Vinyl asbestos floor tile identification photo U.S. Library of CongressHow to Remove Asbestos Containing Floor Tiles, Resilient Flooring or Sheet Flooring

  • ASBESTOS FLOORING REMOVAL GUIDE - CONTENTS: guidelines for removing asbestos-containing floor tiles or sheet flooring; how to decide if floor removal is neessary. Monitoring for asbestos fiber or particle contamination during floor removal.
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about procedures for removing asbestos-containing floor tiles or other floor coverings, or on the use of floor rejuvenators and restorative sealants on vinyl-asbestos floor tiles
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How to Remove Asbestos Containing Floor Tiles or Sheet Flooring:

This article describes the proper procedure for removing vinyl-asbestos floor tiles. We also discuss leaving good-condition vinyl asbestos tile (VAT) in place, cleaning it and treating the surface with a clear coat sealant or flooring restorer/rejuvenator. This document series assists building buyers, owners or occupants in reducing the risk of asbestos exposure from flooring that contains or is suspected to contain asbestos.

We provide photographs and descriptive text of asbestos insulation and other asbestos-containing products to permit identification of definite, probable, or possible asbestos materials in buildings.

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Guidelines for Removing Asbestos-Containing Floor Tile (Vinyl-Asbestos Tile / Asphalt-Asbestos Tile)

Spanish asbestos floor tiles (C) Daniel FriedmanIs Asbestos-Containing Floor Tile Removal Necessary?

Asbestos is safe and legal to remain in homes or public buildings as long as the asbestos materials are in good condition and the asbestos can not be released into the air.

[Click to enlarge any image]

Article Contents

We begin by suggesting that you should not remove asbestos-containing floor tile unless it is really necessary. As with asbestos-containing products in general, the asbestos hazard at a building may be greater from disturbing asbestos-containing materials (ACM) than if they were left alone or covered up.

But in some cases, particularly during certain building renovations or when asbestos-containing flooring is in poor condition and cannot easily be left in place, removal may be necessary.

As we point out at ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION, the US EPA points out in Adequately Wet Guidance, EPA340/1-90-019 that asbestos-containing floor tiles are considered non-friable materials but the materials can become friable with age or by grinding, sanding, demolition, etc.

Here is what the University of Minnesota has to say about the hazards of this type of asbestos-containing floor tiles:

Flooring that contains asbestos, when intact and in good condition, is generally considered nonfriable and is not hazardous.

Heat, water, weathering or aging can weaken flooring to the point where it is considered friable. Friable flooring includes any material containing more than 1 percent asbestos that can be crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder with hand pressure. This includes previously nonfriable flooring material which has been damaged to the extent that it may be crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder by hand pressure. Flooring can also be made friable during its removal. Friable materials can release asbestos fibers into the air. Once in the air, asbestos fibers present a health hazard to people who inhale those fibers.


Also see ASBESTOS REMOVAL, Wetting Guidelines.

the US EPA points out in Adequately Wet Guidance, EPA340/1-90-019

Non-friable miscellaneous ACM includes floor tiles, asbestos cement sheet (transite board), siding shingles, asphalt roofing shingles, laboratory bench tops and even chalkboards. These materials may become friable with age, and under harsh conditions. Category I non-friable ACM must be carefully examined to determine if the material is in poor condition, that is, if the binding material is losing its integrity, exhibited by peeling, cracking or crumbling; and is also friable. When Category I non-friable ACM has become friable it is subject to the NESHAP.

If Category I or II ACM is sanded, ground, cut or abraded it is also covered by the NESHAP. Category II non-friable ACM which is damaged to the extent that it has or will become crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder due to demolition/ renovation activities, is subject to the Asbestos NESHAP.

Miscellaneous materials are wetted in manners similar to those used to wet other categories of RACM. Coverings are saturated with a wetting agent before removal and the asbestos-containing portions fully penetrated with the agent prior to, during and after their removal, while stored in the removal area, and while being placed into disposal containers.

