How to identify asbestos cement sheeting

If you’re unsure of if you have asbestos in the building you own or are working on, sometimes you can find the give-aways in the material that has been used. Some materials themselves are rife with asbestos and the use of them stopped (unlike things like insulation, which changed its materials, so insulation existing in a building isn’t a telltale sign on its own of asbestos). One such asbestos prone material is cement sheeting.

What is cement sheeting?

Cement sheeting is a material that was used to nail over wooden frames for quick and cost effective construction, and would often be painted over, much like gyprock today. However, it is made of asbestos fibres and cement mix and is extremely dangerous if disrupted. It’s a sure fire way of knowing you need to have an professional asbestos test done immediately, and organise its safe and legal removal.

What kind of asbestos is in cement sheeting? 

Generally, cement sheeting contains around 20% asbestos, which is typically white asbestos (also known as chrysotile). There are a number of different types of asbestos, and white asbestos is one of the most commonly used types. In older varieties of cement sheeting, it could be blue (crocidolite) or brown (amosite).

How to identify asbestos cement sheeting

It can be a little difficult to identify asbestos cement because cement is such a commonly used material, even in modern builds, but it’s not impossible. Often asbestos cement will have a white or grey colour to it, and can feel brittle, flat and smooth on one side and bumpy (like a golf ball) on another.

It’s quite a difficult material to disturb and it doesn’t move (it’s not cut or drilled in); the piece stays in tact unless purposefully dismantled or demolished.

Another good way of identifying asbestos cement sheets is by the brand. The NSW Government have listed the following as asbestos cement sheet products:

  • Coverline
  • Hardiflex
  • Harditherm
  • Highline
  • Shadowline
  • Villarboard
  • Colorbond
  • Hardiplank
  • Tilux
  • Versilux

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you’re unsure of whether the material in your building is asbestos cement, get a certified asbestos analyst to conduct a water absorption test immediately. This is asbestos cement, or another asbestos product, that needs professional asbestos removal and disposal.