Asbestos Floor Tile FAQs
Questions & answers about how to identify floor tiles or sheet flooring as containing asbestos.
These FAQs support our article ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION where we explain 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.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2015 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.
This article provides questions & answers about identifying floor tiles that contain asbestos. Also see ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE PHOTO ID REQUESTS for more photographs submitted for identification as asbestos-containing flooring - or not.
If your flooring is a continuous sheet product, see ASBESTOS SHEET FLOORING ID FAQs
[Click to enlarge any image]
(July 26, 2015) Matt from CT said:
My wife and I recently ripped up a rug in our small breeze way and planned on putting down tile. When I ripped up the rug I found that there was old tile underneath, some of which was cracked and brittle. Our house was built in the 1950's and I am concerned that the tile might contain asbestos.
I have not seen the tile in any of the pictures on the website and I don't know how to post a picture to the comment section to show. The tiles are 9 x 9. The tiles are off white with white/pink designed streaks. The tile is black underneath and the floor underneath the tile is completely black. Do these tiles contain asbestos?
(Aug 12, 2015) Angela W said:
Matt from CT: I have similar situation as you have described. I hope an answer comes because I have asthma and horrible allergies. I had a condensation pump stop working on my AC unit and it flooded the carpeting in the hallway.
I pulled the carpeting up as it was unable to dry and when I did a few tiles came up that were underneath and I am almost certain they are asbestos tiles. They are brown with white-tan colored streaks. They also are 9 x 9 tiles but instead of black on the back, these are dark chocolate brown.
Please see ASBESTOS SHEET FLOORING ID FAQs
In the lab, following Walter McCrone's procedure for teasing out asbestos particles from solid materials such as this floor tile, we broke a small corner off for further examination by microscope.
Tiles are broken, not cut, in order to expose asbestos fibers for removal, slide preparation, and microscopic examination using transmitted, reflected, and primarily polarized-light central stop diffusion microscopy.
See our ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION PHOTOS by YEAR for our full list and set of photographs.
This stereo-microscopic view of the edge of this asbestos-floor tile shows the combination of binder, limestone, possibly asbestos powder as well as asbestos fibers, and other silicate materials.
See ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE LAB PROCEDURES for a detailed example of how small floor tile samples may be processed in a forensic laboratory to look for asbestos fibers in the matrix of a floor tile such as our example at left.
Re the brown "Asphalt asbestos floor tile C" above, I have similar tiles and have an original box without the word Asbestos on it. If I send you a picture and the name, would you be able to tell me if it contains asbestos? - M Ziver 8/16/11
M. Zilver, depending on the year or age, indeed there were epochs in which both asbestos-containing and non-asbestos-containing lookalike flooring was produced. If we can recognize the product with confidence I'd be glad to say so; or we can give further advice about testing. I'd like to see photos of the tile pattern, tile back if there are any markings, all markings on all sides of the packaging, and in addition I'd like to know the tile size and its thickness. We look forward to hearing from you. Use the CONTACT link to send me photos.
Hi. I have a question about asbestos in floor tile and its removal. I work at a public school and the school had a contractor come in to remove some flooring that was starting to "buckle up" in some areas due to water seeping underneath it. When the contractor came I happened to be around and I asked him before he started if the tile could be asbestos (the school was built in 1952). He looked at it and said it wasn't 9x9 inch, and he was'nt sure what was underneath it yet, so he could'nt say for sure.
When I started at the school I was made aware by my boss that there is asbestos tile underneath the carpet in the classrooms, but he didn't mention the hallways, where this work was going to be done.
I kept a watch on the contractors as they were removing the tile flooring, (I stayed a safe distance from them...like outside the building through a window). I noticed they used no masks and there was no plastic barriers put up inside the building. They were breaking the tile up though because I noticed them shoveling it up and putting it in the big 55 gallon plastic barrels used for garbage.
They stayed for about 2 days doing this. When they were done they left these filled barrels of the tile for us to dump! I didn't want to be involved at all in their dumping! My boss came though and he said he needed my help in dumping the barrels in the outside container for garbage. I REALLY wanted nothing to do with this and I panicked inside. I was afraid though to ask about its safety. When we went outside to dump them I kept my distance as much as possible.
When we dumped the first barrel I held my breath and we dumped it quickly and a HUGE bunch of dust went into the air. I stepped far away and let the dust clear. I then asked if he had any kind of face mask. He did, but only the N95 kind. I put two on and some goggles. We then dumped the rest. My question is, what are the chances that the flooring contained asbestos, and if it did, would'nt the contractor and our head supervisor that ordered the work know about the flooring? - Mike 8/22/11
No one can say just from text whether or not the floor tile that was taken up contained asbestos, though the lack of dust control and personal protection sounds to me like an amateur was doing the job. Even non-asbestos-containing dust can be hazardous, especially at acute exposure levels.
From the age of the school (1952) some asbestos containing materials would be expected to be present in lots of items, especially floor tiles. And the contractor's assertion that only 9" floor tiles contain asbestos is incorrect.
- ask your doctor for an opinion about your health and exposure to demolition dust that might have contained asbestos and any respiratory health complaints you may have
- if there is remaining dust or remaining examples of the same flooring they can be tested for asbestos
- building management can make be sure all of the demolition dust has been properly cleaned and removed - if it's asbestos-containing, a higher level of cleaning and post-cleanup testing are needed.
- Don't do more demolition without a competent risk assessment
And for your question of whether or not the contractor would or would not know if the floor contained asbestos?
My OPINION (not a lawyer) is that the contractor is legally obligated to be competent to perform the work for which s/he is hired; at a school, and removing flooring, that should include the ability to recognize a "red flag" that would stop the job until an asbestos hazard assessment has been made by a professional.
Faced with very high costs of an asbestos cleanup, and worried about causing a (perhaps inappropriate) panic among parents of school children, building managers I've met have sometimes opted for an "ignorance is bliss" argument. At a large Jewish Community Center in New York where it was patently obvious that there was asbestos-containing pipe insulation and flooring, the building management showed me a "report" asserting that the building was "asbestos free". The report authors simply stayed out of building areas where asbestos found.
