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!