How to Remove Popcorn Ceiling With Asbestos Safely


    To remove popcorn ceiling with asbestos in safely manner you need to:

    • Seal the Area of Work
    • Depressurize Rooms
    • Wear Personal Protective Equipment
    • Break Material in Large Pieces
    • Dispose to Dedicated Facilities
    • Clean Up At the End

    On top of above listed points, most of the states require specialized training and certificates for asbestos remediation. Simply following the safety protocol does not cut it and you would get large fines for working with designated or banned substances without license.

    Assuming lab test were completed and asbestos is present in ceiling that needs to be removed. We are not coming back to this question again in our topic.

    Finding asbestos remediation professionals in specific regions is not always as simple as it may seem. Ask our team for help and suggestions for companies that can take on your project and complete it with all necessary safety precautions.

    Seal the Area Out Completely

    Before works starts it is extremely important to seal it all out. The idea is to prevent dust particles or larger pieces get in other areas and contaminate air there.

    Plastic or similar material works best in room separation. It does not allow dust to travel through and can be removed easily to move work area elsewhere. It is taped around to the walls with zipper as an entry point.

    This is the first step on how to remove popcorn ceiling with asbestos safely and you can purchase plastic with zipper already attached to it.

    For even better dust control we suggest creating buffer zone as a second line of defense from asbestos flying in the air. In most states it is mandatory while dealing with asbestos. It’s almost like an entrance room before going into separated work area.

    To do a buffer entry zone, separate an area with similar plastic and zipper before asbestos remediation area. This room does not need to be larger than 4×5 feet.

    Depressurize Room – Create Negative Pressure

    After years of studying how particles fly in the air, we can in a way control some of it. By creating negative pressure in the room or depressurizing it we make sure that everything stays inside the room and does not leak out.

    Hospitals use the same strategy to control environment inside the rooms and prevent bacteria or viruses inside the rooms. It is the best known method to stop contamination and spread of airborne particles.

    To start the room has to be completely sealed. Never miss a spot and know what should be covered. We are talking about little spots that can leak tiny bits of air. Instructions on how to remove popcorn ceiling with asbestos include sealing window cracks, electrical outlet holes, air vents and even tiny spots around lights. Cover all of them with tape completely.

    The blower or negative pressure machine is attached to the room with exhaust to the outside. You plug it in and leave it working for exact time on instructions for this specific machine.

    Break in Large Pieces

    Removing popcorn ceiling layer
    The correct way to remove the popcorn ceiling.

    Another technique to minimize asbestos in the air is to break material in large pieces. We understand that each demolition is different and it never goes exactly as planned, but our recommendation is to take more time into planning than just swinging with hammer.

    Asbestos inside material is not dangerous at all, it only hurts people when gets inside the lungs through airways. Technically speaking if you can break plaster that contains asbestos without creating any dust at all, it would be safe.

    For this to happen contractors should use the least possible mechanical tools. Breaking by hands and using just enough force to remove materials is obviously the best way to go.

    Cutting with saw or a grinder on other hand is the worst possible thing that you can do with asbestos contaminated material. It will create so much dust and send asbestos in the air.

    Package Safely and Tag Bags

    Once material was removed from its original places in sealed room that has negative pressure it’s time to package it and carry out.

    Just like in previous steps, we want to make sure that material is controlled inside. Specialized bags are used for such purpose. They are harder to puncture through and more airtight. To be on a safe side you can use double bag method.

    To avoid mix ups along the way, the bags with asbestos material have to be tagged. Tag should involve the name of material or designated substance, date/ time of removal and remediation company that performed work.

    These tags can be purchased online and attached to bags with asbestos material. They do not cost lot of money and serve great purpose in work with asbestos.

    Disposal Yards that Take Asbestos

    Material that was demolished cannot be handled same way as other rough construction debris. Designator and banned substances are always separated from everything else as they can be harmful to people if mishandled.

    After labeling bags with asbestos they are delivered to specific disposal yards. They are equipped with proper machines and safety equipment for such dangerous materials.

    It costs money to dispose asbestos contaminated waste and don’t be surprised with overall remediation estimate from contractors.

    Not every city has dedicated asbestos disposal sites and traveling can be expensive. It’s not always clear how to remove popcorn ceiling with asbestos and where to dump it by yourself. You can contact companies that specialize in disposal of dangerous substances for pick up from your home.

    Clean Up Every Corner

    Multiple level of ceiling edges with bumpy popcorn
    The importance of removing popcorn covering the ceiling from every corner.

    After work is completed, contractor needs to do detailed cleaning of the rooms where asbestos material was removed. Every little piece has to be removed and carried out of the jobsite to avoid asbestos leftovers contaminating air.

    Because the room was completely sealed prior to start of work, it should not be difficult to clean it up. Construction vacuum is mandatory to use for dust collection from corners and walls. Additional mop swaps can be necessary for insuring extra clean surfaces.

    If you are hiring contractors for safe asbestos removal, make sure to agree on proper cleaning before they leave. It may cost a little extra, but it would guarantee removal of asbestos particles after demolition.

    Safety is Always Priority when Dealing with Asbestos (PPE)

    First defense from asbestos is proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Always assume there is lots of asbestos in the area where work is performed.

    Full body suits are mandatory for such work. They do not leak any air or dust through material. To work in those suits you would require respiratory devices that provide supply of air for a long time.

    Cover suits can be only for one time use and disposable with rest of contaminated materials. Some professional equipment can be cleaned and reused again for next jobs.

    Do not purchase personal protective equipment from unknown stores or sources. Manufacturer tag needs to be visible with approved credential from local authorities.

    License and training on How to Remove Popcorn Ceiling with Asbestos

    Working with asbestos is no fun at all. Dust particles that get inside lungs and slowly destroy it. There is just too many details to know while handling asbestos and staying safe at the same time.

    Therefore for specific work with asbestos, safety associations developed education and licensing programs. Companies and contractors that work with asbestos materials need to obtain licenses and update it every several years.

    Before hiring contractor for removal of popcorn ceiling with asbestos, make sure they have all required documents. Also go with them through list of stages for remediation and how they assure safety.

    Do not attempt to do it on your own and get professionals that know how to remove popcorn ceiling with asbestos safely. This article is strictly for educational purposes and does not provide guide to do the work.

    Steven H.
    Steven H.
    General Contractor and Home Builder with over 20 years of experience. Write and Edit educational posts for several Remodeling Blogs. Specialize in trade management and technical construction details.

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