"What Does Asbestos Look Like?" 4 Possible Indications of Asbestos

(3.5-min read)

While we’ve written about the history of asbestos, the dangers of do-it-yourself asbestos testing, and what the process of asbestos abatement looks like, there’s something we haven’t yet jumped into—how to tell if asbestos may be present in your home or building.

Disclaimer: In no way, shape, or form do we recommend interacting with what could potentially be asbestos. This resource is simply designed to help you and building occupants understand your risks and to remain safe during a demolition or renovation project.

Possible Asbestos Indication 1: The Age of the Materials

Asbestos was a prevalent building material for quite a long time, making it present in a variety of products. This doesn’t mean, however, that “asbestos” will definitely be listed on any product labels. Because of this, the date of the manufacturing of building materials may indicate the likelihood of the presence of asbestos in the product. If a building material label or description indicates that was manufactured between 1940 till 1990, there is an increased chance that asbestos is present. Any materials made after 1995 are of a significantly decreased chance of containing asbestos.

Possible Asbestos Indication 2: The Style of the Building Joints

While asbestos particles are microscopic and not visible to the naked eye, some building methods may denote the presence of asbestos building materials. One of these indications is the style of building joints. It was common practice on building exteriors to join sheets of asbestos together with aluminum runners. Such runners were typically held together with small, point-free nails. These construction styles may also contain adhesives and glues that contain asbestos. These styles of joints, nails, and adhesives may all indicate the presence of asbestos.

Possible Asbestos Indication 3: Surface Textures & Patterns

While not a direct indicator, one can determine quite a bit about the nature of building materials by their surface textures and patterns. Just like plastic, wood, metal, concrete, and fiberglass all have a signature texture, a good deal of asbestos building materials do as well. This texture usually contains smaller divets or dimples in sheets of asbestos. This smattering of tiny dips or dimples is not often found in other such materials and may be a sign that the sheet may contain asbestos.

Possible Asbestos Indication 4: Shape of Exterior Components

Due to its fire retardant qualities, asbestos was a very popular additive to other building materials. Roof shingles and exterior siding panels were often treated with an asbestos coating. This coating, at times, resembles a thin, fibrous layer of concrete with the dimpling we mentioned before. If a building material appears to have such coating, this may indicate the presence of asbestos. 

Think It’s Asbestos? Safe Abatement is Possible

If your home or building was constructed between 1940 and 1990 and you have reason to believe that there’s a chance of the presence of asbestos, do not come into contact with the suspected material. Notify the asbestos abatement professionals from DT Specialized Services in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The demolition and hazardous materials professionals can safely identify and remove all dangerous materials from your property.