How to submit photos of flooring to get help in identifying floor tiles or sheet flooring that might contain asbestos.
This article provides photos from our readers who asked for help in identifying floor tile or sheet flooring age and possible asbestos content. The article begins with photos of 1950's era asphalt asbestos floor tiles.
This article series includes a photo-gallery of pictures of floor coverings submitted for identification along with comments on findings, recommendations, & asbestos content. Readers can use the page top or bottom CONTACT link to ubmit photos of flooring to get help in identifying floor tiles or sheet flooring that might contain asbestos.
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Our photo (left) shows Armstrong® Excelon 12x12 vinyl asbestos flooring made in 1972, identified in our detailed photo guide to asphalt asbestos and vinyl asbestos floor tiles, and resilient flooring produced in 1900 -1980. (links below)
[Click to enlarge any image]
In the article below we arrange the flooring photographs and discussion about identification of the floor and about possible asbestos content and asbestos risk management roughly in order of the reported age of the building or flooring installation.
If you have tried looking through our example flooring photos by year or flooring manufacturer and were unable to identify your flooring then feel free
Article Series Contents
This article contains flooring identification requests for floor tiles or sheet flooring believed to date from the 1950's. For a 1950's vintage asbestos-containing floor tile photo guide, please also
Question: asbestos content of 6" x 6" floor tiles in a 1953 home
Could 6x6" tiles contain asbestos? I can't find any information on tiles listed at this size. 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.
The kitchen/bath/hall also have lightly popcorned ceilings with a slight sparkle. Part of the bathroom ceiling was removed for mold remediation and there is definite dust left over. The house was built in Massachusetts in 1953. All other flooring (2 little bedrooms and a small living room) is hard wood with drywall for the walls and ceilings (with a little Spackle-ish stuff).
I'm going to guess I will just have to find somewhere and send out a piece of each tile and some ceiling. I feel awful as I have a little guy and I'm worried about hurting him.
Could my 6"x6" tiles and popcornish sparkly ceiling contain asbestos? Can the air be cleaned or tested from the ceiling removal?
A relative that is helping me clean the house swears that since the tiles are in good shape, we can just peel them up with a trowel or maybe iron the area to soften the adhesive. There are newer sticky tiles on top of the potential asbestos ones and these are lifting up and coming off.
I've been researching your site but I am getting very nervous because of my little guy. I thought I'd ask first as I am in a bit of a tight financial budget with all the first time home buying fees but thought I was lucky to get a pretty good deal on a home. I really appreciate your time and information, ~L. 1/11/2014
Certainly if the flooring you describe dates from the 1950's or as late as the late 1970's it should be handled with the presumption that it contains asbestos. This is not a reason to be frightened, as unless someone has already made a dusty mess by grinding, sawing, or similar dust-producing demolition, the hazard of airborne asbestos is probably low, possibly below the limits of detection.
Take a look at the asbestos flooring removal and flooring hazard reduction risk management articles given just below for some suggestions.
If you can send me some photographs [provided by the reader and shown just above] of your flooring I will research further. Our standard advice is that in cases where you face a possibly costly demolition or cleanup project it makes sense to have the material tested by a certified asbestos test lab (link given below). But simple encapsulation approaches for a building that has not been contaminated with demolition dust are often sufficient.
Similarly, depending on when it was applied, textured ceiling paints and popcorn ceiling paints often contained asbestos and also deserve special handling. Often rather than face a costly demolition and cleanup a contractor will simply laminate a new layer of 1/4" drywall over the old ceiling to provide a safe encapsulation of the original coating. Actual removal of an asbestos-containing textured ceiling is a more messy project that we'd like to avoid.
I can also provide pictures. Some of the house's wall paper was also already removed. I'm looking to see if this is also something to test.
Here are some photos from the house. [Shown above] I have labeled the photos by room. I will be getting a "D-Lead Paint Test Kit" today and really hope the paint is okay. There is one photo of the bath ceiling where you can see the half furthest away, which is the section that was cut and replaced during mold remediation. The mold remediation was carried out by the seller before we bought the house.
I agree that those floor tile patterns match older asphalt-asbestos flooring patterns we've collected from catalogs, readers, and some readers who've tested the tiles.
