What Does Asbestos Look Like?

Asbestos containing building and construction materials. How they look and how you can identify them.

what does asbestos look likeThere are over 5000 different products that are known to contain asbestos. This page is designed to give you an introduction on the construction and building materials that have been known to contain asbestos. If you are looking for what raw asbestos looks like then take a look at the section about ‘What is asbestos?‘.

We have taken a look at the most common asbestos construction and building materials. There are far too many to list. Each section gives you a brief introduction on the specific asbestos material and its properties. We then show you the main features to look out for which may help you identify these types of asbestos. You must remember that asbestos comes in all shapes, sizes and finishes and knowing what asbestos looks like is a very big subject. This is just a basic introduction into what asbestos looks and only covers asbestos in a generally good condition. Knowing what asbestos looks like when it has been damaged and is in very small sizes or debris is much harder and needs an expert surveyor to positively make identification.

Remember, although having some knowledge to help you keep a look out for asbestos is an advantage, it is always the safest option and recommended that if you need to confirm the presence of asbestos for any reason that you get help from a professional UKAS accredited asbestos surveying company. Asbestos surveying and knowing where to look and how to positively identify asbestos is a skilled profession. It’s a profession that takes years of training and experience to master. If you’re not sure, give us a call. We are on hand for fast and free advice.

Asbestos Boards

  • Known as: Insulating board (AIB), board, Asbestolux
  • Asbestos content: 15 – 25%
  • Other main content: Calcium silicate
  • Main asbestos type: Amosite (Brown) asbestos
  • Main colours: Light & dark grey
  • Density: Medium to soft
  • Damage potential: Easy, high
  • Asbestos fibre release potential: High
  • Timeline Manufacture & Usage: 1880’s – 1980

Asbestos boards can vary with asbestos content and have been known to contain various asbestos fibre types. It can come in various colours such as pink. These colour variations are unusual. It is readily painted and may have an outer coloured finish. The following photographs show how asbestos boards generally look. To better understand the types of products, uses and where it can be used take a look at Where can asbestos be found?

Asbestos Thermal Insulation:

  • Known as: Insulation, pipe lagging, sectional, hand applied, caposite
  • Asbestos content: 6 – 85%
  • Other main content: Magnesia & calcium silicate
  • Main asbestos type: Chrysotile (White) asbestos, Amosite (Brown), Crocidolite (Blue)
  • Main colours: White, brown, grey & pink
  • Density: Very low & soft
  • Damage potential: Easy, high
  • Asbestos fibre release potential: High
  • Timeline Manufacture & Usage: 1880’s – 1970’s

Asbestos thermal can vary with asbestos content and has been known to contain all asbestos fibre types. This product comes in various colours and finishes and has been known to contain many different non asbestos materials. The following photographs show how asbestos thermal insulation generally looks. To better understand the types of products, uses and where it can be used take a look at Where can asbestos be found?

Asbestos Sprayed Insulation:

  • Known as: Sprayed insulation, coating, limpet
  • Asbestos content: 55 – 85%
  • Other main content: Portland cement
  • Main asbestos type: Chrysotile (White) asbestos, Amosite (Brown), Crocidolite (Blue)
  • Main colours: White, brown, grey & pink
  • Density: Very low & soft
  • Damage potential: Easy, high
  • Asbestos fibre release potential: High
  • Timeline Manufacture & Usage: 1880’s – 1974

Asbestos sprayed insulation can vary with asbestos content and has been known to contain all asbestos fibre types. This product comes in various colours and finishes and has been known to contain many different non asbestos materials. The following photographs show how asbestos sprayed insulation generally looks. To better understand the types of products, uses and where it can be used take a look at Where can asbestos be found?

Asbestos Textiles:

  • Known as: Textiles, rope, gasket, yarn, string, blanket, cloth
  • Asbestos content: Approaching 100%
  • Other main content: Usually none
  • Main asbestos type: Chrysotile (White) asbestos
  • Main colours: White
  • Density: Medium & soft
  • Damage potential: Easy, high
  • Asbestos fibre release potential: Medium
  • Timeline Manufacture & Usage: 1880’s – 2000

Asbestos textiles can vary with asbestos content and have been known to contain all asbestos fibre types. The following photographs show how asbestos textiles generally looks. To better understand the types of products, uses and where it can be used take a look at Where can asbestos be found?

