asbestos in walls

How To Know If I Have Asbestos In My Walls?

Asbestos is a fibrous material that is mined from the ground and combined with a number of different materials like sand, cement or plaster. This mixture provides high durability and effective thermal insulation which are factors that are highly-sought after by construction companies. Asbestos is known as the miracle material that has helped sustain the steady and strong growth of the construction industry within the whole of the mid-20th century and it can hide in places where you least expect it. So, how are we able to tell if we have asbestos in walls within our property?

Asbestos Concrete/Cement Walls

Up until 1980, asbestos was a common ingredient that was added to cement materials and products used for building construction as it was able to provide high durability, fireproofing, heat resistance, and malleable strength. Asbestos was used for the reinforcement of rigid thin cement sheets to produce fibrous cement sheets.

Asbestos in Plaster Walls

Asbestos used to be added to plaster as a fire retardant and for insulation purposes. Unless construction records of a house were recorded, it is unlikely that you can determine the brand of plaster that was used in any structure. Brands of plaster that contain asbestos:

  • National Gypsum – Produced various types of plaster under their “Gold Bond” brand from 1935 to 1975
  • Georgia-Pacific – Produced “Patching” and “Acoustical” plaster brands from 1950 to 1977
  • United States Gypsum – Produced several types of acoustical plaster from 1920 to 1975
  • Synkoloid – Produced different types of “Synko” plaster between 1950 and 1976

Asbestos in Drywall

If your property was built between the late 1930s and 1980, the walls including their binding compound might contain asbestos. If you are living in an older property, your interior walls are most likely constructed partially with drywall which was marketed in the forms of panels that measure 4 foot by 8 foot. Decorative paneling that was installed in mid-century homes may also have contained asbestos as well as panels that were manufactured to look like bricks. Asbestos panels are generally non-toxic as long as they remain in one piece. However, if you start removing them to replace with some other wall surfaces, asbestos may get released into the air when disturbed.

Asbestos-Insulating Board

This is a material that was commonly used to insulate walls in the construction of residential properties. However, it is not always easy to tell if the board contains asbestos as there are plenty of sizes, shapes, designs, and colors. Because of its waterproofing and hardiness qualities, areas of the properties that are prone to dampness like laundry rooms and bathrooms may have asbestos vinyl tiles or asbestos sheeting found in the walls. Old properties may also have decorative or soundproofing materials that contain asbestos sprayed on their walls.

Other Signs Showing That There is Asbestos in the Wall

During a renovation, the key concern is that asbestos wall gets removed by hand which may eventually cause it to be broken down into several pieces and liberate fibers into the air. Most asbestos walls are generally non-friable and cannot be crushed by hand so they are safe. For more stable asbestos walls that are stable, they will not be crushed into pieces when torn down so these are also safe. However, if you wish to determine if asbestos is indeed present in your walls, perform asbestos testing for the peace of mind you need.