The bath floor tiles and kitchen floor tiles that you indicate are 6-inch in size (did you actually measure these?) are of patterns matching the Aztec asphalt-asbestos flooring we've documented.
I'd certainly like to see a photo of these tiles with a ruler in the image.
While 9x9 inch asbestos-containing floor tiles (and 12-inch tiles) are common in older homes, yours are the first field-photos I've seen of these in the small 6-inch size in this pattern.
See ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE PHOTO ID GUIDE - home: 1950-1986+ where we include photos of the Armstrong Seneca floor tile pattern that our records asserted were sold only in 9x9" sizes at that time.
(Kentile and some other manufacturers indeed produced asbestos-containing floor tiles in quite a variety of sizes and shapes including strips, stars, and other patterns, so six-inch floor tiles are not unimaginable). We don't know the age of these floors but I'm guessing from the size and pattern that they date from the 1950's.
Asbestos was used in both asphalt asbestos flooring and vinyl-asbestos flooring up to the early 1980's (which means new old stock could have been installed within a few years after the manufacturers had stopped producing asphalt-containing flooring).
istorical note: some incompletely-documented sources (including TSCA 1982 and ICF 1984) list six producers of asbestos-containing flooring in 1981: American Biltrite (Amitco division), Armstrong World Industries, Azrock industries, Congoleum Corp., Kentile Floors, and Tarkett Corporation. But the patterns in the flooring photos you've provided look like Armstrong products.
Asbestos in Plaster, Lead Paint, Wallpaper Arsenic Warnings
Moving off of the topic of asbestos-containing flooring I'll comment on two other photographs you included of plaster wall damage and peeling paint and peeling wallpaper.
OPINION: Your bedroom wall photo (at left) shows minor damage probably where a nail was removed, in a plaster wall. I've seen claims that some plaster may have contained asbestos but as the material is quite hard (not friable) I think the concern for walls in good condition would be the paint not the plaster - as long as you're not doing dusty demolition.
Your kitchen wall photo (below left) shows peeling wallpaper and peeling paint. (Some very old wallpapers included arsenic in the dyes used to make green patterns).
Typically I remove wallpaper by wetting or steaming it to try to remove it in large pieces.
Typically I remove loose paint HEPA vacuuming and taking appropriate dust and lead paint control measures, and where plaster is sound and we're just considering painting, I seal the wall with a lacquer primer sealer before applying the finish coats. Lead paint, depending on your state and local jurisdiction rules,. may require additional steps including removal at some floor heights and other locations.
(A pet worry of mine is lead-painted window sashes that make dust picked up on window sills by the sticky fingers of toddlers.)
From the age of the home I'd be careful about renovating ANY painted surfaces without first determining the lead paint hazard and appropriate remedies.
OPINION: The textured ceiling photos [below, click to enlarge] look like a paint-on product but covered with additional layers of paint. Some of those definitely contained asbestos. Your choices are to treat the material as asbestos-containing or to collect a small sample for testing. Your test lab can give detailed instructions. Usually it's a simple process involving wetting a small area to remove a sample that is bagged and sent to the lab.
Reader follow-up: testing for asbestos in flooring, in air, in mastic, in dust
I am wondering if I should cancel the lab that I have scheduled for Thursday (tomorrow). The lab said they would do 6 sample tests for $200, this would be 4 tiles (they insist that different colored tiles be tested), 1 ceiling, 1 mastic, and an air and dust test for free. The company is "Environmental Sampling & Testing LLC" 54 Water Street Ashburnham MA 01430. With a CLD Class D Certificate. There is usually additional cost but they gave us a break due to our situation.
They do the tests but not remediation. They do refer for remediation if the tests are positive.
I used a "Klean Strip D Lead Test Kit" which is supposedly EPA Recognized & ETV Tested to detect Lead & Lead Chromate in all layers of paint. The kit uses sodium sulphite, it seemed less likely to give a false positive like the swabs. All of the paint under the wallpaper and on the plaster came back negative. Hurray!
Your idea of making a new surface with drywall is amazingly, logically smart. With these test results it looks like I may be able to just scrape the paint. I was looking at Inspectapedia and I did not see a specific primer mentioned. Would the Zinnser Water based shellac or an oil based primer work?
