What Does Asbestos Insulation Look Like In Attics: 4 Types
Repair of the Attic

What Does Asbestos Insulation Look Like in Attics: Check It Out Now!

Asbestos insulation is a very dangerous material for insulation, which can lead to serious respiratory diseases.

Asbestos can often be found as a major component of insulation in older homes. This material was distributed in the 80s and 90s. Asbestos was not always used at this time, but mostly it was. A special test will help to accurately determine asbestos containing insulation, but it is also visually possible to make an assumption about its presence. So, what does asbestos insulation look like in attics? Let’s take a closer look at what asbestos insulation is and how it works.

What Is Asbestos Insulation?

Asbestos containing insulation belongs to the category of minerals widely used in the production of building materials with thermal insulation properties. Such loose fill insulation at one time enjoyed great popularity along with loose-fill insulation materials of different brands and even enjoyed extensive demand.

The fibrous structure of the material allowed it to be used for the manufacture of fire-resistant heat insulators, asbestos insulation look like was part of roofing materials, drainage pipes and cladding panels. In some countries, asbestos fibers products were used for the construction of water pipes and lining natural sources of drinking water.

In its pure form, the material has useful properties:

  • low electrical conductivity;
  • high heat resistance;
  • insoluble in water;
  • chemical inertia;
  • the mineral fiber is easily fluffed.

Such a set of advantages simply doomed asbestos fibers to popularity in the world industry and technology. It is part of more than most common household materials.

Is asbestos dangerous?

The best answer to whether asbestos is harmful, we found here:

Even if asbestos is in your home, this is usually NOT a serious problem. The mere presence of asbestos in a home or a building is not hazardous. The danger is that asbestos materials may become damaged over time. Damaged asbestos may release asbestos fibers and become a health hazard.

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Four Types of Asbestos Insulation

Listed below are elements of long-built homes that most often contain asbestos. But even if you find something on this list in your home, don’t panic:

The best way to avoid asbestos exposure is to be knowledgeable about the asbestos materials in your home, including their locations and current condition.

Guide to Asbestos in the Home

#1 Spray-on insulation

Usually, spray loose-fill insulation is used in commercial buildings. It looks like a thick layer of gray material on the ceiling. 90% of this material consists of asbestos insulation. At the slightest violation or damage to the attic insulation, cracks appear through which all toxic substances exit. May cause lung cancer.

asbestos on the ceiling

#2 Loose-fill insulation

The loose-fill insulation has a light texture from a loose layer of asbestos dust. At the same time, the loose insulation itself consists entirely of asbestos. Previously, this loose fill material was known as “asbestos attic insulation” and was placed on the floor and attic space.

Loose fill could also be placed in empty spaces on the wall. But this is probably one of the most dangerous types of insulation, since loose fill insulation is very easy to destroy. Even a small wind flow is capable of destructive things.

Loose-fill insulation asbestos insulation

#3 Block insulation

It vaguely resembles boards. They are made of asbestos exposure. In the same way as in other types of insulation, they release toxins at the slightest impact or damage.

asbestos insulation in attics

#4 Blanket/Wrapped insulation

Such insulation was made of asbestos removal and covered with corpses or various plumbing fixtures. Very often this method was used in the navies. Blanket form, this substance was subjected to various defects and released harmful toxins into the air, which then caused illness in sailors and health risks.

There is also an alternative made zonolite insulation from asbestos wool. It is also used for pipe insulation and plumbing. Here, asbestos is usually released into the air by aging. The fibers themselves are destroyed and toxins are released into the air.

Insulation That May Contain Asbestos

There are two most common types of asbestos insulation. Both were actively used in the 70s and 90s of the last century. These are vermiculite insulation and asbestos wire insulation. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

Vermiculite insulation

In fact, natural vermiculite insulation is a rock of the silicate class, a group of hydro slides. It differs from ordinary mica by an increased content of water bound in the crystal lattice and a low level of bonds between the layers of the material. Thus, the total molecule of the original, natural vermiculite includes four water molecules “attached” to it.

Vermiculite can be used in several ways to ensure the necessary thermal insulation characteristics of a building:

  • In bulk form – to fill the cavities of insulated structures.
  • As part of special building solutions.
  • In the form of ready-made building elements (slabs) made of composite materials based on vermiculite.

But why is he so dangerous? If it has good properties for thermal insulation.

