Asbestos Siding, Safety, and Hazards

Asbestos siding is made of asbestos fibers mixed with Portland cement. The material was highly preferred as a home exterior due to its durability and fire-resistant nature. It is very brittle and easily cracks and breaks when under pressure, such as when nailed. Cracked or broken siding releases asbestos fibers into the air and the ground. Breathing these fibers is very dangerous as it may result in lung problems.

Asbestos siding: how dangerous, clean and removal

Asbestos is dangerous and is a causative agent of lung cancer and other serious lung diseases, however, it is essential to note that just having this siding on your home does not pose a hazard to your health. However, loose airborne asbestos fibers are dangerous and cause much more lung diseases than tightly bound or enclosed asbestos in asbestos siding or asbestos floor tiles.

The following options may be used to reduce the health hazards.

Leave the shingles undisturbed

Leaving the shingles undisturbed and in place on your walls has a low health risk as there will be no airborne flakes. While working on the siding, avoid scrubbing, brushing, or drilling that may cause particles of asbestos to fall off the wall. Also, remember to wear a respirator while working the stuff in order to be safe.


This operation can be easily carried out on other materials such as wood or metal, however, while working on asbestos siding, gently brush off the old, flaking paint while keeping the siding damp as this prevents dust. Be sure to wear a HEPA-rated respirator, disposable overalls, and gloves and work over tarps placed on the ground to catch flakes of paint.

Covering old asbestos with new siding

This activity may seem like a better option, too, but it is not very easy to carry out safely. Asbestos shingles are relatively stable but brittle. It’s not easy to drive screws and nails through them without drilling. This would, therefore, trigger dust, and asbestos dust is harmful and dangerous.

Removing old shingles and replacing with new ones

You really need to wear a respirator and a completely sealed set of disposable overalls in order to stay safe. You may also apply a layer of sheathing or sheets of foam insulation over the asbestos before covering it with vinyl siding. However, it is highly recommended that the asbestos siding be removed first, as this is the best alternative in the long run.

Be sure to check your area building codes and laws before you engage in the process. It is recommended that you engage a certified asbestos removal contractor to help you take off the asbestos siding in Calgary. The following safety guidelines must be followed to remove and dispose of the material appropriately safely:

  • Place a 6-millimeter plastic sheeting on the ground around the house to clasp any fragments from the removal site.
  • Place warning signs strategically and keep other people away from the area while working.
  • Wear disposable coveralls with a hood, rubber gloves, goggles, and rubber boots.
  • Wear a properly fitted respirator that is fitted with P100 cartridge filters and approved for asbestos.
  • You may need to check with your doctor to find out if you are medically fit to use the respirator.
  • Keep all doors and windows to the house closed during removal. Wet the asbestos siding and removed debris down with water before and during removal.
  • Always work from top-down, removing the snails in order to keep from breaking the asbestos siding.
    Work slowly and carefully to avoid breaking up the siding.
  • Do not throw or drop removed asbestos siding.
  • Wrap the siding in 6-millimetre thick plastic sheeting and secure the plastic with duct tape or place the debris in a heavy-duty plastic bag.
  • Dispose of the asbestos properly in a landfill or contact your local waste collection and disposal service to find out if they can pick up the material.
  • Dispose of all the clothing and boots used during asbestos removal.
  • Wash and clean all tools used during asbestos removal.
  • Bathe thoroughly after working with asbestos.

Once you have successfully removed the asbestos siding in Edmonton, install insulation and breathable house wrap over the sheathing before you can apply a new vinyl siding.