Buying House with Asbestos Siding (worried)

zzzlifeAugust 2, 2008

Hello Everyone,

Please help me 'think through!' I am looking at a house (to buy) which has asbestos siding. This has gotten me worried. ANY advice you can give will be much appreciated.

Thank you all in advance.

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Asbestos siding is no problem if it's in good shape.
It's also not the kind that is friable, meaning the particles aren't going to be floating in the air.

Here is a link that might be useful: There may be more answers here...

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 5:11PM
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My understanding is:

there is no problem unless you break them into a thousand pieces and leave them sitting in the yard.

We left them alone, and got a good paint job. You can even buy new cement shingles that do not contain asbestos to replace broken ones.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 9:06PM
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I owned a house with asbestos siding. It didn't cause any problems.

We took it off of the front of the house to expose the original clapboards, but left it on the sides and back.

It really holds paint well. I drive by the house every once in awhile and the 1996 paint job is faded but not peeling at all.

The asbestos siding wasn't a issue when we sold the house. No one mentioned anything about it.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 3:42PM
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I would check with a building inspector to get a professional opinion. We lived for 10 years in a house that was built in 1930 that had asbestos insulation in the steam pipes all over the cellar. When we put it up for sale in 1986 we learned for the first time that this was an issue. We could not sell the house until we had it removed professionally, which cost us a lot of money and the air quality after the removal had to be checked.

Fast forward to 1991: We bought a house built in 1985 that had vinyl flooring in the kitchen that we wanted to remove. We were told that it was right around 1985 that they outlawed asbestos in the vinyl flooring, so no one would remove it because they weren't sure if it had asbestos. We decided to leave it in place and put new vinyl over it.

In the first case, the asbestos posed a hazard for indoor air quality, especially if it was disturbed. We never touched it. In the second case the asbestos is sequestered and poses no hazard unless it is disturbed, and there is no reason to do that.

In your case, the asbestos is outdoors. That's a different situation. If you ever want to remove it, that would have to be done according to EPA strict rules to prevent the stuff from crumbling into dust particles and flying in the air.

Based on what I have experienced, I would err on the side of caution and ask the seller to remove it professionally according to EPA rules, but then it will be up to you to install new siding. Alternatively, you could install new siding over the asbestos siding, if that can be done without causing the asbestos to crumble.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 8:51PM
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No need to worry! The asbestos in the cement siding is not at all comparable to asbestos insulation - which is generally pretty crumbly and loose stuff ("friable" as they say). With the cement siding the asbestos fibers are locked in and are not going anywhere - plus the coat of paint over it is further protection. If you are getting the house inspected be sure to call around and pick someone who has experience and interest in old houses - you might ask them their opinion about it before you even make the offer.

As previous poster stated, it really does hold paint well (not like wood that expands and contracts) and doesn't rot so why would you even need to think of removing it? Some people around here paint their shingles in a faux wood texture in attractive vintage colors - actually can look quite nice.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 5:56PM
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Encapsulated asbestos is, as others have said, NOT a problem.

Don't go scraping or sanding it, though.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 11:48PM
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My house has asbestos siding. It holds paint very well and I haven't had any issues with it. They also make fiber cement shingles that are a good match to many of the old asbestos shingles if one gets damaged.

When I purchased my house it also had asbestos insulation for the steam pipes in the basement. On the advice of my lawyer, we had the sellers remove it as a condition of sale. In retrospect, as I then had to buy pipe insulation which never quite fit as well as that asbestos had, I should have requested that they encapsulate rather than remove the asbestos.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 11:12AM
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Hello, I just found this site after I questioned google. I am thinking of buying a house with asbestos siding. The siding is in great shape and the contractor who is selling the hundred year old house painted the shingles.
do all of your answers still remain true three years later.
Have you had any problems with resale.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 1:09AM
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I would get a home inspection, to make sure there's no asbestos in the insulation or around the pipes. If all you have is the siding (and you're not planning to replace it) I haven't heard of any problems.

Might be a good idea to double check that asbestos siding is not a problem in your area...and what steps you'd have to take, if you ever decided to remove it. Check with your local or county building department :)

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 5:46PM
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Siding is not friable (capable of being broken up with bare hands).

If it has been painted it is even less likely to be a problem.

Removal is usually a 'bag and tag' activity.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 6:46PM
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If you need replacement siding tiles, I have some I just getting ready to sell. - Contact me at

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 10:54AM
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