Asbestos Gaskets & Washers:

  • Known as: Gaskets, washers, CAF (compressed asbestos fibre)
  • Asbestos content: 90%
  • Other main content: Heat resistant binders
  • Main asbestos type: Chrysotile (White) asbestos
  • Main colours: Red, green, pink
  • Density: Medium
  • Damage potential: Medium
  • Asbestos fibre release potential: Low
  • Timeline Manufacture & Usage: 1880’s – 2000

Asbestos gaskets and washers come in various colours and finishes. The following photographs show how asbestos gaskets and washers generally looks. To better understand the types of products, uses and where it can be used take a look at Where can asbestos be found?

Asbestos Cement:

  • Known as: Cement, sheeting, profiled sheeting, cladding, panels
  • Asbestos content: 10 – 25%
  • Other main content: Portland cement, cellulose
  • Main asbestos type: Chrysotile (White) asbestos
  • Main colours: Light & dark grey
  • Density: High
  • Damage potential: Low
  • Asbestos fibre release potential: Low
  • Timeline Manufacture & Usage: 1880’s – 2000

Asbestos cement comes in many different finishes and products. The following photographs show how asbestos  cement generally looks. To better understand the types of products, uses and where it can be used take a look at Where can asbestos be found?

Asbestos Paper:

  • Known as: Paper, lining, backing, cardboard
  • Asbestos content: 100%
  • Other main content: None
  • Main asbestos type: Chrysotile (White) asbestos
  • Main colours: White, light brown
  • Density: Low
  • Damage potential: High
  • Asbestos fibre release potential: Medium
  • Timeline Manufacture & Usage: 1880’s – 2000

Asbestos paper comes in many different finishes and products. The following photographs show how asbestos  paper generally looks. To better understand the types of products, uses and where it can be used take a look at Where can asbestos be found?

Asbestos Vinyl:

  • Known as: Vinyl, thermoplastic, floor tiles
  • Asbestos content: 2 – 20%
  • Other main content: Magnesium, PVC
  • Main asbestos type: Chrysotile (White) asbestos
  • Main colours: All colours
  • Density: Low
  • Damage potential: Low
  • Asbestos fibre release potential: Low
  • Timeline Manufacture & Usage: 1880’s – 2000

Asbestos vinyl generally looks like linoleum and plastic floor tiles. The following photographs show how asbestos vinyl generally looks. To better understand the types of products, uses and where it can be used take a look at Where can asbestos be found?

Asbestos Resin:

  • Known as: Resin, bakelite, plastic
  • Asbestos content: 1 – 10%
  • Other main content: Plastic & bakelite
  • Main asbestos type: Chrysotile (White) asbestos, Amosite (Brown) asbestos
  • Main colours: All colours (Mainly black)
  • Density: Low
  • Damage potential: Low
  • Asbestos fibre release potential: Low
  • Timeline Manufacture & Usage: 1880’s – 1990’s

Asbestos resins are generally black and look similar to hard plastic. The following photographs show how asbestos resin generally looks. To better understand the types of products, uses and where it can be used take a look at Where can asbestos be found?

Asbestos Decorative Coating:

  • Known as: Textured coating, artex, pebblecoat
  • Asbestos content: 3 – 5%
  • Other main content: Plaster, grit
  • Main asbestos type: Chrysotile (White) asbestos
  • Main colours: All colours (Mainly white)
  • Density: Low
  • Damage potential: Low
  • Asbestos fibre release potential: Low
  • Timeline Manufacture & Usage: 1880’s – 1990’s

Asbestos textured coatings generally look like textured paint finish. The following photographs show how asbestos textured coatings generally look. To better understand the types of products, uses and where it can be used take a look at Where can asbestos be found?

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