I am looking through Massachusetts law to see if there is anything missing regarding tackling the tiles. Perhaps I will get the lab tests and then proceed with covering them. It may be good to know for sure concerning the ceiling and tile glue.
I will get some more photos of the tiles. The box I have is for the newer tiles but I will get all many kinds of pictures and measurements. Would it be bad to pull up some tiles to get a better look? My primary concern is my 10 month old. I like your reference to the tiles not being radioactive. Very True! For some reason having someone small who relies on me for everything makes it hard to wrap my mind around perceived dangers even with the right knowledge.
Reply: "OPM" other people's money - concern: getting advice that is safe for you but mostly safe for the consultant you asked - at your expense
Below opinions include the "OPM" other people's money - concern: if you ASK someone they will almost always suggest that you spend your money on testing and inspections - not necessarily because it's clearly justified but because it's the safe thing to do - safe for them - as it avoids you later being angry that they didn't give you advice to be more aggressive or more cautious.
Regarding your questions:
Air tests are most likely going to be junk science for the situation you describe. The level of asbestos in a residential home's air due to vinyl asbestos flooring that has not been disturbed by grinding, sanding, sawing, or aggressive demolition is likely to be below the limits of detection, and furthermore, testing the indoor environment after a professional cleanup, if one is required, will be most likely SOP for the firm providing that work.
Settled dust tests are usually cheap and can be done to reduce your level of worry but are unreliable unless collected with real thought. Dust tests before a professional cleanup job can sort out issues that arise later about whether or not the contractor performed proper dust containment. But if you are going to cover the flooring (a recommended alternative) these tests are probably not justified.
OF course - this is the least disruptive and thus safest course. Asbestos is not radioactive - it doesn't emit harmful rays. If it is protected from mechanical damage, left in place it's not harmful - an approach recommended in the reference documents we've cited.
No - you describe a high labor approach. Why not just laminate a layer of 1/4" drywall and tape those joints to form a new safe surface?
The impact of future sale of a home where enviro-scare materials are present never drops to zero, but if you document that you have done the proper repairs or remediation, didn't make a mess or contaminate the home, and then invite a buyer to perform their own environmental testing (you can even give back that cost at closing), you've done what's right and have minimized the hassle.
Don't panic - doing so risks being ripped off by opportunist contractors, realtors, buyers.
Be sure to use a HEPA rated vacuum cleaner for cleaning up debris like paint chips and floor dust; Then you can use any primer you like on the painted ceiling or wall surface, but I like lacquer-based primers such as Bin® or Enamelac® because of their resistance to bleed-through of existing stains. I've had some stain bleed-through troubles with water based primers.
Thank you for your expertise! I am going to get some good photos to you with a ruler in the picture. I did measure them previously, but forgot my ruler in a rush. I have the original box (found in a closet) for the tiles over the asbestos-looking ones. The box is labeled "Value Tile Vinyl Tiles" and I do not see asbestos listed anywhere on the box. The box has an older look, but a sticky note on it lists an order date in 2001.
Do you think it would be advisable to: -Have and air test for asbestos/lead/arsenic -Have a dust test for asbestos/lead/arsenic -To look for some EPA type group to come in and provide advice
-Cover the tiled floor, as is, with laminate or other, leaving all current tiles in place -Spackle the peeled paint, seal it as you suggested, paint it
This has been a bit of a nightmare and stress for me. I know this will affect ever selling the home since I found it, although I bet the seller knew before selling to me.
The peeled paint is actually new. The family members who wanted to rip up the asbestos were "helping". They went to paint two room and promised not to touch the tiles or do anything else but then decided the wall paper was unattractive and decided using bare hands and a metal wood chisel to gouge the wall paper, paint and plaster while it was dry, was a good idea. There is dust everywhere and because I have a 9 month old I've never been so sick to my stomach and taken aback that someone thought they had the right to do this.
Thank you for helping. I am always amazed that there are so many good people in this world even with everything else going on. I will get pictures most likely tomorrow. I have attached a photo of the kitchen and bathroom before is was turned into a chipped mess. Lesson learned.