Miscellaneous materials that don't absorb water readily (e.g., asbestos-concrete products, and floor tiles) are only required to have wetted surfaces. A misting sprayer may be used to diminish airborne asbestos fiber levels.

Advice on Leaving Asbestos-Containing Flooring in Place in a Building

Leaving old ACM or PACM flooring in place in a building is the first choice approach where that flooring is itself no longer serviceable. Leaving the material in place will generally be the lowest-risk approach as it is the disturbance (by removal) of asbestos containing material that significantly increases the risk of airborne asbestos in buildings.

Where loose floor tiles or damaged sections of sheet flooring have left shallow holes, uneven surfaces, or depressions in the original tile or sheet resilient floor covering there are these approaches to producing a suitably smooth surface over which new non-asbestos sheet or tile floor coverings can be installed atop the old flooring:

Specific Advice on Removing Asbestos-containing Asphalt or Vinyl Floor Tiles or Sheet Flooring

Assumption of asbestos content: unless you know from specific test or other certain data that [in our opinion pre-1985] resilient floor tile or sheet flooring, floor backing, adhesives, and underlayment are free of asbestos, for safety, assume that the material contains asbestos - treat the material as Presumed Asbestos Containing Material (PACM) or as Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) if that is known.

No mechanical disturbance: do not bead-blast, chip, drill, dry-scrape, mechanically chip, pulverize, or saw (or use any other mechanically disruptive method) on any resilient flooring (tile, sheet flooring, underlayments, subflooring), floor backing, felt linings or underlayments, or on (generally black) asphalt-based cutback adhesives or other adhesives (some tan adhesives contained asbestos as well). - adapted from RFCI (2011).

Here is the US EPA's general Asbestos Advice for Homeowners, quoting from Asbestos in Your Home, U.S. EPA with minor additions of explanation and adaptation from additional sources.

Asbestos Containing Flooring Do's And Don'ts for the Homeowner

Major repairs must be done only by a professional trained in methods for safely handling asbestos.

Minor repairs should also be done by professionals since there is always a risk of exposure to fibers when asbestos is disturbed.

Doing minor repairs yourself is not recommended since improper handling of asbestos materials can create a hazard where none existed.

Removing Asbestos-Containing Floor Tiles Should Be Considered a Last Resort

Removal is usually the most expensive method and, unless required by state or local regulations, should be the last option considered in most situations. This is because removal poses the greatest risk of fiber release. However, removal may be required when remodeling or making major changes to your home that will disturb asbestos material.

Also, removal may be called for if asbestos material is damaged extensively and cannot be otherwise repaired. Removal is complex and must be done only by a contractor with special training. Improper removal may actually increase the health risks to you and your family.

Asbestos Floor Tile Removal Procedure, Guidelines, Standards, Regulations

Monitoring for Asbestos Fiber/Particle Contamination During Flooring Removal

Managing Asbestos in Place: A Building Owner's Guide to Operations and Maintenance Programs ("Green Book"), web search 08/11/2010, original source:
How to Develop and Maintain a Building Asbestos Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Program, This information is designed to assist building owners and managers in understanding how to develop and maintain an operations and maintenance program for asbestos-containing materials in their buildings.

Reader Question: does this floor I'm demolishing contain asbestos?

Messy demolition of asbestos-suspect flooring - DON"T DO THIS (C) InspectApediaWe were hoping you could take a look at this image fo determine if it contains asbestos? The house was built around 1970, but we arent sure if this is the original tile. - J.S. 2/11/14

Thank you,
Jared Spicer


Jared, no one can say for sure what a material contains from just a photo, but the image indeed looks like a 1960's vintage asphalt or vinyl asbestos floor installation, possibly a Kentile floor as those used many pattern inserts.

Watch out: t looks as if the breakup is making a dusty mess - something to be avoided in any case.

If you are facing a costly demolition then it would make sense to confirm asbestos content using a certified asbesto test lab - ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST

Else it makes sense to treat the material as "presumed asbestos containing" or "PACM" flooring based on age and appearance.


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