Removing the Layers and Asbestos

December 18, 2011

“Your house is getting naked…” is what Taylor said to me this week.  He and his crew were busy removing and storing the interior trims and taking off the various layers of the house.  It was curious to see the different layers peeling off.  As expected there were no insulation in the wall cavity.  If I were to compare these layers on of the wall to layers of clothing on a person it’s like having couple layers of windbreaker or rain jackets (with many holes, remember the 22 ACH?) and no sweater (i.e. no insulation).  So the house kept you dry from rain but it did not keep you warm.  Have a look at the layers below.

The Layers

The front of the house has a fake brick siding, a type of roofing material –

“Fake Brick” siding on the front of the house

Underneath the fake brick is the redwood siding –
(we did some test paints on the redwood siding)

Redwood siding under the fake brick

Under the redwood siding is the black plastic rain screen –

Black plastic sheet under redwood siding

Under the black plastic is the diagonal boards providing extra shear –

Diagonal planks under the black plastic

Here you see no insulation in the wall cavity –

No insulation between lath and plaster interior wall and exterior siding

Back and sides of the house had a layer of stucco over the redwood planks

Here you see the different layers on the side

Trims and Windows

Window trims (Before)

Trims remove to reveal counterweights on double-hung windows –

Windows removed –


Back in March we had we had Asbestos Inspectors, Inc. perform a survey of the house to identify where we had asbestos and in what concentration.  Besides of obvious suspect of “popcorn ceiling” we found asbestos to be present in the hallway tile, kitchen countertops, vinyl floor tile in the bedroom, tape mud in the bathroom and kitchenette, exterior paint where fireplace was repaired, and window putty.

Asbestos is a naturally forming mineral and has been known for its heat and fire resistance.  Until the 1970’s many types of building materials and insulation products used in homes contained asbestos.  So we expected to find asbestos in our house that was built in 1922.  If you’re interested in the regulation information have a look at the US EPA website or the California OSHA site for information.  I also found the article in the Building Materials Reuse Association to be useful.  This link explains the background of asbestos, including some interesting tidbits such as King of France (Louis IV) using a banquet table cloth made of asbestos.

Asbestos material in good shape can be left alone if it’s not going to be disturbed.  But we are gutting the building leaving asbestos material in place was not an option.  So a company that is licensed to remove asbestos did the work this week.  I had no interest in poking my head in the house covered with plastic while men in protective clothing worked within the house.  From the outside it looked like this –

Here’s an example of before and after –

By the way, my friend shared an interesting tid-bit on asbestos — the material Chrysotile comes from California’s state rock, serpentine.  I never would have guessed that all that asbestos was local material!

About the Author

Chie Kawahara

Chie is one of the co-creator of Midori Haus. When she is not sharing her stories of transforming an old house and giving tours, she enjoys trail running and hiking.

  • Asim says:

    Asbestos is a naturally forming mineral and has been known for its heat and fire resistance asbestos remediation

  • Chie says:

    Thanks Bob. We won't be re-roofing for 10 years or so but when the time comes we'll have the contractors pay attention to asbestos.

  • Bob Strong says:

    It's a good thing you did all of that. You never know quite what's going to be in those walls. I would check the roof for asbestos as well if I were you.

  • You made some good points here. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog. Thanks

  • Presence of Asbestos at home or office place can be very harmful for our health. There are some good asbestos abatement Monterey companies providing good services. But you also discussed well about Asbestos removal.chicago asbestos

  • Indeed it is strongly advised that homes containing asbestos should have an inspection done to make sure the indoor air quality is safe. It can be hard to find so leaving it to professionals is a good idea. When you have your asbestos inspection done, be sure to ask if your state will let you perform the removal on your own. I heard company sites like Asbestos Removal in Philadelphia are one the trusted companies providing services for asbestos removal.

  • Before attempting to remove any stucco it is important to have a sample analyzed to asbestos. There are several labs through out the country that can test samples for asbestos. To collect a sample, just take a few very small chips from the material you wish to remove and send them to a lab. If the samples come back positive I would suggest hiring someone that specializes in stucco removal in PA as asbestos can lead to a variety of health problems and it is not something that someone with no experience should be dealing with.

  • Hi,
    Thanks for the effort you go through by posting these blog. Any ways I just want to ask if is there any possibilities that you could help, gives some tips about how .
    I don’t have any idea about mold removal is it safe to do it myself? Still I want to try it for me to save money. I was like looking for Asbestos Removal in San Diego to do the job. Still i don’t know eventually if how would it cost me or save more money than to do it my self.

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