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During an attempt to update my closet doors, I recently discovered that underneath and around the closet railings there are some popcorn ceiling material. I had it tested to be positive for asbestos.

It seems like the closet railings were drilled into the ceiling when the house was first constructed. At some point the popcorn ceiling in the house was removed by the previous owner. However, the popcorn ceiling that was in the railing and a bit around it were just left there (the abatement crew probably didn't know or didn't bother removing the railings to clean everything).

Is it worth getting an abatement crew to clean this up or can I just skim some joint compound in the exposed bits since it's really a small area?

  • 2
    Wear a mask if removing, but if it is not hurting anything can leave it also. Asbestos is only bad for the miners and people who work with is everyday. For you and I it is basically harmless unless we start sanding it without a mask.
    – crip659
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 21:42
  • Your location is important, and not specified - I believe that Asbestos regulations vary somewhat depending on where you live, but pretty much everywhere has them.
    – MikeB
    Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 10:22
  • Are you removing the door tracks?
    – Huesmann
    Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 11:42

2 Answers 2


The correct answer: this needs proper abatement. In some areas of the US you can do the abatement yourself as a homeowner, provided you follow some rules around the work. If your area does not allow homeowner work like that, you will have to bring in an abatement contractor to clean this up properly.

The real-world answer: this is a small amount. Feel free to encapsulate it yourself or even remove it by getting it wet and soapy and then scraping it off into dedicated trash bags. Wear a respirator. Since it's a small amount and exposure is brief, the risk is very low.

  • Ignore or encapsulate. Can't start scraping it yourself if you know it is asbestos. Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 22:07
  • 3
    My local Clean Air Agency only requires you to do any asbestos paperwork at all for projects "that include more than 48 square feet or 10 linear feet (pipes) of asbestos-containing material." If I came across a few small patches of this stuff, I would remove it myself and not think twice about it. It's a totally different scale of project than removing even the ceiling of one room - perhaps 1% of the material or less.
    – KMJ
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 22:39

I had to remove hundreds of square feet from the ceiling in all my rooms.

I spray it with water till it was dripping.

Then simply used a spatula to get it off.

Making it very wet also prevents any dust.

Do not worry, they drywalls will dry and recover.

  • 2
    Once you know it is asbestos, you can ignore it or cover it. You can't remove it in a non-approved way. Was your popcorn ceiling asbestos? Probably not, we'll never know for sure (unless you tested it). But OP's is asbestos. Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 22:06

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