What Is a Popcorn Ceiling? 4 Pros And Cons Of Popcorn Ceilings (2022)

What is a popcorn ceiling? Well, if you live in a home built in the latter half of the 20th century, the answer might be right over your head!

Popcorn Ceiling, also known as stipple or acoustic ceiling, is a ceiling treated with one of a variety of spray-on or paint-on treatments. At a glance, they look like popcorn, hence the name. These are often found in residential spaces and are valued for their noise-canceling abilities.

So is there a practical reason for using popcorn ceilings over smooth ones? Or is the decision to apply this unique texture purely an aesthetic one?

Everything you Need to Know About Popcorn Ceiling

  • What Is a Popcorn Ceiling?
  • What Is the Purpose of a Popcorn Ceiling?
  • 4 Benefits of Popcorn Ceiling Texture
  • 4 Drawbacks of Popcorn Ceiling Texture
  • Does Popcorn Ceiling Have Asbestos?
  • How to Design Around a Popcorn Ceiling

What Is a Popcorn Ceiling?

What Is a Popcorn Ceiling? 4 Pros And Cons Of Popcorn Ceilings (1)

Also known as acoustic, stipple, or (disparagingly) cottage cheese-style ceilings, popcorn ceilings feature a dense, bumpy texture.Popcorn ceilings first gained popularity in the mid-20th century.

Many builders and interior designers phased out popcorn ceilings in the 1990s.Despite largely falling out of favor, this texture is still used in some homes today!

Most popcorn ceilings are created by spraying plaster, styrofoam, and/or paper onto the unfinished surface. In some cases, a brush-on technique is used to apply the texture.

What Is the Purpose of a Popcorn Ceiling?

What Is a Popcorn Ceiling? 4 Pros And Cons Of Popcorn Ceilings (2)

Believe it or not, popcorn ceilings were once considered on-trend! But that wasn’t the only reason they became so popular.

The main reason popcorn ceilings were the norm for several decades is because they are cheap and easy to install.Unsurprisingly, using a spray applicator is much faster than finishing a ceiling by hand!

(Video) Why Are Popcorn Ceilings So Terrible?

4 Benefits of Popcorn Ceiling Texture

1. Hides Imperfections

Home ceilings don’t start out perfectly smooth. In fact, it takes a lot of work to cover taped sheetrock seams and other imperfections.

And that’s not to mention the effect roof leaks, drywall nails, and general wear and tear can have on a ceiling over time.Popcorn ceiling texture expertly hides all of these imperfections and more with minimal materials and labor.

2. Dampens Noise

As we mentioned, popcorn ceilings are also known as acoustic ceilings. This name stems from the texture’s ability to dampen unwanted noise within a home.

Popcorn ceilings improve acoustics via their increased surface areas compared to smooth ceilings.

Installing a popcorn ceiling in a room can improve the overall sound quality and prevent noise from leaking into other areas. Popcorn ceiling texture could even lessen noise from people walking overhead in a multi-story home.

3. Easy to Install

Applying a perfectly smooth layer of plaster to a ceiling is a long and arduous process. Meanwhile, popcorn ceiling texture can be applied with little more than a handheld sprayer.

Not only is installing a popcorn ceiling less labor-intensive. It also takes much less time than applying most other ceiling textures.

4. Affordable

Going hand in hand with popcorn ceiling texture’s ease of application is its affordability.Less time and labor spent means fewer installation costs.

(Video) Popcorn Ceiling Asbestos | The Truth About Popcorn Ceilings and Health

This is a huge benefit for contractors, of course, but can also mean huge savings for homeowners.

4 Drawbacks of Popcorn Ceiling Texture

1. Not Easy to Paint

A fresh coat of paint can breathe new life into even the most outdated room. But painting a popcorn ceiling is no easy task.

While you can paint a smooth ceiling just like you would an interior wall, it’s very hard to get an even application over popcorn texture.

Wet paint can also soften the textured layer, causing it to flake off with the pressure from a brush or roller.

