If your home was built or sided before the 1970s and the material covering your home is not made of wood, aluminum, or vinyl, there is a chance it may contain asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral added to many products in the early 20th century to improve their fire resistance. While most buildings that use asbestos stucco and brick were commercial, many homes were clad in asbestos shingles, often called asbestos wood or asbestos cement shingles. If the siding is in good shape, it poses no threat. If it begins to crumble, however, it can cause serious health concerns for your family. If you suspect your home has asbestos siding of any kind, you may want to have it tested and potentially removed.
Several different products were used in siding and home construction that contain asbestos. This leads to a range of associated costs. The national average range for removing asbestos siding is $10,500 to $13,500, with most people paying around $12,000 for the safe removal and disposal of 1,500 sq.ft. of asbestos shingle siding. The low cost for this project is around $3,000 for the removal and disposal of asbestos brick used around the perimeter of a home. The high cost for this project is $22,500 for the safe removal and disposal of 1,500 sq.ft. of asbestos stucco that has become friable and started to crumble.
|Average Cost to Remove Asbestos Siding|
|National average cost||$12,000|
The only sure way to determine if your home has asbestos siding is to have it tested. This is a process where a 1-inch section is safely removed from your home by a professional and sent for testing. The test costs around $30, and the removal of the section costs roughly $50.
Not all siding installed in the early part of the 20th century contains asbestos. If your home was built or sided before the 1970s, and it has a shingle covering that looks like wood at first glance but is uniform in size, shape, and color, it likely contains asbestos. Asbestos may have been added to adhesives, insulation, and plasterwork as well. In some rare instances, it may have been added to residential stucco and brick, although these were more likely to be used on commercial properties and schools.
If your home is in an urban area and is close to other homes, this may increase the odds that your home has asbestos siding. Asbestos was frequently used in urban areas to prevent the spread of fire between homes built close to one another.
Asbestos siding that is friable, or delicate to touch, and easily damaged or broken up by hand pressure, is a significant health concern and should be removed as soon as possible. Asbestos siding in good solid condition is not as dangerous as siding with asbestos that’s weak and crumbling. Once old asbestos siding becomes hazardous, homeowners may have it removed to prevent the asbestos fibers from leaking into the air and entering the lungs. Airborne asbestos fibers most commonly occur after cutting, drilling, sanding, or sawing siding or other contaminated materials. If someone inhales asbestos, they are at risk of developing severe lung disease, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.
The majority of asbestos siding is asbestos shingle, which costs an average of $7 to $9 a square foot to remove and dispose of. Costs can be higher for materials that are in poor condition or that are becoming friable, meaning that they are crumbling and the asbestos fibers are at risk of becoming airborne. In those cases, costs per square foot could go as high as $15 a square foot for most areas, and $20 a square foot for areas that are difficult to reach and contain:
|Amount to Remove||Average Cost Range (Labor Included)|
|500 sq.ft.||$3,500 - $4,500|
|1,000 sq.ft.||$7,000 - $9,000|
|1,500 sq.ft.||$10,500 - $13,500|
|2,000 sq.ft.||$14,000 - $18,000|
|2,500 sq.ft.||$17,500 - $22,500|
While asbestos was added to many different materials in the early 20th century, it was only regularly added to a few types of siding material. Each of those materials has a long lifespan and may still be present on homes today. Each material has a range of costs for removal, depending partly on the condition it is in. If the material is crumbling or breaks apart easily, it costs more to remove. And, it depends on how asbestos presents in that material:
|Siding Material||Average Cost to Remove per Sq. Ft. (Labor Included)|
|Asbestos Brick||$2 - $6|
|Asbestos Fiber Cement||$7 - $9|
|Asbestos Stucco||$15 - $20|
Removing asbestos brick siding has costs that are nearly identical to those of removing regular brick - around $2 to $6 a square foot. Asbestos brick siding is actually not very dangerous at all. The asbestos fibers bond with the brick in a way that they will not become airborne easily. The brick would have to be reduced to a very fine powder, and even then, it is less of a risk than other materials. So while precautions will likely still be taken when removing it, the costs are not substantially higher than the removal of normal bricks. Brick is also the least likely to become friable or be a hazard as it ages, which means that most asbestos bricks can be left safely in place.
