If you do a simple Google search of the term “asbestos siding”, a variety of results will show up. Everything from everyday people in forum groups discussing the risks of buying a home with that type of siding to articles detailing the dangers of doing so.
One thing you will not find much of is information on how to identify siding that may contain the hazardous substance. After all, it is pretty easy to spot building materials, such as natural stone and brick, that are not asbestos ridden. However, do you know the types of siding that can contain asbestos? And, what can you do if you do identify asbestos siding when you are thinking of purchasing a new home or remodeling an existing one?
Type of Asbestos Siding
How to Identify Each Type of Siding
You may be wondering, “what is real stucco?” Real stucco is comprised of a mixture of cement and other materials like sand and water. Once the mixture has reached a certain consistency, it is pasted directly a hard surface (like drywall or an exterior wall). Various grades of sand are often used to ensure a certain texture. Also, stucco can be tinted to achieve a certain hue and to cut down on the amount of paint necessary to finish the look of a home’s exterior.
Synthetic stucco has the appearance of real stucco but is made differently, and for less cost. It consists of a few (three) layers, which include an outer layer of textured finish coat; a middle that contains a cement base coat; and a glue to round out the third layer. That layer is the one that is reinforced with a fiberglass mesh to construct a insulation board.
One of the easiest ways to determine whether or not your home’s exterior is stucco is to observe for swelled areas. For example, if the trim is dramatically different in appearance after signs of normal wear and tear, you may have stucco siding. Also, if you can knock on the structure and it sounds hollow, it is more than likely synthetic stucco.
Wood siding is fairly easy to identify. Like wood flooring, wood siding is identified by...well, wood. Synthetic wood siding looks like natural wood siding, but it’s mainly comprised of wood fibers, flakes or chips that are bound by glue and other adhesives. The best way to know the type of wood siding you are dealing with is to visit an unaltered area in your home (like the attic), and find the wood siding “tag” containing manufacturer information.
With each type of siding, there is potential for the presence of asbestos. You might not have known that asbestos siding is a specific type of siding that has been used for years. It was introduced during the turn of the 20th century. To comprising the siding, the strong asbestos fibers were combined with substances such as cement and molded together to make asbestos siding. Like other forms of asbestos use, the siding was done away with during the late 1970s, early 1980s. Because the material is so toxic, the only way to determine that you have asbestos siding is to have it tested. Some of the characteristics that are unique to asbestos siding include shingle/shake form 12″x24″, with a few nail contained at the bottom portion of each panel.
There are many types of sidings and they each have their own risks for asbestos exposure. In any event, asbestos siding is harmless unless disturbed. If you are unsure if your home contains the substance, choose the safe route and call an asbestos removal professional for an assessment.