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Asbestos in Popcorn Ceiling Paint Sprays:
Asbestos-containing ceiling paint: asbestos was used as a filler in popcorn ceiling paint - a nubbled or pebbled surface sprayed onto interior ceilings. This article describes how to recognize, test, and remove, cover, or renovate popcorn style ceiling paints that may contain asbestos.
This article series photographs and descriptive text of asbestos insulation and other asbestos-containing products to permit identification of definite, probable, or possible asbestos materials in buildings.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2015 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.
How to Recognize Asbestos suspect ceiling paint in popcorn ceilings
Some acoustic ceiling paint spray-on coatings contain asbestos. If renovation is planned it may be smart to simply handle this material as if it contained asbestos particles.
[Click to enlarge any image]
Asbestos Ceiling paints, textured or popcorn ceilings containing asbestos included spray-on acoustical ceilings and ceilings sprayed for fireproofing.
Textured ceiling paints were particularly popular in North America in the 1970's. If you are considering removing textured ceiling paint or "popcorn ceiling paint" in a building, since removing popcorn ceiling paint or textured paints that may contain asbestos are trickier than you may realize, here are some suggestions:
Watch out: During any construction, demolition, or building remodeling project, as dust and particles from many materials, even paper and wood can be irritating or harmful to workers and occupants, prudent procedure would include appropriate dust control, personal protection equipment, and cleaning methods.
Advice for Handling Asbestos-Suspect Textured Ceiling Paint
In general people create more hazards by disturbing the material during a cleanup than if it were left alone. In sum the easiest, safest, least costly approach is to leave textured ceiling paint alone, in place.
At above left is a photograph of a spray-on fire resistant coating that was installed on a New York building in 2008. This coating will not contain asbestos, though it may resemble older asbestos-containing fire-retardant sprays.
Visual & Historic Clues Assist in Identifying Textured Paint or Popcorn Spray Paint Ceilings that Do Not Contain Asbestos
While the following visual and historic clues are not necessarily conclusive, they give examples of reasons to infer that a textured ceiling spray - at least the coating that can be seen, touched, tested - does not contain asbestos.
Reader Question: is asbestos popcorn ceiling paint hard or soft?
(Sept 15, 2014) anthony said:
i have old plaster that has thin white brown fibers that are about as think as horse hair also i have popcorn paint on the side of the walls my question is.. is alspstose [sic - asbestos] popcorn celing paint soft or hard like cement, i was sanding the love out of it got me worried now. msg email@example.com cheers.
The asbestos-containing popcorn ceiling paint is rather soft, but might be harder if subsequently given additional coatings. However the actual sperules that make the popcorn kernels in modern non-asbestos popcorn ceilings are typically made of still softer styrofoam that in my experience is easily brushed away from the building surface with almost no force whatsoever.
Reader Question: is it possible to distinguish asbestos from non-asbestos popcorn ceiling paint by visual inspection?
22 Feb 2015 Tyler said:
Is there a way to tell if a ceiling texture has asbestos by the pattern? Im checking out a potential job that has the very small pepple-like pattern to it and asbestos is a longer fiber. I noticed a lot of the articles about asbestos in popcorn ceilings seems to show a more spread out pattern.
Tyler, in my opinion the size of the textured popcorn ceiling kernels is principally an artifact of how the mixture was prepared and how the spray gun was adjusted. Asbestos fibers themselves are microscopically so small that I'm doubtful that the choice of asbestos fiber type would determine the popcorn kernel size. Also worth noting was the use of very fine asbestos filler as ultra fine particles in several building products including floor and ceiling coverings.
Popcorn spray on ceilings was popular in some parts of the world including North America from the 1950s, and contained white chrysotile asbestos through the 1980's.
Knowing that a ceiling was popcorn sprayed in the 1990's or more recently, or observing asbestos's successor material used to form the popcorn kernels or flakes, that is fine styrofoam pellets or flakes (Hanson 2013), in the ceiling popcorn kernels might help suggest which substances are present.
I find that modern styrofoam popcorn ceiling spray is a bit softer and more fragile than its antecedents, more fragile, easily brushed off of the surface by hand, and typically containing recognizable fragments of styrofoam in at least the larger popcorn spherules or kernels.
Watch out: even though the newer popcorn ceiling sprays won't contain asbestos, the spray might not contain recognizable asbestos particles. We note that for repair of popcorn or similarly textured ceilings other fibrous materials (not styrofoam) are used and are applied using a method to cause them to clump together to resemble the styrofoam pellets used in initial application (Woods 2004), and consisting of
If large expense or issues of making a mess arise then it's worth the small cost to test a sample.
Research & Patents for Popcorn Ceiling Paint Application, Removal, Asbestos Handling
Other Interior Ceiling Finish References
Continue reading at ASBESTOS FIREPROOFING SPRAY-On Coatings or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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).
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
However, popcorn ceilings that are old often used asbestos fibers and filler in the coating.
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 http://inspectapedia.com/hazmat/Ceramic_Tile_Asbestos_Content.php 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 asbestosThank 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.
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