Textured popcorn ceiling paint (C) Daniel FriedmanAsbestos in popcorn ceilings & textured paints - FAQs
Questions & answers about asbestos-containing spray-on ceiling popcorn paint

  • CEILING PAINT TEXTURED ASBESTOS FAQs - CONTENTS: questions & answers on how to identify textured ceiling paints that may contain asbestos: photographs of possible asbestos-containing ceiling paint, popcorn ceiling paint asbestos, or textured ceiling paint asbestos content.
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to identify popcorn ceiling paint that contains asbestos

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Asbestos in Popcorn Ceiling Paint Spray FAQs:

Questions & answers about sbestos-containing ceiling paint: asbestos was used as a filler in popcorn ceiling paint - a nubbled or pebbled surface sprayed onto interior ceilings. This article series describes how to recognize, test, and remove, cover, or renovate popcorn style ceiling paints that may contain asbestos. We include 5photographs and descriptive text of asbestos insulation and other asbestos-containing products to permit identification of definite, probable, or possible asbestos materials in buildings.

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Asbestos-containing "popcorn" or textured ceiling paint coatings

Spray on fireproofing on steel construction DF 2008

Question: broken 1950's Homart Starspray Acoustical Ceiling Tiles

My home has broken Homart Starspray Acoustical Ceiling Tiles which were purchased and installed sometime in the 1950's or 1960's. How can I find out if this was asbestos? The product number is #8445. Help! - Anon 7/20/11


I'd like to see some sharp photos of those ceiling tiles (see our CONTACT link at the "More Reading" links at the bottom of this article or bottom or top). From the age of your ceiling tiles, that they are asbestos-containing is a reasonable assumption. If you need to know for sure, you can send a small sample to a certified asbestos testing laboratory - it's not expensive. (Best to check with the lab about what procedure they want you to use to collect a sample, basically you pick an unobtrusive area, avoid creating a dusty mess, wet down and remove 1/2" fragment).
of material and bag it)

Question: Possible asbestos content in popcorn ceilings in an older home - also mold & asthma worries

i live in san diego,ca in a 1936 old house that has mold inside as well as outside the home my friend was born in this house and he said the wall paper the popcorn ceiling carpet doors windows cabin ts still the same since he was a lil child he is now 50 yrs old i been getting sick nausea headache been hospitalize for asthma attack me and my daughter - Trina 11/13/12



Check with your doctor, but I don't think asbestos exposure produces asthma. In an older home that has not been cleaned nor updated, there could certainly be various respiratory irritants, insect fragments, mold, animal allergens, dust mites etc.

However, popcorn ceilings that are old often used asbestos fibers and filler in the coating.

Search inspectApedia for MOLD EXPERT, WHEN TO HIRE for help in deciding if it is appropriate to hire an expert to inspect your home.

Question: is cleaning up dust after improper asbestos removal dangerous

How dangerous is it to clean up an area after asbestos tiles were removed without proper equipment or disposal? What is required to be safe during clean-up? - Darlene 1/21/2013

Reply: quite possibly

Darlene: in my OPINION the answer is at least potentially YES.

If asbestos containing material, particularly friable materials such as ceiling tiles, or any ACM that was removed in a manner that created dust was removed without proper dust containment and follow-up testing, there could be high enough levels of asbestos in remaining dust in the building to be a hazard to occupants.

For example, running an ordinary household (non-HEPA) vacuum cleaner, or even a HEPA rated vacuum if it leaks, would send that asbestos-containing dust into the air - where occupants may indeed breathe it.

In my own experience I've encountered this problem a number of times and often follow-up testing confirmed that further professional cleaning was needed. Provided that there is an established need (and thus justification of the expense) for an asbestos dust cleanup, a professional will set up dust containment to keep other building areas safe from dust, use a negative air machine as part of that containment, then typically s/he will HEPA vacuum and damp wipe the building surfaces. A follow-up test by a professional confirms that the cleanup was successful and that the containment system also worked.

At ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST we provide information on how to find a qualified, certified asbestos testing laboratory.

Question: popcorn ceiling paint removal, asbestos test results, textured paint cleanup procedures

I found your web site very informative. I have a concern about my home which was built in 1976. When I purchased the home I had the popcorn ceiling removed by a professional company. Some of the rooms had already been removed by the home owner. When I bought the house the previous owner told me there wasn't asbestos in the ceiling. Years later a neighbor had the ceiling tested VIA a lab and there was asbestos.

Would there be trace amounts of asbestos remaining and would this be any health issue?

Should I not wear clothing from a top closet shelf that gets very dusty?

Also, there are some tiles 8X8 throughout the house. Looks like early to mid 1980s. The surface is hard white glazed tile but underneath looks like clay. There are cracks in a few of them. I put Super Glue in all the cracks. Will the glue prevent possible asbestos from being airborne? - K.F. 7/7/2013


I hope you will understand that from just an email query no one can honestly nor reliably assert whether or not there is an asbestos hazard in the home about which you inquire. However I can offer the following OPINON:

Any time I hear that asbestos-containing materials or asbestos-suspect materials were "removed by the homeowner" that is a bit of a red flag: it is unlikely that an ordinary homeowner would know how to follow appropriate steps for dust containment, wetting, material removal, negative air, testing, etc. therefore it would certainly be possible that asbestos-contaminated dust could remain behind in such a building as well as incompletely-removed asbestos-containing materials. It would thus be prudent to look into the question further. IN such a look I would not rely just on air testing - as the risk of a false negative is just too high. But it might make sense to test some samples of settled dust that you think represent various areas in the home or areas of highest risk. Use a certified asbestos testing lab (do not send samples to me). Keep me posted on what you learn as it may help others.

About asbestos in ceramic tile, I discuss that question at and would welcome any follow-up questions if that article is incomplete or unclear in your view.

Reader follow-up: unnecessary disposal of washable items out of concern for asbestos

Thank you so much for your opinion. I did throw in some blankets that were dusty from the top closet shelf just a few hours ago into the washing machine. Oops!!! I used a double rinse but after I read your email, I just threw the blankets out.

I kept the rest of the clothes that were washing in the machine but used two rinses. In your opinion should I get rid of all the clothes and is the washing machine safe to use?

I have 3 kids and I'm a single mom. I value your opinion Daniel and I thank you for your time.

Reply: lab rest results before & after washing asbestos-dust-contaminated fabrics

I can't cite an authoritative source on this question, but my own field and lab testing of particle-contaminated clothing have found very few remaining particles after clothes are laundered or dry cleaned.

My procedure was to vacuum the fabric surface, collecting particles in an air sampling cassette designed for that purpose. I vacuumed the same fabric in the same area on the fabric before and after cleaning.

After cleaning I found only occasional trace occurrences of particles in the fabrics. T

OPINION: This may not quite be the case for severely-contaminated fabrics, or those with complex structure or many layers; in such cases more extensive cleaning might be required. But normally particle contamination found on clothing has found its way onto the outer surface of garments that were worn in or left in a dusty environment. In such cases one would not expect particulates to penetrate deep into clothing layers such as inside shoulder pads.

Reader follow-up: asbestos test finds asbestos content in textured ceiling spray paint

You had previously asked me to let you know about my home asbestos inspection.

I think this one bit of information might help other homeowners.

The previous owner sent off asbestos samples from the ceiling to a lab. I did not see the report but according to the owner the results were negative. When other neighbors heard of his negative lab results, they assumed their homes were also free of asbestos. All homes were built by same builder at the same time. I know of two neighbors that scraped their ceilings without masks or protection.

One neighbor decided to send in her own sample and that sample came back positive for asbestos.

