How do you guys go about Popcorn/Asbestos Ceilings?

52 Replies

Do you guys pay to get popcorn ceilings with asbestos removed? or do you guys do it yourself?

Is there any advantage or benefit to having it done professionally and providing paperwork to an appraiser during a re-appraisal? 

Originally posted by @Trevor Murphy :

Do you guys pay to get popcorn ceilings with asbestos removed? or do you guys do it yourself?

Is there any advantage or benefit to having it done professionally and providing paperwork to an appraiser during a re-appraisal? 

 I would never touch an asbestos ceiling or consider doing it myself. I would hire a professional remediation company to remove it properly and safely. I have known multiple people that died from lung cancer due to asbestos. 

Also be aware not all popcorn ceiling has asbestos, so have it tested. 

Sorry to hear about people passing from being exposed to asbestos.  Thanks for the advice and the input.  Iv had two popcorn ceilings removed both after being tested and sent to labs.  They were about $4/sq ft (Seattle area) for the removal with air quality tests afterwards.  

Originally posted by @Trevor Murphy :

Do you guys pay to get popcorn ceilings with asbestos removed? or do you guys do it yourself?

Is there any advantage or benefit to having it done professionally and providing paperwork to an appraiser during a re-appraisal? 

 The best answer is to not know one way or the other that a popcorn ceiling has asbestos in it. Ignorance is truly bliss in this case. If you've gone the step to test it and confirm it's there, or a previous owner has confirmed it to be present, then you should consider having it professionally removed. No way in hell I would take down an asbestos ceiling on my own. All asbestos is hazardous but some forms are worse than others. I don't have a heart attack if I handled a piece of asbestos siding or tile flooring in good shape, but I wouldn't be caught around known asbestos insulation, drywall compound, etc. 

Originally posted by @JD Martin :
The best answer is to not know one way or the other that a popcorn ceiling has asbestos in it. Ignorance is truly bliss in this case. 

I suspect that ignorance will be going away soon. I was told that in California you are now required to test the popcorn before removing it. No more ignorance about it. I'm sure that similar laws will start spreading across the US.

If it turns out to be too expensive to remove it, you can always cover it with drywall. 

I treasure my health and wouldn't DIY. As to value to an appraiser- I would not disclose anything to the appraiser about who or how was removed. Giving that to appraiser, nope, becomes part of the permanent record of the property, and adds no value. You are required to disclose when you sell or rent.

Originally posted by @Caroline Gerardo :

I treasure my health and wouldn't DIY. As to value to an appraiser- I would not disclose anything to the appraiser about who or how was removed. Giving that to appraiser, nope, becomes part of the permanent record of the property, and adds no value. You are required to disclose when you sell or rent.

 Thanks for this information,  I was thinking it might add value to show them you had it professionally removed.  Thank you.

Originally posted by @Trevor Murphy :

Do you guys pay to get popcorn ceilings with asbestos removed? or do you guys do it yourself?

Is there any advantage or benefit to having it done professionally and providing paperwork to an appraiser during a re-appraisal? 

Removing is just a bunch of messy, expensive, risky work that has a negative return.

I say (looking up) the popcorn, of course, comes with the place, free of charge.  Tenants and buyers chuckle and we move on. 

Why do you feel you need to remove it?  

Originally posted by @Greg M. :

I suspect that ignorance will be going away soon. I was told that in California you are now required to test the popcorn before removing it. No more ignorance about it. I'm sure that similar laws will start spreading across the US.

If it turns out to be too expensive to remove it, you can always cover it with drywall. 

Cali has been requiring this for years.....with a $30k fine for non-compliance. Better and safer to have it tested and then removed by a remediation company (scam artists) if you are worried about the Govt. Common sense says to get a crew to remove it (correctly and safely) and then re skim the ceiling. You can also add 1/4" drywall to cover it up or encapsulate it with drywall mud or paint.....

Originally posted by @Steve Vaughan :
Originally posted by @Trevor Murphy:

Do you guys pay to get popcorn ceilings with asbestos removed? or do you guys do it yourself?

Is there any advantage or benefit to having it done professionally and providing paperwork to an appraiser during a re-appraisal? 

Removing is just a bunch of messy, expensive, risky work that has a negative return.

I say (looking up) the popcorn, of course, comes with the place, free of charge.  Tenants and buyers chuckle and we move on. 

