Dimensions of Floor Tiles & Sheet Flooring That May Contain Asbestos:
This article includes photographs & dimensions of asbestos-containing floor tiles that were either asphalt-asbestos or vinyl-asbestos-based.
This article series explains how to identify floor tiles that are likely to contain asbestos, by making a simple visual inspection, noting the probable age of the building and age of its materials, and similar clues.
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Here we provide photographs and descriptive text of the sizes in which asbestos-containing floor tiles were sold.
Asbestos is safe and legal to remain in homes or public buildings as long as the asbestos materials are in good condition and the asbestos can not be released into the air.
[Click to enlarge any image]
As we noted in the introduction to asbestos-containing floor tiles at ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION - home, Asphalt Asbestos, Plastic Asbestos, and Vinyl Asbestos floor tiles were sold in 6"x6", 9" x 9" and in some years 12" x 12" sizes.
We also include here description of very small presumed-asphalt-asbestos floor tiles in a 1 1/2" size bonded to a jute backing fabric, as we illustrate just below, courtesy of an anonymous reader.
Above we illustrate 1 1/2" square asphalt asbestos (presumed) floor tiles bonded to a jute backer fabric. An InspectApedia reader reports finding this flooring in a U.S. home constructed in Baltimore, MD in the 1930's. The reader asked:
In my home built in the late 1930's I recently uncovered an older floor tile under several layers of plywood.
Most of what I've found regarding asbestos tiles are that they're typically 9x9, 12x12 or sheet flooring. These tiles are 1.5"x1.5" and appear to be bonded together with woven fiber backing and some sort of black mastic (photos attached).
Could you please let me know if you have encountered these tiles before and the liklihood that they contain asbestos? - Anonymous by private email 2016/12/02
I do not recognize the exact pattern of your flooring, nor have I seen 1.5" floor tiles before, but I'm not surprised. This sort of flooring was very widely popular for many decades. While I've not seen those small tiles before, but you may find a close match to the same tile colors and patterns in the ID-library of asbestos flooring beginning
at ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION (floor tiles)
There are so many manufactures and floor tile patterns, types, sizes, and colors over many decades that just looking through catalogs organized by even color or pattern can daunting task.
One can narrow the question by a reasonable guess about the age of the flooring - in your case probably the 1930's. We can narrow the guess further if we know when a building was renovated, or by observing the type of tile adhesive or mastic used.
The use of a fabric backer (shown in our third 1.5" tile floor photo) to lay small-tile flooring is an old and well-established practice that's still used today with some ceramic and wood floor tile systems. It was a significant labor saver as the multiple small pieces were provided by the manufacturer already bonded to a backer fabric. It's similar to laying sheet flooring and much faster than having to place such individual pieces.
I suspect your flooring is asphalt-asbestos material rather than the later vinyl-asbestos product. It's not soft/friable and it's usually easy enough to control dust and debris. More on that in a moment.
I suspect your flooring backer was jute (aka burlap), probably adhered using a mastic. (The mastic adhesive may also contain asbestos - see MASTIC, CUTBACK ADHESIVE, FLASHING CEMENT ASBESTOS
Tile dimensions and thickness are also useful. If you send me flooring I'll measure thickness.
I would be grateful if you'd send me a sampler of these little tiles of each color for our own examination and documentation. Simply drop a few representative colors, along with some of the backing, into a freezer-type ZipLok bag, double-bagged, perhaps wrapped with cardboard to avoid damage. Further measurements & obseravtions about these tiny asphalt-asbestos floor tiles will be reported here.
Readers whose buildings have this flooring type installed or who have experience with it or who wish to send their own 1.5" floor tile photographs are welcome to CONTACT us or to post remarks using the page bottom COMMENTS BOX to share further information. - Ed.
These 6x6" tiles submitted as photos by a reader and described further at ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE PHOTO ID REQUESTS might contain asbestos. This U.S. home was built in Massachusetts in 1953. The reader reported:
I have 4 different colored tiles (The bathroom/kitchen/hall have a main color and an edge color). They don't look exactly like any of the tiles or colors, but the pattern is similar to 1955 - Armstrong Excelon Vinyl Plastic Asbestos Floor Tiles, Patterns & Color Guide Navajo Gray 781.
Some six-inch asphalt based or floor tiles tested by a reader were reported to be asbestos free even though their pattern matched other 9"x9" asbestos-containing floor tiles in the Armstrong line. That's right 6" x 6" - though that floor tile size was rare.
Asphalt-based asbestos floor tiles and plastic or vinyl-based asbestos flooring were popular in the U.S. in the 1940's - 1970's and were produced by some manufacturers (Armstrong) as late as 1980. Some asbestos-containing flooring products were manufactured (we estimate) as early as the late 1920's.
Photo above from a 1950's home shows 9" square Armstrong Excelon-type VAT, courtesy of reader Kim who adds that asbestos testing indicated that the white floor tiles contained 7% and the black contained 5% asbestos. We suspect the actual asbestos levels are higher in these tiles because both fibers and fine asbestos filler particles were often used.
Armstrong vinyl asbestos 9" x 9" floor tiles may also have been produced in three thicknesses, depending on the cost and durability desired by the consumer: 1/16", 3/32", and 1/8" thickness. Our 9" x9" lab sample of Armstrong vinyl asbestos floor tile was measured at 3/32" (about 2mm) thick.
The Wards vinyl asbestos floor tiles shown just below are nominally 1/16 gauge (4mm) in thickness 9" x 9" square.
Above: 9" asbestos-containing floor tile sold by Montgomery Wards®.
Armstrong also made 12" x 12" vinyl asbestos floor tiles beginning in 1960. By 1972 most Armstrong vinyl asbestos floor tiles were sold in the 12" x 12" dimension. From 1973 to 1980 all Armstrong Excelon vinyl asbestos floor tiles were sold in 12" x 12" size.
At above left we show a 9" x 9" cork patterned vinyl asbestos floor tile found in a 1960's ranch style home in New York. At above right we show a 9" x 9" reddish brown asphalt or vinyl asbestos floor tile found in the same home.
Shown here is a white with black inclusions 12" x 12" vinyl asbestos floor tile found in a 1960's U.S. home where 9" x 9" flooring was also installed in other rooms.
In additional photographs below we show the examination of this "asbestos floor tile in the lab" as well as photos of the original labeling on the package in which these tiles were distributed.
Details about and more identifying photographs of Montgomery Ward vinyl asbestos tile flooring are at MONTGOMERY WARD ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION.
We discuss the history of vinyl-asbestos floor tiles in our Age of House articles at FLOORING MATERIALS. We discuss the inspection and diagnosis of various flooring defects, including vinyl asbestos tiles, at FLOOR TYPES & DEFECTS.
According to Rosato, even when vinyl or other synthetic organic resins were used as the binder to produce light colored floor tiles, asbestos fibers continued to be the main ingredient in these floor tile products, and may be present at levels as much as 70% by weight.
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