Removing asbestos shingle siding costs around $7 to $9 a square foot. This is the most common asbestos siding. It looks like a wood shingle and is sometimes called asbestos wood siding. It is made of Portland cement and is the first type of fiber cement siding. While today’s fiber cement uses cellulose fiber, asbestos shingles use asbestos fiber. These shingles can last for years without issue. If they are in good condition, they will cost less to remove. If they are becoming friable and starting to crumble, they will cost more to remove.
The cost to remove asbestos stucco siding is between $15 and $20 a square foot on average. Asbestos stucco is actually fairly rare in residential homes. The asbestos was added to plaster, so it was more common indoors than outside. It was used on schools and other commercial buildings to reduce the threat of fire and, therefore, could be requested by homeowners for the same reason. Because removing stucco can produce a lot of dust, this is the most dangerous type of asbestos siding to remove. Therefore, it takes longer, requires water to keep the siding wet at all times, and more containment to prevent it from escaping.
The labor costs for removing asbestos siding and the cost to dispose of asbestos siding make up the bulk of what you pay for this project. Labor usually works out to about $200 an hour, with the additional costs for containment materials, protective equipment, and disposal added into the final figure of $7 to $20 a square foot.
Asbestos cannot be set out with the trash. It must also be adequately wrapped and properly labeled for disposal so that the fibers cannot come free and become airborne. This, plus the care the workers must take to protect themselves, you, and the surrounding area while they work, is the reason for the high cost of the project.
If you have asbestos siding on your home currently, it can be left alone if it is not in poor condition. However, if you dislike its appearance or it is becoming friable and beginning to break or crumble, consider replacement. When asbestos siding becomes an aesthetic and/or health concern, many homeowners opt to pay for the cost to remove asbestos siding and replace it with vinyl siding or other common materials like wood, metal, or brick. The cost of replacing asbestos siding includes the cost of removal and the new siding you want to install:
|Replacement Material||Cost per sq.ft to Remove Asbestos and Replace with New Siding (Labor Included)|
|Wood||$9 - $44|
|Vinyl||$9.30 - $22|
|Metal||$10 - $43|
|Cedar||$10.50 - $44|
|Fiber Cement||$13 - $22|
|Stucco||$13 - $29|
|Brick||$14 - $25|
|Stone||$20 - $49|
If your asbestos siding is in good condition, it is not crumbling, breaking, or at risk, an alternative to removal is encapsulation. This is the process of essentially surrounding the material in a layer of adhesive-based paint, which prevents the asbestos fibers from becoming airborne. This is much less expensive than removal and replacement and costs between $2 and $6 a square foot.
While this is a less hazardous way of dealing with asbestos than removal, it is still subject to local laws. Therefore, you need to work with a qualified asbestos expert to have your siding encapsulated. Doing otherwise could be violating local laws.
In many areas, it is illegal to add siding over existing asbestos siding. If it is legal, it is still not recommended. To install most sidings, you need to screw or drill through the current substrate. Doing this causes the asbestos fibers to become airborne, which pose potential health risks.
The only way to safely side over asbestos is to first cover the asbestos in foam insulation sheathing. This should be adhered to the asbestos siding using adhesives. The new siding should be attached to the sheathing and not to the asbestos. This poses a few problems, however. The installation is only as good as the asbestos siding. If it fails, the entire siding job will fail. It is also not possible to continue to monitor the condition of the asbestos siding once it is covered with another siding. If it begins to crumble or become friable, it can potentially cause problems in the future, without the homeowner being aware.
|Material||Cost per Square Foot to Install Over Asbestos(Labor Included)|
|Vinyl||$5 - $20|
|Wood||$5 - $40|
|Stucco||$8 - $15|
Vinyl siding installed over asbestos costs between $5 and $20 a square foot. This includes first covering the asbestos in a rigid foam sheathing. The vinyl would be installed over the foam. Vinyl click locks to itself, not to the substrate. So, this would be a safer material than some others to put over asbestos because the nails potentially penetrating are fewer in number. Care should be taken to prevent moisture problems with the insulation and vinyl. Since neither are breathable, this could lead to mold beneath the asbestos siding.