I was pulling up some carpet in my basement today and found that there is tile on the floor beneath it. That didn't seem like a problem to me except in one corner the tile came up with the carpet and there is a green tile beneath that. The house was built in 1950. should I be concerned that the green tile has asbesto in it?
The tile broke into pieces. - Don Mac 9/5/11
Don from the age of materials you describe it's a good chance you have one or more layers of asbestos containing floor tiles, though of course I can only speculate with so little information.
However if the floor is covered with additional layers of tile or even carpeting, it's unlikely that it is being disturbed enough to produce a detectable level of asbestos (from that source) in the building air or dust.
A single piece or two of broken tiles are not measurable; what you want to avoid is demolition making a big dusty mess.
Search our site for "How to Reduce the Hazard Floor Tiles That May Contain Asbestos" or "ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION" to read about procedures for handling the flooring.
Do you know if the SEARS brand HOMART 64-7169 asphalt floor tile contained asbestos? - Paul Wright 9/22/11
Have you heard of Dura Floor Plastic Asphalt Tiles? Do they contain asbestos? - Jo Lynn Judka 10/24/11
I have 12" x 12" tile in the basement just like the pattern San Roque Gold 57161 from 1980.
However, this tile is not 1/8 thick but 1/16 and it was peel & stick. Would this contain asbestos? - David 11/27/11
Is there a way I can forward someone a photo of a school floor to determine if it contains asbestos? I am unable to get back into the building It is closed, but the school dept wants to open it again and is saying that there isn't a problem. I looked through the tiles on your site, but oculdn't find an exact match. The school was built in 1950-1960, but we have no evidence that the tiles have been replaced. Can you help? -
we have an armstrong floor tile (black color) with the following numbers on the back L4 1230 021898. We don't know the year it was installed. Does it contain asbestos? Is there a way to cross reference these numbers? - Dan 5/1/12
David, naturally by email alone no one can say with certainty whether or not a floor tile contains asbestos, but if your flooring matches one of the ACM floor tiles we illustrate here, AND if you are confident about the age (as you suggest) most likely it is an asbestos-containing product. And yes, for sure there were some peel-and-stick floor tiles that contained asbestos in the tile baking.
That does not necessarily mean that you need a costly asbestos remediation job - it depends on the condition of the surface, use made of the area, etc. If the floor is sound you may have the option of simply covering it with a new material.
JoLynn, sorry we don't have information about DuraFloor plastic asphalt tiles. Do you know the age of the product? You're welcome to send us photos (see the CONTACT link at top, side, bottom of our pages), and I'll research further. Certainly up to the early 1980's many asphalt floor tile products contained asbestos.
Dan, while we have published product and lot numbers for some floor tile products, there are just too many of them, thousands. Unlike mechanical equipment like water heaters or furnaces, I have not found a standard of correlation between product numbers and date of manufacture, though it probably was included in widely varying ways by individual manufacturers.
You can narrow down the asbestos question by:
- noting the age of the building itself as that sets the earliest plausible date for its floor materials +/- a year or so to allow for flooring sold from stock
- noting the date of any renovations of the building
- noting whether or not there are multiple layers of flooring or other similar changes that give a renovation history
- noting information on any packaging used for the floor tiles - sometimes an extra box of floor tiles is left and stored in a building, intended to supply future repairs or changes to the floor
- comparing the appearance of your flooring to the photographs we provide in these tile identification articles
- sending a small sample of flooring to a certified asbestos testing lab
For a tile floor of unknown constituents, do not do something foolish such as grinding, sanding, power sawing, or a dusty messy demolition.
I think you mngh want to ask Armstrong, but in NY case, if you remove materials following the recommended procedures and avoid making a dusty ness you should be OK
I purchased a co-op built in the 1950's. I need to put down a new floor. The last layer of flooring is green 9x9 vinyl tiles. The pattern looks close to seneca white but the background is light green with dark green pattern.
There is black tarry stuff underneath. The tiles are extremely thin. I ripped out the tiles and the plywood underneath them in the corner about 18" square.
The super told me to leave it alone as it might be asbestos, but all the contractors who have seen them, seem not to be worried about ripping up the tiles. I would feel better to play it safe and just floor over them. How do I e-mail a picture to you? - Jeanie in Queens NY 11/13/2011
I have a early 60's home with both bathrooms having what appears to be a solid surface material poured over a greenish felt. The flooring is tan with colored flecks in it throughout. I have looked for the material but haven't found any info. Does anyone know what it is? Is it possible that this material contains asbestos? - Dan 1/10/12
the tile in the place I work appears to be asbestos tile. there are some squares that are damaged, and appear to be chipped out. there are small particles, chunks, etc. in the place where the tiles are missing. is this a danger to us? - Lynn 1/12/12
I want to renovate this ranch soon and am not sure what the tile is and who do I call? I want to renovate this ranch soon and am not sure what the tile is and who do I call?Ceiling tile is from 1940 - Jo 2/7/2012
Utility room floor installed 1971 is Armstrong Excelon vinyl asbestos place and press tiles. Some of the tiles are loose. they are whole..just loose. Please recommend what glue to use to re-install them. - Anne 2/13/2012
I work at a Petland Discounts location that's over 20 years old. I've gotten severe breathing problems at this store. The floor polishing company comes in and polishes the floor every month and there is this thick dust in the air and then it gets all over the products. I am concerned that it contains asbestos. There are also many broken tiles in the store. - Despina 5/22/2012
In my kitchen we have a sub floor, then asbestos tiles, then another sub floor and then a layer of linoleum flooring down. We want to lay another floor down but our floor is already up an inch with everything on it. We want to removed the whole flooring but have no clue how we should go about doing this without getting the asbestos in the air. It is also laid in our hallway and our whole basement. Thank you so much for any help you can provide. - Gigi - 6/11/2012
I was going to put new ceramic tiles in the kitchen floor, but when I removed the transition between the wood floor and ceramic tiles I saw vinyl tiles under the kitchen floor. My question is how I would know that the vinyl tiles are asbestos or not? - Mike 7/10/2012
i removed floor tiles by hand that look very similar to some of the ones you have pictured on your web site about 9 years ago. basically i used an old grill spatula to peel them up off of the cement floor. i did use a dust mask but i was unaware at the time that some older floor tiles contain asbestos. do i have anything to worry about? - Joe 8/1/2012
Hello I scraped up a tile floor in my house and I now fear that it was asbestos. The backing is black not white. It did not grind to dust, but it came off in pieces. The floor is covered in the black backing still and I don't know how I should remove this. Should I be concerned about removing this part? Also I suspect these tiles continue into another room under a rug. I would like to remove them eventually if possible. What do you recommend? - Mandy 10/29/2012
My husband and his family were doing some remodeling on a home we just bought (built in the 1930's). When I stopped by the house i saw that they had ripped out the old flooring in the kitchen and bathroom. Underneath the old carpet and flooring were 9x9 squares that were on top of the original hardwoods. I freaked out because i remembered hearing something about 9x9 tiles and asbestos on hgtv.
