Asbestos-suspect acoustic ceiling tile during seal-over (C) InspectApedia SFAsbestos-Suspect Acoustic Ceiling Tiles Cover-Up
Example of sealing & covering acoustic ceiling tiles in good condition

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Asbestos-suspect ceiling cover-up: a reader describes a simple, inexpensive, but labor intensive approach to coating or cover-over of asbestos-suspect ceiling tiles or panels that are securely fastened and in good condition. Covering asbestos or asbestos suspect materials in some locations is permitted and makes economic sense as a method of reducing the asbestos hazard in buildings. In fact generally it's better, cheaper, and safer to leave non-friable, un-damaged asbestos materials in place than to try a demolition and removal project.

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Do-It-Yourself in-Place Seal-Over for Asbestos-Suspect Acoutstic Ceiling Tiles

Asbestos-suspect acoustic ceiling tile before seal-over (C) InspectApedia SFReader Question: do you think these are asbestos-containing ceiling tiles and how can I take care of them?

Thanks for such a great and informative site. I’ve learned so much and I am still navigating the various sections.

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It appears that you provide first-pass opinions on potential asbestos-bearing ceiling tiles if pictures are provided.

See attached. I cannot find anything similar to these that you’ve posted yet – and fingers-crossed – these are asbestos free.

Initial thoughts would be appreciated – I will get them tested too but your help may determine if I do this sooner versus later. Home was built in 1972. Thanks for any help.

- S.F., South Lyon MI 4/13/2013


Asbestos-suspect acoustic ceiling tile during seal-over (C) InspectApedia SFIn our earliler correspondence I suggested treating the ceiling as presumed-asbestos-containing based on age and appearance; you were going to have a sample tested. Can you tell me what you found?

Reader Follow-Up:

I ended up changing my design to not disrupt the tile.  I have painted it … actually, I am still painting it.  LOL.  I

did have a 30-year veteran electrician install one light.  He was confident they were asbestos free and drilled one hole for a fixture.  He wasn’t concerned at all. 

At some point, years down the road .

If I change the ceiling …. I will have them tested.  I have learned also, that all Building Materials in my Home Owner’s Association Ordinances required asbestos-free material. 

That is no iron-clad insurance but gave me some confidence. Thanks for the follow-up


Asbestos-suspect acoustic ceiling tile after seal-over (C) InspectApedia SFI did the a similar thing with asphalt asbestos floor tiles in a kitchen - we painted the vinyl asbestos floor tiles with an epoxy floor paint, then applied a clear sealer over that; it has worked very well for 15+ years with just an occasional renewal of the clear coat.

Asbestos ceiling cover-up tip: an alternative for covering over a ceiling in poor condition for any reason is the installation of a metal ceiling or suspended metal ceiling - see METAL CEILINGS ALUMINUM & TIN. Metal ceilings have been installed over older, poor-condition surfaces in North America for more than 100 years.

A photo of your project might help others.

Reader Follow-Up:

Sure, DIYers love to share their projects.  Three photos attached (and shown above and at left - Ed). 

#1 Before (thickness and type of tiles). 

#2 Primed. 

#3 After.  Acoustic tiles are very, very porous. 

It was like painting cardboard.  I primed the edges around the mouldings first then I caulked the tile edges-to-the- mouldings  liberally so I didn’t have holes/crevices along the moulding line. 

Primed the interior ceiling with a 2” nappy roller (let dry for 2 days). 

1 Coat of the new color (let dry for 2 days).  Then … the hard part

I mixed vinyl spackling with paint and used a thick/cheap brush and jabbed the spackle/paint mixture into every seam (closing up gaps and any unevenness). 

Let dry for 2 days.  Final top coat to blend all seams with a 2” nappy roller. 

Looks great.  Folks can skip the seam fill part if they like the look after 1 coat of color; probably could skip the second coat of paint too.

Patching that hole wasn’t easy and I’m still working on that.  Matching the ceiling pattern is hard but I’ll get it.     

Watch out: dust from demolition of many building products can be irritating and even harmful regardless of whether or not the material contains asbestos fibers or particles. Good dust control measures can avoid spreading dust throughout the building during material removal or remodeling, and proper personal protection can protect workers as well.


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