Alternatives to Asbestos Siding

Many houses in the US has sidings – these are protective sheets that looks fantastic but also offer insulation, weatherproofing, and noise reduction. In decades past, the most popular types of siding contained asbestos due to its fantastic construction properties.

However, today, asbestos is no longer used in residential construction, there is no more mining, and there are tight regulations on its usage. Therefore, it’s important to know about the alternatives to asbestos siding, both from a safety point, and to modernize your home.

Asbestos Siding – A Brief Introduction

Before we look what to use when replacing asbestos siding, it’s important to understand a little about the product and why it shouldn’t be used anymore. For more information you can check out our guide on asbestos siding.

When was asbestos siding used

Asbestos siding was widely used in the USA until the 1980s. From the early 1900s onward, the US had huge asbestos mining operations and the substance was used in various construction and military applications including sidings.

Therefore, it is generally recognized that if your home was built before 1990, it could have asbestos sidings. After this point, asbestos was generally phased out of residential construction and manufacturers had to sell off or use their excess stock. It is no longer mined in the country today, and regulations mean that only a smaller number of products can contain a maximum of 1% asbestos.

The potential dangers of asbestos siding

When asbestos sidings are whole and undamaged, there is little to no health risk. The danger arises when the asbestos fibres are disturbed and become airborne. If you breathe in asbestos fibres from the siding, they can cause asbestosis.

This is a debilitating condition that causes irreversible lung damage. In mild cases, it can harm your breathing and energy levels. In extreme cases it can cause lung cancer.

Removing asbestos siding

If you find that your siding contains asbestos (you can buy asbestos sampling kits from us to test for asbestos manually), it is inadvisable to try and remove it yourself. You will not have the correct protective equipment which could potentially expose you to the asbestos fibres.

Additionally, you will not have the correct packaging and storage to dispose of the siding. Therefore, it is best practice to seek professional help. There are companies who specialize in the removal of asbestos from properties including sidings. They will be fully trained in the removal and handling of asbestos and have all the require equipment.

Moreover, they will be able to offer advice on how to safely move in and around your home until the asbestos siding can be removed.

Alternatives to Asbestos Siding

Today, asbestos sidings are not used in the USA due to safety concerns. However, that doesn’t mean that your home doesn’t contain asbestos. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives to asbestos siding.

In most instances, the sidings simply use different additive materials instead of asbestos that still have similar resistant properties. There is a wide range of construction manufacturers who specialize in non-asbestos sidings so it shouldn’t be difficult to order them for your property.

The basic premise is that the cement or fibreboard now uses an alternative to asbestos fibres. Until the 1980s, asbestos was the best additive for construction materials. As technologies advanced, better materials were found as replacements that did not have the same potential health hazards.

Below, we take a look at some of the most common modern sidings used.

Reinforced fibre-cement siding

One of the main replacements for asbestos siding is fibre cement sidings. This was developed in the 1980s and is one of the most reliable alternatives to asbestos siding.

The fibre-cement is made from a mixture of materials including cellulose fibre (grown from pine trees), cement, sand, and water. The cellulose fibre is the main filler and this is what replaces the asbestos fibres.

It has similar properties including non-combustible, water resistance, resistance to permanent water damage, UV resistant, and shouldn’t warp or rot. This fibre-cement produces a fantastic siding that is also much safer than asbestos-based products.

Cement Wall Shingles

Similarly, to reinforced fibre-cement siding, there is also cement wall shingles. These are largely the same product and are still made from a mix of sand, water, cement, and non-asbestos fibres. They are then made into siding trips that are used to cover the external walls of properties.

These products have brilliant insulation, heat-resistance, and waterproofing properties. The shingles usually have a wavy pattern or a different design to standard fibre-cement siding and can be far more decorative.

Composite Siding

Composite siding is a more generic term used to mean any type of siding that is created from a mixture (or composition) of materials. Generally, composite siding takes the best properties from things like fibre-cement but doesn’t have the drawbacks.

For example, it can imitate the appearance of wood, but doesn’t contain any wood and therefore will not rot and isn’t susceptible to insect damage. Furthermore, composite siding is available in a wide range of colors and designs. Due to the resistant properties, it should never need a touch-up or painting either and will not fade over time.

The way that the panels interlock means a quick and safe installation too. Moreover, the durability of the composite sidings mean they shouldn’t chip or crack. Typically, materials used instead of asbestos in these products include fibreglass, and perlite aggregate.

Consider Alternatives to Asbestos Sidings for a Safer Property

If your house does still have asbestos sidings, we advise taking extreme precautions. If the sidings become damaged, you could release asbestos fibres which are incredibly dangerous when disturbed. They can result in asbestosis, permament lung damage, and even lung cancer.

Therefore, we advise testing your sidings for asbestos using our sampling kits. If you do find asbestos present and the condition of your sidings is deteriorating, it could be beneficial to refurb your home and use one of the aforementioned alternatives to asbestos siding.