During my home inspection recently, we found an old light fixture that had been sprayed with acoustic. That was tested and showed 3 percent asbestos. The previous owner was incorrect.

My ceilings had been scraped by a company years ago. I did handle some of the plastic that contained the scraped debris as I wasn't worried since I had been told"asbestos free."

I came away from this realizing that you should independently test your own home and not take the word of someone selling their house or a neighbor. They could be wrong.

The rest of the results: Acoustic overspray in air registers.

I also had a pipe covered with asbestos but it's in good shape.

The drywall compound/mud covering the wall tape tested as less than 1 per cent asbestos. Unfortunately I have large cracks in the garage and the door has done a lot of damage hitting the garage wall.

The only thing I can think of is to spray the cracks/holes with a compound spray and then a paint spray as I'm scared to disturb the fibers with paintbrush. Does this sound like a decent idea? I'm hoping this will encapsulate the fibers.

Thanks for your help and I hope this information can be useful.

Reply: do not rely on a seller assertion of asbestos test results, especially when not in writing

Certainly your experience will be helpful to others and I'll find the appropriate place to post it for other readers. And certainly as well, I'm sorry that your lawyer and real estate agent involved when you bought your home were not working with your interest in mind. If either of them had been doing so, s/he would have advised you of the error of relying on any representation by the seller of a property - the combination of the conflicts of interest and the simple chance of making a mistake add up to reasons never to rely on such a representation, all the more so, as a giant r3ed flag, when the representation is made only orally and not in writing to include the provision of independent, professional reports.

A simple case I've come across time and again is that even when a "lab test" was performed, the test sample was selected from an area believed to be outside the area of concern, rather than testing what should have been tested.

At this point your first step is to avoid making a dusty mess by disturbing asbestos-suspect materials. Most often the risk of leaving in place non-friable, intact, material not in a place likely to be damaged - is low.

Reader follow-up: can I encapsulate an asbestos-paint coated wall with joint compound and paint?

I was hoping to encapsulate the wall behind the door by spraying it with a joint compound spray and then spraying it with paint. This area has been badly damaged from the door hitting the wall.

Would this be O.K.?


in my OPINION and presuming that you have reason to know or think that the walls in your home also are covered with asbestos-containing textured paint, new joint compound is soft and will break again if smacked by a door hitting the wall. It's not the best protection against future wall damage and possible asbestos disturbance unless additional steps are taken.

It is indeed common to seal friable surfaces using a sprayed paint coating; using a joint compound repair (or better, laminating 1/4" drywall over the whole area) is fine, provided you also install a door stop to protect the wall from damage.

Question: does having been painted over make asbestos-containing textured ceiling paint harder to remove?

(Mar 3, 2015) Rob said:
I have had the popcorn ceiling tested and it has asbestos. The ceiling has been painted. My question is, does the paint make it harder to remove safely or does it help to contain? Also, will the paint make it more difficult to remove?

(June 30, 2015) Luan said:
Like Rob, I have the same problem, the same question.


Rob and Luan,

Asbestos-containing popcorn ceiling paint is usually rather soft and fragile so that painting over it does not work well as an encapsulant. Removing it safely requires expertise, wetting, dust control, etc.

But if space allows, the least expensive and perfectly proper alternative is to laminate a layer of thin drywall (say 1/4" thick) over the entire ceiling, tape the joints and paint the new surface.

Question: styrofoam in textured ceiling paint replaced asbestos?

(Feb 16, 2016) William said:

Re: my comment below, it was the early nineties.

Is the styrofoam-like material the only non-asbestos successor? We had a material applied in the '90s, which was bought at a building supply store. It's quite hard to the touch.

