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Congoleum flooring identification:
This article provides a guide to identifying traditional or early Congoleum rugs and other sheet flooring products, Congoleum-Nairn asphalt-asbestos, vinyl asbestos floor tiles, linoleum, and sheet flooring (resilient flooring).
Some of these Congoleum floor covering materials contain asbestos in asbestos fiber or asbestos powder-filler form.
Asbestos was found in at least these Congoleum flooring products: Congoleum-Nairn Flor-Ever Vinyl, Fashionflor Cushioned Vinyl flooring, Gold Seal Vinyl Inlaid flooring, Gold Seal Vinyl Nairon Standard flooring.
SEQUIN PATTERN [image] Congoleum resilient flooring is shown above.
[Click to enlarge any image]
Asphalt asbestos Congoleum Nairn & Congoleum Nairn vinyl-asbestos floor tile identification and advice 1917 - 1986
How to recognize Congoleum Nairn floor tiles & linoleum or resilient sheet flooring that may contain asbestos fibers.
We include photographs of Congoleum Nairn asbestos containing floor tiles, sheet flooring, linoleum, and resilient floor coverings as well as photos of products that have been confirmed as asbestos-free.
Congoleum Nairn, was established in 1886, and presently headquartered in Mercerville, NJ, U.S., produced resilient sheet flooring, vinyl asbestos floor tiles in patterns such as their Congoleum-Nairn Romanaire pattern.
Original Congoleum was made from materials imnported from the Belgin Congo and was produced in 36" wide strips in a variety of patterns, often bordered.
Watch out: the backing on some of these vinyl flooring or linoleum products may also contain asbestos.
[Click to enlarge any image]
InspectApedia.com reader Jennifer McKenna has kindly contributed these photographs of Canadian-made a Congoleum Rug along with documentation that included a date samp of 1 June 1928.
Congoleum Canada, Office & Factory, 1270 Patric St., Montreal, Canada. Photo below includes the date stamp.
This is a traditional red-backed Congoleum Gold-Seal flooring product, as you'll see in the photos. We're hopeful that Ms. McKenna will scrape off more of that old carpet padding to show us the Canadian Congoleum rug pattern in more detail.
Our second Congoleum art rug backer photo above shows a tear in the sheet flooring to reveal its black asphalt-impregnated paper-like backing.
Watch out: some asphalt-impregnated paper backing used on sheet flooring contains asbestos. We have offered to assist in having this 1928 Congoleum Art Rug tested for asbestos and will report here if that occurs.
Research suggests that Congoleum flooring made before 1947 did not contain asbestos.
Really? Well yes, however as we report below at 1950 CONGOLEUM GOLD SEAL SHEET FLOORING - No Asbestos was found in some 1950 floor covering products tested.
And similarly a Congoleum sample reported at 1960's CONGOLEUM FLOORING - was also tested and reported to contain no asbestos.
Congoleum Vinylbest vinyl asbestos floor tiles were produced in the 1950s along with Congoleum Gold Seal inlaid linoleum flooring shown at above left from a Life magazine advertisement, and the Congoleum sheet linoleum shown in a Florida Home (left) provided a scattershot or color fleck pattern.
The Congoleum linoleum photograph shown here of Congoleum sheet flooring installed in a 1949 Tampa Florida home is provided courtesy of M.B.
M.B. placed a U.S. quarter on the flooring to provide a pattern size scale reference. [Click image for a larger view]. [We think the flooring itself may date from the 1960's.]
Other Congoleum products included Vinylfloor, Vinyltop (countertops), Congoleum, CongoWall, Ranchtile, Cork tile, Linoleum tile, Vinyl tile, Rubber tile, and Asphalt tile marketed under the Congoleum Gold Seal trademark.
This Congoleum flooring Gold-Seal sheet flooring is dated from the 1950's. Reader C.H. wrote:
I've just discovered an old (and ugly) sheet vinyl in a bathroom floor dating from the early 1950's which is labeled on the back as "Gold Seal Congoleum Trade Marked."
It is not glued down but is hidden under modern vinyl that is glued to a thin plywood which is then stapled through the old stuff into a pine floor.
The suspicious vinyl bends almost double and then breaks easily.
We haven't done any sanding or sawing of it during the demolition of the bathroom (so hope we haven't released any asbestos fibers), but we have disposed of some of the small broken pieces along with other demolition refuse in trash bags at our county dump.
