A generation or more ago, home builders used to favour a type of interior decoration known as a 'popcorn' ceiling. If you happen to have one of these in your home should you be worried about asbestos — and how should you proceed?
What Is It?
The term popcorn ceiling was given by decorators to this form of finished treatment due to the texture having a similar appearance to popcorn or even cottage cheese in some people's view. This was a fashionable decoration back in the 1980s and was applied by spraying from a handheld gun onto the ceiling surface.
Many different materials used to go into the mixture in order to come up with this popcorn appearance. Styrofoam and cardboard were popular ingredients, together with a mineral product known as vermiculite. It is this latter product that could give rise to concern as it may contain asbestos.
How to Find out If You Have a Problem
It's difficult to know whether or not the popcorn ceiling in your home actually contains asbestos. Therefore, it's best to be prudent if you are considering any type of renovation or may want to remove this decoration. The best course of action is to get a small section of the ceiling tested in order to see whether there is indeed any asbestos present.
If you are going to remove a sample yourself, there are a number of different steps to take. Note that if you have a popcorn ceiling in a state of general disrepair then it could easily crumble if you're not careful.
Cutting a Sample
The first thing to do is to shut off the air conditioning system so that any fibres, should they be dislodged, cannot be distributed. You must wear a mask and disposable gloves and should place a plastic sheet beneath the area on the floor. Get a small spray bottle and fill it with water and set the nozzle to 'fine'. Carefully wet a small piece of the material before you cut into it. Use a very sharp knife and carefully cut out a fairly large sample.
Get a plastic bag with a zipper and place the sample within, tightly sealing it. Then you must put a label on the outside detailing what is within and the date the sample was taken. Next, get some duct tape and patch over the area where the sample was removed. Use a damp paper towel to remove any residue and then throw away this, the gloves and the plastic sheet.
Send your sample to a laboratory to analyse for asbestos presence. You can find the address online or by contacting your health department.
What to Do with the Result
Be patient while you wait for the results. Once received, if asbestos is indeed present then you should contact an asbestos removal contractor to replace the entire ceiling. If not, you can remove the popcorn effect by yourself.