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How to submit photos of flooring to get help in identiying floor tiles or sheet flooring that might contain asbestos. This article includes a photo-gallery of pictures of floor coverings submitted for identification along with comments on findings, recommendations, & asbestos content.
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Our photo (left) shows Armstrong® Excelon 12x12 vinyl asbestos flooring made in 1972, identified in our floor tile photo guide ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE PHOTO ID GUIDE - detailed photo guide to asphalt asbestos and vinyl asbestos floor tiles, and resilient flooring produced in 1900 -1980.
If you have tried looking through our example flooring photos by year or flooring manufacturer and were unable to identify your flooring then feel free to CONTACT US to send along photos and a description (age, diimensions, building history) of flooring that you are unable to identify
Question: Does this tile floor contain asbestos? Home Depot said they won't install new flooring over asbestos-containing floor tiles? What can I do about that?
I am trying to move into a nursing home but have to fix up my house and sell it before I can do that. I asked home depot for a price to install new linoleum in my utility room but they said they couldn't if the existing tile had asbestos.
I looked on your website to see if my tile was pictured there but didn't find an exact match.
Would you look at the attached picture and let me know if you recognize this tile as having asbestos?
If you don't know, I would be interested in hearing about the pro bono service your website offers for the elderly to determine if the tile has asbestos.
The tile pictured is intact but tile under the washer and dryer has come lose. Thank you - D.H. 11/23/2011
Reply: How to confirm asbestos-containing floor tiles? How to install new flooring over asbestos-containing floor tiles
Indeed your floor tiles appear to include a cork-like pattern that, depending on flooring age, may contain asbestos. (See our asbestos floor tile photos beginning at ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE PHOTO ID GUIDE). Therefore it would make sense to treast the flooring as PACM - "Presumed Asbestos Containing materials"
A lab test can conclusively identify the presence of asbestos in a floor tile sample, and typically such a test is not costly - perhaps $50. from any certified asbestos testing lab. (Sorry but our entire lab is on forensic assignment out of the U.S. until year end).
Although you report that your local Home Depot representative told you that they "could not" install a new floor over asbestos-containing flooring, it is, at least in any legal or technical sense, not correct to assert that new flooring absolutely cannot be installed over asbestos containing floor tiles. The condition of the existing flooring and the subfloor and structure below determine the prep work needed in any new floor installation procedure.
Home Depot's lawyers may have decided on their floor installation policy, or your local installer may simply prefer to lose business rather than take the risk of being blamed for creating a dusty dangerous asbestos mess if they work improperly with the material (such as grinding, sawing, or creating dusty demolition - usually demolition or removal is not necessary). And we would agree that if the floor were in bad condition so that demolition and removal of the floor is really required, then the job should be handled by a trained and competent asbestos abatement/removal company.
Example of the OPM problem: the consultant or contractor spends other people's money, sometimes unnecessarily, in order to reduce their own risk
But your photo shows an intact floor surface. So we suspet that there may also be what we call the OPM (other people's money) problem here: it is often much safer and absolutely free for a consultant or contractor to recommend to a client that s/he perform a costly procedure that may or may not be really necessary. The procedure reduces risk for the contractor at no cost to them since the client is paying for the procedure, test, or removal.
Alternatives for Installing New Flooring over Vinyl-Asbestos Floor Tiles or other Asbestos-Containing Floor Coverings
When installing new sheet vinyl or other flooring, typically the existing floor surface has to be sound and smooth. Options for proceeding range from
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.
In several rooms I have a flaming ground, looking quite similar to many of the photos seen on your site. In some areas has deteriorated and has holes that emit or accumulate dust.
I'm not sure my ground detected on your site, but I send two photos if you are able to recognize or catalog. I really did not even know if it is vinyl or other material, I can not distinguish.
What I know is that tiles are thick (about 3 cm), with a thin layer of material seen (a few millimeters) and then a mortar or something similar. The tiles measure 25x25cm. I hope you can advise me on the matter, think that contain asbestos? If so, what I can do at home? -- I.B., Spain
We have not seen this exact tile pattern before, but from our records it looks a bit like some of the Kentile flooring. Quite possibly it was produced by a European manufacturer and is none of the brands for which we have data.