Reply: formulas for textured and popcorn ceiling coatings

There are more than one formula for textured and "popcorn" style ceiling paints including besides styrofoam, plaster or joint compound. In any event in North America (if that's where you are) it's not likely that asbestos-containing textured paint would still be applied in the 1990's as it fell out of use after 1978's Clean Air Act in the U.S. Current textured or popcorn ceiling paint typically include styrofoam, macerated cardboard, or vermiculite. ceramic materials, as well as polyvinyl adhesives. (Note that depending on where it was mined, some vermiculite may have contained asbestos). Patented popcorn ceiling patching materials also include stick-on paint-over pre-molded patches.

Popcorn ceiling paint has been popular as a way to cover cosmetic defects and also for its acoustic sound-dampening properties.

see these contemporary textured and popcorn ceiling references

Estape, Roberto. "Foam wall system." U.S. Patent Application 10/337,469, filed January 7, 2003.

Judd, Jennifer. "Popcorn ceiling patch." U.S. Patent Application 14/449,681, filed August 1, 2014.

Kubic, Thomas A. "Method for repairing a textured ceiling or overhead surface." U.S. Patent 5,474,804, issued December 12, 1995.

Woods, John R. "Acoustic ceiling patch spray." U.S. Patent 5,505,344, issued April 9, 1996.

Woods, John R. "Hardenable flowable substance applicable for acoustic celing patch in the form of spray contains, water 20-27%, filler 40-80%, polyvinyl adhesive binder 1-50%, propellant 5-20%, aggregate 2-40%, antifoam agent 1-10% suspension agent 1-20%." U.S. Patent 7,163,962, issued January 16, 2007.

INC, TECH TRADERS. "Product & Technology Review." (2007). (ceramic popcorn paint components)

Question: popcorn ceiling done in 1994 in Canada contains asbestos?

(Feb 23, 2016) Frank said:
We have popcorn ceiling in my house. House was built I believe in the early 50s. We moved here in 1994 and it did not have the popcorn ceiling then. I had the popcorn ceiling done the same year, 1994. This is in Canada. Any chance popcorn ceiling installed in 1994 in Canada would contain asbestos? Also, I am a tall person and routinely stretch with object in my hand and end up scraping the ceiling, would this be enough to release fibers if they were indeed present? Thanks

A correction to my question... *MOST* of the popcorn ceiling was installed in 1994, but some of it was there before we moved in and it has been painted over.


Frank, as a technical guy I cannot ever say there is NO chance of something, but it would be very unusual for 1994 textured or popcorn ceiling paint to contain asbestos.
IF there is older popcorn ceiling paint installed say before the early 1980's, yes it may contain asbestos. In my OPINION

(Feb 24, 2016) Frank said:
I'm strongly inclined to think the newer stuff doesn't contain asbestos but it's likely the old stuff did. I remember picking at it at one point too wondering how soft it was back before I knew it could contain asbestos. I have no way of knowing when the old popcorn ceiling was done, sometime between the 50s and when I purchased the place in '94. It has been painted over probably twice now since I've lived here, which I'm assuming would help lessen any risk. Apart from some cracks in a few seems/corners, it's in good shape. Like I said before, being tall I have a tendency to stretch and accidentally scrape the ceiling with random objects I'm holding while I stretch. Could that cause enough damage to release fibers in your opinion? Also, even when asbestos textured paints were used, were they the majority of the market or was there also many products that existed for popcorn ceiling that were asbestos free back then? Thanks

Moderator reply:

On asbestos content, We agree, that's what I warned earlier.

Quite a few popcorn ceilings I've encountered were indeed rather fragile, easily producing friable materials or dust, both older (asbestos-containing) and newer products using styrene, styrofoam, vermiculite (some of which also may contain asbestos depending on where the vermiculite originated).

Painting over such ceilings probably reduces the hazard.

Just how much dust is being released by accidental contact I can't guess. One would need to get objective data based on real measurements, perhaps constructing a worst, most-likely, and least extensive damage sampling plan. I'm doubtful that the cost of a competent exposure study is cost-justified for a normal residence like the one you describe.

Other Interior Ceiling Finish References


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