What does asbestos look like?

Asbestos is a mineral fibre found in naturally occurring silicate minerals or rocks. The use of asbestos has been banned in several countries worldwide because of the number of health risks associated with it. In 2003, Australia became one of the 67 countries to ban the use of asbestos. Today, only one-third of Australian homes contain asbestos. What does asbestos look like? Read more to find out.

Non-friable and bonded asbestos was widely used for construction in the 1980s for its high insulation, heat-resistant and affordable properties. There are about 5,000 products that contain asbestos, which is commonly used in homes, factories, farms, office buildings, and more.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is referred to fibrous strands that are found in naturally occurring silicate minerals. These rocks are milled and crushed to produce asbestos fibres that are then combined with other materials. Raw asbestos fibres are often considered to be stronger than steel when placed together and were often woven into textiles, fabrics and paper. There are endless applications of asbestos. For instance, asbestos insulation was used around pipes because of its high thermal properties. It also has good acoustic properties.

Asbestos is a soft mineral that can be broken down by hand to make friable and non-friable asbestos-containing products. Friable asbestos is reduced to powder, whereas non-friable asbestos is mixed with bonding agents, like cement, for structure and stability. Asbestos cement may become friable over time with degradation or exposure to chemicals.

Types of asbestos fires:

Asbestos is generally 6 kinds, but 3 were more commonly used in Australia:

White asbestos (Chrysotile)

This type of asbestos is found mostly in roof shingles, ceilings, walls and floors and looked like accumulated dust due to its white or grey colour.

Brown asbestos (Amosite)

Brown asbestos can be found mostly in cement sheets, pipes and other thermal insulations. It has a shiny, golden-brown appearance.

Blue asbestos (Crocidolite)

Considered to be the most dangerous type of asbestos, was commonly found used in steam engines, plastics and spray-on paints. Its extremely thin, bluish-green fibres can identify it. Exposure to blue asbestos can cause asbestosis and cancer, among other diseases.

How can you identify asbestos?

Under a microscope, asbestos looks like long, thin fibres. This is the rawest form of the mineral and gives the mineral its thermal insulation properties. In fact, the typical size of the fibres are 0.1 to 10 micrometre in length and is visible to the naked eye when in groups or clumps.

Once these fibres are disturbed or taken out of their natural element, they split to release asbestos fibres into the air. Leftover building materials may contain asbestos dust. Prolonged asbestos exposure, now dust-like particles, could result in mesothelioma, a type of cancer, or other asbestos-related diseases.

What does asbestos look like at home?

In residential properties, asbestos is present commonly in cement. Even though we can’t really identify asbestos, it is not wrong to assume that large parts of our homes may contain asbestos in the form of:-

Asbestos sheeting

Asbestos-containing cement is more durable, heat resistant and weather-proof. Cement sheetings usually use white asbestos. Under normal circumstances, white asbestos has very low damage potential due to its non-friability. This can be commonly found in asbestos vinyl-based floor tiles. When they are broken down with power tools or exposed to chemicals during repair work for floor tiles, they can become brittle eventually, becoming a high risk because it releases asbestos fibres in the air.

Asbestos insulation

One of the most natural qualities of asbestos-containing materials is its thermal insulation property, due to which it was heavily used to insulate hot water pipes, roofs and walls. Brown and white asbestos were most commonly used and can be employed either in their 100% raw form in roof and floor cavities. It was also used to make wire paint. Asbestos fibres can very easily be disintegrated into airborne particles.

Asbestos spray- Regular paints that contain asbestos

Paint that contains asbestos uses all 3 common types of asbestos, i.e., white, brown and blue asbestos. It’s not harmful as long as there is no external force or environmental effects. Since these products can contain up to 10% of asbestos, it is necessary to check for asbestos content in the paint you are buying.

Dispose of asbestos cement the right way:

Since it’s not easy to identify asbestos, as common folks, it is imperative to call a professional to aid in asbestos removal. Asbestos cement sheeting is a commonly used building material in Australian homes. At Total Asbestos & Demolition, we have fully licensed contractors to help you out when you want to remove ceiling tiles, floor tiles, and other objects that contain asbestos or have used asbestos materials. No job is big or small when it is your health in question. For any queries about asbestos removal in Brisbane, call us today!

Services Total Asbestos and Demolition provides:

Total Asbestos & Demolition has over 40 years of experience in removing asbestos materials from residential and commercial spaces and demolition related jobs. We provide an array of services, including:

  • Inspect, test and dispose of hazardous building materials, including asbestos cement.
  • Disposal of asbestos materials in approved Council dumping sites.
  • Provide asbestos roofing and gutter replacement.

Asbestos can either be repaired with some form of sealant that prevents the further release of fibres, or it can be completely removed and disposed of. If you find broken building materials or suspect that your home may contain asbestos materials, call us for a FREE quote today!

What does asbestos look like? Leave it on us to help you identify and remove it.


How harmful can products containing asbestos be?

Asbestos fibres can be released into the air during construction or repair work. These fibres come from asbestos products and contribute to major diseases such as cancer and asbestosis. It is essential not to be exposed to asbestos products to reduce health risks around your home.

How do I identify which materials have asbestos?

A majority of building and construction materials such as cement used in tiles, ceilings, roofs and other regions usually contain asbestos. We offer a site inspection to ensure you can identify all of the building materials in your house where asbestos was used.

Is it easy to get rid of it?

We provide easy demolition and replacement services so that you can have peace of mind. Non-asbestos materials give you protection from diseases while also being good at insulation. In the case of cement products, we replace the roof, gutters, tiles and more than dispose of the asbestos off in a council approved site.