Asbestos Roof Shingles Life Expectancy (Plus The Cost Of Removal)

Asbestos Roof Shingles Life Expectancy

Last Updated on July 18, 2023 By Emma W. Thomas

Asbestos roof shingles, popular from the 1920s to the 1970s, have a life expectancy of around 30 to 50 years. However, various factors can influence their longevity, including weather conditions, maintenance, and exposure to environmental elements. Over time, asbestos shingles can become brittle and prone to damage, potentially releasing harmful asbestos fibers into the air if disturbed. 

Life Expectancy Estimate for Asbestos Roof Shingles

Asbestos roof shingles were widely used from the late 19th century up until the 20th century, particularly in the 1920s when such materials were prized for their fire-resistant properties. Below is an in-depth listicle providing insights into the life expectancy of asbestos roof shingles.

1. Estimated Lifespan

  • Asbestos roof shingles can last up to 50 to 70 years, depending on varying conditions. This long life expectancy arises from the durability and fire resistance that asbestos as a material provides.

2. Factors Affecting Lifespan

  • Climate: Particularly harsh or severe climatic conditions can reduce the lifespan of asbestos roof shingles.
  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance and repairs can help extend the life expectancy of asbestos roof shingles, even if they were installed decades ago.
  • Installation: Proper installation is key to longevity. Poorly installed shingles are more susceptible to damage, thus shortening their lifespan.

3. Life Expectancy Comparison

Asbestos shingles outperformed many other materials in longevity as per the estimate:

Roof MaterialAverage Lifespan (years)

4. The Illusion of Durability

  • Although asbestos roof shingles are long-lasting, their durability can be deceptive. Over time, undisturbed asbestos can break down, producing hazardous dust. It’s paramount to take care in handling or disturbing potentially asbestos-containing roofing materials.

Common Advantages of Asbestos Cement Roof Shingles

Asbestos Cement Roof Shingles have acquired a slight negative reputation owing to health concerns. However, it is worth noting that during its heyday, asbestos cement roof shingles were popular due to their various benefits. Here are some common advantages of asbestos-cement roof shingles:

1. Durability

  • Asbestos cement roof shingles are incredibly durable.
  • They can withstand the test of time and various climatic conditions.
  • It’s not uncommon to find buildings that still have their original asbestos cement roof shingles even after several decades of installation.

2. Fire Resistance

  • One of the defining characteristics of asbestos is its ability to resist heat and flame.
  • This means that asbestos cement roof shingles do not pose a risk of catch fire.
  • Therefore, they offer built-in fire protection for a building.

3. Resistance to Weather Elements

  • Asbestos cement roof shingles are resistant to a myriad of weather elements.
  • They can withstand strong winds, heavy rains, and even snow.
  • This property makes them suitable for various weather conditions and geographic locations.

4. Cost-Effective

  • When compared to other roofing materials, asbestos cement roof shingles were relatively inexpensive.
  • This cost-effectiveness was a key reason for their widespread use in the 20th century.

5. Easy Installation

  • Installing asbestos cement roof shingles is a straightforward process.
  • The lightweight nature of these shingles often simplifies the installation process.

6. Sound Insulation

  • Asbestos cement roof shingles provide excellent sound insulation.
  • They reduce the transmission of noise from the outside, thus creating a quieter indoor environment.

What Are The Types Of Asbestos Available?

Asbestos is categorized into two families, Serpentine and Amphibole. The two families indicate the fiber shape they possess. Of the two families, Asbestos occurs naturally in six different silicate minerals. These six types of Asbestos include:

  • Chrysotile
  • Amosite
  • Crocidolite
  • Anthophyllite
  • Tremolite
  • Actinolite

Asbestos was mined almost everywhere across the United States of America. However, the last mine located in California was closed in 2002. Asbestos is still in use in the country. Tonnes of Asbestos are imported from other countries to quench the need for it in the country.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has various laws put up to regulate the use of Asbestos and help minimize the exposure to people. The Environmental Protection Agency had tried to ban the use of any product that contained the mineral. The ban failed, and products containing this mineral are still in use.

What Is The Cost Of Installing An Asbestos Roof?

