This 1876 newspaper article describes the "usefullnes" of asbestos. Here you can discover where asbestos might be found in an older home today.
We call attention to the multifarious uses that the H.W. Johns Manufacturing Co., make of that wonderful fire-proof and highly useful substance - Asbestos. They manufacture asbestos liquid paints in various colors and shades, such as are most durable for buildings - more durable and at the same time cheaper than other paints. Very naturally their use is daily increasing.
They make asbestos roof paint, especially intended to withstand atmospheric influences, which of course act more on a roof than on any other part of a building. They make an asbestos fire-proof paint, intended to protect wooden structures from the danger of ignition. They makes asbestos roofing, with a fire-proof coating, at half the price of a tin roof. They make asbestos steam pipe and boiler coverings, which from the fact that asbestos is a very bad conductor of heat, economize more fuel than most other coverings; and finally they make asbestos steam packing, round, flat, and loose; asbestos sheathings, coatings, cements, cloth, gloves, thread, etc.
In regard to practical experience with the asbestos liquid paints, one of the most extensive contractors and decorators in this city, says he has used nearly 50,000 gallons of them, and after an experience of twenty years with white lead and other paints, he considers them not only "superior in richness of color and durability, but owing to their wonderful covering properties, they are fully 20 per cent more economical than any others."
These paints have been adopted for the interior and exterior wood, iron, and stone work for the United States Capitol at Washington.
In regard to the use of asbestos for roofing T. Kingsford & Sons, of the extensive Oswego, NY Starch Factory, say that they have several acres of asbestos roofing on their buildings; the first roof put on fifteen years ago is in good condition.