Tag Archives for " popcorn ceiling "

A Clean Way to Update Your Popcorn Ceiling

Hidden benefits in the scents of the holidays

In the US, you know that winter holidays are coming when pine-scented, cinnamon, clove and peppermint candles and essential oils come out.  Besides giving a fresh, yet cozy scent to your home, each of these have hidden benefits in their chemistry.

Pine oil (which emits a concentrated fragrance due to the terpenes it contains) has many health benefits.  Primarily, the terpenes (which are biogenic volatile organic compounds or BVOCs) are phytoncides. Phytoncides are aromatic compounds from plants which can increase your number and activity of natural killer cells, a type of white blood cell that supports the immune system and is linked with a lower risk of cancer (see our article about why it’s good to take walks in the forest!).  These BVOCS produced by the pine tree include  α-pinene and α-phellandrene, both have which have shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and anti-cancer properties when inhaled and d-limonene and p-cymene phytoncides, which have shown to specifically act against allergic lung inflammation too.  (How Pine Can Benefit Your Respiratory Health)

Hinoki cypress, cedar, oak, pine and spruce are just some of the trees to release phytoncides.  Camphene is a common monoterpene and phytoncide found typically above 10% in many essential oils including white fir, black spruce, hemlock and Engelman spruce. Camphene is noted for its antioxidant and mucolytic properties. It’s similar to camphor; both have a well-known smell that is invigorating and refreshing. (3 Essential Oils High in Terpenes)

Cinnamon scents are synonymous with holiday baking, but did you know that it is also useful in combating mold in your home?  The cinnamon sticks you may be familiar with are actually the inner bark of several types of trees, which are rolled into “quills” and dried.  Cinnamon powder is made by grinding it and cinnamon oil can also be extracted from the bark.  You can use cinnamon essential oil diluted in water to clean small patches of mold and mildew from surfaces, or place it in a diffuser to combat airborne mold spores.  Cinnamon powder can be sprinkled or mopped onto floors to fight mold, or used as a paste to clean surfaces (beware that it can stain however).  Boiling cinnamon sticks in water gives a double benefit; besides making your home smell lovely, the water will become more concentrated with cinnamon liquid, which can be added to your cleaning solutions as well.  Check out this helpful article for more tips on using cinnamon.  Scientists are also exploring use of the leaves; there were 16 compounds found in the active fraction of cinnamon leaf extracts and 3 dominant compounds that are anti-fungal compounds. (Antifungal Activities Of Cinnamon Leaf Extracts Against Sigatoka Fungus (Pseudocercospora Fijiensis))

Growing up, my family used to stick cloves into oranges to make pretty scented holiday decorations. These little sticks actually come from the flower buds of the clove tree, which primarily grows in Indonesia.   Clove oil has so many uses!  It has a strong, earthy smell, which are the BVOCs.  It is antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal, and can be used in throat sprays and oral hygiene, as an analgesic to relieve nerve pain, infused into syrups, honey or vinegar or in a diffuser to reduce airborne mold and microbes.  (5 Health Benefits Of Clove Oil You Need To Know)  It’s also a dermatological fungus-buster: both clove essential oil and its volatile vapor strongly inhibit spore germination and mycelial growth of dermatophytic fungi (fungi that require keratin, a protein in hair, skin and nails, for growth). The volatile vapor of clove essential oil showed fungistatic activity whereas direct application of clove essential oil showed fungicidal activity.  (Antifungal Activity of Clove Essential Oil and its Volatile Vapour Against Dermatophytic Fungi)

Menthol is the monoterpenoid in peppermint that gives that fresh smell and taste. The high menthol content in Peppermint make this essential oil excellent for diffusion and inhalation to reduce congestion and clear the airways. It is one of the best essential oils for colds, flu, bronchitis and asthma, with studies showing that Peppermint oil is rich in compounds that are anti-microbial, antiviral and antibacterial.  It can also help with seasonal allergies, helping to unclog the sinuses and clear pollen out of the nasal passages.  (Peppermint Benefits) Peppermint oil is a key ingredient in many natural pesticides and pest deterrents, because insects hate the smell!  Spray peppermint oil around your home to repel ants, spiders, mosquitoes, roaches, ticks, and even mice.

You can also apply peppermint oil directly on the skin as a natural bug repellant (if you have sensitive skin, you can use a carrier oil).  Peppermint oil is a natural antifungal, antimicrobial, and antiviral. Spray it over countertops, especially in bathrooms, and kitchens. (20 Uses For Peppermint Essential Oil)  Check out this natural floor and surface cleaner using essential oil–my favorite is peppermint oil to give a fresh scent to all surfaces!

