Rug-pattern green and white red-backed Armstrong sheet flooring from a 1900's home (C) JBIdentify Types of Resilient or Sheet Flooring
that May Contain Asbestos

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How to recognize different types of sheet flooring or resilient flooring:

Black asphalt felt, white cushioned, and red-backed flooring materials can be confusing to identify. This article describes differnt types of sheet flooring or resilient flooring as an aid to determining whether or not a floor covering is likely to contain asbestos.

We describe the different types of backing used on the under-side of sheet flooring, resilient flooring, vinyl flooring, and rubber-backed flooring and we include links to material identifying older types of non-asbestos linoleum sheet flooring.

This article series describes sheet flooring products known to contain significant levels of asbestos. We describe sources of asbestos in older forms of sheet flooring including felt-backed flooring, rubber-backed flooring, and vinyl cushion-backed resilient flooring products. We include research citations on asbestos use in sheet flooring backer materials.

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How to Identify the Type of Sheet Flooring: Linoleum, Vinyl, Other

Armstrong sheet flooring identification photo (C) InspectApedia R.B. White Shield sheet flooring backer (C)

[Click to enlarge any image]

Above, two white-backed sheet flooring products, from Armstrong and from Whtie Shield backer.

Three Flooring Backer Types Used with Vinyl Sheet-Flooring Products

Adding confusion to flooring terminology, sheet vinyl flooring referred to in some product literature and other mateirals as "vinyl flooring" or "sheet vinyl flooring" contained asbestos-containing backers that may have been solid vinyl (sometimes containing asbestos) that is typically white or cream colored, or asphalt-impregnated felt (sometimes containing asbestos) that is virtually always black in color but that may have been coated on its underside with red material, possibly rubber (sometimes containing asbestos).

Vinyl resin-based sheet flooring was produced with these different backing materials and properties:

Properties of Various Sheet Vinyl Flooring Types & Flooring Backer Materials

Flooring Material Flooring Properties Recommended Use Wear Layer Thickness
Installed Price per Sq.Ft. U.S.A. 1972
Vinyl Resin Sheet Flooring Asbestos Backed, Medium or Heavy Gauge

Excellent quality. Long-wearing. Inlaid design. Highly resistant to grease and alkalies. Easy to keep clean. Resists scratches. Many colors and designs.

The thicker the vinyl wear layer thickness the longer the material will be expected to wear. little waxing needed.

[Note: backer contains asbestos - Ed.]

All grade levels 1 0.025 - 0.50 " $0.55 - 1.40
Vinyl Resin Sheet Flooring Asbestos Cushion Backed

Same quality vinyl resins as above, plus foam cushion for comfort. Easy to stand on, low noise level.

[Note: backer contains asbestos - Ed.]

All grade levels 0.030 - 0.050" $1.10 - 1.25
Vinyl Resin Flooring Asphalt Felt Backed

Quality vinyl. Medium wear layer thickness. Will last many years with proper care.

[Note: backer may contain asbestos - Ed.]

Suspended 2 0.025" $0.45 - 0.55
Rotovinyl Sheet Flooring Asbestos Back-cushioned

Durable viny coating. Easy to clean. Resists grease and alkalies. Many colors and design, low cost.

[Note: backer may contain asbestos - Ed.]

All grade levels Vinyl covering over printed design $0.55 - 0.65
Rotovinyl Sheet Flooring Asphalt Felt Paper-Backed

Durable viny coating. Easy to clean. Resists grease and alkalies. Many colors and design, low cost.

[Note: backer may contain asbestos - Ed.]

Suspended $0.45 - 0.55


1. Grade level was defined by Womble as the physical location of the floor in relationship to the ground under or around the building. The three grade levels in building construction are suspended (or "above grade"), on-grade, and below grade. An on-grade level floor is at or very slightly above ground level with no ventilated air space below. A below-grade level subfloor is all or partly below ground level and is in direct contact with the ground or with a fill that is in direct contact with the ground. A concrete "slab on grade" is a grade-level subfloor or floor.

2. Suspended floor was defined by Womble as at least 18" above the level of surrounding soil. It may be over a basement or a well-ventilated space. Currently builders refer to this level as "above grade"

Source: excerpted from

Womble, Charlotte, "EC72-2015 A Resilieint Floor for Every Use, Taste, and Budget", [PDF] North Carolina Agricultural Extension Servcie, Raleighg NC USA, (May 1972), retrieved 2016/06/28 original source:

This article also describes properties of asphatl tile, vinyl-asbestos tile, and linoleum or "battleship linoleum" (basically a heavy-grade or thicker linoleum product).

