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Asbestos-containing sheet flooring or resilient flooring product identification: this article describes sheet flooring products known to contain significant levels of asbestos. We also include photographs for identification of known asbestos-containing resilient sheet flooring as well as unknown flooring submitted for identification. The article gives safety and asbestos testing advice for sheet flooring products.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2014 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.
How to Identify Armstrong, Congoleum, Linoleum and other Brands of Resilient Flooring or Sheet Flooring
This 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". Is it linoleum?
[Click to enlarge any image]
A closer look at the product including its backing would be needed. It could be, but this pattern looks more modern to us and is probably a vinyl sheet flooring product. At ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION PHOTOS by YEAR we include a reader report of lab testing performed on this flooring and confirming that it contained "70% asbestos".
While the reader referred to this as "Armstrong Congoleum sheet flooring", Armstrong and Congoleum are separate individual companies. The flooring shown just above is identified as an Armstrong resilient flooring product.
Below are two more identification photographs of the same flooring contributed by reader R.B. who shows us the Armstrong® imprint on the reverse side of this product.
Don't mix up product names. Armstrong is a separate company from Congoleum-Nairn. Both companies produce several types and many patterns of sheet flooring. As we discuss at CONGOLEUM FLOORING HISTORY, Linoleum flooring advertised in 1955, here the Congoleum Gold Seal series, was sold in both sheet and tile forms.
At below left is Congoleum Gold Seal Jackstraw pattern, and below right, Congoleum "Square Dance" sheet linoleum sold in a 9" x 9" tile pattern. Congoleum also marketed linoleum sheet flooring in color flecks or scatter such as their Sequin Pattern.
Check the Sheet Flooring Material to Identify Linoleum or to Check for Sheet Flooring Likely to Contain Asbestos
This topic has been moved to SHEET FLOORING INSPECT / TEST. There we explain that simple visual inspection can often distinguish among linoleum (jute or burlap backed), asphalt saturated felt-backed flooring, vinyl sheet flooring (white or light colored backing), and cork (simple visual appearance). We also describe using odorless paint thinner to detect asphalt-based floor types - an important consideration as some saturated felt flooring backers contained asbestos.
But before about 1978, in products that looked like this same material, asbestos fibers were used as a strengthen material on vinyl sheet flooring backing.
If the vinyl resilient sheet flooring backing material were dry-sanded or scraped during building demolition, for example, or if the sheet flooring is worn through so that foot traffic continues to damage the backing material, it is possible for unsafe levels of asbestos fibers to be released in a building. --EPA Guidance
During demolition or removal, this material should be disturbed as little as possible. Additional demolition, renovation, and installation advice for dealing with resilient sheet flooring materials can be obtained from the Resilient Floor Covering Institute, by obtaining their publication on the topic.
(Additional vinyl asbestos, linoleum, & other sheet flooring photos wanted - CONTACT US))
Examples & Submissions of Pre-1988 Installations of Sheet Flooring & Resilient Flooring that Contain or Might Contain Asbestos
Identify Older Linoleum Rug or Black-Asphalt-Backed Sheet Flooring
Reader Question: I wanted to seek your advice on the attached images which is some sort of tiling that a previous homeowner put on a work bench as a covering. I looked through your website, but couldn't find a match. Does this look like asbestos tiles to you? If so, any idea on the brand? Thanks in advance! - C.W. 1/17/2014
Reply: forms of "linoleum" may include products glued to felt underlayment vs. glued to a jute backing
From your photographs showing that the flooring product, now covering a workbench top, has a woven rug -patterned top layer over a black substrate, I would guess that this is an asphalt paper-backed sheet flooring product resembling LINOLEUM & SHEET FLOORING but not using the traditional or pure linoleum ingredients nor using linoleum's jute fabric backing.
In that article we discuss your photographs in more detail and there we explain that the ingredients of true linoleum include natural resins, linseed oil, color pigments, cork powder and limestone, with a jute backing. Those products do not contain and never contained asbestos. But there, in a more detailed reply to your inquiry, we also explain that some sources, including experts at the US FPL describe felt or asphalt-backed sheet flooring as "linoleum" - products like that shown in your photos. At least some of these older felt underlayments contained asbestos.
