If you've lived with a popcorn ceiling, you know that it accumulates dirt, defies cleaning and is hard to paint. Worse, if your home was built prior to the mid-1980s, it may contain asbestos. (It was banned in ceiling products in 1977, but existing supplies may have been used later.)
First, have the ceiling sampled and tested for asbestos by a licensed inspector. For more information, check out the EPA's "Asbestos in Your Home." If the test result is positive, hire a certified asbestos abatement contractor (not the same company that tested the ceiling) to seal it with spray paint if it's in good shape (not peeling or crumbling) and unlikely to be disturbed, or to remove the ceiling treatment and properly dispose of it -- an expensive proposition.
Removal is a messy and laborious process, with or without asbestos. The material must be wetted down and scraped and the underlying wallboard wiped clean. Once the popcorn is gone, the ceiling must usually be repaired with joint compound and repainted. Even if there’s no asbestos, you probably should hire a drywall or painting contractor for the job. (For a glimpse of the process, visit www.ronhazleton.com).
Cost to fix: About $100 to $150 per sample to test for asbestos (multiple samples may be required), and if it’s present, about $2 to $6 per square foot to seal it or $54 to $64 per square foot for removal, according to www.fixr.com. If you can get by with a painter, expect to pay about $2.50 per square foot for removal, repair and repainting, according to www.diyornot.com.
Photo by Mary Lou Skowronski, Flickr.com