The fact is that most of the vermiculite in the USA was mined in one mine in Montana. In this mine, there was a large content of asbestos, which was in the compounds of vermiculite. Because of this, many vermiculite insulations contain asbestos.

many vermiculite insulations contain asbestos

Asbestos pipe insulation

Pipes in basements, furnace rooms, and other technical rooms are often insulated with asbestos material. Such insulation is similar to corrugated cardboard. Usually, this material has a characteristic bright color. Therefore, if you have seen the above items, then you need to urgently change the pipes.

pipe insulation conteins asbestos

Insulation That Does Not Likely Contain Asbestos

More modern and common forms of insulation usually do not contain asbestos institute. But there are other reasons why you sometimes have to change your insulation, just in case, check out Should I Remove My Old Attic Insulation: 6 Reasons When It’s Necessary. Okay, let’s take a closer look at what other materials of isolations these are.

Batt insulation or Blanket insulation

Such isolations are somewhat similar in shape to a batt and blanket insulation. They don’t have any bright colors (brown or silver gold). Such recycled paper is completely harmless and popular now. It does not contain asbestos and you do not need to worry about your health.

Cellulose insulation

Cellulose insulation is a plant fine fiber with naturally occurring minerals used in the cavities of walls and roofs for blown-in insulation, protection from drafts, and noise reduction. Insulation of buildings in general is a material with low thermal conductivity used to reduce heat loss and strengthen the building, as well as reduce noise transmission. Cellulose molten material has a characteristic brown or silvery gold color.

Cellulose insulation also does not contain any asbestos. It can often be seen in the form of a woven insulation batts or a blanket.

Cellulose insulation in the attic

Loose-fill fiberglass

Loose fill fiberglass wool is a kind of mineral wool and belongs to the category of thermal insulation material (according to the standard EN ISO 9229:2007). By its structure and origin, loose fill fiberglass wool is a fiber obtained from glass industry waste, mostly from broken glass.

The main characteristics of the material are reduced to significant resistance to elevated temperatures and chemical influences. Fiberglass insulation has good sound and thermal insulation properties.

What is the difference between fiberglass insulation and other types of mineral wool? First of all, the source of origin. Fiberglass fill wool is made from molten glass, which has borax, limestone, dolomite, sand, and soda in the list of raw materials.

Rock wool, in turn, is made from rocks after an eruption, and rock wool, respectively, from molten metallurgical slag. In the construction industry, roof shingles wall insulation is very popular for facing surfaces, including uneven ones. Fiberglass plates and mats can be used in construction of various configurations and shapes.

loose-fill fiberglass wool

Rock wool insulation

Rock wool insulation is a fibrous thermal insulation naturally occurring mineral material obtained from silicate melts of rock, volcanic rocks, as well as basalt. This insulation has excellent technical characteristics, thanks to which it has become widely in demand in the field of thermal insulation of residential and non-residential facilities.

In this heat insulator, synthetic impurities are contained in minimal quantities, the excellent natural characteristics of the stone are preserved. The fibers are intertwined with each other and are bound with the help of special substances. The latter are phenol and formaldehyde in the form of resins.

The method of producing stone fibers was invented after an unusual find in Hawaii. There, after the eruption of the volcano, the so—called “Pele hair” was discovered – thin strands of frozen volcanic rock. They became the forerunners of basalt fiber, created in their likeness, but already in production conditions. Stone wool was first produced in 1897 in the USA.

Rock wool mineral material

FAQ: What Does Asbestos Insulation Look Like in Attics

What to do with asbestos insulation around the home?

If your loose filler insulation meets the visual signs of vermiculite, the first thing to do is not to disturb it. Asbestos fibers are most dangerous when they are in the air and can get inside.3 Leaving the insulation intact significantly reduces the risk of exposure.

You can check the insulation for asbestos by using an asbestos testing kit or by testing a sample in an approved testing laboratory. If you find that you do have insulation asbestos-containing materials, you can leave it in place or ask a local asbestos abatement company to remove it.

For more information on working with vermiculite insulation, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides extensive information on the identification of asbestos insulation, safety procedures and how to remove it in attic space.

When do I call a professional?

Contacting a specialist in identifying asbestos insulation is vital for the health and safety of your home. Using a professional contractor allows you to conduct a detailed inspection of the attic so that they can identify the asbestos insulation and remove it safely and appropriately.

Generally, the addition or replacement of identifying asbestos insulation is a key component to maintaining the integrity of heat loss or cold air. Besides, you don’t want to move into a house with asbestos insulation. The completion of this project is the most important.

Anyway, in case your attic insulation leaves much to be desired, check out Attic Insulation Removal Cost: How to Remove Attic Insulation and What Is an Attic Insulation Calculator: 3 Steps Before You Buy.


Answering the question, what does asbestos insulation look like in attics? There are several obvious characteristics. These include the appearance, color, smell, shape, and type of insulation material. You can easily deduce from the above signs the presence of asbestos in your home and in the property you are about to purchase. Read on to learn The Cost to Remove Asbestos Insulation in Your Attic: 2023 Update.

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