Our opinion includes the consideration that while foremost it is important to avoid creating an asbestos hazard by improper handling, and while it is usually reasonable to cover over asbestos floor tiles with a new layer of flooring, it is also important that you proceed properly, with local expert advice, so as to avoid creating inappropriate fear on the part of other users of the building.
Question: can we identify this old asbestos-suspect floor tile?
I just found your website while researching how to restore my old kitchen floor tiles.
I love the pattern but it never occurred to me that it might be asbestos and therefore poisonous.
A few of the tiles at thresholds are breaking apart so now I'm concerned. Your help will be most appreciated.
The first part of my house was built in 1900, the kitchen was added sometime after that but remodeled as we have seen older tile beneath the cabinets.
So I really have no way to know but I thing I may have seen a similar pattern in the 1973 Armstrong section of your website. - N.C. 3/1/2013
N.C. this is not a flooring pattern I've seen before - which reminds us of the enormous variety of flooring designs that have been manufactured over the last 100 years or so. You didn't say if this was sheet flooring or individual tiles.
I have posted the image here because the solid color inset design is characteristic of many Kentile floor products and because perchance another InspectApedia reader will recognize this pattern and help us out with its identification.
Short of having a sample tested, it would be reasonable to treat the floor as PACM - presumed asbestos containing material. You used the word "poisonous" which is not quite how I'd put it, and you don't want to panic lest you become victimized by an aggressive contractor. Take a look at ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION.
Question: how to identify Armstrong floor tiles that contain asbestos
Our house was built around 1945 but we don't know for sure when these tiles were installed. I'm guessing anywhere between 1950 and 1975.
I believe them to both be Armstrong — from your site, I have determined that one is "Osage Green 780" but I can't figure out the black. I thought it was "Commanche Black 772" but it also has green in it.
Please see the below photo and let me know which brand, color and number you think these tiles are.
I can't afford to get these professionally tested for aspestos and am hoping you can help me identify them per your extensive documentation.
In my OPINION there is no need to test these tiles, as the tiles in your photos are almost certainly from the Armstrong product series you've already identified. I'll add your photo to the online examples, as I don't thnk ever published the green on black series asphalt asbestos floor tile series.
The reason I'm concerned about these tiles is that my daughters have been practicing irish dance in our basement for the past 6 months in their hard shoes (like tap shoes but wooden on the bottom instead of metal) and the tiles got pretty scuffed up from their dancing. I hate to admit this but it took me a while for it to hit me that the tiles were probably asbestos.
From your experience, how much should I worry about aspestos dust that may have been released into our lungs and home from these tiles? We have since laid self-stick vinyl tiles over the top of all the scuffed ones, but I'm still worrying about what damage has been done to our health. Do you have any thoughts/opinions? I would appreciate it.
In my opinion, the chances are the quantity of asbestos removed and airborne from your kids dancing an Irish jig on the floor was below the ability to detect, especially considering that the tiles were most likely coated with floor wax.
What releases problem levels of fibers and particles from asbestos floor tiles is more likely demolition, sanding, grinding, or potentially, buffing with a power buffer that uses a steel scrubber attachment. If you need to make certain what has gone on you'll need to hire an expert to collect settled dust samples, not just air samples.
See ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION for suggestions.
Question: Can you identify this floor tile and tell me if it contains asbestos?
Thank you for providing a useful site about asbestos tile. Can you identify the tile I have and if it has asbestos in it? I did not see the exact picture on your site. Any assistance is greatly appreciated. The house was built in 1963. The tiles are 12"x12" and are approximately 1.6 mm in thickness. The last picture shows the back of the tile. Regards, G.K., Cleveland OH
Reply: It's reasonable to presume that vinyl or asphalt floor tiles from the 1960's contain asbestos; only a certified lab can accurately state the actual asbestos content however.
We are not certain of the manufacturer of the tiles shown above, and we publish them here to invite feedback from other readers. And of course only a certified asbestos test lab can say with certainty the tile asbestos composition.
But based on the floor tile age and pattern, it's reasonable to presume that these tiles contain asbestos fibers and filler.
