Popcorn ceilings, also called acoustic or vermiculite ceilings, are light, easy-to-install and maintain, and have excellent noise reduction properties. However, in the late 20th century, a national inquiry discovered that the asbestos that was used as an ingredient in the manufacture of popcorn ceilings was toxic to human beings. As such, you might want to consider alternatives to popcorn ceilings to keep your home safe.
The best alternatives for popcorn ceilings include beadboard ceilings, smooth ceilings, artistic faux finish painting, and modern textured ceilings made of paper fibers. You can still retain the textured look with these substitutes while still benefiting from their safety and lack of toxins.
Is removing popcorn ceiling worth it?
In the early 1970’s most people considered the product to be a cost-effective means of home improvement. Since the public became aware of the cons of asbestos, some have considered removing it from their walls. Popcorn ceilings can have dangerous health effects partly because of the prevalent use of asbestos during their manufacture.
A significant concern when removing popcorn ceiling relates to asbestos particles lingering and entering the lungs through the nose and mouth. Once inhaled, the particles can remain in your lungs for a long time and cause several health conditions such as lung cancer, inflammation of the lungs, etc.
If you suspect that your ceiling contains asbestos, you can scrape off a small sample and send it to a laboratory for testing.
It is important to consider safe removal methods if you are sure you want to get rid of your popcorn ceiling. At best, have a professional handle the task. However, if you are adamant and still want to work on the job yourself, make sure you take all the safety precautions necessary for the endeavor.
You might need to wear protective goggles, a nose mask, an overall suit, gloves, and boots. Scraping off the popcorn ceiling of the wall may be a simplified option, but it might cause additional damage to your ceiling wall.
Ideally, you can decide to add coverings on your popcorn ceiling as you consider more permanent alternatives. The question of whether removing a popcorn ceiling is ideal remains mostly with you. If you find it necessary, go ahead. Just make sure to adhere to the safety precautions put in place.
Best Popcorn Ceiling Alternatives
Popcorn ceilings have several alternatives which are much safer and more attractive in the long term. Unlike modern designs, using a popcorn ceiling would require constant painting as it is prone to discolor and oxidize over time.
Alternatively, you can opt for other viable options on the market, such as paintings and prefabricated decorations, which offer a higher degree of safety and reliability over traditional popcorn ceilings.
Although removing a popcorn ceiling might not always increase the property value of your home, it can have positive effects on a buyer’s mentality.
Here are some of the best popcorn ceiling alternatives.
1. Bead board Ceiling
Bead board ceilings have been around since the mid-1800s and are common in most cape cod-style houses. The design primarily uses wooden panels to create a simple, antique, and stylish design without overwhelming the rest of the interior.
Bead board ceilings are ideal alternatives because of tier ability to provide an adequate level of insulation, hide imperfections, ease of application, and flexibility of use. You can also use bead board panels as wainscoting material and improve the overall aesthetic effect on your house.
You can also use MDV, types of vinyl, and other materials as primary materials for your bead board. Recent environmental concerns discourage the cutting down of trees for decorative purposes. Regardless of the material, bead boards provide a beautiful texture without the health implications commonly associated with popcorn ceilings.
Besides, the product is relatively cost-effective with an average price of $5-6 per square foot, but the price might vary depending on your choice of material and consequent labor costs.
2. Modern Ceiling Textures
Modern textured ceiling designs use paper fibers that have minimal health concerns and complement the popcorn ceiling design. You can also use different paint techniques and colors to complement your taste and overall house design. Textured ceilings are light, easy to apply, and offer lots of possibilities when deciding on an ideal ceiling design for your living space.
If you want to get rid of your old popcorn ceiling, but think that its overall design works for you, try going for a modern textured ceiling design. It’s necessary to verify whether your product has asbestos by sending a sample for testing.
Textured ceilings remain a viable option for anybody looking to spruce up their home. Although most seem to have fallen out of favor with modern consumers, the practice can be a viable alternative to a popcorn ceiling.
Removing a popcorn ceiling can leave behind blemishes and other imperfections on your interior. You can use a textured style to cover up such flaws with ease.
There is a “busy” design full of intricate patterns, curves, and inclines which helps make it hard for an observer to notice minute errors within the ceiling cavity. Besides, textured ceilings require minimal maintenance (but are susceptible to dust and might require occasional cleaning).
3. Smooth Ceilings
Smooth ceilings have spiked in popularity over the last few years. The ceiling design provides a simple, elegant finish to your home with minimal health and maintenance concerns.
Most smooth ceiling designs use drywall to create a seamless finish complemented by seams on the outer edge of the ceiling. Smooth ceilings are perfect for heat insulation and can remain free from dust over a considerable time.
Smooth ceilings have a visually appealing aspect that seems to raise a ceiling making it appear higher than its actual size. A person looking up at the roof from the floor considers the overall layout. In the case of a textured ceiling, the visual illusion might appear lower because you might pay more attention to the different textures.
If you are looking for a simple and elegant design, it’s best to consider a smooth ceiling design. In addition, you can choose between different color schemes to spice up your living room.
4. Artistic Faux Finish Paintings
A faux finish is an ideal alternative for your popcorn ceiling. The finish adds an aesthetic effect to your home by incorporating your favorite artistic impressions within your living space.
Before you use a faux finish, you might need to remove the popcorn ceiling before smoothening out the surface and adding a quality primer. It’s always a good idea to hire an experienced contractor who can help you deal with the technical aspects of the job. Some of these might include painting and other designs.
Although a faux finish is more expensive (about $80/hr.) than other finishes, its overall effect is more appealing and might increase the overall value of your home.
Are textured ceilings outdated?
Some people might consider textured ceilings as outdated, but that is not always the case. While it is true that many homeowners don’t want to adopt the textured ceiling design on their homes anymore, the style is still in use within a variety of homes.
Most people associate a textured ceiling primarily as a popcorn ceiling design. However, it is not the case. Textured ceiling options include the knockdown design, mud and paper design, skip trowel texture design, spray sand, sheetrock, lace ceiling, etc.
Various texture ceiling designs have unique patterns and installation techniques. It’s advisable to consider different versions before you dismiss the textured design model as outdated or unattractive.
References and further reading
- Puget Sound Clean Air Agency: How to Properly Remove Spray-on “Popcorn” Ceilings
- James G. Dahlgren and Patrick J. Talbott, NCBI: Lung cancer from asbestos textured ceilings: a case study