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Asbestos containing vinyl asbestos floor tilesIdentify Asbestos-Containing Flooring
5 Easy Steps to Decide if a Floor Probably Contains Asbestos

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How to Identify Floor Tiles & Sheet Flooring That May Contain Asbestos:

This article explains how to identify floor tiles that are likely to contain asbestos, by making a simple visual inspection, noting the probable age of the building and age of its materials, and similar clues.

This document assists building buyers, owners or inspectors who need to identify asbestos materials (or probable-asbestos) in buildings by visual inspection. .

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

How to Identify Asbestos Floor Tiles & Sheet Coverings - Asbestos Suspect Floor Tiles & Sheet Flooring

Vinyl asbestos flooring 1974 (C) Daniel FriedmanHere 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.

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]

Our photo (left) shows Armstrong® Excelon 12x12 vinyl asbestos flooring made in 1972, identified in our floor tile photo guide ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION PHOTOS 1949-1959 - detailed photo guide to asphalt asbestos and vinyl asbestos floor tiles, and resilient flooring produced in 1900 -1980.

Asphalt Asbestos, Plastic Asbestos, and Vinyl Asbestos floor tiles were sold in 6"x6", 9" x 9" and in some years 12" x 12" sizes.

We also seen very small asphalt asbestos floor tiles in a 1 1/2" size bonded to a jute backer fabric.

Asbestos-containing Floor Tile Identification in 5 Easy Steps

Asphalt asbestos flooring from an installation between 1952 and 1962 (C) InspectApedia.com

  1. Flooring age: determine or guess at the building age, years when remodeling was done, year when flooring was installed, consider number of layers and layer materials.

    In North America if asphalt or vinyl floor tiles or sheet flooring were made or installed before 1986, treat the floor as presumed to contain asbestos.

    To identify a particular asphalt-asbestos or vinyl-asbestos floor tile pattern & color, start in the image group most likely to be the same age as your building.

    If you don't find your floor tile or sheet flooring in our flooring guides by looking forward from that that year, you should also look backwards in the earlier years as your specific flooring pattern & color may have first appeared in an earlier year.

    The floor tiles shown above were installed in an older U.S. home between 1952 and 1962 and are almost certain to be an asbestos-containing product.

    See the brand name floor tile links and other floor tile ID articles included in

    this ASBESTOS FLOORING IDENTIFICATION GUIDE INDEX.

Vinyl asbestos floor tile identification photo U.S. Library of Congress Vinyl asbestos floor tile identification photo U.S. Library of Congress

 

 

 

  1. General Floor Tile pattern and size: match against pattern guides given in the indexes we just cited above.

    Watch out: Unusual (photo below), very small or very large floor tile dimensions and thickness are not a reliable indicator of asbestos-content. Asbestos containing floor tiles were produced in a wide range of thicknesses and dimensions as well as in custom sizes, patterns, shapes, and cutouts.

    See ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE DIMENSIONS for details.

Custom die cut asphalt or vinyl floor tile inlay pattern (C) InspectApedia.com

Above: custom cut inlay in an asbestos floor tile installation of an older home.

Below: dominant floor tile colors, discussed next.

Black and white asbestos-containing floor tiles (C) InspectApedia.com

  1. Dominant Floor Tile colors: can confirm a floor tile age, style, and manufacturer.

    The 9-inch predominantly-black and predominantly beige asbestos-containing floor tiles above almost certainly are asbestos-containing flooring, easily identified in the Armstrong product line from the 1950's and 1960's.

Below: Armstrong Marble Tile Ferrara & Beige floor tile pattern No. 55070-121 data from original packaging.

Armstrong asphalt floor tile packaging (C) InspectApedia.com

  1. Look for a flooring brand, pattern name, number, style. If accessible, look for stampings or markings on the back of floor tiles or sheet flooring.

    Occasionally we can find extra floor tiles stored in an attic, basement, or garage. An earlier owner or perhaps the floor installer left these for future repairs.

    If you have flooring packaging, take a look at the packaging, box brand, label, floor tile style or pattern.

    Often the manufacturer and product or serial number can identify flooring in exquisite detail.