The particle shape or pattern in your floor tiles is similar to the Armstrong floor tile Imperial pattern from 1963 (see Armstrong Floor Tiles and scroll down to 1963). But the colors in your floor tiles (above left) resemble some hues found in Kentiles (KENTILE KenFlex Floor Tiles ). And while 9x9 floor tiles were common in the 50's and 60's there were indeed 12x12 floor tiles being produced and installed when your home was built.
We think that the hues in your tiles, even though the pattern is different, point in that direction.
I can't make out much from the photo of the back surface of a floor tile (above right) though on some tiles we may find text or numbers that help trace the floor's origin.
Also compare your tile pattern to those shown at our article on Wards floor tiles at Montgomery Ward Floor Tiles as the color pattern is similar to some Wards flooring.
Question: Can You Help Identify This Floor Tile from the late 1960's?
Sections of the floor have been severely discolored by leaking steam pipes under the floor and the whole floor is probably going to be replaced.
Would you be able to help point us in the right direction to help determine the original manufacturer of this tile? The tiles are about 1/8” thick with beveled edges and don’t show any kind of marking on the underside. We’re also not sure if it’s vinyl asbestos tile or linoleum.
Any help you could provide would be much appreciated.
- M.O. 4/10/2013
Linoleum is a separate product, sheet flooring, not tile.
I don't recognize this specific design, but it's detail suggest something more recent than the 1950's.
you'll see a 12x12 with some fine line details (but a different pattern) that did contain asbestos.
You can try sending photos to Armstrong to see if (by luck depending on who answers your mail) they know the pattern. They made analagous patterns such as
Finally if you agree I'll publish your photo to solicit input from other readers.
Thanks for your response! Although the only dates I have for renovation of the locker rooms specifically are 1954-55 there was work on bathrooms elsewhere in the building in 1969. They installed Armstrong Cushion Vinyl Corlon “Cambrian” in the other bathrooms so I’d be surprised if they had also installed a different tile in the locker rooms at that time as well.
You have my permission to publish the photo on your site. I’ll also pass this photo on to the folks at Armstrong to see if I get anywhere and look back in my files to see if any renovations were done in the mid-1970s since the tile patterns from that era look more similar to what I have.
Reply: About Armstrong's Cushion Cambrian flooring
Armstrong introduced its Cushion Cambrian as a flooring with a foam vinyl backing to provide a "cushioned" surface. (Popular Mechanics September 1966) first as Cambrian Vinyl Corlon flooring, Catalog #80002) - but this was a sheet flooring product, not floor tiles. A product type the company still produces (see http://www.armstrong.com/flooring/site-search.asp?q=cushion%20step)
I take it from your original message that you quite sure the flooring you're asking about is individual tiles. We've posted your floor tile photo and invite reader comment.
I’m wondering if you can tell me if this tile contains asbestos. We’re pretty sure it was installed sometime in the late 1960s. It is in fairly good condition so we were going to coat it with an epoxy and floor over it instead of remove it. Any help with confirmation would be appreciated.- D.B. 4/17/2013
Thank you for the interesting question and photo of your asbestos-suspect floor tile: - it helps us realize where we need to work on making our text more clear or more complete.
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem or conditions that might change advice one can give by email. That apology said, here are some things to consider:
Probably yes this is an asbestos-containing floor; the pattern looks like both tiles and sheet flooring for which we've had other reports and lab tests confirming asbestos content. If the material was installed before the early 1980's that adds to the probability that it should be treated as PACM (presumed asbestos containing material).
Similar or even matching patterns to your tile are at ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE PHOTO ID GUIDE includng my photo of sheet flooring near the top of that article. You can see a long history of similar flooring patterns back at least to 1965 and shown in our 1960-69 tile ID guide at Armstrong's Embossed Pebblette in 1965. In that same 1960 - 1969 Armstrong Excelon Floor Tiles we show a similar floor pattern to yours in a FAQ titled Test Results for Armstrong Sheet Flooring - 70% Asbestos
As your vinyl-asbestos (or asphalt asbestos in older products) floor in good condition, and this is a non-friable material, I'm not sure you need to epoxy over it before installing a new floor.
Typically a new floor would involve a base layer of rosin paper or similar product, then sleepers, and a new subfloor and floor above, OR simply a tile-over using mastic or sheet flooring. In my OPINION the volume of asbestos-containing particles from the old floor that would rise into the occupied space up through the new floor in such an installation would be beneath the limits of detection. Just avoid making a dusty mess by drilling, grinding, breaking up flooring, and you should be OK.