It's possible that the floor tile manufacturer produced 6-inch asphalt or vinyl asbestos floor tiles as a test run or for test marketing or even sold six-inch floor tiles for a time, even though we have not yet found good evidence that the product was widely distributed. I've certainly seen this in other products, even electrical circuit breakers made of odd plastic colors. The labor of installing smaller floor tiles is always greater than larger ones, which may explain the shift to 9-inch and then 12-inch floor tiles and to resilient sheet flooring.
Watch out: depending on their age, those peel-and-stick floor tiles may also contain asbestos. It's usually easy to remove them without creating dust but I'd handle them accordingly.
Reader Question: do these 1950's era floor tiles contain asbestos?
Hi! We just purchased our first home and are wondering if the following photos of the current floor would tell us weather or not they contain asbestos. - F.C. 7 Oct 2014
In my OPINION there is no need to test these tiles, as the tiles in your three flooring photos are of a pattern resembling products from Armstrong and Kentile. Given the apparent age of the structre, multiple layers of flooring, and the floor tiles themselves, it would be prudent to preseume these are asbestos-containing floor tiles.
Question: Does this tile floor contain asbestos? Home Depot said they won't install new flooring over asbestos-containing floor tiles? What can I do about that?
I am trying to move into a nursing home but have to fix up my house and sell it before I can do that. I asked home depot for a price to install new linoleum in my utility room but they said they couldn't if the existing tile had asbestos.
I looked on your website to see if my tile was pictured there but didn't find an exact match.
Would you look at the attached picture and let me know if you recognize this tile as having asbestos?
If you don't know, I would be interested in hearing about the pro bono service your website offers for the elderly to determine if the tile has asbestos.
The tile pictured is intact but tile under the washer and dryer has come lose. Thank you - D.H. 11/23/2011
Reply: How to confirm asbestos-containing floor tiles? How to install new flooring over asbestos-containing floor tiles
Indeed your floor tiles appear to include a cork-like pattern that, depending on flooring age, may contain asbestos. (See our asbestos floor tile photos beginning
An example of the light-coloured flooring in your photo appears at 1974-1979 ARMSTRONG FLOOR TILE GUIDE, COMPETE and resembles Armstrong's Caligula pattern - a floor tile pattern that was sold over many years.
A lab test can conclusively identify the presence of asbestos in a floor tile sample, and typically such a test is not costly - perhaps $50. from any certified asbestos testing lab. (Sorry but our entire lab is on forensic assignment out of the U.S. until year end).
Although you report that your local Home Depot representative told you that they "could not" install a new floor over asbestos-containing flooring, it is, at least in any legal or technical sense, not correct to assert that new flooring absolutely cannot be installed over asbestos containing floor tiles. The condition of the existing flooring and the subfloor and structure below determine the prep work needed in any new floor installation procedure.
Watch out: In general, in a private residence, there is not a legal requirement to remove asbestos flooring and in fact doing so may be more hazardous than leaving it in place.
Home Depot's lawyers may have decided on their floor installation policy, or your local installer may simply prefer to lose business rather than take the risk of being blamed for creating a dusty dangerous asbestos mess if they work improperly with the material (such as grinding, sawing, or creating dusty demolition - usually demolition or removal is not necessary). And we would agree that if the floor were in bad condition so that demolition and removal of the floor is really required, then the job should be handled by a trained and competent asbestos abatement/removal company.
Example of the OPM problem: the consultant or contractor spends other people's money, sometimes unnecessarily, in order to reduce their own risk
But your photo shows an intact floor surface. So we suspect that there may also be what we call the OPM (other people's money) problem here: it is often much safer and absolutely free for a consultant or contractor to recommend to a client that s/he perform a costly procedure that may or may not be really necessary. The procedure reduces risk for the contractor at no cost to them since the client is paying for the procedure, test, or removal.
Alternatives for Installing New Flooring over Vinyl-Asbestos Floor Tiles or other Asbestos-Containing Floor Coverings
When installing new sheet vinyl or other flooring, typically the existing floor surface has to be sound and smooth. Options for proceeding range from
We moved this material to 1950's or earlier Floor Tiles in the U.K. Identification Requests
We moved these flooring photos to 1960's Floor Tile or Sheet Flooring Identification Requests
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.
Please see the new home for this information: 1970's Floor Tile or Sheet Flooring Identification Requests
Question: does this early 1980's Peel-and-Stick Floor Tile have an Asbestos Risk?