If you’re thinking of painting your own popcorn ceilings, all hope is not lost! Just be sure to invest in a paint sprayer and use a formula designed for textured ceilings for the best results.

2. Attracts Dust

All of those bumps might help dampen unwanted noise. Unfortunately, they also provide an ideal place for dust and cobwebs to collect.

In addition to collecting more dust in the first place, popcorn ceilings are also harder to clean than their smooth counterparts!Excess pressure could break off pieces of textured plaster, leaving bare spots on the ceiling.

Use a gentle duster to avoid damage. Or use a vacuum extension to remove dust and debris without physically touching the ceiling.

(Video) Don't scrape your painted popcorn ceiling. SKIM COAT IT!!!

Do not use popcorn ceiling texture in any room where the ceilings may need to be thoroughly wiped down at some point — e.g., a kitchen, bathroom, or mudroom.

3. Difficult to Repair

Ideally, you’d never need to repair your home’s ceilings. But things happen.

Repairing a popcorn ceiling is possible. However, it’s significantly harder to achieve a quality finish versus repairing a smooth ceiling.

Because of the random nature of popcorn texture, patching the ceiling can leave glaring inconsistencies.For a consistent, high-quality finish, replacing the entire ceiling texture is often necessary.

4. Creates Shadows

Some types of light fixtures will create unattractive shadows when paired with a popcorn ceiling. Fixtures that cast light straight out along the ceiling’s surface are the most common culprits.

This issue can be solved relatively easily by installing different light fixtures. But it’s still something to consider before installing popcorn texture in your own home!

Does Popcorn Ceiling Have Asbestos?

What Is a Popcorn Ceiling? 4 Pros And Cons Of Popcorn Ceilings (3)

Aesthetics aside, many homeowners worry that popcorn ceilings contain asbestos.In the case of ceilings installed in the United States pre-1978, this alarming fact is true.

Asbestos was a standard ingredient in popcorn ceilings before being scrutinized in the 1970s.To make matters worse, suppliers were allowed to continue using asbestos-containing products until the existing stock was gone.

(Video) 3 Different Ways to Cover a Popcorn Ceiling

The good news is that any popcorn ceilings applied after the mid-1980s should be free of asbestos!

How Do You Know If a Ceiling Contains Asbestos?

What Is a Popcorn Ceiling? 4 Pros And Cons Of Popcorn Ceilings (4)

While knowing the year your popcorn ceiling was applied can offer insight about whether or not it contains asbestos, it’s not the most foolproof solution.

If you suspect your popcorn ceilings may contain asbestos, it’s recommended to hire a professional to come out and test the material.

Should Ceiling Texture Containing Asbestos Be Removed?

Despite what you may think, removing a popcorn ceiling containing asbestos isn’t the safest solution. This is because asbestos is only harmful when present in the air.

Instead, homeowners are advised to leave the ceiling undisturbed as long as it is in good condition.

When it does come time to remove the popcorn ceiling texture, be sure to hire an asbestos abatement professional to get the job done.

How to Design Around a Popcorn Ceiling

For Ideas on how to breathe life into your popcorn ceiling or further tips on how to get it removed, we have several articles that tackle the subject. Look at each to find your own inspiration on what to do with popcorn ceilings.

  • How to Repair a Popcorn Ceiling in 6 Easy Steps
  • How to Paint a Popcorn Ceiling in 5 Easy Steps
  • Simple Tips on How to Cover a Popcorn Ceiling
  • Easy Tips On How to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling Effectively
  • Easy Tips on How To Clean a Popcorn Ceiling Faster
  • The Different Types of Ceilings

Final Thoughts

There’s no indication that popcorn ceilings will return to the spotlight anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean you should omit the textured ceiling finish from your home design repertoire altogether.