Identify Older Armstrong Sheet Flooring that Might Contain Asbestos: check the backing material
Reader Question: does this old Armstrong brand sheet flooring contain asbestos?
Hi - I'm so happy to have found your site. I would so appreciate your help identifying the Armstrong sheet flooring (photos attached) in our 140 year old house.
Weirdly (at least to me), this flooring was laid directly on top of the sub-floor. I do not know why the original hardwood is missing, if in fact it ever existed (our little town has a history of flooding, so perhaps it was damaged and removed). We discovered this flooring when we pulled up the carpet. We were hoping to find the original hardwood, but found this Armstrong sheet flooring over the subfloor instead.
Reply: a quick review distinguishing linoleum from vinyl sheet flooring
Your first two photos show what looks to me like Armstrong sheet vinyl flooring in a woven, fabric, or carpet pattern. The backing of your flooring product (above right) is not jute (a coarse brown fabric) and is not asphalt felt (a black thick paper like product impregnated with asphalt). Rather I see a white or light colored backer. Some white sheet flooring backers contained asbestos.
Indeed adding to the confusion of identifying traditional-formula true linoleum is that many people just call all flexible resilient sheet flooring "linoleum". Armstrong corporation, itself a long-time flooring manufacturer produced floor tiles, self adhesive floor tiles, and sheet flooring that the company identifies as linoleum as well as separate products that are identified as vinyl sheet flooring.
Linoleum: is made from linseed oil, resins, recycled wood flour, cork dust, limestone & mineral pigments. A quick and reliable way to identify linoleum is to observe that the walk-on surface is mounted on jute backing. On the under-side of linoleum you'll see a coarse brown fabric (jute) that looks like what some folks call "burlap". Details are at LINOLEUM & SHEET FLOORING
Vinyl sheet flooring is made from plastic-like materials. Vinyl is a synthetic resin made of polyvinyl chloride or similar chemical polymers (originating typically as univalent chemical radical CH2CH, derived from ethylene and fabricated into a very large range of products besides flooring, such as vinyl phonograph records, windows, building siding, containers, etc. Details are in this article at VINYL ASBESTOS SHEET FLOORING
In sum, your two photographs of Armstrong sheet flooring shown above include both the clearly-marked Armstrong brand on the flooring underside and a view of the white backing material characteristic of vinyl sheet flooring. The pattern of the exposed surface of the flooring is an older-style that I have not yet found in various product catalogs but one that from appearance I would guess could be more than 30 years old.
Advice for Handling this Flooring
Without knowing anything more about your floor covering, it would be prudent to treat this material as "PACM" or "Presumed Asbestos Containing Material" given its appearance, age, and lack of product specifics. (Sometimes we have success sending a flooring photo to Armstrong for identification.) If we knew when this sheet floor covering had been installed we'd be able to make a good guess about the chances that it contains asbestos - or not. Otherwise a lab test or confirmation from Armstrong would be required.
Typically sheet flooring that has not been glued to a subfloor can be simply rolled-up. You may have to remove edge trim strips to gain access to the material. Where the flooring is damaged you'll want to see the suggested articles below and certainly avoid using a vacuum cleaner unless it's a HEPA-rated unit.
If you were facing a costly dusty messy renovation that means following the dust control and asbestos risk reduction advice from expert sources. See
From your second pair of photos (shown below) the composition of your flooring could be confusing. What I see looks like a pine subfloor over which masonite-type hardboard may have been installed as a smoothing underlayment (to prevent telegraphing the original lines of subfloor up through the sheet floor covering).
Indeed I doubt that your home is missing a hardwood floor. In many homes sheet flooring, at least in many rooms linoleum was installed directly atop the tongue-in-groove pine subfloor.
