After reading a some other questions I haven't found an answer similar enough for what I'm thinking about doing. So here goes.

Full disclosure up front. Before I even touch a single siding shingle, I'm going to check with local authorities to get the skinny on permits, disposal, and all that stuff. I know that alone may scotch my idea.

My house was built in 1920 and has asbestos siding all round. It's mostly in good shape, but frankly, I don't like the look of it. I want to replace it with hardiboard or some other type of cement fiber siding. I plan on doing this my self. Here is what I'm thinking about doing:

First, tyvek suits and a respirator mask and eye protection. I'm not going to take big risks on this project.
Second, carefully remove the asbestos shingles. They were just nailed on, and the majority of nail heads are raised enough to grab the nails without cracking or damaging the tiles. I'll be wetting the whole area down as I work to minimize dust. Third, once I remove a row on a wall, Hang cement fiber siding panels in place. Keep working row by row.

Anticipated problems: I'm by myself on this, so I won't be able to get a whole wall done at once. I'll be doing this mostly on weekends so It may take several months to complete. Given that amount of time, I don't want to just strip the house and leave it bare for a few seasons with only house wrap for protection. There isn't anything like insulation on the outside of the house, so I'm wondering how to do this right, but understanding my limitations on the time I can put in on this. Am I crazy? I'm pretty sure I'm missing something. Is there a better method and material that will serve with my time constraints. An alternative might be stucco.

Also considering putting something up over the top of the Asbestos Siding. Would this be possible or preferable.

  • 11
    Any action you take when you know you're dealing with asbestos puts you at serious legal risk with the EPA. Take no chances. Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 16:25
  • 7
    From that document (section 28-50-5): "A person shall not supervise or engage in an asbestos-removal project, an asbestos-encapsulation project, or an asbestos-related dismantling project unless that person has a valid class I or class II asbestos worker certificate that has been issued in accordance with this regulation" So I think you would need to get licensed to do it legally. Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 18:32
  • 10
    @UnhandledExcepSean Just found this on the kansas asbestos website " Homeowners are not regulated, provided they perform asbestos operations by themselves and the work is being done in a dwelling with fewer than four separate living units." So that is where I fit.
    – Paul TIKI
    Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 18:42
  • 2
    When it comes time to sell your house, will you be able to claim that there is no asbestos if you do it yourself?
    – Michael J.
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 20:22
  • 1
    @TafT I'm in Kansas. I plan on getting really specific with city officials before I even start buying materials. The shingles are "non-Friable" so exposure is limited. I may hit everything with a coat of paint before starting to reduce particulates even more before beginning.
    – Paul TIKI
    Commented Jul 16, 2018 at 14:02

6 Answers 6


WHAT...??? You can do this. You’re working on the outside of the house so you don’t need a tent or fans. (They have the fans going the wrong way anyway. If you were working inside the house, you want negative pressure not positive pressure. This is obviously not their forte.)

Keep it wet and try to do it without breaking it.

Stop by an asbestos abatement company and pick up a few disposal bags and find out how much it will cost you to have them dispose of your pieces of siding.

  • 10
    In my state it is legal for a homeowner to do their own abatement. There is no requirement for ppe but it would be silly not to take precautions. The main regulation we have to deal with the waste is required to be double bagged and it needs to be taken to the landfill , not allowed at a transfer station.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 17:26
  • 6
    @TheEvilGreebo Yes, he protects himself, his neighbors and disposes of the material properly. Do think he should do more? The EPA doesn’t.
    – Lee Sam
    Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 17:36
  • 8
    @PaulTIKI I’ve never liked covering it up (encapsulating) because if there is any problem down the road, (i.e.: leaky window, dryrot threshold, etc.) it becomes extra difficult to repair and the next owner may not know it’s there.
    – Lee Sam
    Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 17:45
  • 10
    @TheEvilGreebo, as asbestos hazards go, shingles are pretty minor. As long as you're removing the shingles intact by cleanly pulling the nails (rather than, say, ripping them off with a prybar), only a tiny amount of asbestos will be released. It's not like asbestos insulation, where removing it inherently releases huge clouds of the stuff.
    – Mark
    Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 21:15
  • 10
    @TheEvilGreebo You say, “...significant risk, no matter how small...” The reason you drive a car is because you understand the risk. This is NOT friable. If it was like insulation, I would not try it either. This is like a piece of particleboard, but the size of a roofing shingle. The EPA has deemed it safe, just as the DMV has deemed it safe for you to be on the road with me.
    – Lee Sam
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 13:56