Does this look like an asbestos problem to you guys? Attached are photos of the hideous red/black/gray pattern (the red color actually transferred slightly to the plywood) and of the back of the same piece.
We would welcome any comments or advice. Thanks! - C.H., Clemson, SC 8/18/2013
But simply from an emailed photograph, and without testing or other information, to be safest I would treat the material as presumed-asbestos-containing material (PACM).
One should not assert for sure the presence or absence of an environmental hazard just from a brief email description. From your description it sounds as if you've handled the matter correctly and that the amount of dust released of any sort would have been trivial.
In particular, a sheet flooring that was not glued down is usually easily removable in large pieces without breakage and dust other than the accumulated dirt and dust debris that accumulates in old building layers and materials.
Watch out: I would recommend using damp mopping or HEPA vacuuming when cleaning up dust and debris from any renovation work on older buildings to control dust as much as possible.
Even when potentially dangerous asbestos or lead particles are not present, there may be other contaminants, allergens, irritants in the dust, even drywall or plaster dust that can be a respiratory irritant.
Note that Congoleum was not the only company to produce rubber-backed sheet flooring in rug patterns. See ARMSTRONG RUBBER BACKED RUG PATTERNS.
Here is an update on the Congoleum I found under the bathroom floor: just got the results tonight from Western Analytical Lab and there is NO asbestos in the sample I sent them! We are very relieved!
Happy results, but not a big surprise. Notice in the photographs of Congoleum Gold Seal flooring above that the product backing material is solid dark red throughout? This is not an asphalt-based felt (and often asbestos-containing) paper backer.
Below we show three more interesting Congoleum Narin sheet flooring designs from the mid 1950's (excerpted from Life Magazine advertisements).
At above is a continuous resilient Congoleum Nairn sheet flooring product that was colored to resemble individual floor tiles in red, black,and white.
The Congoleum-Nairn company advertised that this approach was less costly and quicker to install than tiles, and permitted better control over tile color consistency.
Above you will see our photograph excerpted from another 1950's flooring advertisement shows a Congoleum sheet floor used in a kitchen and dining area.
Congoleum sheet flooring in three foot wide simulated-wood patterns, in "rug" forms intended to be installed without fully extending to the walls of a room, and in larger sheets intended for wall-to-wall installation, were made by bonding a colored pattern layer (similar to linoleum) to a dark or black asphalt-impregnated felt backer layer.
Above: Congoleum Nairn hall runners from the company's 1942 catalog given below. Notice that these hall runners and other sheet flooring products often included a border imprinted in the sheet flooring. Below is a similar and well-worn example provided by an anonymous reader.
Most of this asphalt-felt-backed bordered sheet flooring remains covered by what appears to be a vinyl asbestos floor tile.
While the term linoleum is widely used for sheet flooring, this product is not made of true traditional linoleum ingredients described
Watch out: as we explain at RESILIENT SHEET FLOORING ID GUIDE, asphalt-backed sheet flooring may contain asbestos.
Asphalt-saturated felt (paper) backed flooring, used as early as 1910 in the U.S., looks like but is not true traditional linoleum flooring.
We prefer to refer to Congoleum® flooring and similar products by Armstrong® as asphalt-saturated felt-backed sheet flooring. But we note that many sources call all forms of sheet flooring "linoleum" regardless of composition of the material.
Armstrong's Linoflor, produced beginning in 1937, is an asphalt-based-backer sheet flooring that some referred to and continue to refer to [in my opinion loosely] as "linoleum", adding to the generic use of that word for sheet flooring. - Wilson & Snodgrass, U.S. FPL (2007)
Clicking the 1942 Congoleum catalog image above will load the PDF file of the actual catalog.
You will see that very ornate "rug" patterns were provided in this product series. Some of these patterns were produced in very similar designs by other manufacturers such as Armstrong, shown at ARMSTRONG SHEET FLOORING 1940 - 1980.
Also see our complete RESILIENT SHEET FLOORING ID GUIDE - home.
This discussion has moved to a separate page at 1960's CONGOLEUM FLOORING
This section has moved to its own page at 1970's CONGOLEUM FLOORING
There were six primary processors of this asbestos product in 1981:
Amitco Division of American Biltrite
Armstrong World Industries
Kentile Floors, Inc.,
Tarkett, Inc. (TSCA 1982a).
There were no secondary processors of vinyl-asbestos floor tile, and a survey of importers failed to identify any importers of vinyl-asbestos floor tile (TSCA 1982b, ICF 1984). Al six processors have stopped using asbestos since that time.