Reader Question: how to identify resilient sheet flooring - does this resilient flooring contain asbestos? how can I identify its brand or manufacturer? - Tests confirmed Asbestos content for this sheet floor product
I recently purchased a 180 year old home and found some mystery resilient flooring under two layers of linoleum. We have sent off samples for asbestos testing but I am also interested in figuring out the vintage of floor.
Would you be able to provide your expertise in possibly identifying this product? I have been through your pictures and wonderfully helpful ID guide but just can't seem to make a positive identification, even of brand. We have not yet seen any identifying marks on the product either. I thought at first that it might be an Armstrong spatter
Your help would be much appreciated - I am researching the history of the neighborhood.
Figuring out when the first major kitchen renovation happened in this house would really help to complete some of that research. I'm also just incredibly interested in finding out what it is now that I've done so much research on the history of floor coverings!
If you are willing to help, here are the vital stats:
The product is in sheet form, with a width of of 72.5 inches. It goes the entire length of the kitchen floor (at least 14 feet) so must have been laid from a larger roll.
It has a black paper-like backing and sticky, tar-like adhesive. I have attached pictures.
Thank you very much and best wishes, L. P-F. 8/12/2013
The article above as well the following two articles on resilient and sheet flooring
may be helpful to you. I will look through our library and will also publish your photos [above and left] and invite comments from other readers - keeping your identity private unless you ask otherwise.
The flooring in your photo looks like products I've seen dating from the 1970's and later. Some of these contain asbestos in the backer.
Based on the age of the home and the multiple of layers of flooring above the one about which you ask, I would treat the material as PACM (presumed asbestos containing material) until we identify it or you have a lab test result on the flooring's asbestos content.
Lab test results on the above flooring: no asbestos content.
We got our test results back and both the flooring and the backing were negative for asbestos. The results showed the flooring was 45% cellulose material and 55% non-fibrous material. The backing was 90% cellulose and 10% non-fibrous. Does this mean that the flooring is newer than we originally thought?
Probably but not necessarily for sure; certainly there have been some sheet floorings that did not contain asbestos. But from the combination of the lab results and your photo one would think the material is post 1986.
Reader Question: does this red brick linoleum sheet flooring contain asbestos?
We recently purchased a house that was built in 1900 and decided to rip the carpet up because underneath was hardwoods which is what is in the rest of the house. After we ripped it up we noticed what looks like old linoleum backing and glue which we have tried to scrape up and did not think about the risk of asbestos.
Around the very edges of the room there was still 2 inch strips of the old linoleum and I have tried to find the style in the reference pictures you have and I haven't seen any like it so I have attached a picture that is almost identical to what we have to see if you know if contains asbestos or not.
The damage is already done as I have scraped all the glue and old backing up but I am very concerned as it is my daughters bedroom.
I would appreciate any help you could possibly give me as I cannot afford to send off a sample for testing. - J.P. 8/18/2013
Our house is from the 40s but i have no idea about the vinyl flooring it has been covered by carpet and other vinyl flooring its becoming the mystery house full of surprise. - J.W. 9/18/2013
I think that the sheet flooring in your photos is probably Congoleum's "Red Brick" vinyl sheet flooring pattern. Some web articles we reviewed called this material "linoleum" but I think that word is often used too loosely to simply mean "sheet flooring". Here is how you can be sure to identify a linoleum floor product (not asbestos-containing) by simple visual inspection - that is, how to tell linoleum from sheet vinyl resilient flooring:
If the flooring has what looks like burlap - a jute backing - on its reverse it's probably very old and not an asbestos-containing product.
If it has a smooth, non-fabric backing it may contain asbestos and should be treated as PACM - presumed asbestos containing material. From your photo (above left) this looks like a very-widely used sheet flooring with an impregnated asphalt felt backer - let me know. Some such felt backers included asbestos.
Don't panic, just don't create a dusty mess by using power tools, saws, grinders;
Watch out that the mastic used to adhere old sheet flooring may also contain asbestos. After trying various solvents on a black mastic years ago I discovered that it was water soluble and came up easily once I let it sit wet for a few hours. Try that.