    If you do not have this information, as you usually won't, try the four steps given below, combined with a look through the various asphalt or vinyl asbestos floor tile manufacturer's ID guides given in this article series.
  2. Lab testing of flooring for asbestos content: if you face a costly dusty messy demolition it may be appropriate to have a sample of the flooring tested.

    Our ARTICLE INDEX includes contact information for certified asbestos test labs in your country.

    See ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST to choose a certified asbestos testing lab to test a sample from your floor.

So Do These Floor Tiles Contain Asbestos or Not?

Do these floor tiles contain asbestos or not? (C) InspectApedia.comThe most-common question we receive from readers, often along with a photo of flooring, is "Do you think this flooring contains asbestos?"

The Short Answer: treat old floors as PACM - Presumed Asbestos Containing Material

The age of building and of flooring, as well as country location as well as flooring type and pattern all figure into a guess about whether or not it is likely to contain asbestos.

For floors made or installed in North America before 1986 it would be prudent to treat the floor as presumed to contain asbestos. So if your floor dates from the 1960's it's likely to contain asbestos.

Intact, un-disturbed by sanding, grindking, sawing, chopping, etc., asbestos-containing asphalt or vinyl tile or sheet flooring is not friable -it does not readily release detectable levels of harmful asbestos into the air of the building where it is installed.

When possible the safest, least expensive, and most-recommended approach is to leave the floor alone, in place, and to seal or cover it over with a new layer of material.

Leave in Place an Asbestos-Suspect Floor in Good Condition

For the floor shown in the reader-photo above and others in sound condition and well-adhered to their subfloor, we suggest leaving the floor in place and covering it.

Then see ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION for steps to take to protect the floor or cover it over.

and see ASBESTOS FLOORING LEFT IN PLACE for an example of using sealants on the floor surface to protect it from damage and shedding.

However some circumstances including a floor in poor condition or some building renovation work might justify floor removal.

Safe Removal of an Asbestos-Suspect Floor in Poor Condition

Improper removal of an asbestos floor tile installation (C) InspectApedia.com reader photoIf in any doubt about the asbestos content of a floor, when facing a costly asbestos removal project you might want to have a floor sample tested for asbestos to confirm that costly handling is needed.

Take a look

at ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD LEVEL ASSESSMENT

In that case also

see ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST to choose a certified asbestos testing lab to test a sample from your floor.

Watch out: don't just start hacking and chopping up an old floor that may contain asbestos - as the worker is doing in our reader's photo above.

Making a dusty mess not only exposes the worker and occupants to an asbestos hazard but it also is likely to lead to the need for an expensive asbestos dust clean-up job.

Then before beginning to remove the floor, see these

Asbestos Floor Tile Hazard Management Articles

Details of Asbestos Floor Tile Identification

Armstrong asbestos floor tile under the microscope (C) Daniel FriedmanIf you can identify your floor tile collection name or model number, or if you recognize it in the extensive library of flooring color and pattern photographs provided in these pages, laboratory testing of the sample to screen the flooring for asbestos may be unnecessary.

While an expert lab test using polarized light microscopy may be needed to identify the specific type of asbestos fiber, or to identify the presence of asbestos in air or dust samples, many asbestos-containing building products not only are obvious and easy to recognize, but since there were not other look-alike products that were not asbestos, a visual identification of this material can be virtually a certainty in many cases.

Our photograph at above left shows asbestos fibers and asbestos filler fragments from an Armstrong vinyl asbestos floor tile examined in our forensic laboratory.

The asbestos floor tile identification articles in this series illustrate that with the combination of design appearance and an idea of floor tile age, many asbestos-containing floor tiles or sheet flooring products can be reliably identified even before confirmation by a test by a certified asbestos testing laboratory.

On occasion, the original flooring packaging or installation literature may be available for a given home: often an extra box of floor tiles was kept for future repairs.

The vinyl-asbestos floor tile package label information, combined with a simple comparison of tiles in the package with tiles installed in the building may be sound confirmation of asbestos-containing materials.

See VINYL ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE PACKAGING. Historical information about the dates of flooring installation may also be sufficient to rule in or out the possibility that flooring in a building contains asbestos.

