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When the dangers of asbestos came to light in the 1970s, it caused pause for many. Wait…do popcorn ceilings contain asbestos?

Popcorn ceilings were once all the rage, and for good reason! Besides their fun appearance, popcorn ceilings presented a number of benefits for homeowners and contractors alike. Unfortunately – these ceilings were also hiding a dark secret. 

Let’s look into what popcorn ceilings are, when and why they were used, and answer the question for once and for all – do popcorn ceilings contain asbestos? 

What are popcorn ceilings?


If you’ve been inside a mid-twentieth century home, you’ve probably encountered a popcorn ceiling. Popcorn ceilings (also known as cottage cheese ceilings, stucco ceilings, or acoustic ceilings) are easy to identify by their bumpy textural appearance. 

Popcorn ceilings were about way more than just esthetics. Because they were sprayed with a gun instead of hand painted, they were an extremely cost-effective and time-effective way to paint a ceiling.

They also hid a number of sins. You didn’t need to concern yourself with fixing imperfections first – the spray-on popcorn coating hid cracks, holes, and uneven patches like a breeze! 

Popcorn ceilings were also fabulous at absorbing sound. This is why they earned the name “acoustic ceilings.” The increased surface area of the popcorn texture helped to muffle noise, which was greatly appreciated in many areas of the home. 

That is, until we started questioning: are popcorn ceilings asbestos-filled?

Do popcorn ceilings have asbestos?

Unfortunately, asbestos was a main binding ingredient in the popular popcorn ceiling mixture. The question on everyone’s mind quickly changed from:
 
“Do popcorn ceilings have asbestos?”  to “How much asbestos is in my popcorn ceiling!?”

While composition varied from company to company, traditional popcorn ceiling mixtures contained anywhere from 1 to 10 percent asbestos. And, let’s be clear here – no percentage of asbestos is safe to inhale. 

But do all popcorn ceilings contain asbestos? And when was asbestos used in popcorn ceilings?

What years was asbestos used in popcorn ceilings? 

Before the dangers of asbestos were known, popcorn ceilings were immensely popular from the 1950s to 1970s. Some asbestos was even used through the 1980s because of the way asbestos banning laws were written. 

If your home was built or renovated during that time, there is a good chance your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos.

Do all popcorn ceilings have asbestos? 

Not all popcorn ceilings contain asbestos. That’s because the Clean Air Act of 1978 explicitly banned spray-on asbestos products due to their major health risk. 

Suppliers were legally allowed to sell their existing stock of asbestos-containing products though, which is why asbestos popcorn ceilings were still being installed through the mid-1980s. 

After the ban on asbestos sprays, people began to make popcorn ceiling sprays out of stucco or styrofoam to achieve a similar stippled texture. These non-hazardous popcorn ceiling sprays are still in use today. 

Does my popcorn ceiling have asbestos? 

The only way to know for sure if there is asbestos in popcorn ceilings is to test it. Because popcorn ceilings are friable, it’s important to leave this potentially hazardous work to professionals.

Asbestos Removal PRO offers free quotes and consultations on our asbestos testing and removal services. If you have asbestos in your residential building, we can help you make your home a safe haven.