Should You Buy a Home with Popcorn Ceilings?

Posted by on Friday, September 30th, 2016 at 8:35pm.


You’ve found your dream home in a great location but it’s got these weird textured ceilings that were so cool a bazillion years ago.  What were people thinking when they invented popcorn ceilings?  What is with them and should you even have them in your home?

What are Popcorn Ceilings

This type of ceiling texture is white, bumpy sprayed-on goop that sometimes has sparkles in it.  This is not to be confused with a beautifully textured ceiling popular in the 1930s through the 1940s with tastefully and artfully applied swirls that actually make sense. Popcorn was just thrown up there like looking like a disorganized moonscape.  Any child that grew up in a house with popcorn ceilings can tell you that you could not let your helium balloon go in the house because if it bumped up against the ceiling, which could be sharp in places, it would burst.

The Problem with Popcorn Ceilings

Apart from being sharp, the rough texture creates dust in the home.  Minute particles fall off the ceiling and homeowners breathe that dust in.  Very early ceiling textures may have also contained asbestos which was finally banned in 1977 and if you research this you will find that inhaling asbestos fibers can scar lung tissue leading to disease and possibly lunch cancers.  Not all popcorn ceilings contain this horrible substance and if your home was built after 1977 you’re in the clear.  Plus, asbestos in and of itself is not dangerous unless it’s disturbed. But there is still the matter of dust.

Why Were Ceilings Covered With It?

It’s a question you might be asking yourself.  Why would you spray that cheesy stuff all over a perfectly good ceiling?  Quite possibly because taping, mudding and painting a ceiling is hard work and if you’ve done a poor job of it, what better way to hide those imperfections that to texturize it.

Should It Stop You From Purchasing a Home?

If the house is right for you and the location outstanding, don’t let those ugly ceilings stand in your way of purchasing that home.  You could possibly make it a condition of sale, that the owner eradicate the popcorn ceilings but that might stand in your way of finalizing a deal.  There are ways of dealing with the problem yourself and here’s how:

  1.  Wear a Mask:  If the home was constructed prior to 1977 you may wish to assume that there is asbestos in the texture.  You could scrape off a bit and sent it to a lab for testing but easier to assume that everything you scrape off is toxic.  Don’t expose anything when removing the texture.  Cover up from head to toe because that stuff is going to fall all over you.
  2. Remove Pets:  Home renovations and pets don’t always get along.  They step in debris and track it all over the place. Plus, you don’t want them breathing in the dust while the ceiling texture is being removed.
  3. Cover the Floor:  Plastic isn’t recommended as its very slippery.  Newspaper, brown packing paper with a drop cloth underneath is best.  Just roll up the paper and throw it away.
  4. Scrape with a Long Handled Pole with a Blade:  If this is hard to find you could actually use a hoe to scrape the stuff off by hand.  You could spray the ceiling with a mister just to damp it to keep the dust down.  
  5. Finishing It Off:  When it’ scraped and dried, fill in the dents and holes just as you would with the walls. If the ceiling under that popcorn is simply abysmal you can call out a professional to finish it off and paint it.

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