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Non-asbestos sheet flooring or resilient flooring product identification:
How to recognize several sheet flooring or resilient flooring products that do not contain asbestos. This article describes non-asbestos-containing floor coverings including linoleum and some Armstrong and Congoleum sheet flooring products and un-branded asphalt-impregnated paper-backed sheet flooring, asphalt-core sheet flooring, asphalt based sheet flooring, and rubber-backed sheet flooring that usualy does not contain asbestos.
This article series 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.
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Shown at above / left, jute-backed antique sheet flooring from a pre-1900 historic home. This floor covering does not contain asbestos.
I’m beginning to work on a house with an old linoleum down. I was able to find that it is printed Armstrong Mastic Armollon 1/8 heavy gauge on the back. Have you ever encountered this product, and do you know it to contain or not contain asbestos?
Thank you for any help - Adam 3/4/2014
If I guess that you mis-spelled the Armstrong flooring product, then I can refer you (and myself) to an Armstrong comme
Here's a link to current Armstrong sheet flooring information for the Armalon line:
In Australia one can call 1 800 632 624 or check the company's website armstrongflooring.com.au
As this is a "homogeneous sheet vinyl" contemporary flooring product (solid vinyl thicknesses from 1.5 to 2.5 mm) it would not contain asbestsos. It would be most helpful and allow further comment if you could send along some sharp photos of the flooring as installed, both wide view and up close and of the back and imprint you describe. With that I can research further. Depending on your country and the type of flooring yours may be a different product than the commercial-use sheet vinyl Armalon I describe above.
... The lino was an old piece from the 40s-50s? Had it tested. negative for asbestos. 3/7/2014
Sounds like it may actually have been a linoleum product. Armstrong, Congoleum, Linoleum sheet flooring is also discussed at LINOLEUM & SHEET FLOORING
Many sheet flooring products sold in North America as well as other parts of the world beginning perhaps into the 1930's or earlier, and extending into the 1960's were manufactured using an asphalt-impregnated paper backing or were described asphalt-backed sheet flooring or asphlat-based resilient flooring. These floor products were often advertised as "Linoeum rugs" though as you can read at LINOLEUM & SHEET FLOORING as asphalt-based products they are not true linoleum.
Also see FELT-PAPER-BACKED FLOOR TILES
Since some asphalt sheet products used in roofing, siding, and flooring contained asbestos as a reinforcing fiber and sometimes as a filler, we're reluctant to declare asphalt-based sheet flooring as always "asbestos free". But as you'll read below, some readers who have had asphalt-backed sheet flooring products tested were able to confirm that their sheet flooring did not contain asbestos.
I'm writing to let you know of my vinyl flooring issue, with pics, so you can add it to your website and archive.
I recently removed a large area of vinyl sheet flooring from a bedroom room in my house. The house was built in circa 1745 in Rhode Island. A lot of the house is in original form though sometime between 1935 and 1990 a linoleum like, vinyl floor sheeting was added to the bedrooms upstairs over the antique hardwoods. The sheeting did not cover the entire floor, leaving about 1-2 feet of hardwoods exposed at the edges.
When removing the vinyl flooring it did not appear to be glued down and was only slightly tacking to the floor, likely from settling over the time it was there, with a couple spots being quite stuck to the floor. The flooring tore rather easily and folded over easily.
If folded completely (like a seem) it would easily break, especially if folded with the top layer in. The back of the flooring is red, like a burgundy. The top layer looks like carpet with random teal squares (hideous). I could not find any manufacturer markings.
After I completed the removal of the flooring, I began examining one of the pieces and noticed what looked like a black asphalt layer in between the top and backing layers, making up the bulk of the volume. Immediately the asbestos flag went up in my mind (too late though). This is when I found your website.
After reviewing your website I decided to have a PLM test done on a sample of the flooring at RI Analytical Laboratories Inc. I found them on the RI Department of Health website: http://health.ri.gov/find/asbestos/bytype.php?type=%271019%27,%271020%27,%271021%27,%271023%27&prof=264 under "Analytical Labs". The test was completed at their lab in RI. Costs were $50 for a 5-7 day delayed report or $100 for a 1 day delayed report. A $7 disposal fee was added. The sample returned a NEGATIVE result stating that no asbestos was found in the sample I supplied.
[Readers should see ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST for a list of certified asbestos testing laboratories - Ed. ]
Attached are pictures of the flooring after I removed it. The first pic shows the top pattern and the underside with the torn edges showing the black asphalt like material. The second pic shows the underside of the flooring with a closer, more detailed view of the black material. The third has my thumb against the top pattern to show a rough scale of the pattern.
Thanks for the information and website. I hope these pics and info serves useful. - Anonymous by private email 2016/06/28
... thanks for the very helpful photos and test report; as that information will help other readers I will indeed publish it - keeping you anonymous unless you ask otherwise.
The flooring looks to me like an early sheet flooring on an asphalt-impregnated backer, not a true linoleum, but a predecessor to vinyl-based sheet flooring. Some asphalt-based papers used as flooring backing did contain asbestos, so your test is particularly valuable.
Sheet flooring was often referred to as "linoleum" as that was an old and very familiar term, even when the material was not true linoleum.
See LINOLEUM & SHEET FLOORING - definition, components, and history of linoleum flooring and similar products.
