We have a cottage that was built in the 70s. I had our asbestos tiles (tested by a company, some were 0.5% asbestos some were 2% asbestos) covered with quarter inch mahogany underlay and then sheet vinyl over top. We also have a popcorn ceiling in our living room that is almost definitely asbestos (we don't really want to test it, safer to assume it is asbestos) and we want to safely cover it up.

We had a contractor come in and say they would start by covering it with a primer of KILZ before hanging up half-inch drywall. Would one coat of KILZ primer be enough to safely start finding studs with a stud finder and marking the studs, or would multiple coats of the primer be needed, or would we need primer and then some sort of paint? Is it safe to spray KILZ primer on top of asbestos popcorn ceiling? Would a special type of paint be required to cover asbestos ceiling for safely marking studs, or would any paint (latex, acrylic, vinyl) be okay to cover the ceiling as long as it can be sprayed on?

Since popcorn ceiling is friable material we want to be as informed as possible and make sure we're going to be having this done right so it can be covered up as safely as possible. Any advice or information is greatly appreciated.

Here is a picture of our likely popcorn asbestos ceiling since a picture is worth a thousand words, along with a "crack" which is just drywall tape coming up from water damage a couple decades ago (I think we covered the crack with some paint before): likely asbestos popcorn ceiling

P.S. I believe we have a hand-cut roof, I'm not sure if that matters, I don't know any more detail about our ceiling studs or anything like that (are they 16 inch on center or 24 inch on center? not a clue) as our attic is covered with insulation (which also could be asbestos material...)

Thank you.

  • 3
    1) You covered asbestos containing tiles with mahogany, then covered that with vinyl? WHY??? 2) What's the purpose of one or more layers of paint on this ceiling before adding another layer of drywall?
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 18:28
  • 2
    The asbestos vinyl tiles were starting to lift up/crack, covering them with a mahogany (mostly moisture-resistant) underlay helped provide structure for the new sheet vinyl. The purpose of one or more layers of paint on the ceiling before adding drywall is so that it's safe to measure and mark the location of the studs without releasing dangerous asbestos dust into the air. I'm just not sure any recommendations of how to most safely prepare it for drywalling, how many coats are needed, etc. I figured getting many answers/advice from multiple people is better than just advice from one.
    – JS99
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 20:32
  • 2
    Could you not just saturate the popcorn with water and scrape it off? If it's wet it won't go airborne.
    – gnicko
    Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 0:53
  • I would think that even after a coat or two of paint, sliding the drywall sheets into place could knock popcorn off the ceiling, potentially releasing asbestos fibers.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 28, 2022 at 16:06

2 Answers 2


Encapsulation means covering an asbestos material so it cannot release asbestos dust. Asbestos popcorn ceiling can be covered with new ceiling panels or vinyl paint.

One way to cover popcorn ceiling is with gypsum board ceiling panels. This material is like drywall but lighter. You screw it into the framing of the ceiling. It’s best to hire a professional to cover asbestos popcorn ceiling. They will know how to mud and tape the new ceiling seamlessly.

Encapsulating asbestos is a safe solution, but if you do renovation or demolition work in the future, the asbestos will become a danger again. If you decide to sell your home, you will have to inform potential buyers of the asbestos you found.

I am not qualified to offer advice on the type of paint and how many layers it would require, but to emphasize that the job should be performed by an experienced contractor who knows the material. Also, be extremely careful not to scrape/damage the ceiling.

One important question you need to find out is whether the roof/floor can safely support the additional weight without excessive deflection, which will crack the ceilings.

  • I think the weight is a very important issue that could steer this encapsulation in a different direction. Good call.
    – RetiredATC
    Commented Oct 26, 2022 at 3:10

What's wrong with a skim coat of plaster on the ceiling? You certainly don't want to be nailing into asbestos.

You can then cover the plastered ceiling with lining paper which can be painted.

For large quantities of asbestos, you should get it professionally removed. It's your lungs that will pay the price, if you don't do this.

  • We want to drywall it so it's a more "permanent" encapsulation but we want to make sure it's prepared safely for drywalling, so that it's safe to measure and mark the location of the studs without releasing dangerous asbestos dust into the air. I'm wondering if anyone here has any recommendations for how to safely prepare it for drywall.
    – JS99
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 20:32

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