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What Does Asbestos Siding Look Like?

Have you ever wondered, “what does asbestos siding look like?” If your home might have asbestos siding, the thought alone may send shivers down your spine, but don’t worry! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll help you identify asbestos siding and understand its potential risks. We’ll also provide tips on managing it and discuss when it’s necessary to remove it. By the end, you’ll have the knowledge to make informed decisions about your home’s exterior. Let’s dive in!

Short Summary

  • Asbestos siding can be identified by its distinct appearance, sound and texture.
  • Exposure to asbestos can lead to serious health hazards, so proper identification and management is essential.
  • Professional inspection and testing is necessary for accurate identification. Removal should only be done with a professional service.

Recognizing Asbestos Siding

A close-up of asbestos siding on a house

Identifying asbestos siding can be quite challenging, especially because it looks similar to other building materials. However, there are certain characteristics that can help you determine if your siding contains this hazardous material.

Let’s start by discussing its appearance features, sound and texture, and age indicators.

Appearance Features

Asbestos siding exhibits unique visual traits that can help you spot it. The shingles are often brittle and prone to breaking easily. When you inspect the back of the siding, you might notice a black or tar-like surface. The front, on the other hand, has a grainy texture and may come in various appearances.

While these visual characteristics might give you some clues, it’s important to remember that manufacturers designed asbestos-containing products to look similar to asbestos-free products. Therefore, appearance alone isn’t enough to confirm the presence of asbestos siding.

Sound and Texture

Another way to identify asbestos siding is by examining its sound and texture. Tap a suspected asbestos-cement siding tile gently. It will produce a sharp ringing sound, similar to that of a ceramic tile. The texture of asbestos siding is notably rough and flaky, with sharp edges that can be hazardous.

Remember, it’s essential to take precautions when handling asbestos siding, such as wearing a mask and gloves, to minimize the risk of exposure to harmful asbestos fibers.

Age Indicators

The age of your home can be a significant indicator of whether it has asbestos siding. Homes built before the 1980s are more likely to have asbestos-containing materials. Additionally, if the siding has a wood grain texture resembling cedar and a wave-like pattern at the bottom, it may contain asbestos.

Keep in mind that these age indicators are not definitive proof of asbestos siding, but they can help you determine if further investigation is necessary.

The Dangers of Asbestos Siding

asbestos siding broken in pieces, dangerous siding material

Now that you know how to identify asbestos siding, it’s crucial to understand the potential dangers associated with it. Asbestos siding can be hazardous when disturbed, leading to health risks and environmental damage.

Let’s delve deeper into the health hazards and the environmental impact of asbestos siding.

Health Hazards

Asbestos is a fibrous material that, when inhaled, can cause serious health issues. Exposure to asbestos fibers can result in lung diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. These health risks are the primary reason why it’s vital to identify and manage asbestos siding properly.

It’s essential to note that asbestos siding is not dangerous unless it’s disturbed or damaged, which can release asbestos fibers into the air. Therefore, it’s crucial to handle asbestos siding with extreme caution to minimize the risk of exposure.

Environmental Impact

Asbestos siding doesn’t pose an immediate threat to the environment unless it’s damaged and releases fibers into the air, water, or soil. When disturbed, asbestos siding can lead to lung diseases, mesothelioma, and environmental damage.

Ensuring proper management and removal of asbestos siding is crucial to prevent these adverse effects on our environment.

Differentiating Asbestos Siding from Fiber Cement Siding

Asbestos siding cracking on home

Asbestos siding and fiber cement siding may appear similar, but they are quite different in terms of material composition and visual characteristics. Understanding these differences is essential when trying to identify asbestos siding.

Let’s discuss the material composition and visual differences between the two types of siding.

Material Composition

Asbestos siding is made from a combination of cement and asbestos fibers, while fiber cement siding is composed of cement, sand, and cellulose fibers.

Although both materials contain cement, the presence of asbestos fibers in asbestos siding is the primary cause of concern for homeowners.

Visual Differences

Visually, asbestos siding may have two or three nail holes at the bottom of each panel and a denser texture compared to modern fiber cement siding. The surface texture of asbestos siding often resembles the grooves on a golf ball, while fiber cement siding has a smoother finish.

Additionally, asbestos siding has a wavy pattern along its lowermost edge, whereas fiber cement siding has a straight bottom edge.

Professional Inspection and Testing

A picture of a professional inspector examining asbestos siding

Although understanding the characteristics of asbestos siding is helpful, the most accurate way to identify it is through professional inspection and testing.

