Structure fires are rare, but they’re very destructive. So, builders typically used as much fireproofing material as possible, especially in exterior siding. This overuse is a classic example of the cure being worse than the disease. In their zeal to prevent fires, builders used asbestos and other toxic materials. Frequently, builders ignored known risks when they installed asbestos-laced siding onto homes across the country.

Fireproof Asbestos Siding: Miraculous but Highly Hazardous

Asbestos manufacturers, who are strictly liable for the injuries their defective products cause, aren’t the only parties at risk. Homeowners could also be at risk for liability lawsuits, if they knew or should have known about the hazard and didn’t properly address it. Since asbestos is so toxic, the financial stakes are very high. A single microscopic asbestos fiber could cause mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of heart/lung cancer. 

Removing and replacing asbestos-laced siding is usually the best approach in these situations, especially if you plan to continue living in the house. However, in some cases, painting the siding could be an effective and far less costly solution. But in general, painting over a problem is usually a bad idea. Keep reading to find out if the painting-over solution is right for you.

How to Paint Asbestos Siding

Step One: Inspection

It’s usually not a good idea to paint over a problem. That’s assuming you have a problem to begin with. Asbestos fibers are only dangerous when they enter the human body. As long as they’re below the surface, and there’s no way for them to escape into the air, homeowners have nothing to worry about.

Nevertheless, a potential problem exists. If your siding was made or installed before 1985, it almost certainly contains asbestos. So, the first step in this process is determining if an actual problem exists.

Outdoor siding takes a beating, especially in certain parts of the country. Look closely for hairline cracks and other subtle imperfections. Before you inspect, protect yourself. Wear protective clothing that covers you from head to toe. No skin should be exposed to the air. Immediately after the inspection, dispose of all the clothing. That includes your shoes and socks.

Step Two: Testing

If you see any structural flaws, you should test for asbestos. If the siding is perfectly intact, meaning that it’s in factory-fresh condition, you can safely skip to step three.

The Challenges of DIY Asbestos Testing

Testing outdoor siding for asbestos is a tricky process. There’s a good chance that any asbestos fibers in the siding have already leaked out. Therefore, a self-test of the trouble spot will almost certainly be negative. This false negative does nothing to give you peace of mind, and it probably wouldn’t refute a victim’s constructive knowledge (should have known) assertion.

Additionally, inspecting for asbestos is hazardous, even if you are fully protected. You’ve already tempted fate once. It’s not a good idea to do so again.

Professional Asbestos Testing

So, partnering with a professional asbestos testing company is probably the best move. Each company has its own methods. Generally, however, a technician comes to the home, isolates the area, extracts a sample, and sends it to a testing center. Another advantage of a professional test is that the results come back in a few days instead of the few weeks often required for DIY tests.

If the professional test is negative, even if your siding has a hairline fissure or two, painting over the asbestos siding might still be an option.

Step Three: Painting

This final step is really three steps. Asbestos-laced siding must be cleaned, painted, and sealed. You must protect yourself, and anyone else who comes near the hotspot, as outlined above.

Don’t power wash the siding to clean it.

The extreme pressure could widen existing cracks or cause new ones to form. Instead, use a firm-bristled brush and a mild cleanser or detergent to hand wash the siding. This process is quite time-consuming, but it’s also the safe way. Throw away all cleaning materials, and we do mean all of them, after you finish. Then, give the siding a final gentle rinse with a garden hose. Once the siding dries, sand it down and use latex primer to cover it.

Painting Asbestos Siding After Proper Preparation

After the siding is completely prepped, you’re ready to paint over it. Enscapsulent paints, which people often use to cover lead, work very well in these situations as well. As a bonus, this paint is almost as good a fireproofer as asbestos. Enscapulent paint forms an attractive and effective barrier between the asbestos underneath the surface and the outside air.

Use at least two coats of paint. After it dries, cover it with a satin latex finish. This finish protects your home from various kinds of moisture. The latex satin also improves the paint job’s luminosity. Don’t clean or otherwise touch the siding for at least a week thereafter. Once you follow these three steps, friends, family, and other visitors should be protected from asbestos exposure at your house. is your comprehensive resource for all things asbestos. We hope this information helps you.

If you believe that your home was contaminated with asbestos, you could be entitled to significant compensation – money you could use to cover the costs of asbestos removal services, pay for medical treatment, and preemptively protect your physical well-being.

In addition to legal claims,veterans disability, social security and employment protection like workers compensation, FELA and The Jones Act for maritime workers, there are asbestos trusts that have been set up to compensate those harmed by asbestos without having to file a lawsuit.

If you have any additional questions or concerns related to asbestos, including testing for exposure or how to file a claim, please get in touch by email at [email protected] (833) 4-ASBESTOS (427-2378) or (206) 455-9190