Most houses in the United States use singles for their roofs. Although not as popular anymore, one of the types that are still used for roofs is Asbestos shingles.
Asbestos shingles, like most shingles, come in a great variety of designs, colors, and sizes, in order to be used in as many different types of house as possible. There are a few manufacturers of asbestos shingles, although there number is reducing due to the decrease in popularity of this type of shingles.
Contrary to what most people believe, asbestos shingles are not entirely made of asbestos and they do not necessarily represent a health hazard. In fact, asbestos shingles core is made of a mineral fiber and cement, with some asbestos content. The proportions of this mix vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer and from one type of shingles to the other. The asbestos content usually does not represent more than 1/3 or the composition, with percentages that go from 5% to 35%. In addition, it is very hard for the asbestos in these shingles to become airborne, since they are covered with a layer of mineral fibers and cement mixtures. It requires mishandling of the material or a very advanced state of decomposition for the asbestos in asbestos shingles to become a health hazard. That is why they require proper care and handling.
As asbestos shingles become damaged, it is necessary to replace them. It is very important to verify to what extent asbestos was used in the roof, as asbestos has been used for other roofing applications, such as insulation. If that is the case, it is better to change the whole roof at once, and not just a few asbestos shingles. Also, it is vital that a professional takes care of the repairs, preferably one that is sponsored by the company that sold the asbestos shingles. In addition, old asbestos shingles that are replaced have to be disposed of according to the laws and regulations of the location.
Although asbestos shingles are losing their popularity fast, they were very useful in their time. They were malleable compared to wood and stone. And they had great endurance and resistance to weather, water, insects and fire. At first, they were only dark colored, but new techniques allowed manufacturers to come up with different colors.
With the development of new techniques, asbestos shingles will eventually disappear. However, they set a standard in malleability and resistance that new materials had to match. Fiberglass in special is the most common replacement for asbestos shingles. Whether fiberglass will be replaced by solar shingles is still unknown.