What Does Asbestos Siding Look Like?

By Amanda Lutz Updated May 13, 2024

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral in rocks and stone that was frequently found in floor tiles, insulation, and paint between the 1940s and 1970s. Lung cancer and other health risks associated with asbestos came to light in the 1970s, leading the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban products made with this material.

Many older homes in the U.S. still feature asbestos, so homeowners should consider removing it. Read our guide for tips on how to spot asbestos cement siding and to learn how and when to start the asbestos-removal process.


Types of Asbestos Siding

Some types of asbestos are common in building materials such as siding and shingles, but others aren’t. Some of the most popular forms of asbestos found in house siding include the following:


How to Identify Asbestos Siding

Identifying asbestos siding can be difficult and dangerous for homeowners. The only way to absolutely confirm whether you’ve found asbestos siding is by contacting an asbestos-removal professional and scheduling a testing. In the meantime, keep an eye out for the signs below.

Appearance

Asbestos fibers are tiny and difficult to identify visually, especially once they’ve been added to cement or paint. You can look for a wavy pattern on the bottom edge of siding material, which might point to asbestos. Also, check the back of siding shingles for a manufacturing code, which may help you determine the age and origin of the material.

Home Age

Asbestos was common between 1940 and 1970. If your home was built during this time period and retains any of its original features, there’s a good chance it contains asbestos.

Professional Inspection

The only way to definitively identify asbestos siding is through professional inspection. A professional can test your siding using sampling techniques like polarized light microscopy.


Is Asbestos Siding Dangerous?

Not all asbestos siding poses immediate health risks. If the siding remains in good condition and isn’t chipped, cracked, or warped, it won’t immediately harm you. Asbestos siding becomes a health hazard when it’s disturbed, at which point siding might release dangerous microscopic fibers into the air.

Asbestos might become damaged due to the following variables:

Asbestos exposure can lead to the following health risks:

If you have asbestos siding, don’t try to remove it with do-it-yourself (DIY) techniques. Contact a qualified asbestos abatement professional with whom you can discuss removal options and make sure that the process is safe.


Should Asbestos Siding Be Removed?

You can leave asbestos siding in place if the material is undamaged and if you’re unlikely to disturb it. Regularly inspect your siding for any signs of damage while wearing appropriate safety equipment

You might have to remove asbestos siding if you plan to renovate your home’s exterior. Contact an asbestos-removal professional if the siding is cracked, crumbling, or easily releases fibers. A professional can tell whether you need to install new siding or can leave it in place.

Benefits of Removing Asbestos Siding

Drawbacks of Removing Asbestos Siding

*Cost data via Angi.


Our Recommendation

If you suspect that your home contains asbestos materials, don’t attempt to remove them yourself. Instead, consult an experienced asbestos-removal company. Professionals can test your siding to determine if it contains asbestos and mention whether it should be removed. Regularly inspect siding for signs that asbestos may be damaged or cracked to keep your household safe.


Asbestos Siding FAQ

How can you tell if siding is asbestos?

You can tell if siding is asbestos based on when your home was built and how old it is. If your home was built before the 1980s and its siding is more than 50 years old, there’s a good chance that it contains asbestos.

When was asbestos siding used?

Use of asbestos siding was common in homes built between the 1940s and 1970s. It wasn’t used after the 1970s, at which point the EPA banned the material.

What do asbestos shingles look like on a house?

Asbestos shingles often have a wood grain pattern and measure 12×24 inches. Asbestos siding can also mimic the look of metal.

What matches asbestos siding?

James Hardie siding is an excellent alternative to asbestos siding. This fiber cement siding is asbestos-free but has similar durability, fire resistance, and weatherproofing.

Should I remove asbestos siding from my home?

You should almost always remove asbestos siding from your home. However, it may be safe to leave your siding in place if it remains in good condition.