What’s Wrong With This? Doesn’t Look Too Bad, Right?

deck = asbestos sheet

SO what’s wrong with this?  Doesn’t Look Too Bad, Right?

The cantilevered structure of the balconies are fine.  There’s some blistering paint on a nearby wall but thats just paint work.

The balcony iron work is in good shape, firmly attached and no rust.  Caulking could look neater but it’s doing its job.  All the balconies on the street side are like this, no rotting wood. The rear balconies are another story however.

Did you notice the garage doors?  They are roll ups but they have man doors build into them.  They haven’t been used for cars for years but they operate just fine, manually, and the man doors are functional too.

So has my miss-direction kept you from seeing the really interesting detail?…Maybe.

Here’s a close up that should tell the story:

asbestos balcony deck


The deck covering material itself. I first zeroed in on it because of how thin it was. Naturally the next question is what is it? I’ve seen it before, behind and above wood stoves and furnaces but not in this application.

Later I had the chance to ask the owner about it.

I said “That decking material on the front balconies, did you have that put on?” “Yes” he said, ” The original wood was rotting”.

I said “Yes but the material, the deck…”

“Yes it’s like.. a fibreglass..” (owner)

“You mean it’s…” (me)

“Yes..It’s asbestos.” (owner).      He admitted it, but he wasn’t going to volunteer it until I kept asking.


Asbestos. Asbestos sheet stock. Hard but very brittle.

The good news is that whole 4′ by 8′ sheets were used. There was no cutting. There is no evidence of friable conditions at the moment. Friable is the high risk condition. Dust is created. Inhaled asbestos dust is the known carcinogen pathway.

The bad news; it’s asbestos, it’s been there at least 5 years, probably longer. It will start to delaminate and breakdown. It will then be friable. Structurally it is an inappropriate material for this use. It is brittle and unless there is reinforcement underneath (plywood layer and close joist spacing) it is susceptible to impact damage. It will then be friable, instantly. The exposed edges can easily be damaged (picture an errant snow shovel hitting it.)

So if you are in the Montreal area, and are planning to buy or sell property, you need these risks identified. You can contact me for a full inspection or an issue specific consultation. I can also send samples and have them blind tested at independent laboratories.


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post