We consider asbestos cement roof shingles a durable and fire-resistant roof and an asset to the building provided that the roof is in good condition.
But because asbestos cement roofing is easily damaged by a heavy-footed worker unfamiliar with the materials involved, asbestos cement roofs have to be repaired and maintained with the same care and expertise as slate roofs.
This means that roof repairs may cost more even though the materials should also last longer than some competing roof systems.
Work by an inexperienced contractor can ruin a cement asbestos shingle roof and lead to complete roof failure.
Our photo at page top shows the use of a roofing stapler to secure sliding cement asbestos shingles - a foolish repair that causes further leaks and damage. See additional warnings about using roof shingle staples "Using Staples to Install Asphalt Roof Shingles?" found at ASPHALT SHINGLE STAPLE vs NAIL.
This photo (above-left) shows thin, worn, fragile cement asbestos roof shingles that are very broken up. If you see this condition over 25% of the roof surface, repair is probably not economical and a complete re-roofing or roof-over is needed.
Small roof repairs to individual shingles can be made using copper or aluminum flashing material -- it will often weather to a color that looks a lot like the remaining cement asbestos shingles, and this approach minimizes the chances of breaking more shingles during the repair.
Sources of Fiber Cement Replacements for Asbestos Cement Roof Shingles
One manufacturer of cement-asbestos shingles was Ruberoid Co., who made 8" x 16" tapered singles with a surface pattern resembling wood and called "Ru-Ber-Oid-Eternit Tapered Timbertex Asbestos-Cement Shingles." 260 singles/525 lbs/square, were available in a wide range of colors.
Contemporary roofing product manufacturers make reinforced fiber-cement roofing shingles and other roofing products which look like, perform similarly to, and need to be installed similarly to the original asbestos-cement shingles - but these new products are free of asbestos.
The replacements for asbestos cement roofing products are reinforced with a variety of fibers including fiberglass.
Other replacements for asbestos-cement roofing use both different fibers and a different aggregate (perlite) to replace the asbestos. Some of the substitute products have been in use for more than 30 years (2008).
For maintenance or replacement of asbestos-cement roof shingles (or wall siding) contact
Supradur Manufacturing Corporation, PO Box 908, Rye NY 10580 800-223-1948, or from within New York State, call 914-967-8230.
Ask about their Supradur(R) mineral fiber shingles.
For handling and disposal guidance concerning old roofing material contact the US EPA, your state Department of Environmental Protection/Conservation, or your local building and health departments.
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Asbestos products and their history and use in various building materials such as asphalt and vinyl flooring includes discussion which draws on Asbestos, Its Industrial Applications, D.V. Rosato, engineering consultant, Newton, MA, Reinhold Publishing, 1959 Library of Congress Catalog Card No.: 59-12535 (out of print).
"Handling Asbestos-Containing roofing material - an update", Carl Good, NRCA Associate Executive Director, Professional Roofing, February 1992, p. 38-43
EPA Guidance for Controlling Asbestos-Containing Materials in buildings, NIAST, National Institute on Abatement Sciences & Technology, [republishing EPA public documents] 1985 ed., Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460
Copy on file as ASBESTOS IN YOUR HOME - U.S. EPA, Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460
NRCA Roofing and Waterproofing Manual, 4th Ed., available from the National Roofing Contractors' Association.
"Tips for working with fiber-cement roofing products", Thomas L. Smith, AIA, RRC, Professional Roofing, September 1996
"About Asbestos Cement Roof Shingles", Ann Johnson, at ehow.com, a nice article about the history of this material - November 2008.
Asbestos Information Links: Asbestos Detection, Testing, Recognition, Hazards, Field Photos, and Information Sources, including
health-related links such as legal services and information about mesothelioma and other cancers.
Asbestos Identification and Testing References
Asbestos Identification, Walter C.McCrone, McCrone Research Institute, Chicago, IL.1987 ISBN 0-904962-11-3. Dr. McCrone literally "wrote the book" on asbestos identification procedures which formed
the basis for current work by asbestos identification laboratories.
Stanton, .F., et al., National Bureau of Standards Special Publication 506: 143-151
Pott, F., Staub-Reinhalf Luft 38, 486-490 (1978) cited by McCrone
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