Armstrong World Industries had eliminated asbestos by the end of 1983, and Congoleum Corp. had eliminated it in 1984.
Amitco Division of Amerian Biltrite phased out asbestos in 1985 and
Kentile Flors, Inc. phased out the use of asbestos in 1986.
Because none of the other respondents to our survey indicated that they had begun production of vinyl-asbestos floor tile or were aware of any other producers or importers of vinyl-asbestos floor tile, we have concluded that there are currently no domestic producers of this product (ICF 1986). - source: XII. VINYL-ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE [PDF]
I have attached a photo of some vinyl flooring that I have in my house. I was prepping the floor for new wood and found this underneath. Unfortunately I scraped some of it out prior to finding out that it could contain asbestos. My house was built in 1982. The vinyl appears to be large sheet vinyl.
The bottom is marked Congoleum™ and the model is Forecast. It also says no wax vinyl. I was unable to find an reference to it in your picture library. I'm currently looking for somebody to test it. I'm hoping to put my mind at ease in the meantime. - Reader G. 8/11/2013
Indeed there were some sheet vinyl products that contained asbestos fibers and filler - typically in the backing and of course in some mastics.
When a home was built close to the end of the era of popular use of these materials I worry that someone could still have installed an asbestos-containing floor product from older stock.
If you are not doing dusty messy demolition the chances of a significant asbestos particle contamination problem are pretty low; we list the best sources of certified asbestos test labs in our article found
Reader follow-up: the sample came back from the lab positive for asbestos. Feel free to pass the info and photos along. - G.
Reply: I'd like to see the actual asbestos test lab report or any quantitative findings given.
Hopefully you didn't create much actual respirable dust during tear-up; my experience with sheet flooring is that the backer is not very friable compared with many other asbestos-containing materials, and though some Congoleum sheet flooring backer did contain asbestos.
Even without a lab test of a flooring sample, the safe procedure for asbestos-suspect flooring installed through the early 1980's is to treat the flooring as PACM - Presumed Asbestos Containing Material.
My OPINION is that actual asbestosis cases traced to residential exposure are slim to none except for family members of workers in the asbestos industry who inadvertently brought home asbestos dust on clothing or in a few oddball cases of workers deliberately using friable asbestos pipe insulation or similar products to "insulate" their own homes "for free" so to speak.
Family member asbestosis / mesothelioma claims relating to industry workers are cited in various legal asbestos exposure lawsuit cases such as
But I have not yet (8/2013) found scholarly studies nor lawsuit citations involving homeowners / occupants claiming asbestosis or mesothelioma related to exposure to ordinary levels of residential PACM products
(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.
Above: this Congoleum flooring advertisement, also from the 1950's, demonstrated use of sheet flooring to provide a border and carpet image in a bedroom.
Below: an asphalt-saturated felt-based "linoleum rug" from Congoleum developed in North America and sold in the U.S. and Canada as an alternative to more-costly true linoleum.
Our reader guessed that this floor covering was installed in 1949 and remained there until it was found under other layers of flooring and then removed from its Canadian home in 2017.
Other sheet flooring from the same home and provided by the reader can be seen at IDENTIFY SHEET FLOORING TYPE, HOW TO.
CONGOLEUM FLOORING HISTORY gives details about the history of linoleum and the Congoleum corporation.
Felt-based sheet flooring is not a true linoleum - the latter was made from linseed oil and used a jute fabric back.
Shown here, this less expensive type of sheet flooring product first produced by Armstrong is a printed pattern imposed on a felt backer similar to roofing felt or "tar paper" but thicker.
Next we provide another image of a very-similar Congoleum sheet flooring floral rug pattern and product from the US FPL article cited above.
If you look closely you'll see that these two patterns are not precisely identical but both were popular, widely-sold floral pattern "linoleum" rug flooring.
As we caution readers throughout this article series, because some asphalt felt paper products produced in this area contained asbestos we do not assume that these floors are asbestos free.
The next photo (below) shows a a closer-view of what is probably the same floral pattern linoleum-like rug, actually asphalt-felt-backed sheet flooring. This photo was provided by an anonymous reader who reported finding this flooring in a home built ca 1918 or before.
For the asphalt-paper backed sheet flooring above (widely described as "linoleum"), our advice is to either have a sample of the flooring tested for asbestos or to presume that it contains asbestos, because at least some asphalt-impregnated felt paper used on buidings and as a flooring backer has been found to contain asbestos.