These squares are black, but they are flexible, almost like a thick paper or a cardboard rather than a hard tile. We arent sure if it is just some sort of backing, or an asphalt asbestos tile. They had already spent the weekend tearing most of it up and it is all over the place right now. any info/suggestions etc would be very greatly appreciated. - Jennifer 10/29/2012
Asbestos-containing flooring in good condition does not have to be removed from a building, and worse, inept removal can create a much greater hazard than leaving most asbestos materials in place.
Asbestos was widely used as a filler in both asphalt-based and some vinyl based floor tiles of varying thicknesses, and extending to some thin, flexible self-adhesive backed tiles as well as some sheet flooring.
See ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION PHOTOS by YEAR for an extensive photo guide to asbestos-containing flooring materials.
We recommend taking a look at the suggestions found at ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION
Comment from reader: anonymous:
Hey Joe there's always a "risk" when removing anything that has to do with Asbestos. I understand that you probably didn't take caution at all with the removal and you probably weren't wearing the proper protection. There's two things that could be red flags. 1. I'd be worried if you were a constant to heavy smoker. 2. I'd also be worried if you've done this type of removal many times before or after without protection. The only way to know for certain if true damage has been done is tell your Doctor or care provider about this incident and ask for their advice.
We had a radon abatement system installed in our basement laundry room before we moved in. During our home inspection, the inspector told us there might be asbestos tiles in the basement. We confirmed this is probably the case, even though there is a new floor down there, because under the hot water heater you can see a redish tile (you can't tell the size), followed by a layer of concrete, followed by the new vinyl tile (current day).
To install the radon system they drilled a four inch diameter hole through the floor and then another 4 inch hole through the brick and mortar of the wall to the outside. Now I'm concerned about the asbestos that may have been released into the air from the disturbance.
I've been told there wouldn't be a lot of asbestos released into the air from an event like this one because of the small surface area. Is this true? Also, I've been reading that amphibole types of asbestos were used in mortar as well. If it was just chrysotile from the vinyl tile then it would be less concerning than the "worse types" of amphibole asbestos. However, perhaps they also used amphibole types of asbestos in vinyl tiles? Btw, the house was built in 1948. - B.B. 2/07/2013
With the reclama that no one can perform an environmental risk assessment by email, in general, the total dust created by a single hole drilling event should be quite small compared with projects involving demolition of a floor.
It is reasonable to treat the flooring as presumed-asbestos-containing material (PACM); as virtually all of the old suspect floor has been covered, in normal use and occupancy the remaining asbestos-exposure risk to occupants is probably beneath detection.
If you wanted to investigate the asbestos dust risk created by drilling a hole for the radon abatemetn system more scientifically you'd collect what you think is dust left undisturbed from and settled near the area where the work was performed. Send that dust sample to a certified asbestos testing lab and ask them to screen it for you. You can use the procedure at MOLD TEST KITS for DIY MOLD TESTS [Do not send your sample to us.]
Air testing is probably less reliable at this juncture.
I am emailing you after reviewing your very informative website. I have a question about the tile in my basement. We are looking to renovate the space and are concerned about the tile possible containing asbestos. I live in new Jersey and my house was built in 1964. A form of asphalt tile was glued down in either 1964 or 1965. After reviewing your website and the photo section. I do not see our particular tile shown.
My question is: Is your photo gallery all inclusive of tile containing asbestos? The tile can be popped up without breaking any of the tile. Would the adhesive used in laying the tile also contain asbestos? It seems to be a black tar like substance. I would be able to send you a picture of the actual tile if that would be helpful.
- E.T. 4/10/2013
Thank you - your question is helpful to me too.
No my photo lib of asbestos containing tile is not exhaustive, though it's the largest one that's been published. There are some companies for whom I cannot find a comprehensive catalog showing all of their tile patterns (Armstrong was the most thorough), and there are companies out of the U.S. whose catalog data is even more scarce. But given how these products were made, it's reasonable to treat old asphalt-asbestos and vinyl-asbestos floor tiles of the appropriate age range as "PACM" or presumed-asbestos containing.
Nobody should panic about this flooring - doing so can result in spending inappropriately. But at the same time some caution is in order such as avoiding making a dusty mess by grinding, steel power buffing, and incompetent demolition. As well, in public spaces such as schools additional regulation may apply.
Where the floor is in good condition there are low cost options that help minimize the risk of asbestos release such as hard coatings.
For floors such as the one you describe, where whole tiles pop up, one can remove such tiles with minimal disturbance of the tile itself, thus minimal asbestos dust release.
