Popcorn ceilings were a common and widely used ceiling finish from the 1950’s to the early 1980’s. Builders loved the stuff. It sprayed on, so did not require a lot of skill to apply, it covered defects to create a nice, uniform appearance, and it was a bright white color that consumers liked. What was popular then is not at all popular today.
From an aesthetic perspective, buyers today just don’t like the look. It stamps the house as “dated”. But from a health perspective, these ceilings can be a health hazard because many of them contain asbestos.
Asbestos is a small fiber that if air born and breathed in, lodges itself into the lungs and can not be exhaled. Over time it causes inflammation, irritation, and can lead to lung cancer. So, yes, it’s nasty stuff.
In 1978 the use of asbestos in ceiling treatments was banned by the Clean Air Act. However, to minimize the economic impact, existing supplies were exempt and used until they were gone. So the product continued to be used until sometime in the 1980’s.
If you are selling a home with popcorn ceilings, consider having the ceilings tested. Buyers are going to be asking about the ceilings and having a professional lab report will answer that question right up front. It’s also entirely possible that your ceilings do not contain asbestos. Not all popcorn ceilings do. This same lab report could work to your benefit if this is the case.
I would also suggest that you may want to have the ceilings removed. This would be an instant update and enhance the desirability of your home for prospective buyers. Get professionals to address the ceiling removal. Asbestos must be handled by licensed professionals with all proper precautions taken. I actually represented a buyer on one occasion where we learned the home owners grandson had done the removal of asbestos. We left the house and never went back in considering the entire home to now be a health hazard.
Do not let the popcorn ceilings keep you from buying a house that you love. As part of the inspection process have the ceilings professionally tested and then negotiate a solution with the seller.
Remember too that asbestos, when contained and not in the air is not harmful. You have to breath it in to have it hurt you. So if the ceiling is in good condition and not touched, it is not dangerous. This would come down to your own personal feeling of what is and is not acceptable.
Many really beautiful homes have popcorn ceilings. In time I predict that nearly all of these ceilings will be removed. For both buyers and sellers, you need to be knowledgeable and go into the transaction with open eyes.
Now I am off to enjoy this gorgeous weather!