Beginning in North America in the 1930's or possibly even earlier, linoleum and similar but asphalt-impregnated-paper-backed sheet flooring were often sold as "rugs" that were inexpensive and easy to clean and, of course, lint free.
See VINYL SHEET FLOORING BACKER TYPES
Were there any stampings or markings on the flooring identifying a manufacturer? I've seen red-backed sheet flooring of this type from both Armstrong and Congoleum and of course it was doubtless produced by many others.
Some sheet flooring with a red under-side was based on a rubber substrate while other red-bottomed sheet flooring used a core of asphalt-impregnated paper with a red bottom coating of rubber or other material.
Watch out: research cited in the articles below suggests that some red-backed and rubber-backed flooring might contain asbestos in the backer.
Examples of sheet flooring or resilient flooring whose underside is red in color can be seen below and in more details in the articles listed.
Below: asphalt core vinyl sheet flooring with a red coating on the floor underside, provided by reader W.T.
This sheet flooring covering backed with burlap fabric at above left 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". This is not an asbestos product.
Shown above is an image of 1930's true linoleum flooring contributed by a reader.
Details about this older non-asbestos floor covering material are at LINOLEUM & SHEET FLOORING
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
No one can give an absolute answer to the asbestos or other contents of materials based only photographs, but the age of the building that you cite, 1986, is long enough (about ten years) after the discontinuance of popular sales of asbestos-containing flooring that one would certainly not expect the sheet vinyl on your floors to contain asbestos.
But to actually know if the material was asbestos containing you'd need to send a sample to a certified asbestos test lab. In some buildings we might find an asbestos-containing flooring product that was installed a year or so after the sale of asbestos-containing floor coverings stopped, simply because someone inadvertently (or on the cheap) bought and installed "new old stock" of a flooring product. But ten years later? That seems less plausible.
If you wish to be as safe as possible, treat the material as Presumed Asbestos Containing Material (PACM) (see ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION) and avoid making a dusty mess.
If demolition or renovations require that the flooring be removed and it cannot simply be rolled up and bagged intact for disposal, that is, if scraping, cutting, or other potentially dusty operations are needed, and thus as significant costs could be involved, you may want to go the route of testing a sample.
Watch out: given the reported age of the building and without a simple, relatively inexpensive sample test result (ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST), I would not suggest doing anything expensive (costly demolition) regarding this flooring material without strong reason.
Watch out: as with vinyl based floor tiles, there were some vinyl-based sheet flooring products that did contain asbestos as both a reinforcing fiber and as a filler.
See VINYL-ASBESTOS SHEET FLOORING for details.
See FLOOR, RESILIENT VINYL or CORK - separate article, non-asbestos
Continue reading at SHEET FLOORING INSPECT / TEST or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
Or see FLOOR, RESILIENT VINYL or CORK - best installation practices for modern sheet or resilient flooring
Or see LINOLEUM & SHEET FLOORING
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(Oct 5, 2014) Karen Jarvis said:
I need help identifying my vinyl sheet paper backed flooring and whether it might contain asbestos.
(Oct 23, 2014) Anonymous said:
I can't figure out how to look up a picture of my sheet flooring to help determine whether or not it may have asbestos. The links don't seem to have a date nor picture catalog of materials. DAF
(Dec 31, 2014) jen said:
I have a pic of flooring that looks similar to swirl chip. How can I send a pic for identification
use the email at our CONTACT Link seen at page bottom or top.
(July 8, 2015) Ros said:
Hi. we recently purchased a home built in about 1965. It had multiple layers of flooring. We removed top layer of old hardwood, then a layer of cushion floor and layer of plywood and beneath that were tiles I am fairly certain are asbestos. Tiles were intact so we left it and covered with plywood again as we plan to tile. Then I got to worrying whether the vinyl contained asbestos too. It came up generally intact but some pieces ripped and a bit of the backing remained behind.
I scrapped it up after wetting down with water. The adhesive was a light colour. The vinyl was imprinted with Domco Series 46. I called the manufacturer and they can't tell me if it has asbestos or not. I would guess it was installed in the early 80's given the age of cabinets which sat on top of the vinyl. Any idea about this product?
The manufacturer said if it wasn't black mastic, we are probably fine. however, my internet search yields articles where this is a full on biohazard to don't worry about it, IF there is asbestos, the exposure is minimal. (unlike my grade school which allowed us to freely handle asbestos rocks in the classroom). Anyways, I may try and get this tested but since it is already up, there's not much to be done about it, I am more curious to know in case this stuff is also in other parts of the house which we have yet to renovate...like bathrooms.
I don't know what has happened to Domcor flooring but their website, as of the moment, is DOA. I'd appreciate any contact information you have for the company, by post here or by email found at our page bottom CONTACT link. Use that email also to send me some photos of your flooring for further identification research.
In my OPINION if a company won't give a yes or now answer to asbestos in their products then something has made them nervous. Or put another way if I knew that my flooring never contained asbestos I'd be a dope not to say so.
ADVICE: For buildings with floor tiles or sheet flooring that can be assumed to have been installed in North America before 1986 it would be prudent to treat the flooring as "PACM" or "Presumed Asbestos Containing Material".
That does not mean we should panic nor undertake an expensive and dangerous asbestos removal project.
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.
Generally the safest approach is to leave such flooring alone and to cover it over with a coating or with another layer of flooring.
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