(Video) If You Have Popcorn Ceilings, It's Better to Change It

Popcorn ceilings became popular for several reasons. And those reasons still offer very real benefits to homeowners today, including:

  • Affordable and quick installation
  • Noise dampening
  • Disguising surface blemishes

For some, however, the potential drawbacks (and outdated aesthetic) of the popcorn ceiling far outweigh any of its benefits!

If the thought of living with old popcorn ceilings overhead sends shivers down your spine, be sure to consult with a professional before removal. Testing for asbestos is a simple process that could save you and your family’s health!

FAQs

What are the cons of a popcorn ceiling? ›

Opting to install or purchase a home with popcorn ceilings has many disadvantages. First and foremost, the texture is pretty heavy. This means it is much harder to paint acoustic ceilings than that with a smooth surface. You should consider this factor if you're big on frequent redecorating.

What are the advantages of popcorn ceilings? ›

Many homes built in the late 1930s through the 1990s have popcorn ceilings or some type of texture applied overhead. It was used to cover up a lot of flaws in the ceiling. It was time-effective and cost-efficient. Often called an acoustic ceiling, it also served the purpose to absorb sound and reduce noise.

Does all popcorn ceiling contain asbestos? ›

Popcorn ceilings generally contain between 1 and 10 percent asbestos. While 1 percent may seem insignificant, it's important to note that any percentage of asbestos in a popcorn ceiling is cause for concern and should be addressed.

Is getting rid of popcorn ceiling worth it? ›

In short, removing a popcorn ceiling can increase your home value. However, particular circumstances can affect its impact. Removing popcorn ceilings from a smaller home may not be a good use of renovation money. As long as it's in good condition, a fresh coat of paint may be the better option due to cost.

How long do popcorn ceilings last? ›

From its inception well through the 80s, popcorn ceilings were ubiquitous, the remnants of which can still be seen in many homes across the country. While popcorn ceilings can remain intact for decades with the proper care, many of them do show the wear and tear that comes with their life cycles.

How can I cover my popcorn ceiling without removing it? ›

The cheapest ways to cover up a popcorn ceiling without removing it is by installing readily prepared ceiling planks right over it. You can also use ceiling-grade drywall panels or large pieces of fabric to conceal the texture. Panting the ceiling with eccentric shades is also a great option.

How do you clean popcorn ceilings? ›

Mix one-part bleach with four parts water in a spray bottle. Mist the discolored area and lightly dab it with a sponge, then wait a couple of hours to see if the stain comes out. If it doesn't, add more bleach to the spray bottle and try again in another area until the solution appears to be effective.

What is a popcorn ceiling made of? ›

A popcorn ceiling, also known as a stipple ceiling or acoustic ceiling, is a ceiling with one of a variety of spray-on or paint-on treatments. The bumpy surface is created by tiny particles of vermiculite or polystyrene, which gives the ceiling sound-deadening properties.

Do popcorn ceilings cause dust? ›

The bumpy texture of popcorn ceilings acts as a dust magnet. When dust accumulates in the ridges, it accentuates the shadows and can make it look gray and dingy. This collection of dust that may span the whole home can exacerbate allergies, so frequent cleaning can help relieve symptoms.

How much does it cost to have a popcorn ceiling removed? ›

Popcorn ceiling removal cost ranges from around $898 to $2,847, with the average homeowner paying $1,853 for professional removal. Popcorn ceilings were all the rage in the 1970s and 1980s—everyone wanted them.

How much does popcorn removal cost? ›

Popcorn Ceiling Removal Cost Calculator
National Average$1,878
Typical Range$899 - $2,866
Low End - High End$300 - $5,123

Are smooth ceilings worth it? ›

Smooth ceilings are nice but not important. If the builder offered it, great. If it's not offered, it's not worth the upgrade cost unless you're planning to live there for a very long time and you really prefer smooth ceilings.

What happens if you breathe in asbestos once? ›

Once lodged in the lung tissue, these fibers can cause several serious diseases, including lung cancer, asbestosis (a scarring of the lung tissue) and mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the lung cavity).

