The Hidden Danger of Asbestos Siding (2022)

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|10 min read

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Asbestos siding is common in homes built before EPA’s partial ban in 1989. Since asbestos mineral fibers can be harmful to your health, it’s vital to identify them when looking for a home to buy. This way, you can evaluate the risk and removal cost to determine if the property is worth buying.

Read on for more information:

What Is Asbestos Siding?

According to Asbestos.com, asbestos is “a naturally occurring mineral composed of flexible fibers that are resistant to heat, electricity and corrosion.”

Asbestos is a group of six natural silicates that have thin microscopic fibers. Asbestos siding consists of these silicates and cement. Contractors used this material to insulate homes and increase fire and chemical resistance.

It is a strong, heat resistant material that was used by homeowners in many building construction materials such as insulation, vinyl floor tiles, asbestos shingles, and asbestos cement siding.

The Health Risks of Asbestos Siding

When materials containing asbestos are disturbed, asbestos fibers can be released into the air. This typically happens during removal and demolition work of the asbestos containing materials.

When the fibers are in the air they are easily inhaled by people in the area. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), this exposure to asbestos materials and fibers in the air increases your risk of developing lung disease. Asbestos exposure can be dangerous. Always talk to a health care professional about health risks and concerning symptoms.

asbestos siding on a roof of a house
Building attic house construction with asbestos roof, cosy balcony and siding facade

What Does Asbestos Siding Look Like?

Asbestos siding was commonly used in homes built between 1920 and sometime in the 1960s. If you have a home or are looking at a home that was built during that time, especially if it his the original siding, it is a good idea to have it checked.

Asbestos siding comes in a wide range of shapes and profiles. It’s also available in many textures and sizes. Due to these aspects, there isn’t a particular appearance or style you should look for when you want to spot it.

How to Tell if Siding Is Asbestos

A combination of different factors can help determine if a siding contains asbestos. For instance, most siding panels with asbestos material have 2-3 holes at the bottom. Likewise, they feel denser than fiber cement siding when touched.

Other aspects that can help you identify asbestos siding are:

  • It has 12 by 24-inch shakes or shingles
  • It has a chalky texture
  • It may have a pressed wavy pattern or wood grain at the bottom

If you have the old packages, that is the best way to see if the siding contains asbestos. You can also call the manufacturer of the shingles if you are able to figure out where they were made.

Sometimes, it may be challenging to identify asbestos since some modern sidings mimic its appearance. In such a case, it’s best to consult top real estate agents. They can put you in touch with a certified asbestos inspector to take a sample of the material and submit it for analysis. With their help, you can confirm this information from construction or home maintenance records.

Contact an asbestos abatement company to help with handling asbestos containing siding and possibly replace them with asbestos free siding shingles. You want to be sure there are no asbestos particles released into the air when the siding material is removed, and professionals know how best to handle this.

Stack of new roof tiles sheet Asbestos Concrete fiber cement and Siding Standard gray color.

Do I Need to Have it Removed?

Just having siding with asbestos doesn’t put you at risk. It’s generally thought to be safer to leave it alone than to have it removed, as long as it is in good condition. Sometimes asbestos containing materials can simple be covered with new materials instead of paying for asbestos removal.

Asbestos removal is something best handled by professionals. Check with your local building codes as they could be different per area.

How Much Does It Cost to Remove?

If the material containing asbestos is in poor condition, is damaged or flaking, you should plan on having it removed.

Asbestos siding removal can cost anywhere from $800-$1200 and sometimes more depending on the size of the area for removal. The exact removal cost will depend on the material condition and the home’s size. 

If you need to repair before removal, you may incur an average of $4,761. When everything is said and done, the overall cost may be over $22,500 if you need several professionals.

What is Asbestos Abatement?

Asbestos siding abatement is the identification, removal, repair and/or encapsulation of that material containing asbestos. This is done with the goal of preventing asbestos fibers from being released into the air.

It is not required by law to use a company to handle asbestos siding removal, but it is highly recommended.

Asbestos Siding Replacement

Modern asbestos cement siding replacements are generally reinforce cement shingles with a variety of fibers. One of the most popular fiber replacements is fiberglass. Many of these new alternatives to asbestos siding perform in much the same way without the health risks.

Can You Paint Asbestos Siding?

If the siding is not damaged, chipped or flaking, you can simply paint over it. You should always wear a mask and skin coverings and never sand or scrape the siding containing asbestos.

Asbestos siding can sometimes be easier to paint than other surfaces and can last longer than other surfaces. As always, consult a professional inspection before making any decisions.

Get the Best Real Estate Agents

Dealing with asbestos siding can feel intimidating. Worry over asbestos fibers releasing into the air may cause you to rethink a home with asbestos cement siding.

If you are working with professionals that know the area, they can help you identify asbestos siding and what your options are.

Finding the real estate agent may be tricky since there are many options. At FastExpert, we can help you select a professional that meets your needs. You can message agents right through our platform and find out their experience with homes with asbestos siding.

A home with asbestos shouldn’t always be a deal breaker. Knowing your options and how to handle it within your budget and in a way you feel good about is important. Get to know siding material and how to handle old asbestos shingles with the help of professionals.

Steph Matarazzo FastExpert Inc

Steph is the Marketing Director at FastExpert and has been working in the real estate data and research world for over three years. She is passionate about educating people on the real estate market and Excel spreadsheets. She lives on the East Coast with her family and recently purchased her own home.

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