Stucco Over Asbestos Siding (Is It Safe & Recommended?)

Most homes that were built from 1940 to 1980 have asbestos siding. Though it’s fireproof and strong, asbestos has a bad rap due to the health risks it poses when inhaled.

If you have recently discovered that your siding is made out of asbestos, one of the things that may come to your mind is to cover it with stucco. But is this process safe and recommendable?

That’s going to be our main focus of discussion in today’s article. And I will also be providing you with a few tips on how to install stucco over asbestos siding.

Asbestos siding
“Asbestos Siding” by Carrie Qualters, Flickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Can You Apply Stucco Over Asbestos Siding?

It is possible to apply stucco over asbestos siding. It’s a pretty common procedure that’s been carried out by many homeowners and contractors during renovations. But it’s not advisable!

There are a couple of things that can go wrong when installing stucco over asbestos siding. For instance, asbestos fibers may be released into the air and if inhaled, they can lead to serious health complications.

The other problem is getting stucco to adhere to the asbestos siding. As mentioned earlier, most asbestos sidings were installed decades ago.

Therefore, they are probably deteriorated and when you add stucco over it, it can accelerate the wear of the asbestos.

Understandably, most homeowners prefer to cover asbestos siding with stucco because it’s a less invasive procedure that won’t use up a lot of money. However, you need to be aware of the risks involved.

If you must install stucco over asbestos, I highly recommend hiring a professional contractor to carry out this project for you.

When you work with a licensed expert, they can check the condition of the asbestos siding and advice whether it can accommodate stucco over it.

How Do You Apply Stucco Over Asbestos Siding?

To emphasize what I have mentioned above, applying stucco over asbestos siding isn’t a good idea. However, if you have a different opinion, below is a quick guide on how you can cover up asbestos siding with stucco.

Step 1: Inspect the Condition of the Asbestos Siding

Similar to any stucco installation job, you must inspect the condition of the substrate. Therefore, before applying stucco, inspect the condition of the asbestos siding.

If it deteriorated, then it must be repaired first. Should it be completely damaged, then you should not proceed with the installation of stucco because it will fail.

Step 2: Clean the Asbestos Siding

Stucco adheres better to clean asbestos. The presence of dirt and contaminants can affect the adhesion and longevity of the stucco. You should grab a hose and thoroughly clean the asbestos siding.

If it has been around for a while, it will probably be very dirty. You may be forced to scrub it with some soap and a hard-thistle brush. Wear a respiratory mask because during cleaning some asbestos fibers can escape into the air.

Step 3: Scuff Up the Surface of the Asbestos

This is also another challenging step because asbestos fibers will be released into the air. Scuffing up the surface gives stucco something to bite onto.

To create a rough surface, scrub the asbestos with sandpaper. Alternatively, you can always use a bonding agent to promote adhesion between asbestos and stucco. This process is much safer because there won’t be any fibers released into the air.

Step 4: Start with a Scratch Coat

When the asbestos siding is adequately prepared for stucco application, you can start applying the scratch coat. The scratch coat is pretty important because it facilitates better adhesion of the brown coat. It’s not usually very thick.

Step 5: Add the Brown and Finish Coat

Proceed to apply the brown coat. This is the second coat of stucco. Then finish up with a final coat. With the final coat, you can use a smooth or textured design.

Should Asbestos Siding Be Removed Before Stucco is Installed?

That depends. Asbestos is a scary material to have within your home. However, if it’s not disturbed, it shouldn’t pose any danger.

Whether you should or shouldn’t remove asbestos before installing stucco will depend on its current condition.

If the asbestos siding shows signs of deterioration, it’s best to remove it before applying stucco. However, if it’s in perfect condition, you can proceed to cover it up with stucco or any other siding material.

But before engaging in such a project, always check out the local building codes. In many cities, the use of asbestos in construction has been banned.

Therefore, your local laws may be against the covering up of asbestos siding with any material including stucco.

The other thing is that should you decide to remove asbestos, you need to enforce all safety protocols. This includes wearing gloves and a respiratory mask.

Ensuring that kids and other people are kept away from that area because asbestos particles can travel through the air.

It’s also crucial that the asbestos be disposed of correctly. You can take them to a nearby landfill or hire a waste removal company.

White stucco texture

Can a Metal Lath Help Stucco Stick Better to Asbestos Siding?

It absolutely can. Metal laths come in handy in installation jobs where the stucco can’t get enough grip over the substrate.

In this case, instead of scuffing up the asbestos siding or using a bonding agent, you can screw a metal lath onto the asbestos and then proceed to the installation of the stucco.

Even though a metal lath can promote better adhesion between stucco and asbestos siding, you need to know that it’s not easy to install it.

When a nail or screw is driven into asbestos siding, the material shatters and cracks leaving gaps. The chances of cracking are even higher when you are dealing with old asbestos.

You will first have to find a way to install the metal lath firmly into the asbestos. Don’t forget to wear safety equipment when pulling off such a job.

Should You Hire a Contractor to Install Stucco Over Asbestos?

I get it that times are tough and most people would rather engage in a DIY job other than pay someone to do it. But in this case, hiring a contractor is a brilliant idea.

When covering asbestos siding with stucco, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. The asbestos particles can fly into the air and contaminate your home. Sometimes, the stucco may not even stick to the asbestos siding.

When you work with a licensed contractor, the first thing they will offer you is expert advice on whether you should proceed with this project. They will also ensure all safety measures are prioritized.

A contractor will also adhere to local building codes which can save you a lot of issues from dealing with inspectors.

It may cost you more to hire an expert for stucco installation over asbestos siding. However, the peace of mind you will enjoy during and after the project will be worth every penny.

Does Covering Asbestos Siding with Stucco Lower Your Home’s Value?

No one loves having asbestos within their surroundings. Therefore, when the time comes for you to sell that home, if there is asbestos siding covered by stucco, you can expect its market value to dip.

This is why if you can afford asbestos removal, you should consider it. When you eliminate asbestos siding from your home and replace it with stucco, it will fetch a much higher price in the property market.

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