How To Tell the Difference Between Slate and Asbestos Sidings

Slate siding and asbestos siding are two entirely different items. Both were used extensively in the construction industry until the 1970's when asbestos was banned.

Step 1

Asbestos cement siding is a mixture of Portland cement and asbestos fibers. The cement binds the fibers into a hard mass. The Johns-Manville company developed asbestos cement in 1905. The original purpose of the product was for use in areas where extreme heat or fire needed to be contained, such as chimneys, walls and ceiling. The next natural step was the creation of siding and shingles. The addition of asbestos to siding materials also increased its durability and strength.

Step 2

Ways to tell if the siding on your house  possibly contains asbestos:

  • Installation of the siding prior to 1978 would suggest that it probably contain asbestos
  • Asbestos cement usually came from the factory painted white on one side
  • Home owners would occasionally paint over the siding when it became weather; if there are several layers of paint on your siding, it probably contains asbestos.
  • If your home has been remodeled or added on to, check around the new opening; the new fiber cement siding will have a code stamped on the back.
  • If the remodel is fairly new, check the demotion debris for remains of asbestos siding.

Step 3

Asbestos is dangerous! When you start cutting, ripping, or sanding is when you run into trouble. The removal is not simple and should only be attempted by professionals.

Step 4

Slate siding is a natural stone, quite expensive and most often used as roofing. Slate does not contain asbestos

  • Sculpings is the term used for blocks of slate that can be used as siding. They are usually 8-16 inches long, 2-7 inches high, and 4-6 inches deep. They are laid like brick to create a stone veneer on the outside wall. The shape will be uniform, however the texture will vary.
  • Sculpings are available in color options such as Purple and Heathermore Gray, Unfading Gray, and Unfading Mottled Green.

Slate has proven to be resistant to wear and maintains its natural beauty over time. It durability, low maintenance, and distinct identity continue to make it a popular and practical roofing and siding choose. Asbestos on the other hand had been banned, and should be removed by professionals.


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