If circumstances change and there were reason to have to tear up the floor, you would be smart to simply treat the material as asbestos containing (these articles would then be helpful:
And of course for around $50. you could have a sample tested by a certified asbestos test lab.
But frankly, unless facing a costly cleanup or a health worry I'd save my test money and handle the material as I've described.
Question: can you identify these cork pattern floor tiles as probably containing asbestos?
Great website you have, it's been a good resource for me. I suspect that these are asbestos tiles. Any idea? - G.M. 1/1/2013
Reply: vinyl asbestos floor tiles in cork pattern compared with true cork flooring materials
Your photos (above) look like vinyl-asbestos floor tiles in the cork pattern.
Take a look at ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION and also see MASTIC, CUTBACK ADHESIVE, FLASHING CEMENT ASBESTOS
My new plan is to replace the tiles I've already taken up with new tile, then put a floating wood floor over the top. According to everything I've read containment is the best way to go. Seeing as I have three other rooms with tile I think this is the easiest fix for me. What do you think?
Also, my tiles don't seem like vinyl to me. They're not plastic-y...if you know what I mean. Does vinyl get rigid?
You can glue in floor tiles or use a leveling compound to make the floor smooth before installing a floating wood floor atop. Typically the floating floor will use a rosin paper or other underlayment as well. Makes sense to me.
Yes vinyl floor tiles can get very rigid and brittle; if the tiles are thick, say 1/8" and dark inside they may be asphalt based; else probably they're vinyl. I think that the cork pattern as well as other light-colored floor tiles will generally date back to early vinyl or "plastic" floor tiles. One of the reasons manufacturers liked vinyl is that lighter colored flooring was easier to produce when you don't start with (black) asphalt.
Okay, that makes sense. They're not dark inside though. So they must be vinyl. So, I'm just going to cover them up.
Question: is this the "bad" asbestos floor tile? Floor tile photo for identification.
The house is at least 45 to 50 years old. If this is the bad tile (asbestos) I will have him contact you folks for help. Thanks. M.W. 8/19/2013
The tile fragment in your photo resembles some of the 1970's vintage vinyl-asbestos floor tiles found in our online libraries of tile images. For example see Peruvian Beige floor tiles made by Armstrong in the 1970's - or see the tile photos at 1973 - Armstrong Excelon Vinyl Asbestos Floor Tiles, Complete Pattern & Color Guide, 9x9 & 12x12-inch
It would be prudent to treat the floor tile as presumed asbestos-containing material (PACM) and to avoid creating a dusty mess. If the property owner is faced with a costly cleanup or renovation job then it would make sense to have a floor tile sample tested by a certified asbestos testing lab.
Your neighbor will want to review some simple advice on reducing asbestos floor tile hazards in these articles found at InspectAPedia.com or to review more elaborate details in the citations in those articles.
Regarding your appellation of "bad tile", repeating a comment from the top of this article, 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.
Question: does this floor tile from a house built in 1963 contain asbestos?
I did not see this tile in the photo displays but I am sure it is old. The house was built in 1963. Any advice? Photos attached. I will gladly cover but the two surfaces are not level so one will need to be disturbed to fix it. Thank you for any information you may be able to share. Much appreciated. First time home buyer. - F.A. 8/21/2013
The photos are a bit blurry (I did some sharpening in our lab) - so I'm not sure if we can match to an existing file photo or not.
1960 - 1969 Armstrong Excelon Floor Vinyl Plastic Asbestos Floor Tiles, 9" x 9" & beginning in 1960 available in 12" x 12" size
I'd also look at Kentile KenFlex Floor Tiles - whose Carnival pattern suggests your flooring as well.
for some advice on minimizing dust hazards during work on this material. I'm posting your photos here to invite comment from other readers; let us know if you test the flooring and what you learn (a single asbestos test is not expensive - see ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST) - what we learn will help others.
Question: I'm scared that floor tile ripped up by my brother is exposing me to asbestos
My brother already started ripping up the floor before doing research, and I just started reading about the asbestos.