J.W. Indeed I've found other similar flooring patterns to those in your photo that by date, records, tests, were confirmed as having asbestos in the vinyl backing; it would be prudent to treat the material as presumed-asbestos-containing material. Don't panic; non-friable materials like this can usually be handled with a minimum of dust and debris - provided the floor was not glued down;
Reader follow-up from J.P.
It had almost a felt type black backing that is what was still stuck to the floor that I had to scrape and it did get soggy mushy in warm water. Scraped up fairly easy and the glue I was able to mop up with several times of mopping over the entire floor. Just wanted to see if that is the burlap type backing you were possibly talking about.
Watch out: No the backing you describe is not a jute backer; rather it sounds like an asphalt impregnated felt type backer - some of which contained asbestos; wetting and mopping make some sense in that case.
Reader Question & Test Results: 1973 Brick Pattern Vinyl Sheet Flooring & Mastic Adhesive Asbestos Test Results
We are concerned about asbestos in our kitchen sheet flooring. We are 99% sure it is the original floor--as there is nothing underneath it. The Home was built 1973, and we are pretty sure it was Forest City Enterprises who built it (if that helps?).
I attached some pictures.
I carefully wet-scraped up a small piece. It was fairly stubborn if you scraped the bottom part or did not go 'under' the tile fully --almost like sand, but if you scraped below the sheet, it came up easier. I believe it is an embossed sheet vinyl (has recessed grout lines) the bright orange paint on the edges is what I used to seal any potential dust.
Any thoughts? If there's question and it's possible asbestos, can you suggest a good lab (that reasonable cost) to send a sample to? Thank you for all you guys have done! - R.D. 2/9/2014
Given the date of the floor installation (1973) and pattern you should have treated the flooring as presumed to contain asbestos. It would not perhaps be necessary nor appropriate to test something that is easily rolled up and disposed-of, but you'd have wanted to avoid creating a dusty mess.
Sheet flooring in the brick pattern was popular in both red (yours) and white, and may have had its original pattern design in 12" tile format in the Romford Red pattern (little image at left) as we document at 1973 - ARMSTRONG EXCELON VINYL ASBESTOS FLOOR TILES where we include additional flooring image links: Craftlon Romford Brick 9" x 9" x 3/32" viny asbestos floor tiles were available in White 57020 and in Red 57021 - shown at above left. Gold patterns appeared later.
If you want to test a sample see ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST for help in finding a certified asbestos test lab.
Typically the asbestos test lab fee is around $50. U.S.
Asbestos is found in older floor tile mastic adhesives, particularly the older black asphalt mastics often contained asbestos, as did other similar mastics used in roofing and flashing cements. See MASTIC, CUTBACK ADHESIVE, FLASHING CEMENT ASBESTOS
Asbestos is found in some (not all) sheet flooring backing materials as well.
It is possible that this popular vinyl asbestos pattern originated in the early 70's as Armstrong's "Romford Red" which is itself an interesting name as I suspect the name leaked over from Rumford - the colonial Tory who fled the colonies back to Britain during the American Revolution. Rumford was sent to Bavaria where he developed the measurements on the perfect fireplace design - a specification that many red brick fireplaces as of course other fireplaces later followed. A less likley origin of the name is from Romford in Northeast London.
Follow-up: confirming asbestos content of this brick pattern vinyl sheet flooring and asbestos in the black mastic
I did have it tested locally at accredited lab.
They found asbestos in the top red-grey-black brick vinyl layer AND in the black mastic. (BUT amazingly, NOT in the grey mastic or the paper-felt backing)
Thanks R.D. You can see more brick pattern asbestos floor coverings that contained asbestos in a tile form that is very similar to the red brick sheet flooring in your photos. Both were very popular.
SeeARMSTRONG Asphalt-Asbestos & Vinyl-Asbestos Floor Tiles Identification Photos - 1975-1979 for more images of brick pattern asbestos containing flooring like the white brick Armstrong flooring shown at above-left.