Details about this older non-asbestos floor covering material are at LINOLEUM & SHEET FLOORING

Photo Examples of Vinyl Sheet Flooring Backer Types, Colors, Materials

Unless you have used a certified asbestos test lab to confirm that there is no asbestos in these materials, if your flooring dates before 1988, in most countries it would be prudent to treat the floor covering as PACM - Presumed Asbestos-Containing Material.

Some of these floor coverings can be simply lifted up, rolled-up, for disposal while others were adhered to the subfloor below.

Adhered floor coverings may present a greater risk of asbestos exposure depending on how and how easily they can be removed.

Watch out: some floor adhesive mastics also contained asbestos. See ASBESTOS-CONTAINING ADHESIVES

Below: white core and white-backed vinyl sheet flooring.

White backed white core vinyl sheet flooring (C)

Below, red backed asphalt core vinyl sheet flooring.

Red backed asphalt core vinyl  sheet flooring (C)

Below: asphalt core vinyl sheet flooring with a red coating on the floor underside, provided by reader W.T.

Asphalt core vinyl sheet flooring (C) WT Asphalt core vinyl sheet flooring (C) WT

At ASPHALT BASED SHEET FLOORING we report that some tests of red-backed asphalt core vinyl sheet flooring found that the floor did not contain asbestos.

But other asphalt-impregnated felt products and floor backers did contain asbestos, so unless you have had a lab test performed it would be prudent to assume that the material contains asbestos.

See ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST if you need asbestos testing services and be sure to only use an asbestos-test-certified testing laboratory.


Below: Red-backed Congoleum flooring (CONGOLEUM NAIRN SHEET FLOORING 1960 - 1980) and white-backed and stamped Armstrong flooring (ARMSTRONG SHEET FLOORING 1940 - 1980).

Congoleum Gold Seal Linoleum (C) Armstrong sheet flooring (C) InspectApedia LT

Burlap-backed older sheet flooring (below) would not be expected to contain asbestos.

Asbestos suspect sheet flooring from Justin Morrill Homestead


(Additional vinyl asbestos, linoleum, & other sheet flooring & flooring backing photos & asbestos lab test results wanted - CONTACT US)

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.

Modern vinyl sheet flooring

The resilient sheet flooring shown above is a modern product and does not contain 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.

How to Identify Sheet Flooring Known to Not Contain Asbestos

See LINOLEUM & SHEET FLOORING for a description of linoleum products that do not contain asbestos.


Older sheet flooring that Does Not or is Unlikely to Contain Asbestos

Linoleum sheet flooring ca 1935 (C) InspectApedia E.P.


Shown above: traditional linoleum flooring.

Sheet Flooring Identification Requests

Question: can you identify this sheet flooring marked Best Sandran Quality

Sandran Fireworks Sheet Flooring Canada (C) InspectApedia.com2017/09/06 Anonymous asked:

I removed today from a bedroom in my home in Canada. ... I enclosed a couple of pics ot the flooring I removed.

The starburst design had a black papery backing and the name Best Sandran QualityOn the back.

I attached a pic of the design and also of the name on the back which was hard to read. I think it might be related to the Tarkett Sandran company but not sure.

I couldn't find any starburst designs on your site - I spent a few hours researching the flooring I removed. When I tried to roll it up it snapped loudly. I finally snapped it into a bundle - tied it up and took it outside.

The older piece I think was installed in 1949 as I found a piece of newspaper with that year on it in a floor board.It had a red backing with a black inner core.

It was lightweight. I wanted to take it out in one piece but it kept breaking easily so bagged it up.

I really hope these don't contain asbestos as I removed them both myself.

They were under a dirty carpet which caused alot of dust but I am pretty sure it was the dirt from the carpet not dust from the flooring. I washed the floor after really well and am going to prime and paint it like I did the other room as it has wide boards painted a hideous green likely containing lead paint.


Sandran Fireworks Sheet Flooring Canada (C)

Above: the back imprint on the starburst resilient sheet flooring pattern shown above, reading Best Sandran Quality.

The term "Sandran flooring" is still in popular use but I've not found its history and I'm still researching it. I'll post further details here.

OPINION: If you managed to avoid creating a dusty mess, the possible asbestos or other fiber hazards from simply rolling up an old floor that breaks at folds is probably beneath detection.

Below: provided by the same reader, this flooring, found below the Sandran floor shown above, was a 1940's Congoleum asphalt-saturated felt backed sheet flooring that was a less-costly linoleum-like product.

Congoleum green and gray-white rug pattern  felt-backed (C) Anon Canada

The floor shown above is a floral pattern linoleum skin imprint affixed to an asphalt saturated felt backer. It is discussed in detail at CONGOLEUM-NAIRN FLOOR TILES & LINOLEUM


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