But you are right to worry about the tile mastic or "glue" that was used: indeed some mastics, particularly the black asphaltic mastic, often contained asbestos. Asbestos fibers (and possibly asbestos dust filler) were widely used in asphalt-based mastics, glues, and in roof flashing cements. The same caveats apply: if you avoid making a dusty mess you will minimize the risk and hazard of asbestos. We have published wetting guidelines and flooring removal guidelines citing expert sources to help minimize risk as well as cost.
If you are facing a costly demolition job then it may be appropriate to have both the mastic and a section of floor tile tested by a certified asbestos testing lab. The cost is usually around $50./sample or less. If you have other specific questions please let me know. Working together makes us both smarter.
Please keep me posted on how things progress, and send along photos of the flooring you described as well as where it's popped up showing the asbestos if you can. Such added details can help us understand what's happening and often permit some useful further comment. What we both learn may help me help someone else. And by publishing a photo of your unidentified floor tile we invite other readers to comment if they know the pattern, age, and manufacturer.
(Feb 1, 2014) Tammy tackitt said:
How do you go about
getting someone to come to your. House. And check. For asbestos
Tammy, you can look in your local telephone yellow pages or online for companies offering environmental test services (beware of "air tests" alone performed without a visual inspection) and you can also try the directories of experts linked-to at the top of this page - see the tab near upper right titled
(Feb 17, 2014) Anonymous said:
Hi.Can you clarify for me please? Were the asbestos vinyl floor tiles stuck directly to the timber floors without any sort of board or sheet in between? I removed some tiles many years ago and am now trying to remember what they where. I think it was 9x9 tile bonded directly to the timber floor with black mastic. Does that sound correct? I am very worried about my past exposure and would really appreciate your response. Thank you
There were self-adhesive floor tiles made into the early 1980's that contained asbestos, though 9x9 self-adhesive were not a size I've seen; usually the self-adhesive or "stick on" floor tiles were 12x12.
And just how much you should worry about past exposure to asbestos from floor tiles is not something we can assess by text chatting; but I point out that unless you ground, sawed, or sanded or otherwise made a dusty mess of floor tiles, the material is not very friable and thus would not put nearly so much asbestos into the air as say the soft asbestos insulation used on pipes.
(Apr 5, 2014) Anonymous said:
I currently have 9x9 tongue and grove tile flooring in the room that will be the babies room shortly. Some of them are water damaged from a leak in the bathroom in the next room and i would just rather rip them up. These tiles look to be wood (3 layers, just over 3/8 think, with the top layer being glossed)and are placed right on the concrete slab. They are also glued down with a black looking tar substance. Is it possible for this type of flooring to have asbestos in it? Any input is appreciated.
Anon I think you sent me photos of this floor an I apologize for not finding time to respond previously.
Most likely you're talking about a laminated wood flooring product that does not contain asbestos. But keep in mind that I can't know that with certainty just by a photo or texting.
Generally if you can pick up piece of flooring without cutting, sawing, sanding, you're not damaging it and so not releasing particles from it regardless of it material. There may be allergenic dust under an old floor for other reasons (bugs, water leaks, mold).
And watch out: if the flooring was glued using a black mastic asphaltic cement, some of those products contained asbestos. You want to avoid making a dust-mess.
(Apr 5, 2014) Anonymous said:
Yes that was me that sent the pics in. Thanks for the reply. I am pretty confident that it is wood laminated tiles. I'm also sure that since they are tongue and groove I wont get away from braking a few but that shouldn't be a big deal if they are asbestos. In case the glue is the black mastic asphaltic cement you are referring too should I just leave that as is once done and let them carpet right over top of it? Thanks
(Apr 5, 2014) Anonymous said:
With a layer of padding, then wall to wall carpeting old flooring or mastic is wel
Covered. If there is dust one would use only HEPA rated vacuuming. More advice on hazard minimization is in the links above at
ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION.
(Apr 29, 2014) Julia Sibun said:
My house was built in 1960 and I have Accotile D.900/D.953 tiles under the carpet in my dining room (once my kitchen). I have subsidence and the contractors say they will not lift the carpet up to see what is going on underneath as the tiles are Asbestos. Can you confirm this, please. Some tiles are cracked. Many thanks Julia Sibun
What am I confirming - that the contractors won't lift a carpet to see what's below? That sounds ridiculous. One of them must be an attorney.
Even if the floor tiles are asbestos, if they are not being ground, sanded, drilled, demolished, then the potential asbestos particle release would almost certainly not be detectable.
Asbestos is not radioactive - it doesn't emit "killer rays", and if it did, carpeting wouldn't be a ray-barrier.
Cracked floor tiles and extensively-damaged fragments ARE a potential particle release and should be handled
as described in the articles linked to at page upper left. See
ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION
ASBESTOS FLOORING REMOVAL GUIDE
ASBESTOS REMOVAL, WETTING GUIDE
(May 4, 2014) connie said:
I am trying to find out if asbestos is used in the makeing of columbian laminate flooring. the web sight will not open.
Connie, what website is not opening?
Please use our email address found at CONTACT at the bottom of this page to send me the link that's giving trouble
(May 7, 2014) Marcia said:
If a 10 years old child removed tiles from cement floor that took about a week to remove, if the glue was asbestos, was the exposure enough to cause a problem. This person is now 36 what test can be done to tell if they were exposed to asbestos. Thank you
Marcia I wish I could answer your question but with absolutely not a shred of actual data on the actual asbestos exposure level it would be wild speculation. It's possible that there was no measurable exposure, or if the flooring was asbestos-containing and was sanded, ground, broken up, such that there was a high dust and debris level there could have been a notable exposure to airborne asbestos.
Consult a physician with expertise in environmental medicine for diagnostic help. The doctor will doubtless examine the patient, take a history, listen to complaints, and may want x-rays or other tests.
Keep us posted.
(June 28, 2014) Mike Padgett said:
I have just removed a vinyl floor I had installed. Underneath that subfloor was another vinyl floor. It is printed with "Congoleum/The No-wax Floor Shiny Vinyl". Above Congoleum it reads: Design by Pyright. The backing appears to be similar to the paper from the vinyl I installed. I have pictures. Thank you for time.
