What Does Asbestos Siding Look Like?

Asbestos was banned from the construction trades in the 1970s, so many people today need to know what asbestos siding looks like. It’s a fibrous substance with lots of thin particles. When these particles become airborne, they present an extreme health hazard when inhaled. This is why it is so very important when working around old structures that you can readily identify it. Here are some ideas about what to look for:

Roof Shingle Look

Asbestos siding usually looks a lot like roof shingles. It is very brittle and has a black tar-paper-like backing. The front appears with a grainy sandy-like texture. Unfortunately, asbestos siding was originally designed to mimic many different types of materials.

Wood Grain Texture

Old asbestos siding tiles may also have a wood-grain texture like cedar. Most likely the shingles are in two sizes – 12 inch or 24 inch. The bottom of an asbestos siding tile may have a wave-like pattern, though not always. This is the most common pattern used.

Testing for Positive ID

The best method for determining if a substance contains asbestos is to send a sample to a lab for testing. There was some concern in the latter part of the last century that asbestos was a harmful substance, so manufacturers began to “disguise” its presence in many products, making visual identification nearly impossible.

Check with your local municipal building code inspectors for help determining if your examined structure contains asbestos.