Hire a licensed, EPA certified asbestos abatement company.

This is not a DIY job.

Asbestos exposure isn't like a disease or injury after which you heal. The risk is cumulative: the fibers stay in your lungs until you die of lung cancer or die of something else.

(Legal) disposal will be difficult, since your local landfill probably won't accept it. Instead, you'll need to hire a haz-mat disposal company.

  • 3
    So much this - one family member who works with PPE and another who actually does asbestos removal - It's not something you want to mess around with.
    – Baldrickk
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 9:52
  • 32
    -1 This is just fear mongering. "The risk is cumulative..." Yes, it is, so one weekend of slight exposure won't amount to anything. The scary diseases happen to people who deal with the stuff often. (Of course people should still wear the best PPE within reason.) You're not going to suddenly drop dead if you accidentally inhale the stuff. Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 14:24
  • 14
    This is rubbish. Loose fibre blue asbestos insulation is evil. Cement board reinforced with white asbestos is pretty much harmless, and can safely be DIY'ed. See the excellent answer by Lee Sam. Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 15:16
  • 5
    Depending on where you are you may be committing a criminal offence by not using licensed contractors
    – Stevetech
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 18:00
  • 1
    @ZachMierzejewski "one weekend of slight exposure won't amount to anything" is patently untrue. While it's unlikely that a single exposure to asbestos will cause cancer, it's not impossible, and cancer is a very tricky beast. It all boils down to how much risk you're willing to tolerate.
    – Ian Kemp
    Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 10:05

I used to be a certified asbestos remover in Europe, where we have pretty stringent asbestos removal laws.

Usually it's only legal for a person to remove things alone under a certain quantity(3 big sheets of roofing for example) but at a certain volume or with certain materials(cloth, prone to breaking/turning to dust) you're required to hire a company who will do it per procedure.

Let's say you're somewhere where you will get a permit. You will need non tear holding bags marked with that the contents contain asbestos, this is not per se for you but for future generations that might find the bags and get warned about the contents.

Asbestos bag

Then, have non tear transparent bags that are also marked that they contain asbestos content

transparent asbestos bag

Then you need to cordon off the area where you'll be removing asbestos with asbestos marked tape and place signs that warn about the asbstos all around the area. Only asbestos removes in full asbestos removal gear may enter this area until the project is completed.

asbestos tapeenter image description here

When you remove the tiles, if they have sharp corners you need to duct tape those corners so they won't pierce the bag side when the bag is lifted.
If the bag is pierced you must wrap it in a new bag.
If there is high risk of piercing you should start out with double bagging. Do not forget to duct tape sharp corners that could potentially pierce a bag wall.

When the bag is full enough but under the 20kg limit so it can be handled safely without back injury twist the top end close. Then use a zip tie or duct tape to close it up.
Snake it back so the rest of the plastic that's above the duct tape/zip tie is on the side of the duct tape then duct tape it again, making sure all exit openings are covered and no air can escape.
Put the bag carefully in the big asbestos bag to prevent tearing of already present bags, breaking of tiles, etc..

About the tiles, be very careful about removing the nails. If a tong even chips/chafes a tile a little bit when removing the nail you're releasing asbestos fibers into the wind through your entire downwind neighborhood.

