Origins of Asbestos Popcorn Ceilings and Removal Process
September 6, 2021

Asbestos in the Housing Market – Popcorn Ceilings

Written by Alliance Environmental

Looking to do something about the popcorn ceiling in your older home? Make sure to take precautions against potential asbestos contamination – know the risks, and how to confront them safely and economically.

We all grew up with that generic white bumpy surface above our heads – that white stucco-like surface on every ceiling that you would stare up at while taking a bath or trying to fall asleep. These have come to be known as popcorn ceilings. For anybody born before about 1995, popcorn ceilings existed as a generic suburbia household default that was just part of life.

Eventually, home builders figured out how to make ceilings in new homes more aesthetically pleasing by introducing low cost texturization methods that gave the ceiling a more elegant look. For many owners of existing homes, re-texturizing is a nice low-cost way to spruce up a tired looking space. Unfortunately, if asbestos is present in the ceiling, a simple texturizing upgrade can render a home inhabitable. The good news is that there are professionals out there who can remove the toxic ceiling materials safely using a standardized asbestos removal p5 procedure.

How did popcorn ceilings become common, and why were they made with asbestos?

The use of asbestos in housing and construction goes back as far as the 1890s, when it was discovered that there was a subset of naturally occurring minerals that, when in a fibrous state, were highly effective at retaining heat, blocking out sound, and enhancing structural integrity. The term asbestos was adopted to refer to any one of the fibrous minerals that worked well in these applications.

After the Second World War, there was a big push in America to put up as many homes as possible, and build them as cheaply as possible, so that ordinary people would be able to own their own homes. It turns out that asbestos-based popcorn ceilings were one of the most cost-effective quality control techniques that were used in the process of mass producing the homes of the middle class. It was not uncommon for ceiling drywall to contain many little imperfections when it was being installed. The easiest way to solve this problem was to coat the drywall in a white, crumbly asbestos-based membrane that covered up all the drywall imperfections and was also effective at blocking out noise. The dry, hard white ceilings that resulted hence became known as popcorn ceilings.

This was widely used as the industry standard until all those buildings constructed with asbestos from the 1890s started requiring more and more maintenance. Every time a pipe needed replacing, the workers would have to cut through the asbestos-laced insulation around the pipes. They began dying in large numbers because the little bits of airborne asbestos particulate that they would inhale caused acute respiratory illnesses and aggressive varieties of cancer. By the 1970s, asbestos-free insulation and drywall coatings were brought to market as a safer alternative.

Why is it so difficult to remove or modify old asbestos-based fixtures once they’ve been installed?

Unfortunately, for all those old buildings with asbestos in the walls and ceilings, the asbestos itself was just about impossible to remove without at least some of the toxic particulate being accidentally ingested by someone. It was often the case that it was too dangerous to perform maintenance on such buildings, and so the functionality of many of these buildings was impaired. It took several decades of air quality filtration innovations, the adoption of special disposal techniques, and the harmonization of best practices and regulatory standards before asbestos could be removed and disposed of safely on a large scale.

Similar issues emerge when dealing with popcorn ceilings in private homes. When one tries to texturize a ceiling that contains asbestos, little bits of that airborne particulate go into the lungs of whoever is working under it, setting the stage for serious illness and potential lawsuits.

How can calling the professionals can help?

The gold standard for safely removing asbestos is in the use of p5 procedures. These procedures use a systematic combination of HEPA air filtration devices, external air quality monitoring techniques, and standardized disposal protocols to ensure that all that harmful airborne particulate gets removed from the air as the asbestos is being removed. The companies that offer this service in domestic homes are simply scaling down and modifying the methods that have been used in commercial buildings to make them work in the home.

As you begin your search for the right team to remove your household asbestos, keep in mind the importance of the p5 procedure. Anybody out there who claims to be an asbestos removal expert who does not provide p5 procedure-based services cannot make any guarantees that they are adhering to county-specific air quality rules and regulations, as well as federal environmental protection standards.