(July 5, 2014) Mike Padgett said:
Can someone please answer my question about the Congoleum floor tile in my post below. Is it asbestos, or not"
Mike if your flooring was installed before the early 1980's it would make sense to treat it as presumed-asbestos-containing-material. I'm reluctant to give a generic answer for an unknown specific product but usually even if you don't match the floor pattern exactly to those we show over at our Congoleum flooring pattern ID section
you can make a reasonable assessment by flooring type and age.
(June 29, 2014) Anonymous said:
I just found out that the vinyl floor in our kitchen is by kentile. I was able to find a box in the basement with the following information on it; Kentile origins, item number 54794, two other number on the box are 70372 and 451B103A. It was installed in 1994 by century tile. I would like to replace the floor with ceramic but now i am not sure if this would be a safe DIY project.
Your response and time is greatly appreciated.
(June 30, 2014) Eli said:
sorry forgot to tell you that these kentile vinyl tiles are 12x12 inches and 1/8" in size. textured white color.
If the base floor as installed is secure you can usually install thinset tile right over it - strip wax and clean the surface first; don't grind, sand etc. as that'd possibly release asbestos into the air.
Or see the KENTILE KENFLEX ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE GUIDE article link in the More Reading links at the end of this article.
for complete information about Kentile flooring
(July 25, 2014) Thomas C said:
I have a mid-70's ceramic floor tiled terrace (outdoor) in our house near Napoli, Italy; each tiles is 4'" by "7, so pretty small. I'm worried that a) there might be asbestos in the tiles themselves, and b) is the mastic holding them down might have a small percentage too - its not clear if its "thin-set" or mastic. I'm told that mastic was not typically used under outdoor flooring, and when I spoke with a local chemical analysis centre, they said they had never come across asbestos in either scenario, yet I worry when I read these articles of course - would really appreciate your opinion on the likelihood..
Please see the article tlinked to at the upper left of this page titled
CERAMIC TILE, ASBESTOS IN?
Let me know if questions remain.
(July 28, 2014) Anonymous said:
Thanks Dan - the only one question I have left is whether there was typically different usages for asbestos containing tiles and mastics for outdoor installations - there has only been mention of indoor installations on these articles, so I guess I'm hoping that for outdoor installations it might have been less common/not used?
Anon I don't have an authoritative answer but certainly in my experience vinyl asbestos floor tile and asphalt asbestos floor tile are not commonly found in outdoor installations - certainly not in northern climates. But by no means does that mean that some installer may not have tried an outdoor installation.
Some asbestos-containing flooring mastics are and were water soluble, others not.
(Aug 4, 2014) Anonymous said:
I am restoring a 1957 Vintage travel trailer. It has what I am assuming is the original tile under carpet. What are the chances it is asbestos? How should I deal with it?
Chances are very good that the floor tiles from 1957 contain asbestos and it would be prudent to presume so. That's not to justify a panic. If the flooring is intact and you don't do something silly like grinding, sanding, sawing it, the asbestos particle release from the floor is probably below the limits of detection.
Since you're restoring the floor you probably don't want to take the standard advice of installing new flooring overtop the existing floor. Use a liquid cleaner or wax stripper, detergents &c. to clean the floor. Then I would consider a clear hard top coat sealant.
Or install a lookalike floor pattern over top if you prefer.
At the upper left on this page select the article on ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION to read more advice.
(Aug 12, 2014) The tile in my house in IL built in 1964 said:
The house located in northern suburb of Chicago, IL was built in 1964. The basement is covered by such tiles. Recently years we had flooding and so some tiles poped out. I am thinking to remove all the tiles and put ceramic tiles. Do you think the tiles contain asbestos? How about the dried glue under the tiles?
I have a picture of my floor tile and wonder how to load it.
Tile: you can email photos to us using the email in our CONTACTS link -
It would be prudent to treat 1964-vintage asphalt or vinyl floor tile as presumed to contain asbestos.
(Oct 28, 2014) MaryMan said:
I have some tiles in my laundry room that have come apart in pieces due to some slight water damage/moisture. I vacuumed the pieces/debris. How can I tell if it has asbestos? I checked the pictures in your article but I don't see my tile.
(Oct 28, 2014) MaryMan said:
Please disregard my question - I found a suitable reply in the comment thread. Thank you!
(Oct 29, 2014) Charlotte G Bolden said:
How long does it take for laminate and vinyle floors to start emitting asbesto: And how to tell when it starts to become active with asbestos.
Charlotte, the asbestos particle release from asbestos-containing floor tiles depends less on time than on conditions. Any activity that abrades the floor surface, such as grinding, sawing, demolition, or possibly using steel-wool buffing machines, and possibly heavy foot traffic, especially if there is granular debris tracked on the floor can cause particle release.
A careful test of settled dust in the area, screening it for asbestos might be a more reliable test to demonstrate that asbestos is being released, though typically inspectors use air testing - a procedure that is unreliable, especially when negative results are obtained. Small changes in building conditions can make a large difference in airborne particle level.
(Nov 30, 2014) FuriousMickey said:
Hello! I am in high school currently, a school that was built in the 1950s. Apparently the school has been completely re-tiled in the 70s. There is a missing floor tile in one of my classrooms and in another some broken up floor tiles sort of like a large crack going across the floor. IF the cements under these tiles contained asbestos, do you think I can sue the school district for exposure to asbestos? BTW I'm a competitive swimmer, and it is VITAL I keep my lungs healthy. Thanks.
"Can" sue, meaning are you physically capable of doing so - sure the answer is yes.
"Should sue" or "would a lawsuit have any merit" is a different question. Most likely the answer is no. You'd have a serious concern if there were broken, damaged, ground, cut, sawn asbestos-containing floor tiles in the school as that would be a high risk of creating airborne dust containing asbestos.
