In the real estate business you come across all manner of things that can be a turn-off to buyers — things like pet stains, garden gnomes, and shag carpet — but I’ve found nothing is so universally despised and scorned as the ubiquitous popcorn ceiling. How this EVER became a such a hot home-building trend I’ll never understand! When I walk into a home and look up to see that mottled, cottage-cheesy looking surface staring down at me… well, a tiny part of my soul up and dies on the spot. I can see the enthusiasm of my buyers, previously so buoyed up by the home’s great curb appeal, turn to dismay and disillusionment as they reflect upon the looming expanse of ceiling covered in a texture not dissimilar to curdled milk.
Ugh. Hit the dislike button!
In its earlier iterations, just to add injury to insult, asbestos fibers were commonly used as part of the textured ceiling mix — because nothing says “Welcome home!” like toxic, whitish-gray curdles attached to the ceiling you sleep and eat under. Even after the Clean Air Act of 1978 banned asbestos use for textured ceilings in residential dwellings, legacy stores containing it were still in use in a lot construction well into the 1980s.
So, what do you do when you encounter the ghastly stuff? To start with, if your home was built anywhere before or around that mid-80s time frame, it’s a good idea to have it tested for asbestos before thinking about getting rid of it (you can buy testing kits online for less than $50).
If it does test positive, do have it professionally remediated. It costs a bit, but better to be safe than sorry and leave it to the professionals. And honestly, even if there is no sign of asbestos after testing, I think I’d personally still recommend paying to have it removed rather than trying to take care of it myself — popcorn ceiling scraping is NOBODY’S idea of a good time! (But if I haven’t dissuaded you, I’ll let the fine folks at This Old House walk you through the removal process.)
Now, about that garden gnome removal… 😉