If you live in an older home and think there might be asbestos in your popcorn ceiling, a good place to start would be an asbestos testing kit. If your ceiling does contain asbestos, your days of having to continually stare up at that ugly ceiling do not have to persist. All you must do is pick up the phone, and let the experts take over. After that, the possibilities for your ceiling are bound by nothing. You can texturize, you can paint, you can add tiles, wooden panels, or even baseboards. Or, if you are feeling a little overwhelmed by all the options, you could just go with a nice classic, asbestos-free popcorn finish. It’s easy to put on yourself and the fact that it insulates noise is practical. It seemed to work well enough for our parents.

Alliance Environmental has completed over 200 000 jobs over 26 years from residential duct removals to commercial asbestos abatement. Schedule a call with one of our skilled and trained estimators or request a quote.

Related

Other Environmental Posts

View Category
December 27, 2021
-
Alliance Environmental
The HOA & Manager’s Guide to Mold in Apartment Complexes
Winter is here and that means one thing when it comes to mold: it’s time for it to grow and spread. Since mold prefers areas with high humidity and moisture, winter can pose an issue for apartment and condo complexes in particular as it is harder for these spaces to regulate the condensation that happens…
December 20, 2021
-
Alliance Environmental
Dangers of Lead in Children’s Toys and the Home
Protecting families from health risks is something everybody wants to do, and within many homes, there are still risks of lead poisoning for children and adults alike. Lead has been banned in many household products and children’s toys, but it is still a problem that can affect families. The holiday season is a big time…
December 17, 2021
-
Alliance Environmental
Your Guide to Prepping Facilities for Winter
When we think of winterizing, we often simply think about preparing for the colder temperatures, ensuring that pipes don’t burst and the like. But proper winterization is about more than inspecting pipes. It’s about improving the heating efficiency in your facilities, increasing safety and workflows, and ensuring that the occupants are comfortable and content throughout…
December 13, 2021
-
Alliance Environmental
Understanding Asbestos Risks During Winter Renovations
The holiday and winter seasons are a great time to get together with family and friends, however, it is also a great time to get some home renovations done while off from work. These renovations are often small, but they can still come with risks if working on an older home that could contain asbestos.…
October 26, 2021
-
Alliance Environmental
Airtek Indoor Air Solutions, Mintie Service, and Coast IAQ & Life Safety Services effective January 1 2022, will become Alliance Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) & Life Safety Services
AZUSA, Calif., Oct. 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Alliance Environmental's Co-founders Jeff and Joe McLean are proud to introduce Alliance IAQ & Life Safety Services.
October 21, 2021
-
Alliance Environmental
Student Health Changes – The Link Could be Mold
Mold, hiding inside the walls and ceilings of public buildings, especially schools, is more common than previously thought. This is because it is often difficult to detect, and health and safety regulators have been slow to react.
October 20, 2021
-
Alliance Environmental
MINTIE Provides Proven Worldwide COVID Surge Capacity Solution as International Infection Prevention Week Highlights Tireless Efforts and Bravery of Worldwide Infection Control Community
AZUSA, Calif., Oct. 18, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- With the worldwide healthcare industry commemorating International Infection Prevention Week, October 17-23, MINTIE LLC, a third-generation healthcare product innovator and an Alliance Environmental Group company, continues its efforts at infection prevention in the fight against COVID-19 and the Delta Variant.
October 15, 2021
-
Alliance Environmental
Alliance Environmental Group, LLC. Acquires Thermatech Northwest Inc.
AZUSA, Calif., Oct. 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Alliance Environmental Group, LLC is pleased to announce the acquisition of Thermatech Northwest Inc. and the continuation of the expansion of the Group on the West Coast.
October 14, 2021
-
Alliance Environmental
Household Repairs, Air Quality, and Disclosure – What They Don’t Tell You About Asbestos in Older Homes
Up until the mid-1980s, many common building materials and components in use contained asbestos. It is relatively easy to disturb, even when performing trivial repairs. You could be putting yourself and your loved ones at risk and not even know it.
October 11, 2021
-
Alliance Environmental
Best Professional Cleanup Practices When Illegal Drug Contamination is Present
Trauma cleanup specialists can also handle the cleanup after bio-hazardous materials and illegal drug labs. Here are some of the best practices and why you should contact professionals to help in these situations.
View Category