Update That (Asbestos Riddled) Popcorn Ceiling

So you’ve bought an older home in the GTA, or perhaps you already own one, and while you love a lot of things about it, there is the matter of that outdated, bumpy plaster ceiling.

It’s hard to believe now, but popcorn ceilings – those textured, by now often discoloured plaster and stucco treatments – were once all the rage. They were thought to be easy to maintain and to hide minor imperfections in the ceiling surface.

What exactly is a “popcorn ceiling”?
Popcorn ceilings and other textured wall treatments were already in use in the 1920s, but as a fad, they reached their peak between the 1960s and 1980s. Nowadays, they certainly make a room look dated. Dust and smoke over the years can make them look dirty and yellowed, and they can trap dust, spiderwebs, and other dirt.

You may also know they as an acoustic ceiling or even a cottage cheese ceiling. The treatment, which was sprayed on, was often used in bedrooms, hallways, and living rooms. For decades, the effect was produced by mixing plaster with asbestos, which was then was sprayed onto the ceiling, or plastered by hand.

Why asbestos? It was added for two reasons.

  • First, it does provide some acoustic insulation.
  • Second, it is fireproof and was thought to be a safety feature.

When should you be concerned?
The answer is a little fuzzy. Technically, manufacturing most asbestos containing materials or ACM was banned in Canada in 1979. However, existing inventories of ACM were exempt from the ban, and asbestos continued to find its way into construction projects until the early 1990s.

Not all popcorn ceilings contain asbestos. Once the existing stock ran out in the early to mid-1990s, the texture was produced with a paper-based product. Even so, the ceiling treatment ran out of favour by about the same time.

  • The important thing to remember is – you won’t be able to tell whether it contains asbestos or not just by looking at it.

Please don’t try DIY
You may be tempted to remove it yourself, but we – and any asbestos expert you will ask – strongly caution you against a DIY popcorn ceiling removal. Scraping the material off will necessarily produce the friable dust that can enter the lungs and eventually cause health problems, including deadly mesothelioma.

  • Removing a popcorn ceiling safely requires special equipment that produces minimal dust and incorporates a double filtration system to keep even that bit of dust well contained.
  • Also Note – even though, if you are working on your own home, you are not required by law to perform an asbestos or other hazardous material assessment, you ARE still required by law to properly and safely contain, transport, and dispose of any asbestos containing material waste and you are liable for anyone else’s asbestos exposure.

We Can Help
If you have a popcorn ceiling or any other asbestos containing materials in your home, we can help. Our experienced and certified asbestos removal and asbestos remediation technicians can help keep you and your family safe. In the Toronto area call Environmental at (416) 818-9414. Contact us for a quote today.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite and mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA (North York, Mississauga, Markham, Brampton, Scarborough, Ajax, Oshawa, and beyond) GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414. You’ll be glad you did.