A popcorn ceiling, also known as cottage cheese ceiling or more accurately a Stucco ceiling, is a term for a spray-on or paint-on ceiling treatment used from the late 1950s into the 1980s in American residential construction. It was the standard for bedroom and residential hallway ceilings for its bright, white appearance, noise reduction qualities and ability to hide imperfections, while kitchen and living rooms ceilings would normally be finished in smoother skip-trowel or orange peel texture for their higher durability and ease of cleaning.
In early formulations it often contained white asbestos fibers. When asbestos was banned in ceiling treatments by the Clean Air Act of 1978 in the United States, popcorn ceilings fell out of favor in much of the country. However, in order to minimize economic hardship to suppliers and installers, existing inventories of asbestos-bearing texturing materials were exempt from the ban, so it is possible to find asbestos in popcorn ceilings that were applied through the 1980s. After the ban, popcorn ceiling materials were created using a paper-based or Styrofoam product to create the texture, rather than asbestos. Textured ceilings remain common in residential construction in the Upper Midwest of the United States.
Although the process is messy, popcorn texturing can be easily removed by spraying it with water to soften it, then scraping the material off with a large scraping trowel or putty knife. As the texturing may have been applied before the ban on asbestos, its removal should only be done by a licensed professional or after testing of a sample by a qualified laboratory has ruled out asbestos content.
- http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/ashome.html#example Asbestos in Your Home at EPA.com
- http://www.ronhazelton.com/archives/howto/popcorn_ceiling_removal.shtm How to Remove a Popcorn Textured Ceiling
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