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Is It Safe to Stucco Over Asbestos Siding?

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Guy in Florida who’s got some asbestos tiles which could be a bad situation.

    Guy, where are the tiles and what kind of condition are they in?

    GUY: Well, the house was built in – first of all, thanks for taking my call.

    TOM: You’re welcome.

    LESLIE: Not a problem.

    GUY: The house was built in 1957; same year I was built. (Leslie chuckles) It’s got the white, asbestos tiles around the outside. I also have a rental property in the back that has the same thing. What I was thinking of doing is removing the tiles and putting something over it and I didn’t know if it was just easier or better, safer to go right over top of the asbestos tiles or to remove them completely and go with like a stucco or a siding or something like that.

    TOM: Well, that’s a great question. Now is there anything wrong with the asbestos?

    GUY: No, no. It’s in good condition. It’s all painted. You know, a couple of them are cracked a little bit. I actually like a stucco-type look because it’s going to be a rental property eventually.

    TOM: OK.

    GUY: And so I thought, “Well, why don’t I just go right over the top of it but then I thought, “Well, do you remove the tiles first? Is it safe to go right over top of them?

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: I think if you go right over top of them, as long as the tiles are intact, you’re not releasing any asbestos. But if you start to go over the tile and the tile behind it starts to disintegrate, then you’re actually releasing the asbestos, which is bad.

    TOM: Yeah. Plus, if you ever have to repair that or you have to replace the new siding that you put on, you have a million busted pieces of asbestos tile from all the nails going through. I think it’s almost always better to completely remove the tile and you can do that fairly easily from the outside by prying those tiles off. They’ll come off pretty quickly.

    LESLIE: Do you want to just use a nail set and push the nail through the tile so that you just …?

    TOM: That’s a great idea. You could do it that way. You could punch the nail through the tile and release them that way. And a little trick of the trade here, Guy, is to wet the tile down while you’re taking it off because that helps keep the dust down.

    GUY: OK. Because yeah, in the back – like the rental property has half block and then the top part is tile.

    TOM: Yeah. You should wear respiratory protection when you do this because asbestos fibers are very fine; except keep in mind this is the kind of asbestos that we call cement asbestos because the asbestos is encased in a cement slurry mix that hardens into the form of the tile. So it’s not likely to release as if you were working, say, on duct asbestos or heating pipe asbestos which is a lot more friable. So if you just take some reasonable precautions – if you wet the tile down, you wear protection so you don’t breathe it – you should be able to get that off fairly quickly.

    But by the way, before you do that, Guy, check with your local municipality about what it might take to get rid of that tile. Because in some cases, it’s very hard to get rid of that stuff. Some towns require double bagging and you have to go to a hazardous waste dump and leave it there. So find that out before you have this big pile of broken asbestos tiles in your driveway that you don’t know what to do with.

    GUY: Right. And as far as the second part of it, I mean is stucco or siding – I mean what seems to hold up better or retain value better?

    TOM: Well, I think either will retain your value better. It really depends on which way you want to go. I mean certainly in Florida, stucco is a real attractive finish. I’ll tell you one thing I would not do. I would not do the exterior insulated foam siding systems, the EIF systems, because we’ve seen a lot of problems with those things leaking across the country. That’s where they put the foam up and they put stucco over top of the foam. If I was going to stucco a house in Florida, I would use woven wire mesh and put a real masonry stucco on top of it.

    GUY: OK.

    TOM: You know, the old-fashioned way.

    GUY: Right, right.

    TOM: It really stands up that way.

    GUY: OK. Well, good. I think that answered my question.

    TOM: OK, Guy. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

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