Please see ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE ID REQUESTS 1980's or LATER or Sheet Flooring Identification Requests
What to Do About Unidentified Flooring that May Contain Asbestos
If you are facing a costly demolition then it would make sense to confirm asbestos content using a certified asbesto test lab - ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST
Else it makes sense to treat the material as "Presumed Asbestos Containing Material" or "PACM" flooring based on its age and appearance.
Reader Question: How can I Submit a Floor Tile Photo for Identification
(Apr 3, 2014) Anonymous said:
How can I submit a photo of a tile to see if it might contain asbestos?
Sure, Anon, just use the email found at our CONTACT link seen at the top or bottom of any InspectApedia.com page - but it may not be necessary.
If you've got vinyl or asphalt floor tiles installed before the early 1980's it would make sense to treat them as presumed to contain asbestos (PACM or "Presumed Asbestos Containing Material") - and to avoid making a dusty demolition, sawing, grinding mess.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: Possible asbestos-containing floor tiles in a school, questions about proper handling
Hi. I have a question about asbestos in floor tile and its removal. I work at a public school and the school had a contractor come in to remove some flooring that was starting to "buckle up" in some areas due to water seeping underneath it. When the contractor came I happened to be around and I asked him before he started if the tile could be asbestos (the school was built in 1952). He looked at it and said it wasn't 9x9 inch, and he wasn't sure what was underneath it yet, so he couldn't say for sure. When I started at the school I was made aware by my boss that there is asbestos tile underneath the carpet in the classrooms, but he didn't mention the hallways, where this work was going to be done.
I kept a watch on the contractors as they were removing the tile flooring, (I stayed a safe distance from them...like outside the building through a window). I noticed they used no masks and there was no plastic barriers put up inside the building. They were breaking the tile up though because I noticed them shoveling it up and putting it in the big 55 gallon plastic barrels used for garbage. They stayed for about 2 days doing this. When they were done they left these filled barrels of the tile for us to dump! I didn't want to be involved at all in their dumping! My boss came though and he said he needed my help in dumping the barrels in the outside container for garbage. I REALLY wanted nothing to do with this and I panicked inside. I was afraid though to ask about its safety. When we went outside to dump them I kept my distance as much as possible.
When we dumped the first barrel I held my breath and we dumped it quickly and a HUGE bunch of dust went into the air. I stepped far away and let the dust clear. I then asked if he had any kind of face mask. He did, but only the N95 kind. I put two on and some goggles. We then dumped the rest. My question is, what are the chances that the flooring contained asbestos, and if it did, wouldn't the contractor and our head supervisor that ordered the work know about the flooring? - Mike 8/22/11
Question: floor tiles below asbestos in a 1950's house may contain asbestos
I was pulling up some carpet in my basement today and found that there is tile on the floor beneath it. That didn't seem like a problem to me except in one corner the tile came up with the carpet and there is a green tile beneath that. The house was built in 1950. should I be concerned that the green tile has asbesto in it?
Don from the age of materials you describe it's a good chance you have one or more layers of asbestos containing floor tiles, though of course I can only speculate with so little information.
Question: How can I identify various other brands and product numbers of floor tiles that might contain asbestos?
Do you know if the SEARS brand HOMART 64-7169 asphalt floor tile contained asbestos? - Paul Wright 9/22/11
Have you heard of Dura Floor Plastic Asphalt Tiles? Do they contain asbestos? - Jo Lynn Judka 10/24/11
I have 12" x 12" tile in the basement just like the pattern San Roque Gold 57161 from 1980.
Is there a way I can forward someone a photo of a school floor to determine if it contains asbestos? I am unable to get back into the building It is closed, but the school dept wants to open it again and is saying that there isn't a problem. I looked through the tiles on your site, but couldn't find an exact match. The school was built in 1950-1960, but we have no evidence that the tiles have been replaced. Can you help? -
we have an armstrong floor tile (black color) with the following numbers on the back L4 1230 021898. We don't know the year it was installed. Does it contain asbestos? Is there a way to cross reference these numbers? - Dan 5/1/12
We have the San Roque pattern sheet vinyl. Did Armstrong use the same patterns at a later date for their sheet vinyl but without asbestos? We have already started to remove it and I am concerned. - Sue 10/24/2012
We have vinyl sheet flooring that was put in about mid 1984. Is this anything to worry about? When exactly was asbestos banned in the manufacture of sheet flooring? - Peter 11/6/2012
David, naturally by email alone no one can say with certainty whether or not a floor tile contains asbestos, but if your flooring matches one of the ACM floor tiles we illustrate here, AND if you are confident about the age (as you suggest) most likely it is an asbestos-containing product. And yes, for sure there were some peel-and-stick floor tiles that contained asbestos in the tile baking.
