Grey Asbestos Roof Tiles

It’s been over two decades since the use and import of Asbestos has been banned in the UK. However, we’re still feeling the effects of its remarkable popularity in and across the 20th century with countless roofs still lined with it to this day. It’s identification and removal has become an industry in of itself, and that’s no surprise given just how dangerous of a substance it can be. If you're unsure if your roof features asbestos tiles, read our guide to identifying asbestos roof tiles.

As is well known now, Asbestos is considered a carcinogen – a substance with the capacity to cause cancers with it specifically being noted as the leading cause for Mesothelioma. A type that, by the time it is diagnosed, can often be fatal. It hardly needs to be said then, that its safe disposal is a priority amongst many homeowners, landlords and building managers. But, before you go rushing off to your roof, there are a few things to know about asbestos disposal if you want to stay safe.

Consult Qualified Professionals

Once you’ve made the unfortunate discovery of Asbestos Roof Tiles (either via a test or asbestos survey) the first thing to do is keep calm. Knowing as we do how harmful the material can be, it is all too easy to fall into a panic. However, Asbestos is only dangerous when it begins to break down and release fibres into the air. Bonded in cement it is relatively safe.

Still, the first (and most important) tip we can share is that you should never attempt to remove asbestos tiles yourself. Whilst there is no law preventing you from doing so the disturbance could cause these fibres to become airborne and put you and your family at serious risk. Asbestos removal training is key here, with this list of guidelines by HSE giving some idea of how comprehensive this training can be and what level of expertise is really needed.

Hiring a HSE licensed removal company will provide just this. A team trained to work with asbestos, who know what protection is needed, how to work at height and with all the tools required to get rid of every last bit of asbestos whilst leaving the area clean and ready for a new roof covering.

Note: If you absolutely insist on attempting this removal yourself and do end up needing to break a tile (or do so by mistake) make sure you have a bottle of water on hand as spraying water onto the tiles can help limit dust particles.

How Asbestos Is Handled & Removed

Typically, once asbestos has been identified the company you’ve approached should offer a clear report on its location as well as a few recommendations for its removal. These may include two options depending on what type of asbestos you’re dealing with, how much, its location and other similar factors.

Encapsulation is the least work intensive and thereby often the cheapest option to take. This is method of reinforcing the asbestos, as opposed to removing it entirely, with a protective adhesive. This adhesive bonds to the tiles, acting much in the same way as the original cement – binding the asbestos in and preventing the fibres from escaping.

The second option is a full removal. This will include a team of trained professionals all decked in appropriate overalls, disposable gloves and respirators (RPE). They will need to wet any material containing asbestos, remove it and then clean the area with a Class-H vacuum cleaner and a damp rag. Depending on the situation there may also be the need to employ some scaffolding. All of this will naturally increase the price, but you can certain that the peace of mind will be well worth it.

An important thing to remember here is that when all the asbestos has been removed from your roof, you will need something to replace it. Some companies may offer a re-boarding service, though it is always important to check this beforehand and have appropriate replacement tiles and a roof safeguard ready to go before the removal starts. This way you can get a tradesperson in to quickly to cover up and holes left behind.

Storing Asbestos Roof Tiles

Once the tiles are off your roof, they will need to be safley stored away so that they can be disposed of without risking anyone else's health. Anything containing more than 0.1% of asbestos is considered hazardous (England) or special (Scotland) waste and thus is subject the relevant environmental agencies.

For Cement tiles this means each will need to be secured in plain heavy-duty bags with an appropriate asbestos warning label. If the tiles are damaged and the fibres are no longer bonded to the cement, certified packaging, normally double ‘red & clear’ polythene bags will need to be used instead. For more information on asbestos storage, you can take a look at HSE’s full summary.

Where to Take Your Asbestos Roof Tiles

Disposing of Asbestos Yourself

Being hazardous, asbestos cannot simply be thrown away at any local tip without warning. Though that’s not to say you can’t take it away yourself, if you’re looking to save money, however you will need to locate an appropriate site to take it to. The best way to do this is by checking with your local council online.  If you are able to take it yourself, there may be some restrictions you need to be aware off (such as the amount that can be disposed) and so it is always best to give the relevant centres prior notice to your arrival. If this isn’t done, they may well turn you away. 

Alternatively, you may find in your search that your specific council (as most do), offers a collection service. This can often be cheaper than hiring professionals but does came with some caveats. These services may not be as quick and, if you have a lot of tiles to move, may not be able to do the whole lot in one go.

Learn more about removing an asbestos roof.

Hiring a Specialist Company

If you’ve taken our advice and hired out to remove your asbestos tiles, then this will be a given. Specialists will be able to take your waste away quickly, and will even provide you with a consignment note which will detail exactly what is being removed, who is involved and other relevant details.

How Much Does Asbestos Removal Cost

So, for the big question. Removing Asbestos from your roof can really require a lot of work – especially when considering how uncomfortable all of the PPE can get. As you might expect it comes with a noticeable price tag. Naturally this will depend on the size of your roof, and how much asbestos needs to be removed or encapsulated but here we’ll give a rough idea.

Type of Work

Cost per Sqaure Meter

Encapsulation

£8

Removal

£50

Source: Armco Asbestos Training

Bear in mind that this doesn’t take into account the cost of an initial asbestos survey which can add another roughly £250 to your total nor the price of fitting a new roof covering. All in all, you can expect the totals costs to be in thousands even for a small property. However, when weighing that up against the dangers of asbestos tiles, especially those in a decaying state, it's safe to say that any amount of money can still be considered a bargain.