In this section, we’ll discuss the inspection process and the laboratory testing involved in determining the presence of asbestos siding.

Inspection Process

A professional inspection involves a visual examination of the siding, followed by laboratory testing to confirm the presence of asbestos siding. If you’re unsure about your ability to collect samples safely, it’s best to contact a professional siding specialist. They have the expertise and equipment to inspect and test your siding without risking your health or damaging your property.

Laboratory Testing

An image showing a close-up view of asbestos siding to help identify what does asbestos siding look like during laboratory testing.

Laboratory testing for asbestos siding involves taking a sample of the siding material and analyzing it for the presence of asbestos fibers in an approved laboratory test. This process ensures that the results are accurate and reliable.

If the siding materials appear suspicious, a laboratory test is recommended to confirm the presence of asbestos.

Managing Asbestos Siding

blue painted asbestos shingles which have weathered to look like corrugated denim

If you have asbestos siding, it’s essential to manage it properly to minimize potential health hazards and environmental damage.

In this section, we’ll discuss maintenance tips and alternative options, such as encapsulation or covering with another material.

Maintenance Tips

Asbestos siding is a resilient material that can maintain its quality for many years with minimal upkeep. Regularly painting the exterior of your home can help protect the asbestos siding. If you notice any cracks or crumbling, promptly dampen and repair the damaged area to prevent further deterioration. Remember to wear a mask and gloves while working with asbestos siding and ensure proper ventilation to minimize the risk of exposure.

Cleaning asbestos siding is essential to maintain its appearance. Scrub it with a hard-bristled brush soaked in dish detergent or abrasive cleaner and warm water. Rinse away the solution with fresh water. By following these maintenance tips, you can keep your asbestos siding in good condition for years to come.

Encapsulation and Covering

Encapsulating or covering asbestos siding is another effective way to manage it. Encapsulation involves coating the siding with a latex masonry primer and a high-quality latex paint, while covering involves installing a layer of sheathing or sheets of foam insulation and then covering it with vinyl siding. Before proceeding with either option, make sure to check your local building codes to ensure compliance.

Both encapsulation and covering methods are aimed at preventing asbestos fibers from becoming airborne, reducing the associated health risks. However, it’s essential to consult with a professional to determine the best approach for your specific situation.

Asbestos Siding Removal

Asbestos siding falling apart due to age

In some cases, removing asbestos siding might be the best option, especially if it’s in poor condition. Let’s consider Rachel’s case: she discovered her home had asbestos siding that was chipping, cracking, and breaking. In such a situation, the risk of asbestos fibers becoming airborne is significantly higher, and removal becomes necessary.

Let’s explore when to remove asbestos siding and the importance of hiring professional removal services.

When to Remove

It’s necessary to remove asbestos siding if it’s damaged or friable, showing signs of chipping, cracking, or breaking. In these cases, the potential health hazards and environmental damage outweigh the benefits of maintaining or encapsulating the siding.

When deciding whether to remove asbestos siding, it’s essential to consider the condition of the material and the associated risks.

Professional Removal Services

Asbestos siding removal is a complex process that requires trained and accredited professionals. Regulations for asbestos removal differ depending on the location, so it’s crucial to hire a qualified team to handle the job.

Elite Home Exteriors NW offers free inspections and professional asbestos siding removal services, ensuring the safety of your home and family throughout the process.


In conclusion, identifying and managing asbestos siding is crucial for ensuring the safety of your home and the environment. By understanding the characteristics of asbestos siding, differentiating it from fiber cement siding, and seeking professional inspection and testing, you can make informed decisions about your home’s exterior. Whether you choose to maintain, encapsulate, or remove asbestos siding, always prioritize safety and consult with trained professionals. Don’t let asbestos siding be a lingering concern – take action today, contact KV construction LLC!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the names for asbestos siding?

Asbestos siding, also known as fibro, fibrolite or AC sheet, was a popular building material in the mid-20th century. It is now largely out of use because of its hazardous health effects.

Can you go over asbestos siding?

No, you should not go over asbestos siding. It is dangerous to disturb asbestos and doing so can potentially create a health hazard for you and those around you.

It is best to consult with a qualified professional if you discover asbestos siding on your property.

What kind of siding was used in the 80s?

The majority of siding used in the 80s was wood, although other materials such as vinyl, stucco, and fiber cement were beginning to emerge at the time.

The use of these alternative materials would become more prominent in the following decades.