It’s not difficult at all to paint asbestos siding, as one of its benefits is that paint easily adheres to it and it is very durable and can last for decades without chipping or cracking.
That said, you’ll still need to take some precautions if you decide to paint your asbestos siding.
The biggest concern is that you should avoid power-washing asbestos siding, as it can chip or damage the siding and release dangerous asbestos fibers into the air.
If you do power-wash, use as gentle a touch as possible and quit if you find that you’re knocking pieces of siding off.
This means that you’ll have to take some extra time cleaning and prepping the siding before painting and rely instead on a garden hose, sponges, and good old fashioned elbow grease.
Painting Asbestos Siding
Once the surface is prepped and cleaned, there’s really no difference when it comes to painting asbestos siding than any similar fiber cement or Hardiboard siding.
The choice is yours as far as whether you want to spray or roll the paint on. Rolling can sometimes be difficult due to the grooves and texture in the asbestos siding and the coverage is about the same as far as how much paint you’ll need.
If your decision is whether to paint or tackle siding removal and replacement, keep in mind that it’s almost always more affordable to keep and paint old asbestos siding.
Pros and Cons of Painting Siding Versus Replacing It
Removal or abatement can be very expensive, in addition to the significant cost of installing new siding once the old siding is removed and disposed of.
Regardless of the type of siding involved, painting is always a more affordable option as replacing siding on a home is one of the more expensive home remodeling jobs that one can tackle.
On the general risk scale of dealing with materials that contain asbestos, siding ranks very low and is far less risky and dangerous than asbestos in insulation, sheetrock, or pipewrap.
Siding is by nature very durable and it’s difficult for fibers to become airborne. If they do, it’s typically outside in open air which minimizes the risk even further.
Picking the Right Paint for Asbestos Siding
There really is no “right” paint when painting asbestos siding, as it doesn’t require anything out of the ordinary.
Pick a good quality exterior paint from a company like Benjamin Moore or Sherwin-Williams and you’ll be fine.
Avoid the temptation to go with the cheapest paint you can find, as painting asbestos siding is no different than painting any other exterior surface that’s exposed to the elements.
Cheap out on paint brands and you might save a few hundred dollars but you’ll often find yourself faced with needing to paint the entire house again just a few years later when that cheap paint fails and can’t hold up.
Asbestos Safety Tips for Painting
If you’re concerned about the health risks you can also dispose of any clothing used while painting the siding, eliminating the risk that you’ll bring asbestos fibers into your home.
Using a respirator rated for asbestos and disposable Tyvek suits is likely overkill for painting asbestos siding — but they are definitely necessary when removing siding — but peace of mind is priceless — especially if your significant other insists.
If you hire the job out, painting asbestos siding doesn’t require any special licensing as far as the contractor doing the work, so you’ll be able to avoid hiring the very expensive services of a specialist licensed to deal with asbestos abatement.
You also shouldn’t just assume that you’re dealing with asbestos siding solely because the siding is old. Not all siding had asbestos added to it and the only real way to be certain is to have any suspicious material tested.
Many homeowners have been pleasantly surprised to find out that what they assumed was asbestos siding actually contains no asbestos whatsoever.