What Is Wrong With a Popcorn Ceiling?

Audrey Pannell

Popcorn ceilings are created with a spray-on substance that produces a "popcorn" effect on the ceiling. Creating a popcorn ceiling is inexpensive, making it a popular method used by home builders from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s. Asbestos was used in many building products during that time, so older popcorn ceilings may contain the dangerous fibers. Popcorn ceilings are rarely used today as people turn to other methods and styles for the completion of their ceilings.


Some people prefer to replace popcorn ceilings with a different type of texture.

Popcorn ceilings are usually not seen in homes today and some view them as outdated. Many people buying a home do not want to invest in something that needs work. Outdated popcorn texture is something a potential buyer would have to consider replacing. Popcorn ceilings may hurt the value of a home, but replacing them can increase a home's value.

Asbestos Dangers

Asbestos fibers are in many popcorn ceiling textures applied prior to the 1980s, and sometimes later. As long as the texture is undisturbed, there is no harm in the asbestos fibers. However, if the popcorn texture is broken or scraped off, the particles become airborne and may be inhaled. Inhaling asbestos can be dangerous and may cause major respiratory problems. The government now tightly controls the removal of asbestos-containing products due to its potential health hazards.

Crumbles and Drips

Old popcorn ceiling may easily crumble. Crumbling becomes another problem if the texture contains asbestos fibers, because they then become airborne. Also, popcorn texture melts and drips when it gets wet. This creates a problem if you plan to paint over the texture, because the wet paint can affect the details of the texture.

Sharp Ridges

Popcorn ceiling texture creates sharp peaks. If you sleep in a loft or bunk bed that puts you close to the ceiling, accidental contact with the texture may cause skin scratches. Avoid touching the texture. If your hands will be close to it for any reason, wear gloves.

Removing Popcorn Texture

Removing popcorn ceiling texture can be quite a chore, especially if it was sprayed prior to 1980. Popcorn ceiling texture that was applied prior to 1980 contains asbestos and a professional must carefully complete the removal process. The professional must wear a breathing mask, goggles and protective attire. The debris can only be discarded at an approved disposal site. Removing popcorn ceiling that does not contain asbestos fibers involves scraping and sanding, which may make a mess. Always cover floors, walls and furniture to protect them from the debris.