Asbestos siding is made up of asbestos fibers mixed with cement and was applied to home exteriors as shingles and panels. It was a popular siding material used on homes into the 1980s because it resisted pest damage and rot, and stood up to the weather for years. But reports of its health hazards caused it to be banned. In 1989, asbestos siding materials were banned in the United States due to the associated health risks if asbestos is inhaled in large quantities over time.
Read on to learn to recognize if your home is covered in asbestos siding.
How to Identify Asbestos Siding on Your Pennsylvania Home
Clue #1: Asbestos Has Distinct Features You Can See
Asbestos siding was made in a wide variety of textures, shapes, and sizes. It came looking like stucco, natural wood siding, synthetic wood siding, and vinyl siding. Asbestos was particularly prevalent in siding that resembles shingles or wood grain.
If you see a combination of any of the following characteristics, it’s likely your siding contains asbestos.
- Asbestos has a chalky texture to it.
- There are usually two or three nails at the bottom of each asbestos siding panel.
- Asbestos siding feels a lot denser than fiber cement siding.
- The size of most asbestos siding panels is 12-inches by 24-inches.
- There is a pressed wood grain pattern or a wavy pattern at the bottom of asbestos siding panels.
- Note: asbestos-free siding has a manufacturing code stamped on the back, so if there isn’t this type of code on the back of your current siding panels, they could contain asbestos.
Clue #2: The Year Your Home Was Built Is a Big Clue to Whether You Have Asbestos or Not
- If your home was built before 1970 or 1980, it may be covered in asbestos siding.
- Properties that are up to 100 years old may contain asbestos siding.
- If your house is still covered in its original siding, there is a good possibility that it may be asbestos.
- Note: not all manufacturers added asbestos to their siding, so just because your home is old and has its original siding doesn’t guarantee it’s covered in asbestos.
Clue #3: There Are Multiple Layers of Paint on Your Siding
- If there are many layers of paint on your home exterior, it may indicate asbestos siding.
- Check to see if there are several layers of paint on your home to help determine how probable it is if your home is covered in asbestos or not.
The Dangers of Asbestos Siding
Asbestos siding was prized for its extreme durability, strength, and heat resistance. It was a good insulator and fire retardant. But asbestos siding’s risks clearly didn’t outweigh the benefits. And as it ages, it becomes brittle, causing it to break off easily. When asbestos gets airborne, it can get into the lungs and contribute to diseases such as lung cancer—so it’s nothing to mess with. This toxic substance should only be handled by the pros.
Surprisingly, asbestos is harmless unless it is disturbed or gets so old that it gets into the air. Asbestos is most dangerous when its fibers are mobilized. If your siding starts to break off or chip, the asbestos gets into the air and can be inhaled and cause harm. If you examine your siding before calling a contractor, wear a mask and disposable gloves to protect yourself.
What to Do if You Think You Have Asbestos Siding
Don’t Put Yourself at Risk—Have Your Siding Professionally Inspected
If you think you may have asbestos siding, stay out of harm’s way by avoiding the idea of a DIY siding removal, and instead contact a reputable contractor to have your siding inspected. Make sure the contractor has extensive experience with asbestos removal and that they do it up to code to ensure the protection of their team as well as you and your family. The pros will take the necessary safety precautions and ensure there is no trace of asbestos after they leave.
Get Your Asbestos Siding Safely Removed by Our Experienced Team
Finding out that you have asbestos siding on your home can be pretty concerning—but when you hire a reputable contractor (like us!) who has decades of experience safely removing asbestos, you can rest assured that the situation will be resolved carefully and completely.
For the safety of homeowners, at Porter Family Contracting, we handle the removal and disposal of asbestos siding. We’re careful not to cut, grind, or break up the siding—keeping it from getting airborne. Learn more about how our Asbestos Siding Removal Services can safely remove your asbestos siding and replace it with a healthy, durable alternative.
We offer two viable siding replacement solutions: durable James Hardie fiber cement siding, or cost-effective vinyl siding. We are a James Hardie Elite Preferred contractor, so your siding will be installed right the first time. We’ve been trained by the manufacturer to ensure you get the long-term usage Hardie products were engineered to deliver.