Avoid making a dusty mess.
Wilson & Snodgrass (2007), in describing the history of resilient flooring both clarify and add examples of the confusion around using the term "linoleum" as generic for sheet flooring.
Those authors note that by 1937 Armstrong Flooring was producing LinoFlor, a printed linoleum product on an asphalt-impregnated paper "felt" backing.
Below Wilson & Snodgrass, U.S. FPL (2007) have provided some of the history of resilient flooring and have their own photo of this beautiful example of a Congoleum "rug" still in use by the US FPL.
Correctly speaking, in our opinion, some of these sheet flooring products may not be "linoleum" if they were not produced using traditional linoleum ingredients.
See LINOLEUM & SHEET FLOORING for more photographs, examples, and ingredients in linoleum and asphalt-backed sheet flooring products of various brands.
The pigments in traditional or true linoleum extended through its thickness, the product was linseed oil based, and it used a jute backing. In contrast, other sheet flooring products were made of a thin pigment or colored pattern layer glued to an asphalt-paper-based or "felt" backer that is black in color and that looks like thick roofing felt.
But many authors and historians including those cited just above refer to most or even all sheet flooring products from this era using the word linoleum. Linoleum, then became rather generic, just as Kleenex™ became generic for tissues among many sniffers.
Really? Why do we care whether an old or historic floor covering is traditional linoleum or some other product made of different ingredients?
Well because at least some older asphalt-impregnated paper felt backing products contained asbestos, while no pure linoleum flooring products contain nor ever contained asbestos in their ingredients.
Congoleum Gold Seal Rugs along with Nairn Linoleum were marketed from the 1920's into the 1950's when Congoleum-Nairn was producing 12-foot wide sheet vinyl-based flooring.
We provide tips for identifying types of sheet flooring & resilient flooring
We also discuss the history and manufacture of asphalt-asbestos floor tiles in our Age of House articles
We discuss the inspection, diagnosis, and repair of all types of flooring products
Armstrong and Congoleum were and are two distinctly different flooring companies.
This photograph of sheet flooring was identified by a reader in a 1964 home. She found remnants in the bottom of a kitchen cabinet on which was imprinted "Armstrong".
While the reader referred to this as "Armstrong Congoleum sheet flooring", Armstrong and Congoleum are separate individual companies. The flooring in our photo (left) is identified as an Armstrong resilient flooring product.
For Armstrong flooring products, identification, & asbestos content information,
Reader question: I'd like to know if "Congoleum Triumph #25031 flat" may contain asbestos. It was installed in my bathroom in 1990
. A picture of the installed flooring is attached. Any information you can provide on this product would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! - P.F. 1/7/2014
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that would permit a more accurate, complete, and authoritative answer than we can give by email alone - for example there may be other much more immediate health and safety hazards in your home. You will find additional depth and detail in articles at our website.
That said, it is reasonable to believe that flooring installed in 1990 in the U.S. would not contain asbestos.
While I do on occasion find flooring products that were "new old stock" that contained asbestos and that were installed in homes in the first few years after manufacturers stopped producing such materials, by 1990, in my OPINION that would be a very unusual case.
For a detailed photo guide to all brands of vinyl-asbestos floor tile & resilient flooring patterns, sizes, and years of manufacture,
Readers should see ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION and
also see FLOOR TILE HISTORY & INGREDIENTS for a discussion of the ingredients and production of asbestos-containing flooring.
And see ASBESTOS FLOORING IDENTIFICATION for detailed advice on handling and identifying vinyl-asbestos floor tiles or flooring products that probably do or don't contain asbestos.
For a strategy for collecting building dust samples, when, where, how many samples to collect,
Also see Micro-Photographs of Dust from the World Trade Center collapse following the 9/11/01 attack. Links to U.S. government and other authoritative research and advice are included.
Additional Images of Congoleum linoleum sheet flooring products are
at LINOLEUM & Other Sheet Flooring
More Images of Congoleum Nairn produced vinyl asbestos floor tiles in patterns and shades including examples shown
at ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION PHOTOS 1949-1959
Continue reading at 1960's CONGOLEUM FLOORING or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
Or see CONGOLEUM-NAIRN FLOOR TILES & LINOLEUM FAQs - questions & answers about identifying Congoleum flooring and which products contained asbestos, posted originally on this page.
Or see CONGOLEUM FLOORING HISTORY
Or see FLOOR TILE HISTORY & INGREDIENTS.
Or see this
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