Have you ever considered installing an airtight Stretch Fabric Ceiling as a barrier between you and the popcorn ceiling? You would not have to touch a potentially asbestos-containing material to install stretch ceilings. They provide a smooth & monolithic finished surface.
Some stretch fabric ceilings are also covered by a Lifetime Warranty when installed professionally.
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Look at this answer to a similar question. Wetting the surface make it easier to get off and there was hardly any dust created, and that was all contained in the plastic. Have you actually had the material tested?
Yes it has been tested and does contain asbestos. The problem is that a realtor has suggested I remove professionally or cover with drywall or polystyene ceiling tiles that glue to the existing ceiling before putting up for sale.
Follow Redesign's link below. The information there is absolutely correct but with the added provisions: 1.Wear a respirator, not a dust mask, but a respirator rated for frangible asbestos. 2. Wear disposable coveralls, gloves, a hat or cap, goggles and rubber boots. 3. Make sure the texture is thoroughly wetted before scraping. This holds the asbestos in the texture medium and prevents it from becoming airborne. 4. Wrap all the debris, and the disposable apparel in the plastic sheeting and seal it closed with duct tape. Seal that in another disposable container. 5. Label the container and take it to an approved disposal facility. Improper disposal can result in stiff fines and potentially, criminal prosecution. 6. Take a hot shower, rinsing yourself thoroughly first, then washing with a liquid detergent soap, paying particular attention to your hair and hands. 7. Let the room stand unoccupied until the drywall has dried and been painted. 8. If you hire someone to do the job, by law, that person/company must be licensed and certified to do asbestos abatement and removal. I know all that sounds complicated and perhaps extreme, but it is really easier than would appear. It will probably take you longer to get set up than it will to actually do the job. Mainly, use common sense and take the measures necessary to comply with the law and simple safety procedures.
I'd just build a new frame, screw it in and drywall that. Framistan has some good tips, too...
To be honest if the ceiling is intact, leave it. I live in a house with asbestos ceilings and we have kept the most of them due to the fact they where a original feature, The only ones we have removed are in rooms where we had to remove the ceilings to put in RSJs to support the roof above. Just doing them two rooms was a lot of cost, mess and hassle. Asbestos is safe (depending on what type you have, ours is white) as long as you look after it, if a crack appears paint it etc.
I often come into contact with asbestos in my line of work and the handling and decontamination procedures are very strict. Most believe that even a tiny amount can be deadly (eventually) if inhaled, google mesothelioma (I think). Orksecurity is right, you should cover the old ceiling with a new one, but check your local regulations and use expert contractors as they would probably have to penetrate the old ceiling in some way to attach the new one, causing dust. Also a good opportunity to upgrade your lighting.
I work for a major company that has some asbestos in their old buildings. we are REPEATEDLY trained on how to handle working around it. When workmen DRILL through it to put bolts in the floor, they spray common SHAVING CREAM on the floortile, then drill without worry. As long as the asbestos doesnt flake off and fly in the air, it is safe.... when done drilling, they wipe up the mess with paper towels and place them in plastic bags and throw it away. If the stuff really is in your ceiling... you could place sheets of styrofoam 4x8foot sheets over it... then cover that with sheets of 1/4 inch sheet-rock (plasterboard). You would solve 2 problems at once! adding extra insulation to your ceilings and easing your mind about the asbestos.
"Put over" in what sense? Most asbestos-containing materials are fairly harmless as long as they are intact and/or encapsulated, so if it isn't damaged one option is to just paint over it and otherwise leave it alone. Another would be to leave it in place but put another ceiling under it -- another layer of plasterboard -- which will isolate it until/unless you have to cut through that ceiling. BUT: Before you start, check with your town's building inspectors to make sure this will meet your local construction codes. (They can also give you more authoritative advice on reasonable alternatives.) If you do need to cut into it, or want to remove it entirely, I would recommend letting a professional do it... and making sure that the contract says they understand that asbestos is present and will take appropriate steps to contain and remove it. The problem with asbestos is that, in dust form, the tiny needle-like crystals can't be expelled from the lungs very well -- so they remain there as an irritant which can eventually trigger cancer. The risk from a small exposure may be minimal, but it really isn't something you want to breathe more of than can be avoided. The problem is that anything you do to try to address it is likely to put some of it into the air as dust.
spray with water than remove in bags. use protection. when you brake it, it makes dust so careful in manipulating it..
Are you certain the material contains asbestos? That being said the main concern with asbestos is the dust so any mitigation activity must contain the dust. 'Popcorn' comes off most easily when heavily wetted and scraping, this would help keep dust down. You could cover with a sealer and then paint- wouldn't change the appearance much but might seal in the asbestos. Additionally- asbestos isn't toxic on contact- as in you don't die immediately with minor exposure- it is toxic in an industrial setting over time- just like smoking. ( one cigarette won't kill you instantly but 25 yrs of chain smoking will)