Installation of an asbestos roof can range from 10,000 dollars to 40,000 dollars. People preferred asbestos roofing lightweight and durable yet cost-effective. However, despite its friendly cost, many homeowners are beginning to opt for alternatives to protect themselves against harmful chemicals. Again, removing the asbestos roof requires a licensed contractor, eventually making the roofing costly

What Is The Cost Of Repairing Or Removal Of Asbestos Roofing Shingles?

Cost Of Repairing Or Removal Of Asbestos Roofing Shingles

For any product that has Asbestos in it, the motto of addressing it is usually, “if it is not broken, leave it alone.” However, if you decide to remove the roofing, it will cost you around $8 per square foot. Licensed contractors who charge hourly usually require around $200 per hour. Most will remove 25 square feet per hour, translating the removal cost to about $800-$1,200 per 100 square feet. 

Note that the removal cost includes the disposal fee. Therefore, it is recommended to hire a professional for removal to ensure the safe disposal of the asbestos roofing. 

When asbestos shingles get damaged, there are only two fixes for them. You either repair or remove them. Repair is the first and most common option when asbestos shingles get damaged. Repairing is usually done in two ways; either the damaged shingles are sealed or covered.


Sealing damaged asbestos shingles is done by applying a sealant that will either hold the asbestos fibers together or coat the fibers together so that they cannot escape.


This method involves the placement of material over the damaged asbestos shingles to prevent any fibers from being released into the air.

Repairing asbestos shingles is the most common measure when they get damaged. It is less costly as compared to removing them.

How Much Does Removal Of Asbestos Cost?

The cost of asbestos removal is not constant throughout the United States of America. The cost varies with the region you are in. Since the removal of Asbestos is expensive, it is required that you check if you do have Asbestos. Sampling and testing are done on sight. It will cost you 250 dollars to 1000 dollars. The alternative is to have a sample sent to testing facilities for analysis; it will cost less than on-site testing.

Once the Asbestos is approved, it is worked on over three phases.

Work preparation phase

The contractors are well vast with knowledge of how to prep the site and the area they will be using. The cost of work preparation is about 50 dollars per square foot.

The removal phase

The removal phase is where the actual work is done. All the Asbestos is removed and safely separated from your house. The cost of this phase will be about 8 dollars to 25 dollars per square foot.

The disposal phase

Damaged Asbestos can be dangerous to your health and anyone around it. It has to be properly transported and disposed of to avoid any risks.

Removal of Asbestos is not just a job for anyone. Some laws do allow the homeowner to do the job themselves. However, looking at the health risks that Asbestos can cause, it is advisable to get a licensed contractor to do the job.

Professionals in this line of work are well aware of all the regulations set to regulate Asbestos removal. However, most include the disposal fee in the removal cost. 

Using A Contractor To Remove Asbestos

It is advisable to have your Asbestos removed by a contractor. Here are a few things that you need to check when choosing a contractor:

  • Check whether the contractor you are using has violated the set guideline set up by your local air pollution control board. Also, you should find out if there is any legal action taken against them.
  • Ensure you have a written contract that specifies all the work plans. Also, the contract should include any legal documents or certificates required by law for the removal of Asbestos.
  • Ensure that the area where the Asbestos is being worked on is marked as a hazard area. Pets and anyone else that is not working in the area should not be allowed to walk or play around. This minimizes tracking of the Asbestos from one point to the other.
  • Be strict with your contractor to ensure they use the right equipment while working on your project. Asbestos should not be crushed into smaller pieces, this is well known to the contractor, but it never hurts to remind them.
  • After completion, you have to make sure that your contractor cleans up after themselves and leaves no trace of Asbestos in your home. Mops, rugs, and high-efficiency particulate air vacuums are used to remove any remaining asbestos fibers altogether.

Final Thoughts

Asbestos roof shingles have a very long life expectancy. However, they have to remain intact and not get any damage whatsoever. Damaged Asbestos can cause harmful effects on anyone who breathes the fibers in. Always get a licensed contractor for repair or removal to keep your health in check. To replace your roofing, consider other available if you want to avoid any risk associated with Asbestos.