Does Your House Have Asbestos Siding?

By Cristina M. in Construction

Newer homes built from the late 1980s to the present date, no longer use siding that contains asbestos because of its obvious health risks, however, older homes with their original siding may still contain this dangerous material.

Traditional stucco is a mixture of cement and inert materials like sand, water, and lime used as an exterior wall covering. Older style cement siding shingles were made by mixing asbestos fibers into the cement in order to fireproof and strengthen siding. We can help you determine whether there is asbestos in your siding and give you a few suggestions for dealing with it.

Identifying Asbestos-Containing Siding

Many old houses have asbestos siding on their exteriors. Asbestos siding was a very popular product back in the 1950s and 1960s where siding shingles were traditionally reinforced with asbestos fibers.

There are some characteristics you can look for while trying to spot asbestos siding on your own, such as:

  • Homes built between 1920 and the 1980s are likely to contain asbestos in any cementitious siding tiles;
  • The asbestos-containing siding was generally manufactured in 12 by 24 inches shingles, similar to those used for roofs;
  • It may have grooves or wood-grain patterns pressed into the cement. A wavy pattern can sometimes be distinguished at the bottom of the shingles;
  • Each tile has two or three nail holes at the bottom of each shingle;
  • A dense aspect and efflorescence may also be signs of asbestos-containing siding;
  • Another key indicator is the manufacturing code, which is usually stamped on the back of the newer, asbestos-free siding shingles.

You can inspect the siding to determine if there is manufacturer information printed on it. Companies that manufactured asbestos siding:

  • Celotex
  • Keasby & Mattison Company
  • GAF Corporation
  • National Gypsum Company
  • Johns Manville
  • Asbestone Corporation
  • Asbestos Shingle Slate & Sheathing Co.
  • Atlas Asbestos Company
  • Baldwin-Ehret-Hill
  • CertainTeed Corporation
  • Durabla Manufacturing Company
  • Eagle-Picher
  • Eternit
  • Flintkote Company
  • Garlock, Inc.
  • James Hardie Industries
  • Philip Carey Manufacturing Corporation
  • U.S. Gypsum

Our Asbestos Identification page has been specially created to assist homeowners with issues such as how to spot asbestos-containing products in their homes.

Asbestos Siding Removal: Safely DIY Removal Requirements

Learning that a home's siding contains asbestos can lead many homeowners to a panicked fear that this siding must be removed immediately. Therefore, it is good to know that if your siding is in good condition and intact, asbestos poses a relatively low health risk to your home and the environment.

However, if you find that you do in fact have asbestos in your exterior siding, there are several things you can do to make your home safe:

  • Set up an exclusion zone with barrier tape or barricades; do not allow unauthorized persons inside the area;
  • Suit up with your disposable coveralls; also put on gloves, goggles, boots, and respirators equipped with HEPA filters;
  • Working from top to bottom, remove siding as a whole by pulling the nails out rather than breaking the siding;
  • Asbestos-containing material that has been removed should not be dropped or thrown to the ground;
  • Minimizing the breakage of the asbestos siding during removal and handling;
  • Wet the back of each piece of siding with a pint spray bottle or garden pump sprayer as it is removed to reduce the amount of fibers which will come off during the process;
  • Keep all debris on the plastic strip and keep on wetting it.

Why Should I Test Products in My Home for Asbestos?

It is often impossible to tell whether asbestos is embedded in a material, as the fibers are too small to be observed with the naked eye. Exposure to asbestos is responsible for serious respiratory conditions, so thorough testing is required to ensure your home is asbestos-free.