You will need to clean the beams of any dust residue and you will need to drill out all the nail holes and gather the wood you drilled out as asbestos contaminated material.

If you have the possibility to cover the entire house with a tent, make sure you build a negative pressure tent, with an asbestos filter equipped fan, that sucks the air out of the tent so that if a hole appears in the tent, the negative pressure will prevent asbestos escaping.
When you are done for the day, cover the fan with the lid or plastic and duct tape it closed before turning the fan off.

Patch any holes immediately with duct tape that you also fixate with heavy duty spray can glue because duct tape on it's own is not adhesive enough on a plastic surface.

For the transporting asbestos out of the hazard zone you need to build a special sluice room where the bags can be washed down before being removed from the zone. Asbestos worker places bags into sluice and washes down bag. Worker closes sluice and worker from uitside opens sluice. Washes down bag again, and transports it to the big holder bag.

When done with the project wash the insides of the tent and all surfaces carefully with a wet cloth. Be liberal with water. Make sure all dust is gone. Throw the towels and buckets away as asbestos contaminated materials.

Any tools you used and do not plan to use for other asbestos projects need to be disposed off as asbestos material. If you plan to reuse them you need to seal them in an airtight container that you close off with duct tape.

Wrap up the fan inlet so it cannot release asbestos fibers.

Have a testing labratory come by to test your tent. If they give the ok clear, wrap up the tent and pack it up as asbestos containing material.

Make sure you closed up your asbestos containing white bags carefully with liberal use of duct tape and heavy duty spray can glue to make sure no air can escape.

Bring the bags to a asbestos deposit point(usually a big hole in the ground specially reserved for asbestos dumping)

Also, hire a asbestos changing cabin that has three sections.

  1. Dressing room. This is where you undress from your normal clothes and put on throwaway clothes(underwear, t-shirt, socks)

  2. Showers. This is where you thouroughly shower every inch of your body when done.

  3. Suit zone. This is where you don your asbestos removal kit. A fresh white asbestos removal coverall. A face breathing mask with asbestos filters(Don't skimp on the filters otherwise you can just go in without mask) and asbestos removal work boots with iron noses, work gloves. Tape off with duct tape all the edges between suit and face mask, tape off between suit and gloves, tape off between suit and boots. No air may enter. Tape up your zipper too, all the way. When you're done for the day, in this cabin too,take off the suit and put it in an asbestos removal bag, DO NOT REMOVE YOUR FACE MASK OR PUMP during this procedure. Take off the gloves and put it in the bag, take off your clothes and put it in the bag. You should be naked now except for the air pump. Turn off the air pump, keep the mask on.
    Go to the shower cabin and wet yourself and the outside face mask and pump thoroughly.
    Screw the filter cap from the pump and wet the filter thoughtfully so it's soaked. Remove from the filter and throw it in the asbestos bag in the previous room.
    Remove mask and was the inside of the mask and the edges thoroughly, wash away any traces of dust.
    Hang up pump and mask to dry, wash yourself throughly, under nails, hair, ears, genitals, between toes, everywhere with soap and water for 5 minutes.
    Dry yourself off, Dry pump and mask with towel, dry shower with towel, throw towel into asbestos waste bag.

Now for my real advice: Pay someone the price of 10k-20k or so to remove the stuff for you in a safe way, saving you the above hassle, saving you from risking your health, and having it done in 2-3 days.