Why do you feel you need to remove it?  

 Another option is just painting it. Have a couple good coats of latex paint sprayed on it, which makes it look better and keeps it from flaking. 

I was in one of my rental properties over the weekend that was built in the early 2000's. I had a little plumbing emergency that resulted in water on the ceiling. I look up and there is popcorn texture. I thought popcorn fell out of fashion in the 1980's, leaving me asking WHY! 

Asbestos can be removed or encapsulated.  Both should be done by a pro that is licensed to do this work.  Meaning, once you know it exists all the rules have to change and you have to do it right. 

@Trevor Murphy

I've removed popcorn ceilings from and entire SFR home in LA. No idea if it had asbestos-ignorance is your friend. Spray the ceiling with water, makes it much cleaner. Wear a mask nonetheless. The real problem isn't the removal, it's the damage done to the ceiling afterwards.

If I had to do it over, I’d drywall over the popcorn. Patch and paint. Cleaner, looks much better, and roughly the same cost and time.

Test it and if it's asbestos, have it professionally removed.

You have to disclose if it's asbestos, so your buyer when you or your heirs go to sell will demand a discount. "Encapsulated" will not be good enough. All my properties have modern systems (copper, not pex nor galvanized steel, plumbing, removed asbestos wherever located, no formaldahyde insulation, etc.) so when I drop dead my heirs will have no problem selling for top dollar.

Does it cut down on cash flow immediately? Yes. Allows me to gear rentals to people who value that sort of thing, pay more for renting it, and who are usually easier on a property to boot, so it comes out even in the long run.

Then there's disclosures to renters and forced removal anyway as cities put the screws to landlords (money trees) for tenants, and encapsulation will not be good enough. Did you know Chicago wants to mandate landlord-provided air conditioning? Might as well get ahead of the curve now and just have the asbestos professionally removed. Mark the problem "solved," not "fixed."

What I have found while doing a SFH currently is that if the house was built after 1977, it is likely the ceiling doesn't contain asbestos. It was banned in the use of ceilings in '77, though product manufactured before the ban may have been used after the ban in certain circumstances.

If it's a rental, I'd never touch it.  Just paint over it. It's safe UNTIL you start mucking with it.

Also, most popcorn ceilings aren't asbestos.  

I can't think of a reason why I'd ever redo any popcorn ceiling in a rental, unless I bought one that was basically a gut job at pennies on the dollar.

Even on a flip, unless not having a popcorn ceiling raises the price a bunch, I'd leave it alone.

Originally posted by @John Clark :
Test it and if it's asbestos, have it professionally removed.

You have to disclose if it's asbestos, so your buyer when you or your heirs go to sell will demand a discount. "Encapsulated" will not be good enough. All my properties have modern systems (copper, not pex nor galvanized steel, plumbing, removed asbestos wherever located, no formaldahyde insulation, etc.) so when I drop dead my heirs will have no problem selling for top dollar.

Does it cut down on cash flow immediately? Yes. Allows me to gear rentals to people who value that sort of thing, pay more for renting it, and who are usually easier on a property to boot, so it comes out even in the long run.

Then there's disclosures to renters and forced removal anyway as cities put the screws to landlords (money trees) for tenants, and encapsulation will not be good enough. Did you know Chicago wants to mandate landlord-provided air conditioning? Might as well get ahead of the curve now and just have the asbestos professionally removed. Mark the problem "solved," not "fixed."

 PEX is a top modern system when done end-run into a manifold with zero connections behind drywall.  It will outlast copper in acid water systems by decades, and it has more freeze resistance than anything, plus if worse comes to worst, the copper thieves have no reason to destroy the house while the tenants are on a 2 week vacay.

As far as removal, it's actually EASY to remove asbestos safely from a technical standpoint.  You just have to keep it wet and produce no dust.  From a PITB, standpoint, though, it is not so easy.  It's mucky and gross, and Tyvek is hot, as I learned doing my own foam insulation.

Originally posted by @Genny Li :
Originally posted by @John Clark:
Test it and if it's asbestos, have it professionally removed.

You have to disclose if it's asbestos, so your buyer when you or your heirs go to sell will demand a discount. "Encapsulated" will not be good enough. All my properties have modern systems (copper, not pex nor galvanized steel, plumbing, removed asbestos wherever located, no formaldahyde insulation, etc.) so when I drop dead my heirs will have no problem selling for top dollar.