How long does asbestos stay in the air? ›

The toxic mineral dust can remain in the air for hours, placing anyone nearby in danger of inhaling or ingesting it. In an environment with few disturbances, it may take 48 to 72 hours for asbestos fibers to settle. If the dust is disturbed it can easily become airborne again because it is so light.

Can you drywall over asbestos popcorn ceiling? ›

Asbestos popcorn ceiling can be covered with new ceiling panels or vinyl paint. One way to cover popcorn ceiling is with gypsum board ceiling panels. This material is like drywall but lighter. You screw it into the framing of the ceiling.

Why is my popcorn ceiling falling off? ›

Because the texture is applied over the existing dry wall on the ceiling, it can peel off over time due to moisture, impact damage or simply old age. Repairing a peeling popcorn ceiling involves removal of the damaged portions and reapplying a new coat of texture.

How long does it take professionals to remove popcorn ceiling? ›

For experienced DIYers or professionals, estimates say it can take about 20 hours to remove 500 square feet of popcorn from the ceiling.

Can I remove popcorn ceiling myself? ›

Removing popcorn ceiling can be a labor-intensive process that is best left to a licensed professional to ensure safe removal. In some cases, there may be asbestos present in the ceiling, so it's always a good idea to consult with a pro before starting the project.

What is the cheapest way to cover a ceiling? ›

Cheapest: Install an array of 1-by-2-inch furring strips on the existing ceiling and nail tiles or planks to the strips. Furring strips cost about $1 per strip.

How much does it cost to cover popcorn ceiling with drywall? ›

Cost to Install Drywall Over Popcorn Ceiling

If you elect to install fresh drywall over a texture, you can expect to spend between $450 and $1,050 for a 300 sq. ft. project. The price to cover the surface with drywall will be priced at a rate of $1.50 to $3.50 per sq.

Can you just paint over popcorn ceiling? ›

Interior acrylic-latex paint is the best type of paint to use for popcorn ceilings. Flat or matte is the traditional sheen for ceilings since it reduces light bounce. If you need to protect your ceiling from moisture, though, use eggshell, satin, or semi-gloss paint sheens.

How do you remove black mold from popcorn ceiling? ›

Using a mild detergent, such as dish soap, and water, carefully wash the mold-ridden ceiling with a sponge or rag. This will encourage the mold to release from the ceiling which will make it easier to completely remove. Let dry fully before moving to the next step.

How do I cover a popcorn ceiling? ›

How To Cover Popcorn Ceiling Without Removing It - YouTube

Are popcorn ceilings fire resistant? ›

The textured popcorn ceilings common in mid-century homes have a lot of benefits, which is how they became so popular. They're fire-resistant, insulate well against heat transfer and sound, and last for decades with little maintenance.

How do I stop my house from being so dusty? ›

How To Reduce Dust In Home
  1. Stick to a Daily Cleaning Routine. Prevention is the best cure when it comes to dust. ...
  2. Embrace Orderly Cleaning. Are you cleaning your home in the right order? ...
  3. Dust and Wipe Down Surfaces. ...
  4. Wash Bedding Weekly. ...
  5. Vacuum Regularly. ...
  6. Tidy Clutter. ...
  7. Consider Purchasing Filters.

Why is it so dusty in my house? ›

Both low humidity and high humidity play a role in why your house is so dusty. When the air is dry, your air can be extra dusty. But when it's too high, it can feed mites and promote mold growth. If your air is dry, run a humidifier so that you can reach a comfortable level.

How do you know if popcorn ceiling has asbestos? ›

You can test a popcorn ceiling for the presence of asbestos by carefully scraping a small sample into a plastic bag and having it tested at an EPA-accredited lab. While homeowners are allowed to remove a popcorn ceiling that contains the material, a professional asbestos remediation company should do the job.

Is it safe to live in a house with popcorn ceilings? ›

Popcorn ceilings were extremely popular from the 1950s to the 1980s. Before the dangers of asbestos were widely known, most popcorn ceilings were made from this deadly material. If you have popcorn ceilings in your home, they're likely safe if left undisturbed.