More brick pattern flooring ID photos from this era are at
Question: possible asbestos in vinyl sheet flooring from 1977
The kitchen floor had to come up. It has an initial layer of, I believe, vinyl sheet flooring. A self adhering tile floor was laid over top in 1988 or 1989 my an interim owner. Don't know what it is.
Photo at left: top view of 1977-era sheet vinyl flooring.
There are not markings as to the manufacturer on either (the self sticking tile may have some but getting them removed from the first floor is difficult).
I only had one thought - get the kitchen back to normal quickly. So in preparing for new cabinets, I decided to remove the floor. Not until it was (almost) up - needed to get some adhesive off - did I go to the internet. There I found out about asbestos. A little(?) late.
Included are some pictures of the floor's first layer of vinyl. Is it possible to tell me if it contains asbestos? I don't want to dump the floor inappropriately or subject my friends to "bad" air. - J.N. 1/10/2014
J.N. Given the age of the home and its initial vinyl sheet flooring as well as the presence of a light-colored vinyl backing shown in your edge view of this material, it would be reasonable to treat the flooring as PACM - Presumed Asbestos Containing Material. I've posted your photos in case other readers can name the specific decorative pattern while we research the image further. I'm guessing this is an Armstrong vinyl sheet flooring product. The backer has been tested on some of that product line and confirmed as asbestos-containing from flooring of the age you indicate.
Usually sheet flooring is easily removed intact and is not a source of significant particulate debris as long as it is not ground, sanded, or similarly damaged. But to be extra careful you may want to follow asbestos flooring wetting - removal guidelines and to use a HEPA vacuum for jobsite cleanup. If you were facing a costly renovation or cleanup of a mess someone already made it might be cost-justified to have a certified asbestos testing lab test the material.
The disposal of removed vinyl flooring that may contain asbestos is regulated as asbestos-waste in some jurisdictions while I have found that in others the material is disposed-of as construction debris. Check with your local building department.
Reader Question: sheet flooring identification for possible asbestos content?
We have a 1910 house that we are renovating. Under the carpet in a hallway is sheet linoleum. It does not exactly match any of your photos. We do not want to pull up a piece, so we don't know what brand it is or what the backing looks like.
Is the flooring in the photo attached an asbestos-containing floor?
[We found this when removing flooring in an older home. We don't want to pull the flooring up so we don't know if it has markings on its back or not. ] - D.M. 7/28/2014
I've not see this exact pattern but it's similar to some 1970's patterns that did contain asbestos. It would be prudent to assume the flooring contains asbestos. If you are able to leave it in place and cover it the risk of asbestos release is most likely below the limits of detection. If it must be removed and can be removed in one piece (not glued down) risks are similarly small.
See these InspectApedia articles
ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION
if flooring removal is needed.
It does resemble the Armstrong pebble pattern on your website. It was glued down at the entrances to the doors but does not seem to be glued all over. An electrician was working in the house and made a hole through the entire floor, which is how we first discovered this flooring under the carpet. Other than that spot and one missing chunk at a doorway, it is completely intact.
We had planned to peel it off using hot water and sand the floors. We have done that with 1980s era vinyl tile, but have not attempted any removal of older flooring.
Swedish Flooring Products That May Contain Asbestos - Check Age & Date of Installation & Flooring Material
From Marcus 3/23/14
First of thanks for doing the work you're doing and running this site, helping out people with their concerns.
Now on to my question, my parents recently bought a house and my Dad is a huge DIY-er. The previous owner was also a DIY-er (altough a very, very sloppy one). It has some of that old rubber flooring and I was concerned it might contain asbestos.
The house itself has a few tiles of Eternit on the outside but it looks like the previous owner gave up before he had covered the entire house since it's only fitted to a small area on the back and a little on a balcony area. Which made me worry that maybe there are other asbestos containing materials in the house.