JoLynn, sorry we don't have information about DuraFloor plastic asphalt tiles. Do you know the age of the product? You're welcome to send us photos (see the CONTACT link at top, side, bottom of our pages), and I'll research further. Certainly up to the early 1980's many asphalt floor tile products contained asbestos.
Dan, while we have published product and lot numbers for some floor tile products, there are just too many of them, thousands. Unlike mechanical equipment like water heaters or furnaces, I have not found a standard of correlation between product numbers and date of manufacture, though it probably was included in widely varying ways by individual manufacturers.
Question: dealing with unknown floor tiles
I purchased a co-op built in the 1950's. I need to put down a new floor. The last layer of flooring is green 9x9 vinyl tiles. The pattern looks close to seneca white but the background is light green with dark green pattern. There is black tarry stuff underneath. The tiles are extremely thin. I ripped out the tiles and the plywood underneath them in the corner about 18" square. The super told me to leave it alone as it might be asbestos, but all the contractors who have seen them, seem not to be worried about ripping up the tiles. I would feel better to play it safe and just floor over them. How do I e-mail a picture to you? - Jeanie in Queens NY 11/13/2011
I have a early 60's home with both bathrooms having what appears to be a solid surface material poured over a greenish felt. The flooring is tan with colored flecks in it throughout. I have looked for the material but haven't found any info. Does anyone know what it is? Is it possible that this material contains asbestos? - Dan 1/10/12
the tile in the place I work appears to be asbestos tile. there are some squares that are damaged, and appear to be chipped out. there are small particles, chunks, etc. in the place where the tiles are missing. is this a danger to us? - Lynn 1/12/12
I want to renovate this ranch soon and am not sure what the tile is and who do I call? I want to renovate this ranch soon and am not sure what the tile is and who do I call?Ceiling tile is from 1940 - Jo 2/7/2012
I have an old ranch home w/ sheet lino.x2 layers, over OSB board, over another type of flooring over old hardwood. From what I can see so far. The hardwood has blunt square ends, and is about 3-4" wide and appears to have paint on it. I know there is some rot in that area and would need replacing from reclaimed wood. My question is what is the best way to remove all the lino and OSB and floor below that to get to the hardwood? I know it's going to be labor intensive but not sure how to go about it. - Tracey 2/13/2012
Utility room floor installed 1971 is Armstrong Excelon vinyl asbestos place and press tiles. Some of the tiles are loose. they are whole..just loose. Please recommend what glue to use to re-install them. - Anne 2/13/2012
I work at a Petland Discounts location that's over 20 years old. I've gotten severe breathing problems at this store. The floor polishing company comes in and polishes the floor every month and there is this thick dust in the air and then it gets all over the products. I am concerned that it contains asbestos. There are also many broken tiles in the store. - Despina 5/22/2012
In my kitchen we have a sub floor, then asbestos tiles, then another sub floor and then a layer of linoleum flooring down. We want to lay another floor down but our floor is already up an inch with everything on it. We want to removed the whole flooring but have no clue how we should go about doing this without getting the asbestos in the air. It is also laid in our hallway and our whole basement. Thank you so much for any help you can provide. - Gigi - 6/11/2012
I was going to put new ceramic tiles in the kitchen floor, but when I removed the transition between the wood floor and ceramic tiles I saw vinyl tiles under the kitchen floor. My question is how I would know that the vinyl tiles are asbestos or not? - Mike 7/10/2012
i removed floor tiles by hand that look very similar to some of the ones you have pictured on your web site about 9 years ago. basically i used an old grill spatula to peel them up off of the cement floor. i did use a dust mask but i was unaware at the time that some older floor tiles contain asbestos. do i have anything to worry about? - Joe 8/1/2012
Hello I scraped up a tile floor in my house and I now fear that it was asbestos. The backing is black not white. It did not grind to dust, but it came off in pieces. The floor is covered in the black backing still and I don't know how I should remove this. Should I be concerned about removing this part? Also I suspect these tiles continue into another room under a rug. I would like to remove them eventually if possible. What do you recommend? - Mandy 10/29/2012
My husband and his family were doing some remodeling on a home we just bought (built in the 1930's). When I stopped by the house i saw that they had ripped out the old flooring in the kitchen and bathroom. Underneath the old carpet and flooring were 9x9 squares that were on top of the original hardwoods. I freaked out because i remembered hearing something about 9x9 tiles and asbestos on hgtv. These squares are black, but they are flexible, almost like a thick paper or a cardboard rather than a hard tile. We aren't sure if it is just some sort of backing, or an asphalt asbestos tile. They had already spent the weekend tearing most of it up and it is all over the place right now. any info/suggestions etc would be very greatly appreciated. - Jennifer 10/29/2012
Asbestos-containing flooring in good condition does not have to be removed from a building, and worse, inept removal can create a much greater hazard than leaving most asbestos materials in place.
