Damaged asbestos cement wall shingles (C) Daniel FriedmanGuide to Maintenance & Repair of Cement Asbestos Building Siding Materials

  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about the best methods for removing or replacing broken or damaged asbestos cement or fiber cement shingle siding or "china glaze" siding on homes

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How to repair & maintain asbestos cement siding.

This article explains the maintenance, repair, or replacement of cement asbestos shingle siding on buildings. We describe how to remove and replace individual cement asbestos siding sections while keeping the total job small by avoiding breaking the surrounding shingles. We also describe installing new siding materials such as vinyl siding atop or over asbestos-cement shingle siding - a common practice.

This article series includes a photo guide and text that can help in identification of asbestos-containing wall siding products like asphalt shingles & asbestos-cement siding shingles.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Maintenance & Repair Tips for Asbestos Cement Wall Siding Shingles

Jefferson Tool Nail ExtractorWe consider asbestos cement wall shingles a durable and fire-resistant roof and an asset to the building provided that the siding is in good condition.

But because the material is easily damaged by a heavy-handed worker unfamiliar with the materials involved, asbestos cement siding has to be repaired and maintained with care.

Replacement cementious wall shingle materials are now available that look almost exactly like the original materials, but that do not contain asbestos.

That's the product we have used to repair the building shown in the photographs in this article.

Small temporary wall siding repairs to individual shingles can be made using copper or aluminum flashing material -- it can be painted color that looks a lot like the remaining cement asbestos shingles, and this approach minimizes the chances of breaking more shingles during the repair.

Watch out: the siding removal procedures discussed in this article pertain to asbestos-cement shingles or fiber cement shingles, not to lap siding or "boards" made of fiber cement. For fiber cement lap siding removal

How to Remove and Replace Broken Asbestos Cement Wall Shingles

Damaged asbestos cement wall shingles (C) Daniel FriedmanWhat about replacing the siding?  Can you side over the existing asbestos cement siding or does it need to be removed? First let's discuss replacing individual broken sections of fiber cement siding:

It is very difficult to remove individual broken asbestos-cement wall shingles, but working carefully it can be done.

Work by an inexperienced contractor can ruin a cement asbestos shingle wall siding and lead to complete replacement that could have been avoidable.

Guide to Siding over asbestos cement siding:

A common remodeling practice is to install new vinyl or aluminum siding over cement asbestos shingle siding as well as over many other older siding materials when the old siding has become damaged, leaky, or cosmetically ugly. A typical procedure is to install furring strips on the existing wall, avoiding breaking the existing siding. The new siding is then secured to the furring strips so that the new wall siding will be smooth and flat.

Additional steps may be needed to build out window and door trim for aesthetic reasons - so that the windows and doors do not appear to "recede" into the walls of the structure.

How to Remove Damaged Asbestos Cement or Fiber Cement Siding Shingles

Reader Question: Is there a tool for removing nails in cement asbestos shingle siding?

Is there a specific pry or cutting tool to grab and cut the nails On broken shingles you want to replace? - Catfishlynd 9/20/11

Reply: how to remove individual fiber cement or asbestos cement siding or roof shingles

Channelock end cutting pliers worked for pulling nails in asbestos cement shingle sidingCatfish

When we had to remove broken fiber cement shingle siding we found that indeed it is difficult to remove one shingle without breaking others - making the job grow horribly.

Tools like a slate hook and most types of wire cutters whose jaws required us to place the tool handle parallel to and flush with the shingle surface to get a bite on the nail head did not work because the thickness of the tool or the need to lift and pry the tool against the shingle surface broke fiber cement siding shingles when we tried sliding it between them.

A hacksaw blade can be used to cut the shingle nails and is so thin it won't break the shingles if you work carefully but it has two serious disadvantages:

What we found worked best was to use a pair of end-cutting pliers, called by some folks nippers or a "nail biter" - sold at hardware stores in various sizes.

Buy a tool whose handle and cutting face will be at right angles to the work surface and whose cutting face is flush (with the cutting angle filed just on the inside of the cutting edges. Working CAREFULLY we found we could usually grab the nail head protruding just proud of the fiber cement shingle and pull it straight out.

Jefferson Tool Nail ExtractorWe use two sizes of end-cutting pliers made by Channellock, like the Channelock 358 8-inch End Cutting Plier tool shown in our photo just above. "Grab the nail head and yank" straight out seemed to work best.

Watch out: don't pry against the cement asbestos shingle with the nail puller nor other tools or you'll risk breaking the shingle below.

The nail extractor made by Jefferson Tools (shown at left) might also work provided that you do not pry directly against the cement asbestos shingle, OR you are prying only against a siding section that is already damaged and going to be replaced.

Asbestos Cement & Fiber Cement Siding Articles


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