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What Does Asbestos Insulation Look Like In Attics


Asbestos was mined throughout the United States and is possible in homes built before the 1990s as mines were still active. You can find it in flooring adhesives, roof shingles to pipe insulation. Additionally, it is one of the most common materials seen in attic and wall insulations. What does asbestos insulation look like in attics?  They are loose, lumpy, fluffy, granular, and pebble-like. The two types are loose fill and vermiculite.

Let’s take a look at the different types, what they look like, and if you need to figure out if you have asbestos.

What is Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral from rock and soil. When building construction is made, rock and soil are needed to collect particular materials. During this time, it is collected with the materials and never separated.

Types of Insulation That Contain Asbestos

As mentioned above, the two types that contain asbestos are loose-fill insulation and vermiculite.

Loose-Fill Insulation

  1. This type is also known as blown-in insulation.
  2. This type of asbestos insulation is fluffy, loose, lumpy, or has a texture that is granular.
  3. Different from most batt and blanket insulation because it doesn’t have paper or another type of backing.
Vermiculite insulation
Vermiculite insulation


  1. A common material that contains asbestos
  2. Sold under the name Zonolite
  3. Identified by looking like pebbles, silver gold, and gray-brown in color
  4. Comes from naturally occurring minerals in the earth

Where Did Asbestos Originate

Vermiculite insulation containing asbestos came from a mine located near Libby, Montana. This mine was active from 1919 – 1990 so unfortunately, the raw insulation material that was taken from the mine contained asbestos. This insulation makes up 70 percent of the vermiculite found in homes in the United States. Additionally, the last mine in the U.S. didn’t close until 2002 so it is possible there could be asbestos in your home.

Safe Types of Insulation

Fortunately, there are safe types of insulation. These are cellulose, loose-fill, and rock wool.

Cellulose Insulation

  1. Loose fill
  2. Gray, soft and no shine
  3. Made with recycled paper and doesn’t contain any minerals
  4. Comes in batt and blanket forms
Loose-fill fiberglass insulation

Loose Fill Fiberglass

  1. White and fluffy and very little shine
  2. Glass product and soft

Rock Wool

  1. Often confused with asbestos-containing insulation
  2. Soft, cottony like gray, brownish-white, white, or off white
  3. Usually a loose insulation

Cost to Remove Attic Asbestos Insulation

The cost to remove attic asbestos insulation can be rather high. There is a range that might not seem so daunting. However, the size of the attic space and the amount of asbestos insulation will dictate the amount that it could cost you for removal. The national average range that asbestos insulation removal could cost you is $800 to $15,000. That is a huge disparity, so make sure you are using the right asbestos insulation removal company.

Other Recommended Maintenance

While you are up in the attic and determining the amount of insulation needed to replace or add to the attic space, consider doing a thorough inspection of what needs cleaning. Oftentimes we neglect the attic crawl space and it becomes dirty and full of mold or mildew. Cleaning the attic crawl space is an important part of home maintenance.

While you are carefully looking around your attic, make sure that you don’t see any cloth-covered wires. Cloth-covered wires are a fire hazard and it is very difficult to secure homeowners insurance if these are present in the home.

Lastly, if you notice that your electric bill has gone up, it is possible that air is escaping in the home. It is important to air seal the attic and keep the cool air in the summer and the warm air in the winter.

When Do I Call A Professional

Calling on an insulation professional is vital to the health and safety of your home. Using a professional contractor allows you to have the attic inspected in full detail so they can identify asbestos insulation and it is removed safely and properly.

Typically, adding or replacing insulation is a key component for maintaining the integrity of heat loss or cool air loss. Also, you don’t want to move into a home that has asbestos insulation. This project completion is most important.


The attic space is most often a storage space for items that don’t fit in the garage. In some cases, attics are also used as a workspace. Ensuring that the attic is insulated safely and meets all health codes is important. Also, a home inspection can tell you if there are openings or cracks that should be sealed up. Then, a recommendation for the amount of insulation you need can be made.

The home inspection team can inspect your attic insulation and refer you to the most qualified contractor. Call Waypoint Property Inspection to inspect your home in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Orlando, Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, and surrounding areas.