks is to fix the root problem first, if possible, then have a ceiling professional fix the ceilings.
(See Before and After pictures of ceiling crack repair by RemoveCeilingTexture.com)
21. What can I do with my ugly popcorn ceilings?
There are so many options for ceilings besides lumpy popcorn texture! Most of these suggestions require your ceilings to be smooth first, so a good first step is ceiling texture removal.
Wallpaper: Wallpaper is making a comeback, and a growing trend is to use it on ceilings.
Metallic leaf: If you have a large budget and want something really unique and luxurious, you can have your ceilings gilded in silver, gold or other metallic leaf.
Tin tiles: Tin tiles can create a vintage look.
Coffered ceilings: Coffered ceilings are most often seen in custom-built homes and can project a unique and exclusive feel.
Wood: Wood can be used in various ways on ceilings. Wood beams can create a European or Mediterranean atmosphere. Or go for a cabin or cottage-type look by using tongue and groove wood paneling. The company Stikwood offers an easy way to get the wood look: stick-on wood.
Bright, unexpected colours: A quick and inexpensive way to change your ceiling is to simply paint it an unexpected colour.