How to Identify Asbestos Roof Tiles

Roof Tiles, Slates & Shingles
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How to Identify Asbestos Roof Tiles

Asbestos is one of the most infamous materials used in construction. Although the material was first discovered thousands of years ago, its widespread usage in construction began in the early twentieth century. Asbestos was later proven to be potentially fatal, if you were unfortunate enough to breathe the fibres in. Although the material was banned in the UK in 2000, and existing asbestos was removed en masse, many homeowners fear the material could form some part of their home.

What Sort of Asbestos Was Used in Roof Tiles?

There were three primary forms of asbestos used in roof tile manufacture in the UK. These three types were crocidolite, amosite, and chrysolite. These are easily distinguished by their colour, with crocidolite being blue, amosite being brown, and chrysolite being white. These three forms of asbestos also pose different levels of risk, with crocidolite being the most dangerous. Thankfully, crocidolite was banned in the UK construction industry in the 1960s, and the least dangerous form, chrysolite was the one most commonly used when crafting cement roof tiles.

Are Asbestos Roof Tiles Dangerous?

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors. High quality asbestos tiles, if not moved or disturbed, don’t actually pose much of a risk. The danger comes when asbestos products are broken, and the dangerous fibres are released into the air. The issue with asbestos roof tiles is of course the fact that they are exposed to the elements, making breakages such as chipped corners, or cracks far more likely. Thankfully however, as the fibres will be released into the open air, the potential for harm is greatly reduced.

What Do Asbestos Roof Tiles Look Like?

While the three types of asbestos used in roof tiles can be easy to spot by themselves, they’re difficult to identify when mixed into a tile. Roofing tiles containing asbestos will often have a white, grey, or blue-white colour, but so do many other tiles made from materials that are perfectly safe. The only way to confirm if a tile contains asbestos is to look for an identification mark. These marks were generally only put onto around one in twenty tiles, so if you suspect that your roof tiles contain asbestos multiple tiles may need to be removed before you find a marked one. Otherwise, the only way to confirm is for the composition of the tile to be analysed scientifically.

How to Dispose of Asbestos Roof Tiles?

Calling in a professional to help you locate and remove any asbestos from your home is by far the safest and best way to tackle the issue. This goes both for the stability of your property, and your own health. There is no legal restriction to disposing of asbestos roof tiles yourself, however the risks by far outweigh the benefit of saving money on professional help. Use the “Find a Member” function on the Asbestos Removal Contractors’ Association (ARCA) homepage to find an expert near you.


It can be extremely worrying if you suspect or discover that your roof tiles contain asbestos. However, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, which is why we recommend contacting a professional.

If you think there are asbestos tiles on your roof:

  • If you are working on your roof, cease work immediately – even slight activity could disturb the tiles and the dangerous fibres and particles that dwell in them.
  • Notify other household members and, if necessary, your neighbours to ensure they are aware of the potential risks on your roof.
  • Carefully clear the roof of any debris or equipment to make sure the professionals you hire can access the roof properly. However, if you don’t think you can do this without disturbing the tiles, leave it and explain the situation the experts.

You should also consult this guide from Health and Safety England.

By following these steps, you’re sure to minimise any damage or risk to you or your property by the presence of asbestos. And if it does turn out that your roof tiles contain asbestos, you’ll need a safe, affordable replacement that will stand the test of time. Take a look at our extensive range of roof tiles to find out more.

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