So I am pretty scared that I've been inhaling asbestos spores for the past three days. Here is the tile that I am worried about: Please let me know as soon as you can. Thank you for your help!
Reply: Armstrong custom bisque vinyl asbestos floor tile pattern
The photo looks like some of the vinyl-asbestos floor tiles in our library - and it would in any event be prudent to treat it as presumed asbestos containing; if you were facing a costly job it'd be worth having a sample tested. Below is a thumbnail (click to enlarge) of an Armstrong 12"x12" x 1/16" thick Custom Bisque #57090-White vinyl-asbestos floor tile from our online photo catalog at Asphalt-Asbestos & Vinyl-Asbestos Floor Tiles Identification Photos - 1975-1979. This tile was sold in White 57090, Rust, Beige 57092, Brown, Bronze, and olive vinyl asbestos floor tiles.
About being pretty scared, don't panic; unless your brother created a dusty mess the airborne particle levels may be rather low; if he is making a mess he should stop and proper cleaning should be performed.
Details about identifying older installations of sheet flooring or sheet-forms of resilient flooring that may contain asbestos are now found at RESILIENT SHEET FLOORING ID GUIDE
Question: do these self-stick Emerald Brand vinyl floor tiles contain asbestos?
Can you tell if this tile has Asbestos - I also have photos of the box.
Reply: Trademark Supplies floor tiles - modern version should not contain asbestos
But without matching the floor tile to a known-asbestos-containing photo index one cannot say for sure without performing a lab test for asbestos content.
Often such testing is unnecessary or even inappropriate, depending on the age, location, and condition of the flooring.
These tiles (see the red marked tile center row left end) are currently available from Amazon.com and are identified as 12X12 Vinyl Stick-On Tiles With Four Emerald Diamonds Self Adhesive Flooring RT4022
At least in that version it would be a surprise if a current for-sale floor product contained asbestos.
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: Possible asbestos-containing floor tiles in a school, questions about proper handling
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
Question: floor tiles below asbestos in a 1950's house may contain asbestos
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?
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.
Question: How can I identify various other brands and product numbers of floor tiles that might contain asbestos?
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.
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
We have the San Roque pattern sheet vinyl. Did Armstrong use the same patterns at a later date for their sheet vinyl but without asbestos? We have already started to remove it and I am concerned. - Sue 10/24/2012
We have vinyl sheet flooring that was put in about mid 1984. Is this anything to worry about? When exactly was asbestos banned in the manufacture of sheet flooring? - Peter 11/6/2012
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.
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.
Question: dealing with unknown floor tiles
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
I have an old ranch home w/ sheet lino.x2 layers, over OSB board, over another type of flooring over old hardwood. From what I can see so far. The hardwood has blunt square ends, and is about 3-4" wide and appears to have paint on it. I know there is some rot in that area and would need replacing from reclaimed wood. My question is what is the best way to remove all the lino and OSB and floor below that to get to the hardwood? I know it's going to be labor intensive but not sure how to go about it. - Tracey 2/13/2012
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 PHOTO ID GUIDE 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.
Question: did asbestos flooring come in just tiles or also in roll or sheet flooring?
Can the asbestos flooring come in tiles only or does it come in a role? - P.H. 12/31/12
Asbestos-containing flooring was sold in both individual floor tiles and in rolls of sheet flooring. But just as with vinyl or plastic floor tiles, not all flooring contains asbestos. LINOLEUM & Other Sheet Flooring includes examples of sheet flooring that often did not contain asbestos. To treat floor coverings in asphalt-based floor tiles or sheet flooring, or vinyl (plastic)-based floor tiles or sheet flooring, it is reasonable to treat flooring sold in the year ranges described in the article above as PACM (Presumed Asbestos Containing Material). Also the mastic or adhesive used to install flooring may also contain asbestos. Keep in mind also that very often it is not necessary nor even recommended to remove PACM floor coverings. But if conditions require that it be removed, see ASBESTOS REMOVAL GUIDE, FLOORING.
Question: radon system installation drilled through presumed-asbestos-containing floor tiles: how much of an asbestos hazard has that created?
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.
Question: is your asbestos floor tile photo library exhaustive, and is the old black floor tile adhesive also a hazard?
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.
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