Cottage Cheese

Is there an SOP for removing the accoustic crap from one’s ceiling. I’m determined to eradicate this 1970s relic from my house, yet I’ve heard at least 4 different ways to tackle the job. Some have even suggested that I need to hire a haz-mat team to do it because of potential asbestos contamination.

My inclination is too just go at it with a wooden spatula and some plastic tarps this weekend, but I figure I might as well seek the advice of the SDMB.

I’d like to strangle the guy that invented that stuff!

We have a house full of it (we also have green shag carpet and bright orange countertops. I think Florence Henderson was the decorator! But I digress…) We’ve tried a few things to get rid of it but the simplest seems to be to just scrape it off. Get it wet first (use a spray bottle) and put down plastic to catch it. We used wide (3-4"), stiff putty knives to get it off. You may need to re-plaster over the joint tape since it tends to bring the plaster with it when it comes off.

Good luck. If you’re nervous about it you can practice at my house. I won’t tell Florence!

“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”
– William of Ockham

I’m not sure about ceiling (acoustic) tile, but the feds mandated “no asbestos” in floor tile around 1980. You might want to have a haz-mat contractor test an area for you.

Me? I wouldn’t bother. I’d have at it. Not much more to it than a scraper and tarps. You might want to soak the area with a water bottle first to keep the dust down. And wear a mask. Asbestos or not, you don’t want to be inhaling the dust.

Too bad you live so far away or I’d come over and help. Ahem

It may well have asbestos in it. The stuff wound up in just about everything while it was in common use.
Seriously though, A few years back I was a licenced asbestos abatement contractor. My company line: if it’s older than 1980 have it tested. My practical line, the stuff isn’t as dangerous as some would have you believe. First it’s only dangerous if you inhale it. Second it’s very easy to manage.

Whether if not it has asbestos, celing texture can be nasty stuff (if it is the sparkly variety it could contain metalic glitter of chopped fiberglass) and the method of removal is the same. (With the exeption, asbestos should be disposed of as hazardous material.)
To tackle the job yourself you will need:
Several plastic garbage bags
A roll or masking tape
Some plastic film (disposable drop cloths work fine)
A garden sprayer
A broadknife
A ladder

First remove everything from the room you dont want ruined, this will be messy. Or try your luck covering it with the dropcloths. Next seal off the room with the tape and plastic film, cover the floor as well taping the seams and around the baseboards.
Mist the ceiling lightly with the garden sprayer. Do not soak it, this could wet the plaster underneath and cause it to soften or cause staining that will leach through paint.
Put on long sleeves, goggles, respirator, gloves and boots. Tape your pant cuffs to your boots and tape the gloves to your sleeves.
Get up on the ladder and start scraping stopping only to let the blood back into your arms. After the lions share is off you may need to sand. A pole sander works well here.
Sweep the celing then the walls. Make a pile in the center of the room and bag it. Mist the celing and walls again and wipe. Roll up the plastic and bag it. Put your clothes directly into the wash.
Move on to next room.

Alternatively, you could pay someone like me who does crap like this for a living to do it.

…Out of curiosity, EvilG…why are you no longer a licensed asbestos abatement contractor?

I did a job just like this (w/o asbestos) in May. EvilG has it exactly right.

The only things I can add are:

  1. More water makes it easier, but you have to wait longer before painting. Practice in the garage to see how much water you can use w/o damaging/staining the drywall.

  2. Joint compound will fill any accidental gouges.

  3. Allow 3X the time you think you will need.

  4. (EG did mention this, but I will repeat it.) USE A RESPIRATOR. Breathing plaster dust sucks!

Can’t emphasize how MESSY this job is. (3 months later now and finally starting to look clean.)

Mazey said,
…Out of curiosity, EvilG…why are you no longer a licensed asbestos abatement contractor?

Nothing sinester Mazey. Actually I did hazardous waste in general, asbestos was a small part of job load. Hazardous materials are a young mans realm. The suits are swealtering, the environments dangerous. Back when I was immortal it didn’t faze me to stand ankle deep in a 100 foot radius tank of leaded gasoline. Climbing around in a pitch black ships hold, breathing bottled air and scraping toxic sludge isn’t something I care to do anymore but hey, the money’s good and there are usually openings, so go for it.

No experience with this stuff, but it reminds me of motel room ceilings. Floors and ceilings are my least favorites. I repaired some ceiling drywall, small squares. Still looks a little uneven, wavy.

Do what I do whenever there’s a messy project to be done…call a contractor, and go away for the weekend while they work!

(this is a joke…this is a joke…relax and laugh- no need to flame…)

An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; A pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.

Your reply makes sense, EvilG. I was just curious because I price a lot of contracting work in my job, and asbestos abatement is quite lucrative. Getting all duded up to remove the stuff in South Texas heat is NOT my idea of a party!

As far as going away for a weekend for a job I’ve hired a contractor to do, I guess that entails changing lightbulbs. (KIDDING!) Seriously, when I’ve got a contractor working for me, it’s usually a three-four week job…minimum. :slight_smile:

“There will always be somebody who’s never read a book who’ll know twice what you know.” - D.Duchovny