What is a Vermiculite Ceiling?

An unpainted vermiculite ceiling in an old apartment unit - Sydney
An unpainted vermiculite ceiling in an old apartment unit – Sydney


A vermiculite ceiling, otherwise known as a popcorn ceiling, is a ceiling that has had its fire rating upgraded with the use of vermiculite spray, usually from the underside. Vermiculite ceilings have several uses and can be sprayed on for fire rated ceiling systems, acoustic purposes (such as in schools), or for aesthetic and decorative purposes, though the latter has become rare. Vermiculite ceilings are common in older buildings, having been a popular and cheap option as a textured ceiling finish throughout the 1970s onwards.

Do vermiculite ceilings contain asbestos?

The vermiculite that Ceasefire PFP applies contains NO ASBESTOS. Contact Ceasefire PFP for manufacturer details and certification. However, older buildings may have used imported vermiculite products that were contaminated. Please refer to your building’s asbestos register, asbestos management plan, or compliance certificate. If you are still unsure you may need to conduct an audit with a qualified consultant before removing or upgrading an existing vermiculite ceiling.

Can I get a 2hr fire rated ceiling with vermiculite?

Yes, you can. Vermiculite ceilings are an inexpensive option for upgrading the FRL of a slab. Even if you don’t know the current fire rating of the structure, there are tested calculations from Australian manufacturers and experts that allow us to provide any fire rating up to 4 hours.

Can I get a 4 hour fire rated ceiling?

Yes, same as above. Obviously the higher the fire rating required, the more material is required to achieve that fire rating. However, if we know that the structure already achieves 2 hours, you won’t require much more material to achieve 4 hours.

Slab FRL upgrade in an office building using a vermiculite ceiling, painted black
Office building slab FRL upgrade using a vermiculite ceiling, painted black

Can vermiculite ceilings be painted?

Absolutely, we have been on a number of commercial projects where they have been painted, which compliments the existing texture of the vermiculite ceiling. Vermiculite ceilings are typically painted black in commercial buildings and white in apartment buildings but any colour can be applied. Before spray painting vermiculite ceilings, we provide a special thin base coat to allow the paint to sit on ­– vermiculite and gypsum are very porous and will easily soak up all your paint without it, which often leads inexperienced applicators to use more paint than is necessary.

How are vermiculite ceilings installed?

If the purpose of the vermiculite ceiling is decorative, the thickness of the vermiculite is minimal and can be directly sprayed to the substrate. Otherwise, we simply fix structural wire mesh to the underside of the existing ceiling structure. The distance the mesh hangs from the structure is dictated by the thickness of material that needs to be applied, as we want it in the first third or half of the sprayed material. The vermiculite is then sprayed into the mesh and, depending on thickness, will be trowelled flat before applying a final texture finish.


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Why Ceasefire?

Our expertise in passive fire protection encompasses a comprehensive understanding of fire safety principles, building codes, and industry standards. We specialize in the design, installation, and maintenance of passive fire systems, including fire-rated walls, doors, floors, and penetrations. Our team is trained to assess fire risks, develop tailored solutions, and ensure compliance with relevant regulations. With 20+ years of experience in the field, we are committed to providing reliable, cost- effective, and efficient passive fire protection solutions to safeguard lives and properties. All while delivering exceptional client service at every stage of the project.