During the 1970s, home building picked up on the idea of a cheap but effective way to reduce sound travel from one floor to the next: popcorn ceilings. Essentially, after the drywall was installed, a finisher would come in with a plaster mix and spray on the ceiling drywall for a bit of a lumpy effect. The disparate clumps and bumps not only created a texture to an otherwise flat-looking ceiling, they also helped break up sound waves. After being spray-painted in white, the ceiling texture essentially blended with the rest of the room to produce a finished look. Popcorn ceilings were such a common approach, entire home subdivisions had cookie-cutter ceiling work done by teams on new homes.
A Bad Memory From the Past
Today, popcorn ceilings are like sheet vinyl on flooring, relics of the 1970s decade and almost a trigger for a negative gut reaction from anyone who lived in that time period, particularly as a kid. Worse, prior to 1978, some of the material used to create the popcorn ceiling also included asbestos under the idea that it would improve safety and increase fire resistance ( disregarding the fact that asbestos is extremely hazardous to breathe once airborne).
Leverage for a Buyer, Vulnerability for a Seller
No surprise, anyone in modern times coming into a used home as a new buyer and owner will likely want to have the popcorn ceiling texture completely removed and redone. In some cases, during a buyer’s market, some prospects will actually want the seller to pay for the work to sell the home quickly.
Sellers should expect, at a minimum, that the issue will be used to argue for a lower price, at least in a normal market or where there is a competition to secure a buyer. Only during a seller’s market will the presence of the popcorn ceiling pretty much be a non-issue for a quick sale.
While it might seem tempting to just have the owner scrape the ceilings and repaint them, it’s best to have a professional take care of the removal in a clean process. Especially if the home is older than 1978, the work could be hazardous and require specific steps for proper mitigation.