Now on to the flooring. I'm afraid I can't tell you when he put it in. Somewhere between 60's and the 00's. I know Asbestos flooring was discontinued in Sweden in 1974 because of health reasons. I took some pictures and I'll attach them so you can have a look, they're not the best of quality but they show the floor itself as well as areas where there is no flooring and the backing can be seen.
- The floor of the biggest concern
Appreaciate answers and thanks again!
I took a look at your photos in the comment you posted at InspectApedia's home page - and I've re-published them here.
The first two images (above) look like vinyl or sheet vinyl flooring and vinyl or vinyl asbstos floor tile, the third looks like a jute fiber backed sheet flooring similar to linoleum (so more likely not an asbestos product).
You say the flooring could have been installed as early as the 1960's. Considering that tile and sheet flooring made by some manufacturers contained asbestos into the early 1970's in Sweden and may have been in stock and installed at least a few years after that date, and although you're discussing flooring (apparently) in Sweden (for which we have little information about flooring manufacturers) it would still be prudent to treat the unknown material as "presumed asbestos containing material" or PACM.
That does not mean to panic. Avoid creating a dusty mess and use the flooring removal or repair methods we discuss at InspectApedia - see ASBESTOS REMOVAL GUIDE, FLOORING or ASBESTOS REMOVAL, Wetting Guidelines if you need to remove further information on flooring removal.
Flooring in good condition is least hazardous if left in place, best with a covering. See ASBESTOS FLOORING LEFT IN PLACE
In Sweden, eternite slabs also contained asbestos. The importation of asbestos into Sweden did not fully cease until 1997.
I'll post your photos here to invite further reader comment.
Asbestos Materials Used in Sweden: Research Citations
Also see these references about asbestos materials in products used in Sweden and asbestos exposure of Swedish workers. My search did not find scholarly research on asbestos products used in Swedish homes in particular.
Reader Follow-Up: Asbestos Use to mid 1970's in Tarkett Flooring in Sweden
4/27/14 Markus L said:
Hello again, Markus from Sweden here. I promised I'd get back to you as soon as I sent a piece of the flooring to a lab and I finally got around to it last week.
While taking the sample I actually pulled up a bit more of the flooring and I noticed a brand name underneath "Tarkett". I looked them up and they were a Swedish flooring company that were indeed active during the asbestos era. I also spoke to a flooring person and he guessed the carpet I had was made in the early 80's. Tarkett was the first Swedish company to cease all asbestos usage in their products, this was in the mid 70's.
So I got the result back from the lab and the flooring did not contain any asbestos. I did not have the jute backed flooring tested since I assume it would yield the same test result, but I'll treat it as asbestos containing, just in case.
Thanks for all your help and hopefully someone else in the same situation as me will be able to get help from what we've learned here.
Markus thanks so much for the follow-up. This information will be helpful to other readers so I'll be sure to integrate the information into our articles. I recognize the Tarkett brand and am not surprised that that company led the Swedish way out of asbestos.
Jute, if we're pretty sure that's what it is, is indeed a plant product and itself would not be expected to contain asbestos. (There were some asbestos carpets for special applications however).
Good news. I agree with managing dust as best you can: dust from any 30-40-year old renovation work is typically loaded with irritants, allergens, and who-knows-what.
Beyond Tarkett, you Swedes lead the world in some categories and the U.S. in many - I wish our politicians were more embarrassed.
This sheet flooring covering backed with burlap fabric is probably more than a century old. We examined it in an non-public area of the Justin Morrill Homestead, a historic building in Vermont. The material has not been tested for asbestos fibers.
But the backing material appears by visual inspection to be jute or "burlap".
Details about this older non-asbestos floor covering material are at LINOLEUM & SHEET FLOORING
Reader Question: sheet flooring from a 1986 Home in the U.S.
I am a senior and just purchased my retirement home which was built in 1986. All flooring is original, and I was unable to find the corresponding picture on your website. The kitchen and dining room is sheet vinyl or linoleum. I have attached 2 pictures and I am concerned, of course, about the damaged portion. Any help you can provide in identifying this will be very greatly appreciated. Thank you! - S.B. 11/5/2013
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