But the level of airborne dust that may be present due to asbestos containing flooring (or mastic adhesive) over which another layer of flooring has been installed is most likely below the limits of detection, even if there is a crack in the floor.
Stay away from your friends who smoke so as to avoid second hand smoke. That's likely to be a greater risk to the health of your lungs.
1/1/2015 Chilliepepper said:
We started pulling up carpet in our den and found what looks to be asbestos tile underneath. Some of it was crumbling into chunks around the edges, especially as we started to remove the tack board. We covered it all back up with the carpet for the time being, but we need to get rid of the carpet to reduce dust exposure for our allergic son. How should we proceed in dealing with these crumbling edges to minimize asbestos exposure? Also, how serious of an exposure do you think we have already had as a result of being down near the crumbling tile which may have been disturbed when we were pulling up the carpet?
I don't think I can assess an environmental exposure level or risk from an e-text alone, but if you avoided making a dusty mess, if you did not run a vacuum cleaner on broken up or crumbling asbestos-suspect flooring, then we can both be encouraged.
Two articles in the More Reading links above will answer your other questions:
ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION
ASBESTOS FLOORING REMOVAL GUIDE
Ok, no dusty mess and no vacuuming, check. A realtor friend has advised having it removed by professionals, since it's started to crumble. "The rest of it may continue to crumble under whatever you put on top of it. And even if it doesn't you are covering a waiting time bomb. Now that you know you have asbestos tile it will likely be something you have to disclose when you sell which could scare away potential buyers. If you remediated it there is likely no disclosure necessary since you fixed it. Either way I would get a pro to evaluate the situation." What do you think?
Chill, I can't assess real estate disclosure law for you, but I can advise that if you follow expert recommendations for dealing with asbestos flooring, such as those we cite from the U.S. EPA, you can document that you've done what you should. Generally the asbestos hazard from intact flooring is less if it's left in place and covered-over than if it's removed.
Asbestos is not "radioactive" - it does not emit lethal particles that penetrate through additional levels of flooring. Just be sure that any cleaning done in preparation for flooring-over is done with proper procedures such as HEPA vacuuming, dust containment etc.
Your realtor may be spending your money to reduce his risk, and depending on the condition of your floor, may even be giving incorrect advice that in effect increases both risks and costs.
(Jan 14, 2015) S.Leigh said:
Hello-I work in a rather old school building and the tiles in my classroom are loose and crumbling in many places. I am concerned that they may have asbestos. I do not know the exact age of the tile, when it was placed, or the brand. Is there a place I can take a tile to have it tested? Should I be concerned about the glue used to put them in or the subflooring? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I need to somehow get a definite answer because the school is not going to replace the flooring without cause, as if it crumbling and peeling isn't enough. Thank you.
(Mar 25, 2015) Eric said:
I just had some carpet removed from my basement and found vinyl flooring(yellow in color). I looks really old. How can I tell if it is made with abestos?
we give information on how to find a certified asbestos test lab - it's not costly.
If you don't find a reliable match with the photos at the floor tile or sheet flooring links given in this article series, AND if the flooring could have been installed before about 1983-1985, then to be certain you would need to send a sample to an asbestos test lab.
(Mar 27, 2015) james said:
I have Armstrong Afton series parquet court floor tile in my kitchen. I believe it is #24302 (discontinued). I can't find years of manufacture or if this is an asbestos containing tile. The home was built in 72' but I have no idea when the tile was put down. It is in good shape but brittle if lifted. I would like to remove it to retile but need to know about asbestos content. Is anyone familiar with this series?
In the Asbestoss Index found at the More Reading links at the end of this paage see these two Armstrong tile guides
If you don't find your tile pattern there use our email at CONTACT to send me some photos.
Meanwhile treat the flooring as presumed to contain asbestos or have a sample lab tested.
(Mar 28, 2015) Thanks
I didn't see the pattern or make referenced in any of the guides. I did identify the tile to the Armstrong Afton series Parquet Court natural however. It may have been a peel and stick but is quite rigid.
I contacted Armstrong for info.
I don't plan on doing anything until I know. I will send out a sample just to be sure. I would rather it up as I plan to lay porcelain but if it is found to be asbestos containing I will encapsulate
James, if the material is not glued down removal should be trivial in any event. If it's glued you may want to test both a floor sample and a mastic adhesive sample for asbestos if you still want to remove the material.
(May 13, 2015) Edith said:
Hi. I was just in my attic and my foot went through the floor, though the ceiling below into the room below. Between the wood floor of the attic and the ceiling of the room below which is drop ceiling tiles, there is a layer of old ceiling and it appears to be asbestos tiles. If there are asbestos there.... can i just put new ceiling tiles up and leave it alone? Or am I at risk for health issues?
Geez Edith. I hate it when I step through the attic floor. Once when working at Fox Hill Condos in a common attic area I was installing a roof vent fan while standing on the bottom of a roof truss. I couldn't see that a knot through the truss made it quite weak. I fell entirely through the attic floor into the bathroom of the next-door neighbour to my client.
Worse, the bath was occupied by a user who was stark naked, sitting on the john, and terrified when a dusty man fell through the ceiling in front of her. And I was hurt. It took a lot of begging to avoid a call to the local sherriff. I returned to repair the ceiling and we parted friends. But it was touch and go for a bit.
Generally asbestos materials are best left alone undisturbed. Sure you disturbed some with your foot but nothing like the mess you'd create by trying to remove all the old ceiling materials. As long as the material can be covered and left alone that minimizes the risk for most situations.
(May 25, 2015) Anonymous said:
We recently removed layers of vinyl floor from our bathroom so we could re tile using marble. We are not sure if the tile contained asbestos and now wondering if we are in danger from the removal? Are there any precautions we can take to make sure we are ok?
(July 2, 2015) Marina said:
Hi, My son bought a house (built in 1970) and wanted to replace carpet with hardwood. When we started removing carpet, we found under it some tiles. We don't know the materials and there is not signs or any labels on the flip side of the tiles. Is there any way to figure out what they are? We did not find any photo that is similar to them on your site. Tiles are 9x9. They made looking like wood even textured... Light brown. Back side is greyish white. They pretty easy come out of the dark adhesive. Adhesive remains on the plywood below.