  • 6
    As an employed asbestos remover all the above palaver was required by your employer because a) if you do this year in, year out, you will accumulate much higher exposure than a single DIY operation (so you need to keep the exposure correspondingly low); b) they needed to impress on the customer how dangerous asbestos is, so the customer felt reassured that they had made the right decision in paying someone else to do it. Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 13:51
  • Yea, oh, and don't forget the ridiculously high fines if you were busted by a govt controller. Check this case, 36.000 euro fine for the asbestos removal company because it didn't happen to code. Or this one 12.000 euros that was downsized to just 8500 euros. The fines are really high and dependent on how many people will be affected. School/hospital location can end up with fines in the 100.000's Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 18:26
  • 2
    But do note i'm speaking from an European/Dutch perspective, and not an US perspective. Laws vary from country to country. In the netherlands I've encountered that govt controllers would hide for hours in ditches with telescopes to monitor for violations, blinded cars monitor work, suprise raids and more, because there are really high fines to be handed out that can bankrupt sanitation companies in an instant if everything isn't documented or done up to code. It's not done for the money per se to drive up costs, but to avoid those lethal fines. Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 19:05
  • 1
    I never meant that it was done to drive up costs - but to impress the customers and justify (in their minds) the fee they had paid. Does sound like the Netherlands went ridiculously overboard in their regulation though. The UK is pretty safety conscious (much more so that Germany as far as I can see), but is entirely relaxed about people DIYing this sort of thing. Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 19:27
  • 1
    As @MartinBonner commented, such high protection standards are mandatory for workers working with dangerous substances on a daily basis. No protection is 100% proof, there is nonzero probability of contaminating yourself and I suppose you are more contaminated with asbestos than reasonable DIYer is about to be for one thee-day-long session. And the ultimate fines are there beacause the sanitation companies do it for a living and they send their employees purposely in the dangerous environment.
    – Crowley
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 22:31

The asbestos shingles on a 1920’s house were typically applied over the original wood siding in the 50’s or 60’s. Thus, there is more than likely excellent existing siding hiding beneath. There is a small tool specially made for removing nails - five bucks at the hardware store. The siding to be removed has been painted many times and this coating minimizes risk. Asbestos siding itself is far less risky than insulation and blown-on coatings. Wear a mask, hose it down and remove the shingles. There is a market for the shingles for those wanting to repair theirs. Inquire with your municipality about hazardous waste disposal. In this matter I would ask forgiveness rather than permission. I have done this successfully with two houses I own in an historic 1920’ neighborhood.


Be as safe as possible and be as fast as possible.

If it is legal to do it then:

  • Do not do it by yourself. Ask a couple friends to help you.
  • Do it all at once, no unnecessary breaks.
  • All of you wear appropriate protection. Do not hesitate to ask the specialist. No free skin.
  • Use some soft and tough guard between the pliers and the tile.
  • Paint the tiles to seal them. Try to avoid the nails, so the paint is not scratched or borken during the work with the tile.
  • Keep them in water.
  • Dispose them where they shall be disposed and carry them in the water.
  • Ask friends to help you with new siding.

With 3 friends you are about to do this task in one weekend. By yourself it will take much more time.


Aside from the legality issue, there is a flaw in your plan. You cannot remove one row of shingles and then apply a new row. Shingles don't work like that. You have to do a section at a time. Shingles are overlapped from bottom to top so as to shed water. Let's say they're 12 inch shingles. You would start on the bottom and attach a row of shingles (or at least a partial row if you are doing a section only). Then you go up one row and attach a second, offsetting the seams between each shingles by 6 inches. The second row covers the nails used to attach the first row.

Also, you will almost certainly want to wrap the wall in either Tyvek or tar paper to protect from moisture. This barrier needs to be done in as large as pieces as possible to minimize seams and thus prevent leaks.

So to do this right, you really need to do a full section of a wall at a time.

Not sure where you live but most states have very strict laws on asbestos disposal which is why often the shingles (and also asbestos tile) is just thrown away in a regular construction debris dumpster. You might want to look into this aspect of the problem before you decide whether to do it, or at least whether to do it on the up and up.

  • That's what I was trying to figure out. Whether doing this on a row by row basis would even work, in order to minimize the amount of help needed. If I have to do a wall at a time, so be it. I just didn't want to leave too much of the house exposed as my time to work is relatively limited, asbestos issues aside
    – Paul TIKI
    Commented Jul 16, 2018 at 14:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.