Does it cut down on cash flow immediately? Yes. Allows me to gear rentals to people who value that sort of thing, pay more for renting it, and who are usually easier on a property to boot, so it comes out even in the long run.

Then there's disclosures to renters and forced removal anyway as cities put the screws to landlords (money trees) for tenants, and encapsulation will not be good enough. Did you know Chicago wants to mandate landlord-provided air conditioning? Might as well get ahead of the curve now and just have the asbestos professionally removed. Mark the problem "solved," not "fixed."

 PEX is a top modern system when done end-run into a manifold with zero connections behind drywall.  It will outlast copper in acid water systems by decades, and it has more freeze resistance than anything, plus if worse comes to worst, the copper thieves have no reason to destroy the house while the tenants are on a 2 week vacay.

 I agree, PEX is modern and is considered a low cost reliable water supply pipe. I am assuming that John meant to say polybutylene pipe, which is no longer being made. This pipe was used in the late 70's through early 90's before lawsuits shut it down. Some insurance companies will not cover houses with this type of pipe. It was used mostly in the south. Another form of plastic pipe is CPVC. I had this in a property. It is easy to work with, but prone to cracking if the building shifts. Really today, plumbers mostly use PEX or Copper for water supply. 

Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock :
Originally posted by @Genny Li:
Originally posted by @John Clark:
Test it and if it's asbestos, have it professionally removed.

You have to disclose if it's asbestos, so your buyer when you or your heirs go to sell will demand a discount. "Encapsulated" will not be good enough. All my properties have modern systems (copper, not pex nor galvanized steel, plumbing, removed asbestos wherever located, no formaldahyde insulation, etc.) so when I drop dead my heirs will have no problem selling for top dollar.

Does it cut down on cash flow immediately? Yes. Allows me to gear rentals to people who value that sort of thing, pay more for renting it, and who are usually easier on a property to boot, so it comes out even in the long run.

Then there's disclosures to renters and forced removal anyway as cities put the screws to landlords (money trees) for tenants, and encapsulation will not be good enough. Did you know Chicago wants to mandate landlord-provided air conditioning? Might as well get ahead of the curve now and just have the asbestos professionally removed. Mark the problem "solved," not "fixed."

 PEX is a top modern system when done end-run into a manifold with zero connections behind drywall.  It will outlast copper in acid water systems by decades, and it has more freeze resistance than anything, plus if worse comes to worst, the copper thieves have no reason to destroy the house while the tenants are on a 2 week vacay.

 I agree, PEX is modern and is considered a low cost reliable water supply pipe. I am assuming that John meant to say polybutylene pipe, which is no longer being made. This pipe was used in the late 70's through early 90's before lawsuits shut it down. Some insurance companies will not cover houses with this type of pipe. It was used mostly in the south. Another form of plastic pipe is CPVC. I had this in a property. It is easy to work with, but prone to cracking if the building shifts. Really today, plumbers mostly use PEX or Copper for water supply. 

 Some people really hate PEX because there were some fittings with really high failure rates in the early 2000s.  Las Vegas had a bunch of houses with them.  So he might mean either?

No, Jenni and Joe, I meant PEX.

First, PEX, as several web sites have pointed out: More susceptible to contamination. Water contamination caused by PEX tubing can come from both the material of the tube itself and any chemical materials in the surrounding area.

Note the "material of the tube itself" -- that's a hard pass for me right there. There's also the bit about rodents chewing through PEX after being attracted to it by the sound of rushing water.

Second, Genni, I question your statement about PEX lasting longer. Everything I've seen is that copper lasts longer than PEX except in very acidic water. Acidic water in modern "city water" systems is unusual, and you have the problem of leaching PEX chemicals into the water with acid water systems.

Third, from what I've read, PEX lasts (estimated, it's too new vis-a-vis use in water systems) maybe 50 years. Copper has an expected life of at least 75 years. CAN copper fail early? Sure, but for most everybody, copper is good for over 75 years. PEX can fail early, too.

All in all, PEX is too new and has too many real and potential problems. No pun intended, but copper is the gold standard for water systems. When PEX has been studied more -- especially PEX that has aged in place for more than 50 years, then I'll consider it. Until then, I'm not going to poison tenants or buyers in order to save money on installation.