Asphalt-based asbestos floor tiles and plastic or vinyl-based asbestos flooring were popular in the U.S. in the 1940's - 1970's and were produced by some manufacturers (Armstrong) as late as 1980.

Armstrong-like Excelon (C) Daniel FriedmanSome asbestos-containing flooring products were manufactured (we estimate) as early as the late 1920's.

Photo at left from a 1950's home shows Armstrong Excelon-type VAT, courtesy of reader Kim who adds that asbestos testing indicated that the white floor tiles contained 7% and the black contained 5% asbestos.

We suspect the actual asbestos levels are higher in these tiles because both fibers and fine asbestos filler particles were often used.

If the flooring is being demolished, sanded, buffed with steel-wool floor polishers, or subject to heavy traffic, it might be a source of unacceptable asbestos particle release, as we discussed above at asphalt asbestos floor tiles as an asbestos source.

Armstrong was by no means the only company producing asbestos-containing floor tiles, though the company may have been the largest producer.

Armstrong® produced the Excelon Tile™ series beginning with a plastic asbestos floor tile series in 1954, referring to the product as vinyl plastic asbestos floor tiles beginning in 1955, and vinyl asbestos tiles from 1957 to 1980.

Resilient sheet flooring containing asbestos was also produced, finding wide use as early as 1968. The Solarian flooring brand appeared in 1977.

Not all old floor tiles or sheet flooring contain asbestos

Adding to modern confusion about which vinyl floor tiles from the 1950's to 1980's do or do not contain asbestos, some lines such as the Excelon Supreme (ca 1977) did not contain asbestos.

And some six-inch asphalt based or floor tiles tested by a reader were reported to be asbestos free even though their pattern matched other 9x9 asbestos-containing floor tiles in the Armstrong line. That's right 6" x 6" - though that floor tile size was rare.

Who produced vinyl or asphalt asbestos flooring?

Vinyl asbestos floor tiles were produced by a number of manufacturers, and the decorative tile patterns were varied, often annually as styles and tastes changed. It is possible to make a tentative identification of floor tiles based on the individual tile pattern, color, and thickness.

Guides for identifying specifc floor products that do or do not contain asbestos

On occasion, the original flooring packaging or installation literature may be available for a given home: often an extra box of floor tiles was kept for future repairs.

The vinyl-asbestos floor tile package label information, combined with a simple comparison of tiles in the package with tiles installed in the building may be sound confirmation of asbestos-containing materials.

Other Examples of Asphalt-Asbestos or Vinyl-Asbestos Floor Tiles (VAT) such as Armstrong™ Flooring and EverWear™ Vinyl Asbestos Floor Tiles™

Our complete index of floor tile brands and ages is found

at ASBESTOS FLOORING IDENTIFICATION GUIDE INDEX.

Below are photos and links to some less-well-known flooring brands.

AMITCO Floor Tiles

Amitco self-adhesive peel and stick flooring from 1970s (C) InspectAPedia

Amitco International an international flooring company established in 1964 and that has  principal locations in the U.S. U.K.

Details about Amitco flooring are now found

at AMITCO ASBESTOS FLOOR TILES

Ever-Wear, Kentiles & Other 9x9" and 12x12" asbestos-containing floor tiles

Details about Kentile flooring are 

at KENTILE KENFLEX ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE GUIDE.

Details about Ever-Wear vinyl asbestos flooring are 

at EVER-WEAR ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE GUIDE. Excerpts are just below.

Everlast Vinyl Asbestos Floor Tile (C) D Friedman D Grudzinski

These photographs of EverWear Vinyl Asbestos floor tiles were provided courtesy of home inspector David Grudzinski,

For photographs and text describing other vinyl or asphalt based asbestos-containing flooring starting

at ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION PHOTOS 1949-1959.

Other (Brand Uncertain) Asphalt-Containing 9" x 9" Floor Tiles that Contain Asbestos

See ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION PHOTOS 1949-1959 to flooring produced between 1955 and the late 1980's and in some cases later products up to the present.