Do popcorn ceilings cause dust? ›

The bumpy texture of popcorn ceilings acts as a dust magnet. When dust accumulates in the ridges, it accentuates the shadows and can make it look gray and dingy. This collection of dust that may span the whole home can exacerbate allergies, so frequent cleaning can help relieve symptoms.

Will popcorn ceilings ever come back? ›

The best thing about popcorn ceilings is that they are not permanent. Therefore, if you are looking to sell your home, but think it might sell better if you remove the popcorn ceiling, the process can be done pretty quickly, especially if you hire a professional team.

When did popcorn ceilings go out of style? ›

This ceiling trend began in the 1950s and continued until the '80s. “They could be found in many new low- to mid-cost housing developments and multi-story residential buildings,” elaborates Decorist designer Maria DeLucia.

Can popcorn ceiling cause health problems? ›

Popcorn ceiling is a friable material — meaning it is very easy to damage. Friable asbestos materials release toxic dust at the slightest disturbance. Inhaling asbestos dust is what can lead to serious diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

How do you clean popcorn ceilings? ›

Mix one-part bleach with four parts water in a spray bottle. Mist the discolored area and lightly dab it with a sponge, then wait a couple of hours to see if the stain comes out. If it doesn't, add more bleach to the spray bottle and try again in another area until the solution appears to be effective.

How much asbestos is in popcorn ceilings? ›

Some popcorn ceilings contain up to 10% asbestos contamination. Not all popcorn ceilings have asbestos, yet those built during and before the 1980s may have a high risk for contamination.

How do I stop my house from being so dusty? ›

How To Reduce Dust In Home
  1. Stick to a Daily Cleaning Routine. Prevention is the best cure when it comes to dust. ...
  2. Embrace Orderly Cleaning. Are you cleaning your home in the right order? ...
  3. Dust and Wipe Down Surfaces. ...
  4. Wash Bedding Weekly. ...
  5. Vacuum Regularly. ...
  6. Tidy Clutter. ...
  7. Consider Purchasing Filters.

Why is it so dusty in my house? ›

Both low humidity and high humidity play a role in why your house is so dusty. When the air is dry, your air can be extra dusty. But when it's too high, it can feed mites and promote mold growth. If your air is dry, run a humidifier so that you can reach a comfortable level.

How do you know if popcorn ceiling has asbestos? ›

You can test a popcorn ceiling for the presence of asbestos by carefully scraping a small sample into a plastic bag and having it tested at an EPA-accredited lab. While homeowners are allowed to remove a popcorn ceiling that contains the material, a professional asbestos remediation company should do the job.

Videos

1. 2 Ways To Repair Popcorn Ceiling (That Actually Work)
(Home RenoVision DIY)
2. How To Cover Popcorn Ceiling Without Removing It | Skim Coating Over Popcorn Ceiling
(The Nifty Nester)
3. How to test for asbestos in your popcorn ceiling
(how2q)
4. 🛑 NEVER, Scrape a Popcorn Ceiling Texture and Do THIS!
(That Kilted Guy DIY Home Improvement)
5. Popcorn Ceiling Dangers. And 5 ways to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling yourself
(That Kilted Guy DIY Home Improvement)
6. Here's Why Asbestos Popcorn Ceilings aren't That Scary.
(Meet Kevin)

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Duncan Muller

Last Updated: 09/16/2022

Views: 6255

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (79 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Duncan Muller

Birthday: 1997-01-13

Address: Apt. 505 914 Phillip Crossroad, O'Konborough, NV 62411

Phone: +8555305800947

Job: Construction Agent

Hobby: Shopping, Table tennis, Snowboarding, Rafting, Motor sports, Homebrewing, Taxidermy

Introduction: My name is Duncan Muller, I am a enchanting, good, gentle, modern, tasty, nice, elegant person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.