In 2018, most affordable Boston condo owners are likely to consider popcorn ceilings to be an unfortunate trend in the history of modern interior design. However, they were quite popular from the mid-1970s until the early 1990s. Unlike shag carpeting and lime green Formica cabinetry, popcorn ceilings went out of style for more than just aesthetic reasons. The original treatments used to achieve this peculiar texture typically contained asbestos, a known carcinogen.

Popcorn ceilings were common in affordable Boston condominium units for a few decades not just because they were trendy. Similar textures are used in recording studios due to their acoustic properties. They can reduce noise generated in condos so it does not affect the lives of neighbors above. If you recently purchased a downtown Boston condo that features popcorn ceilings, here are a few things you can do.

Assess the Risk of Asbestos

If construction of your affordable condo building wrapped up sometime in the late 1980s, chances are the popcorn ceiling does not contain asbestos because this additive was banned at the federal level in 1978. To be on the safe side, check with the Boston Department of Environmental Health about testing options.

Keep the Popcorn Texture

If asbestos testing comes back negative or at very low levels that do not pose a health risk, you can evaluate the option of leaving the popcorn texture in place. Modern treatments for popcorn ceilings are made with non-toxic resins mixed with Styrofoam and paper byproducts. You can paint over the existing texture or update it with a fresh treatment. If your interior décor style evokes the look of the 1980s with white walls, sleek furniture, neon lamps, and plush carpeting, the popcorn ceiling may be a nice touch.

Remove the Texture

Scraping off the popcorn texture is an easy project that can be accomplished on a do-it-yourself basis as long as the ceiling has not been painted over too many times. You can use plastic or rubber scrapers along with sandpaper to remove modern, asbestos-free popcorn texture. You should wear a mask that provides HEPA protection and move all furniture out of the living space you will be working in. If your ceiling consists of removable panels, this project will be even easier, particularly if you need to apply a new coat of paint.

Replace the Ceiling

Removing popcorn texture may not always work as desired, especially if the ceiling tiles or panels are made of gypsum. If you plan on selling or renting your condo, you may want to get rid of the popcorn ceiling and the drywall-like tiles by replacing them with vinyl, laminate, or aluminum materials. Even if you do a good job freshening up the texture, popcorn ceilings may not sit well with prospective buyers and potential tenants.

The above rules also apply if you discover popcorn ceilings in your affordable Boston condo, not to worry there are many great real estate options, so you’re bound to find what you’re looking for if you have the help of a reliable local agent. Reach out to us today.

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Author Profile

John Ford
John Ford

Over the course of 20 years in the Boston downtown real estate market, John represented and sold numerous, condominiums, investment and development properties in Greater Boston and in the surrounding suburbs

In addition to representing Boston condo buyers and sellers, John is currently one of the most recognized Boston condo blog writers regarding Boston condominiums and residential real estate markets. John's insights and observations about the Boston condo market have been seen in a wide variety of the most established local & national media outlets including; Banker and Tradesman, Boston Magazine The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and NewsWeek and Fortune magazine, among others.


For over 24 years, John Ford, of Ford Realty Inc., has been actively involved in the real estate industry. He started his career in commercial real estate with a national firm Spaulding & Slye and quickly realized that he had a passion for residential properties. In 1999, John entered the residential real estate market, and in 2000 John Started his own firm Ford Realty Inc. As a broker, his clients have come to love his fun, vivacious, and friendly attitude. He prides himself on bringing honesty and integrity to the entire home buying and selling process. In addition to helping buyers and sellers, he also works with rental clients. Whether you’re looking to purchase a new Boston condo or rent an apartment, you’ll quickly learn why John has a 97% closing rate.


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John Ford and his staff can be reached at 617-595-3712 or 617-720-5454. Please feel free to stop by John's Boston Beacon Hill office located at 137 Charles Street.

John Ford
Ford Realty Inc
137 Charles Street
Boston, Ma 02114



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