Below we provide additional example photographs of asbestos-containing floor tiles in both 9" x 9" and 12" x 12" sizes.

Asphalt asbestos floor tile (C) Daniel Friedman

Above we show a 9" x 9" cork patterned vinyl asbestos floor tile found in a 1960's ranch style home in New York.

You can assume this floor tile contains asbestos. Cork pattern vinyl asbestos floor tiles were produced in at least three hues by Armstrong as well as Montgomery Ward and Sears and possibly Kentile and other companies.

Below: we show a 9" x 9" reddish brown asphalt or vinyl asbestos floor tile found in the same home.

Asphalt asbestos floor tile (C) Daniel Friedman

Other (Brand Uncertain) Asphalt-Containing 12" x 12" Floor Tiles that Contain Asbestos

Below is a 12" x 12" vinyl asbestos floor tile found in the same home as the 9" x 9" flooring shown above.

Asphalt asbestos floor tile (C) Daniel Friedman

See a very similar and long-running popular Armstrong floor tile pattern beginning in 1955

ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION PHOTOS 1949-1959: Armstrong's Seneca white [Image]

It is likely that this is an asbestos-containing floor tile.

Asphalt asbestos floor tile (C) Daniel Friedman

At above left is a 12" x 12" vinyl asbestos floor tile found in a home built in 1969.

See ARMSTRONG FLOOR TILE LIST - 1969.

Testing found 3% chrysotile asbestos in this floor tile sample. Thanks to reader R.M. for the photo and test information.

We have not identified the manufacturer of this floor tile though it may be an Armstrong tile (See Craftlon Collection 12" x 12" Adelphi II Aalst 54431 (showing a second color, Aalst)

See ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION PHOTOS 1949-1959) .

CONTACT us if you know this image and brand.

Asbestos-containing Vinyl Based Sheet Flooring Product Photos

Modern vinyl sheet flooring

The resilient sheet flooring shown at above left is a modern product (we are using this photo as a placeholder) and does not contain asbestos.

But before about 1978, in products that looked like this same material, asbestos fibers were used as a strengthen material on vinyl sheet flooring backing.

Details for identifying asbestos or asbestos-suspect sheet flooring products are at RESILIENT SHEET FLOORING ID GUIDE.

See other examples of linoleum and sheet flooring at CONGOLEUM-NAIRN FLOOR TILES & LINOLEUM

Key to Thicknesses or Gauges & Weights of Vinyl-Asbestos Floor Tiles & Floor Tile Application

Vinyl Asbestos Floor Tile Thickness and Dimensions & asphalt floor tile thickness and dimension data:

This topic is now found at ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE DIMENSIONS

Flintkote Asbestos-containing Floor TIles & Other Asbestos-products

This topic moved to its own page at FLINTKOTE ASBESTOS PRODUCTS GUIDE

Montgomery Wards Vinyl Asbestos Floor Tile Packaging

This information is now at MONTGOMERY WARD ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION.

Sears & Roebuck Vinyl-Asbestos Floor Tiles

Details about Sears vinyl asbestos tile flooring are  at SEARS ROEBUCK VINYL ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE RECOGNITION . Excepts are below.

Asphalt asbestos floor tiles as an asbestos fiber source in buildings

This discussion has moved to ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD LEVEL ASSESSMENT

Index to Asbestsos-Containing Floor Tile Identification Photographs & Articles

The Vinyl Asbestos Floor Tile (and asphalt asbestos and sheet flooring asbestos) photo catalog became so huge that the file was slow to load and unwieldy - so we broke the catalog into segments by year range.

See ASBESTOS FLOORING IDENTIFICATION GUIDE INDEX for a complete index to ID guides for asbestos-containing flooring materials as well as to similar floor coverings that do not contain asbestos.

...


Continue reading at ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION PHOTOS 1949-1959 or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see these questions & answers about how to identify asbestos-containing floor tiles, posted originally at this page

Or see ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE COMPOSITION

Or see these

Asbestos Floor Tile Hazard Management Articles

Suggested citation for this web page

ASBESTOS FLOORING IDENTIFICATION at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES: ARTICLE INDEX to ASBESTOS HAZARDS

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