Popcorn Ceilings


This past week I had a repair project that kept me from writing.  Part of that project was to repair a strip of ceiling where a wall had been and try to match it with the existing popcorn ceiling.  The main thing I learned from this experience is that I don’t like popcorn ceilings.  Older homes often have “popcorn” or “cottage cheese” textured ceilings.  Part of the reason for this is that they are inexpensive and easy to install compared to traditional taping and texturing of drywall.  The problem is that they are difficult to deal with once they have been installed and in many cases, especially in homes built before 1979, they contain asbestos.

Asbestos is not your friend and removal of a textured ceiling containing asbestos is not a Do-it-Yourself project.  Removal requires an abatement professional with expensive equipment who can safely remove and legally dispose of the material without spreading asbestos particles throughout the home.  Can you spell e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e?

Removal of a textured ceiling that does NOT contain asbestos might be a Do-it-Yourself project to consider undertaking but I would recommend doing your homework first.  It doesn’t always come off as easily as it did for the couple in this video.


Of course removal isn’t the only option available to a homeowner wanting to get rid of a popcorn ceiling.  Covering the ceiling with a new layer of sheetrock is a viable way to not only cover the offending texture but also seal it in.  The catch here is that hanging sheetrock on a ceiling is no fun and has been known to contribute to making people shorter.  Another thing to keep in mind is, just like with removal of the texture, you will still have to tape, texture and paint the ceiling.  If you haven’t taped and textured before then I don’t recommend getting your first experience by doing a ceiling.  Any flaws or imperfections will be magnified after painting.

So we all agree now, we don’t like popcorn ceilings.  The question is, when house shopping, should you avoid homes with the dreaded texturing?   No, I don’t think so but it should be something you consider carefully.  Is it something you can live with?  If not, will you be able to afford one of the solutions above?  Is the texturing in good condition?  Does it contain asbestos?  Popcorn ceilings, especially those that are in poor condition and containing asbestos, could be a negotiating point if you don’t feel the house is priced properly.  Your realtor can help you determine if the condition of the home is reflected in the price.

**It should be noted that just because a textured ceiling contains asbestos does not mean that it is an immediate health risk to those living in the home.  What makes it a risk is if particles are breaking or falling off (friable) and getting into the air.

*** This post was written for information purposes only and is not intended as advice on how to remove or repair popcorn ceilings. Do your homework and consult a professional before attempting to remove or repair a popcorn/cottage cheese textured ceiling.



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About Dan Seim

Dan Seim is the primary contributor to Preferred Residential's blog. He has been writing about real estate issues that affect home owners in Bend and Central Oregon since 2011.