A Foe By Many Names
Acoustic ceilings, also known as “popcorn”, stipple, or stucco ceilings, were a common feature in homes built in the 1960’s, 70’s and into the 80’s. They were popular because they cut down the noise in a home, but perhaps more importantly hid imperfections of ceiling craftsmanship well.
Asbestos, once touted as a miraculous mineral for it’s fire resistance, was applied to many building materials. It is durable, abundant, and as such, found its way into the homes of America. One small problem… cancer.
The problem with asbestos is the fibers, which when disturbed become airborne and lodged in lung tissue.
In several instances the material is in encased in paint which minimizes the danger, but keep in mind that lead was also banned at about the same time in history. In the case of asbestos used in the popcorn ceiling application, that ban was initiated in 1977, but there was a caveat allowing for the use of existing stock, if the house was built in the 80’s with popcorn ceiling it is safe to assume that it asbestos might be a concern there too.
Why we highlight it in our reports.
Our inspections will highlight a popcorn ceiling so that the prospective home buyer understands their options. First and foremost, I let them know that the danger with asbestos laden stucco, or stipple ceiling is disturbing the fibers. You can live with it if you take precautions not to disturb it. Kids should know to not toss balls at the ceiling, for example, and for similar reasons bunk beds are not the best sleeping arrangement.
You can learn more about asbestos from the EPA here.
Removal takes special care.
Although you can remove the asbestos ceiling yourself, there are several precautions which should be considered when removing acoustic ceiling texture. In our reports, we mention the presence of popcorn ceilings an area of concern but do not elevate it to the level of a material defect unless there is evidence of damage, water intrusion, warping, sagging or other clear deficiencies.
How materials function, what they are made of, the history of materials and the issues inherent with homes built in specific eras is part of building science understanding that can only come from experience and exposure. At Building Code Pro, we have years of experience inspecting homes and commercial structures from a wide array of construction types, ages, materials, and even craftsmanship levels. We find defects or know where to point out potential issues. We communicate clearly and explain things in a way that helps you understand what you’re buying AND what you can do to improve the home or business.
All structures require maintenance, so pointing out issues allows our clients to buy, sell, lease, or rent with confidence and eyes wide open. We are new buyer friendly and provide resources for purchasers to better understand things to stay on top of to enjoy prolonged use of their most valuable asset.