Marina and Anon:
You can use the floor tile ID pages given at InspectApedia.com starting with the articles for floor tiles made in 1970 or later, checking by tile colour and pattern among several manufacturers whose catalogs we provide here.
You can also assume that a pre-1980's 9x9 inch floor tile contains asbestos - that's a prudent course.
If you face significant messy demolition costs then you might want a sample tested (the cost is about $50.).
Or send us some photos of your floor for comment and posting. See our page bottom CONTACT link.
(July 14, 2015) Brian said:
I have an old house & am 99.34% sure the tiles in my dining room are asbestos. I thought they were OK as long as I didnt mess with them.
However. I just realized I've been rolling around on it w/ my computer chair and notice a wear pattern.
Should I be concerned?
I don't know, Brian. I wouldn't be terrified myself, but I would clean the floor (and the chair wheels) and then I'd consider covering over the floor with a clear coat sealer, epoxy, or another layer of flooring.
(July 17, 2015) Josh said:
Hello. I have an old house, built in the 20s. I recently tore out the flooring in one of the rooms, completely oblivious to the possibility that the vinyl tile glued to the underlayment may very well have contained asbestos. I'm fairly terrified I've managed to fill my home with asbestos fibers like a complete idiot, and I have a family. Help?
Sorry, some more info: the tiles are 12"x12" and in a textured parquay pattern (I wasn't able to find it on the visual charts on this site). It's hard to say when it was put down originally, but I would guess sometime in the 40s or 50s - maybe 60s.
It is reasonable to presume that the tile flooring you removed contained asbestos.
Proper asbestos-containing flooring removal procedures are described at
The actual hazard created by removing the tile and also its adhesive mastic depends mostly on the amount of dust created and the level of airborne dust and debris.
A proper cleanup at this point would be using HEPA vacuuming and damp wiping following typical asbestos dust cleanup procedures. In addition if the home has central air or forced warm air heat you'll want to have the air handlers and ducts cleaned.
To determine if other areas in a building need to be professionally cleaned of asbestos dust or debris some inspection and testing are in order. See
(July 18, 2015) Josh said:
Thanks for the feedback! Mostly, the tile came up undisturbed, but what scares me is that I had to make a few cuts with a circular saw to get around a standing radiator. I wasn't wearing a mask. Is this something for which I should seek medical attention? I'll proceed with cleanup as carefully as I can at this point, thankfully the room was mostly sealed off from the rest of the house, no central or forced air systems.
(July 24, 2015) Beth from Maryland said:
We have a house built in 1973 in Maryland. There are tiles in the closet that look very similar to Parquet style (Light oak 54240). Description of tiles within our closet: We have 9" tiles and within each 9" tile, there are 5 small "planks". There is a central "plank" through the tile that is
~2 3/8" in width surrounded on either side by 2 slightly smaller planks that are ~ 1 5/8" wide ....total ~ 9". The tile showing in the photo looks like it has 3 "planks"...but was not sure if the picture showed how the entire tile looked or only a portion of the tile....can you confirm if the picture on the website is of the entire tile or only a portion? I7/24/2015 at 4:31PM
Parquet style (Light oak 54240) was found under 1968...pictures.
From your description I would treat the floor you mention as presumed to contain asbestos.
(Aug 12, 2015) jake said:
Hi, I have a home built in 1938 with 9 by 9 tiles in basement. I am considering covering them with thinset and then with 18 by 18 stone tile. Will that solve the possible asbestos tile? Could problems result from this proceedure? Thanks.
Certainly that's a reasonable approach as long as the existing tiles are securely bonded to the existing floor.
(Aug 13, 2015) Anonymous said:
I represent an asbestos testing laboratory and I am looking to acquire vinyl asbestos floor tile to develop as reference material. It is remarkably difficult to find. Would anyone on this site know how I could obtain several tiles of the same material? If it is known, I am specifically looking for a tile containing between 1-10% asbestos, although the percentage could probably be created in-lab if necessary. Thank you,
Certainly, Anon. Contact me by email (see our page bottom CONTACT link) and when I'm back in NY in a couple of weeks I'll see what floor samples we've got on hand.
(Sept 7, 2015) Kayla from PA said:
Hi, my husband and I ripped up carpeting in our home. Our home was built in 1920's. Under the carpeting was a black flooring on top on plywood and underneath that is the original hardwood flooring. On the black blacking was a pattern that looked like a design on an old rug. I'm just concerned that that black backing stuff could have been backing for old tile and contained asbestos. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Perhaps it was a mastic or adhesive that glued a rug. Remove and dispose of the plywood if you're exposing the floor below.
24 Sept 2015 Gina from IL said:
After a water back in our home, my husband and I removed carpet from a basement room and discovered 9x9 tiles that I think I've identified on this site as asbetos tiles. They are all in good shape except around the edges, the carpet strip broke up some of the tiles into pieces. These pieces are not easily crumbled. How panicked should I be. Should I be removing my family from the house? Or do we need to do air testing?
Assuming your description is complete, panic, family evacuation, or other costly measures are not at a ll appropriate. The flooring you describe is not easiliy friable - you cannot crumble it to asbestos-containingg dust by smushing a fragment between your fingers. Pick up the pieces, throw them away, and use damp mopping or wiping to finish the job. Don't run a vacuum cleaner over the debris unless it's HEPA-rated.
Search InspectApedia.com for ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION to see more details.
Air testing is a common procedure used by experts to monitor ongoing asbestos cleanup jobs but is not a completely reliable building screen for asbestos contamination as dust levels in air vary enormously as building conditions change. Testing settled dust, while not quantitatively precise, is more reliable as an indicator of what has been the contents of building dust and air.