  • 1-¾  cups TotalClean Concentrate

  • ⅛ cup rubbing alcohol

  • ⅛ tsp dish soap

  • 5-10 drops essential oil (optional)

These are only some of the hidden benefits of the scents we associate with winter and holidays…you might want to research your other favorites to find new uses for them in your health regime and home!

A Clean Way to Update Your Popcorn Ceiling

A Clean Way to Update Your Popcorn Ceiling

Do you have an old ceiling that needs updating?  “Popcorn”, acoustic tile and other types of textured ceilings can become brittle and contribute to bad air quality because they can hold dust and mold spores, as well as fall off in big or small chunks whenever they’re disturbed (think small flying toys, changing light fixtures, cleaning cobwebs or any type of paint touch-up!).  Worst of all, some ceilings installed before/through the 1980s may have asbestos in them (here is a helpful article if you suspect your ceilings may have asbestos).  Refinishing or replacing such a ceiling is a major undertaking that involves removing or covering all the furniture, blocking off the HVAC and doorways, and using personal protective gear to avoid inhaling the dust.  It’s daunting and expensive even for seasoned DIYer’s, and not a realistic option for renters.  

It’s important that homeowners or renters with older popcorn ceilings be aware that ceilings installed before the early 1980s may have asbestos in them. Asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs in rock and soil (Learn About Asbestos). According to the EPA, most uses of asbestos are not banned; however, it was banned from spray-applied surfacing materials (such as ceiling textures) in 1978. (EPA Actions to Protect the Public from Exposure to Asbestos).  So, it’s unlikely for any ceilings constructed/finished in the late 1980s to have asbestos.  Although professional removal of asbestos-containing materials is best, encapsulation of the ceiling by professional stretch ceiling installers is a (likely less-expensive) alternative. 

Stretch ceilings are a design idea that’s new to the US, but has been more popular in Europe and the Middle East for some time now.  Far from being relegated to the renovation industry, architects even specify them in some designs, and they are ideal for athletic and commercial spaces. 

There are two types of stretch ceilings: fabric or PVC.  Unfortunately, PVC must be heated during installation (usually with propane heat cannons) and it will start to off-gas and continue to off-gas throughout its life (up to 20 years).  (Two Kinds of Stretch Ceilings)  Therefore, in this article we will focus on fabric ceilings, which still have plenty of design choices, colors and aesthetics.  Fabric ceilings from Popcorn Ceiling Solutions are made from 100% knit polyester strands, infused with a water-based polyurethane (PU) coating, which makes them hydrophobic and mildew resistant.  They are VOC-tested and CE-certificated. 

According to stretch ceiling websites, there are many advantages to these installations.  Here are a few:

  • Lighting can be installed under or over stretch fabric ceilings.  Underneath, led lighting installations can be configured as spotlights or tracks in any design, with individual and dimmer controls available.  Traditional flush and pendant lights can be installed through the ceiling so that traditional design aesthetics can be maintained.  

  • Acoustic insulation can be hidden above a stretch ceiling, which is an obvious benefit for schools and athletic buildings to dampen noise.  You can also add it to your apartment or bedroom to get more privacy and peace.

  • Moisture and mildew resistance is a plus for humid environments like bathrooms, athletic facilities and indoor swimming pools. 

  • Many city apartment or condo buildings have concrete ceilings, which have limited lighting and design options.  A stretch ceiling adds many more possibilities.

  • Renters can upgrade their stained, dated ceilings by asking them (or asking permission) to install stretch ceilings. 

  • Stretch ceilings only lower ceilings by inches: the typical installation requires a minimum of 1” clearance, so substantial ceiling height is not compromised.

  • Cleaning with a mild soap and water are all that’s needed if the ceiling becomes soiled.  

  • Most installation companies give warranties that the ceiling will not sag or drop during the warranty period.

  • The fabric may be fire-rated.  According to Popcorn Ceiling Solutions, their fabric has the highest fire rating for building materials and a Class A. Fire and Smoke certificate is available upon request. (Frequently Asked Questions)

  • Multiple designs and colors are available; it’s even possible to paint your own ceiling (however it may void the manufacturer’s warranty). 

  • Stretch ceilings appear even smoother than skim-coated drywall and are completely level.

So, if you have a flaky or unsightly ceiling that may be contributing to bad air quality at home, check into fabric stretch ceiling installers in your area.  Then the ceiling will be one less source of dust and allergies in your home!