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Can I repair my asbestos popcorn ceiling?

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QuestionAn area of my popcorn ceiling about 6 inches square needs patching. Because the ceiling has tested positive for asbestos, I think patching it will be easier and less likely to release asbestos fibers than scraping it all off. Can I make this small repair myself?

Answer It's a good thing you have already tested the popcorn ceiling so you know what you are dealing with. And you're right—it's much easier and less expensive to patch the ceiling than to remove it, especially with the presence of asbestos.

The first step is to determine the level of the asbestos. I assume that the results you received from the testing laboratory include the asbestos level. If your ceiling has an asbestos level of 3 percent or higher, I recommend that you bring in a state-certified asbestos contactor to repair the damage.

Having a state-certified asbestos contactor make a small repair may seem like overkill, but you just can't be too careful when asbestos is involved. At 3 percent or less, you could consider doing the project provided that you carefully follow the steps outlined in Asbestos In Popcorn Ceilings (see below).

An asbestos level of 1 percent or less would provide you with a better comfort level to consider doing the project yourself. Of course, it also depends on the size of the damaged area that needs to be repaired. Actually, repairing the drywall is the easy part—it's working with and around the popcorn texture containing asbestos that takes some very careful planning so as not to release asbestos fibers into the home.

If you are just touching up a small damaged area in the popcorn texture, I recommend that you spray this area with white pigment shellac first. Once it is dry, you can spray the area using a small handheld pump-hopper or acoustical ceiling texture found in an aerosol can. Both products can be found at your local hardware store or home center.

This type of project is not as easy as it looks, but I am confident that if you work carefully you can achieve a professional look to your project.

Before you even begin the repair project, I encourage you to read all the Q&As under "Ceilings" carefully, check out all the links to read what others have to offer, and consult your local/regional/state air quality authorities about the applicable regulations before you begin the project.

Asbestos abatement has stringent requirements. When you finish your research, you may decide to turn it over to the pros, something I heartily recommend.

I've been in the construction field for over 25 years and wish I'd known then what I know now about asbestos. I would not have tackled a lot of projects because of the asbestos content of so many building products.

To get the whole picture, I recommend that you purchase my informative article, Asbestos In Popcorn Ceilings, Purchase this article to learn about asbestos in popcorn ceiling and how to patch them!which describes how to determine if asbestos is present and the steps a professional takes to decide if removal is the correct course of action. These same steps apply to homeowners facing the same decisions.

Included are links to government and state agencies where you can get more information on the subject, locate state-certified professional asbestos contractors for removal, and find other documents that address removing the asbestos yourself.

As an added bonus, Patching a Popcorn Ceiling has been added to Asbestos In Popcorn Ceilings to help those who need to make repairs to their ceilings. The process is about the same whether the ceiling contains asbestos or not; however, for your own peace of mind, you still need to determine if your ceiling contains asbestos, and the article describes procedures to follow to safely take a sample for testing.

Click to Purchase Don't forget—before starting this project get your informative 10-page PDF article titled Asbestos In Popcorn Ceilings and Patching a Popcorn Ceiling. To order your downloadable .pdf printable copy, click here or click the purchase button to the left!

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Question answered by Leon A. Frechette.

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