The cost of installing wood siding over asbestos ranges from $5 to $40 a square foot. This includes first covering the asbestos in a rigid foam sheathing. The wood would need to be attached to the sheathing. It would be crucial to ensure that no nails went into the asbestos below. This could cause problems with the wood siding installation over time. Wood over foam sheathing can be done, but the average sheathing is only 2-inches thick, meaning that the nails would need to be shorter than this length to avoid penetrating the asbestos.
The cost to stucco over asbestos siding is $8 to $15 a square foot. The safest way to stucco over asbestos would be to use EIFS stucco. This is a synthetic stucco that uses a foam sheath as its base. Other types of stucco use a metal lath that would need to be screwed into the asbestos. EIFS could be safely installed over asbestos. This siding is prone to moisture problems, however, so take care not to disturb the asbestos to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
To remove, encapsulate, or otherwise work with or disturb asbestos in most areas, you need to follow strict regulations. This includes the proper protection of yourself, the surrounding area, and any potential passersby.
Anyone working with asbestos should protect themselves with disposable coveralls and a respirator. The surrounding area should be contained with plastic sheeting to prevent the fibers from leaving the area. If the material is friable, it should be kept wet so that the fibers do not break off and become airborne.
The siding should be removed carefully to keep breakage to a minimum. It needs to be disposed of according to local regulations. This usually means wrapping each section in plastic and labeling it as a hazardous material.
Because it is illegal to work with or dispose of asbestos materials improperly, it is best to hire a trained asbestos specialist to remove the siding from your home. To do otherwise could be risking fines or even jail time in some areas.
In many areas, it is illegal to disturb asbestos siding in any way without following strict regulations. Therefore, have your asbestos siding cleaned professionally if needed. Most asbestos siding dates back to a time when lead paint was also in use. Therefore, when you clean the siding, you risk not only the asbestos fibers breaking free, you also risk lead exposure.
When the siding needs to be cleaned, carefully use a soft brush, mild detergent, and a hose. Do not attempt to clean asbestos siding using a pressure washer. The siding should not be cleaned if it appears brittle in any way.
Another area where asbestos may be present, especially in older homes, is the gutter system. Original gutters and downpipes that are 40 or more years old may contain asbestos. If your asbestos siding is being removed, you may want to have the contractor check out the gutters and downpipes too. Safe removal of asbestos gutters and downpipes costs $1,500 to $5,000.
The cost of removing asbestos roofing shingles is between $20 and $120 a square foot. The reason for the high range is in part due to the roof slope. The higher the pitch, the higher the cost. Roofing shingles may also have asbestos in their mastic, which also presents additional challenges to their removal.
Insurance does not normally cover asbestos siding abatement. If the siding was damaged by something that the company covers, then the abatement should be covered as part of the repair or replacement process.
It is not recommended, and in some places, it is illegal to do so. It can be done if the siding is first covered in foam sheathing, but it is not advised.
Yes, it is extremely hazardous, and most workers who installed the original materials later suffered extreme health conditions and often died as a result.
Today’s fiber cement siding does not contain asbestos. It contains cellulose fiber instead. Cement siding dating from the 1930s to the 1970s, however, likely does.
No, doing so may damage it, which could cause the asbestos fibers to come free. When they become airborne, they present a serious health and safety risk.
Asbestos siding was used from the 1950s to the early 1970s. Homes built during these years that still have their original siding should be checked for asbestos.
Asbestos siding was made to resemble wood grain. It may look like shingles with a wavy pattern. A chalky texture and several nail holes at the bottom of each panel are other indicators of asbestos siding.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implemented the Asbestos Ban and Phase-Out Rule (ABPR) in July 1989. Before that, the Clean Air Act of 1970 labeled asbestos as a hazardous air pollutant.