(Sept 29, 2015) Diana McKenzie said:
Removing carpeting in a house built in the 1960s last night and found old vinyl flooring under it. Tiles 12" square, beige coloring with random brown lines, top is not smooth but has texture. I have uncovered about half of floor and a couple of the tiles are broken on the ends. My biggest concerns are: if this flooring has asbestos in it, are the broken tiles now friable, should I remove the loose pieces and, if so, how plus what is best method to use to get up wood tack strips safely. Can post pic if needed. Thanks!
(Oct 9, 2015) shermlit said:
My home was built in 1945. basement floor is labeled "genuine mercer" on tile edge. Do they contain asbestos? Could be 9x9. Thanks
(Oct 27, 2015) kitkat said:
We lifted our carpet and found these 9x9 tiles. I can't find an image of them. For sure asbestos? How bad does it look? We really disturb anything only a little on the left side. We bought our home 9 years with new carpet never knew what was under neath. I have kept my 3 kids out of the house even before the carpet was pulled up.
How can I post a picture or send you one? I really appreciate any help thanking you!
Please use the page top or bottom CONTACT link to send us flooring photos for comment.
(Jan 17, 2016) Christa said:
About 5 years ago we lifted carpet in our 1960s home to find tile underneath, the tile was crumbling and breaking very easily. Without knowing the risk of asbestos my husband and I removed it ourselves. I am now terrified of what we have exposed ourselves to only realizing now the danger and stupidity of what we did. any information is helpful, the tiles were beige and very very thin and easily broken. Thank you
(Jan 23, 2016) Anonymous said:
My daughter purchased a home built in 1963. Looks like it was never updated, so I'm assuming all in there is original. Basement has gold colored carpet squares glued to concrete basement floor. Was asbestos used possibly in either the carpet squares and/or the adhesive used to affix it to the floor?
Yes, please search InspectApedia for ASBESTOS in TILE MASTIC to read details.
(Feb 20, 2016) duncalfe1 said:
I am trying to determine if these sticky tile have asbestos
Some do, depending on when they were made (into the early 1970's), where (what country), and by whom (manufacturer).
(May 21, 2016) Pat m said:
Hi, I recently uncovered some old red 9"x9" tiles of some description, probably vinyl. I have scoured the Internet and been unable to find any tiles that look like the ones I have. They have a black felt backing, from which the red top layer can not be separated, so I'm pretty sure this is part of the original composition of the tile as opposed to an adhesive. I'm pretty sure the red vinyl top layer will contain asbestos as the house was built in 1965 but am unable to find any reference as to what the felt layer might be, is this likely to contain asbestos also?
Use the page top or bottom CONTACT link to send us some photos and we can comment.
To be safe treat the flooring as presumed to contain asbestos.
Continue reading at ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION - home, or select a topic from the More Reading links or topic ARTICLE INDEX shown below.
OR use the Search Box found below at Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia
FAQs posted for this page are also shown in the article text above. Try the search box below or CONTACT US by email if you cannot find the answer you need at InspectApedia.
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
Search the InspectApedia website
Periodic Visual Reinspections and Air Monitoring
A visual reinspection of all ACM should be conducted at regular intervals as part of the O&M program to help ensure that any ACM damage or deterioration will be detected and corrective action taken.
EPA's asbestos regulations for schools (the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, "AHERA") (PDF) (96 pp, 589k), web search 08/17/2010, original source: http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/2003pt763.pdf, require that an accredited inspector reinspect school buildings at least once every three years to reassess the condition of ACM.
The AHERA regulations for schools also require a routine surveillance check of ACM every six months to monitor the ACM's condition. This surveillance can be conducted by a trained school custodian or maintenance worker.
While only school buildings are required to have surveillance checks every six months, it is a good practice for other buildings with ACM. The asbestos program manager (APM) should establish appropriate surveillance and reinspection intervals, based on consultation with the building owner and any other qualified professionals involved in the O&M program.
EPA recommends a visual and physical evaluation of ACM during the reinspections to note the ACM's current condition and physical characteristics. Through this reinspection, it is possible to determine both the relative degree of damage and assess the likelihood of future fiber release.
Maintenance of a set of visual records (photos or video) of the ACM over time can be of great value during reinspections.
EPA recommends a visual and physical evaluation of ACM during the reinspections to note the ACM's current condition and physical characteristics.
Additional Prevention Measures
If the ACM is currently in good condition, increases in airborne asbestos fiber levels at some later time may provide an early warning of deterioration or disturbance of the material. In that way, supplemental air monitoring can be a useful management tool. If an owner chooses to use air monitoring in an "early warning" context, a knowledgeable and experienced individual should be consulted to design a proper sampling strategy. (See Useful Links for more information on air monitoring.)
This air monitoring should supplement, not replace, physical and visual inspection. Visual inspection can recognize situations and anticipate future exposure (e.g., worsening water damage), whereas air monitoring can only detect a problem after it has occurred, and fibers have been released.
Note that the collection of air samples for supplementary evaluation should not use aggressive air sampling methods. Aggressive sampling methods, in which air is deliberately disturbed or agitated by use of a leaf blower or fans, should only be used at the completion of an asbestos removal project inside the abatement containment area.
The most accurate and preferred method of analysis of air samples collected under an O&M program requires the use of transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Phase contrast microscopy (PCM), which is commonly used for personal air sample analysis and as a screening tool for area air monitoring, cannot distinguish between asbestos fibers and other kinds of fibers which may be present in the air. PCM analysis also cannot detect thin asbestos fibers, and does not count short fibers. TEM analysis is more expensive than PCM analysis. However, the more accurate information on actual levels of airborne asbestos fibers that can be derived from TEM should be more beneficial to the building owner who elects to use supplemental air monitoring in the asbestos management program. TEM analysis is most reliably performed by laboratories accredited by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and who follow EPA’s quality assurance guidelines. (See References, U.S. EPA, Dec. 1989, Transmission Electron Microscopy Asbestos Laboratories: Quality Assurance Guidelines. Washington, DC: EPA 560/5-90-002).