Asbestos was widely used as a filler in both asphalt-based and some vinyl based floor tiles of varying thicknesses, and extending to some thin, flexible self-adhesive backed tiles as well as some sheet flooring.
See ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION PHOTOS by YEAR for an extensive photo guide to asbestos-containing flooring materials.
We recommend taking a look at the suggestions found at ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION
Comment from reader: anonymous:
Hey Joe there's always a "risk" when removing anything that has to do with Asbestos. I understand that you probably didn't take caution at all with the removal and you probably weren't wearing the proper protection. There's two things that could be red flags. 1. I'd be worried if you were a constant to heavy smoker. 2. I'd also be worried if you've done this type of removal many times before or after without protection. The only way to know for certain if true damage has been done is tell your Doctor or care provider about this incident and ask for their advice.
Question: did asbestos flooring come in just tiles or also in roll or sheet flooring?
Can the asbestos flooring come in tiles only or does it come in a role? - P.H. 12/31/12
Asbestos-containing flooring was sold in both individual floor tiles and in rolls of sheet flooring. But just as with vinyl or plastic floor tiles, not all flooring contains asbestos. LINOLEUM & Other Sheet Flooring includes examples of sheet flooring that often did not contain asbestos. To treat floor coverings in asphalt-based floor tiles or sheet flooring, or vinyl (plastic)-based floor tiles or sheet flooring, it is reasonable to treat flooring sold in the year ranges described in the article above as PACM (Presumed Asbestos Containing Material). Also the mastic or adhesive used to install flooring may also contain asbestos. Keep in mind also that very often it is not necessary nor even recommended to remove PACM floor coverings. But if conditions require that it be removed, see ASBESTOS REMOVAL GUIDE, FLOORING.
Question: radon system installation drilled through presumed-asbestos-containing floor tiles: how much of an asbestos hazard has that created?
We had a radon abatement system installed in our basement laundry room before we moved in. During our home inspection, the inspector told us there might be asbestos tiles in the basement. We confirmed this is probably the case, even though there is a new floor down there, because under the hot water heater you can see a reddish tile (you can't tell the size), followed by a layer of concrete, followed by the new vinyl tile (current day).
To install the radon system they drilled a four inch diameter hole through the floor and then another 4 inch hole through the brick and mortar of the wall to the outside. Now I'm concerned about the asbestos that may have been released into the air from the disturbance.
I've been told there wouldn't be a lot of asbestos released into the air from an event like this one because of the small surface area. Is this true? Also, I've been reading that amphibole types of asbestos were used in mortar as well. If it was just chrysotile from the vinyl tile then it would be less concerning than the "worse types" of amphibole asbestos. However, perhaps they also used amphibole types of asbestos in vinyl tiles? Btw, the house was built in 1948. - B.B. 2/07/2013
With the reclama that no one can perform an environmental risk assessment by email, in general, the total dust created by a single hole drilling event should be quite small compared with projects involving demolition of a floor.
It is reasonable to treat the flooring as presumed-asbestos-containing material (PACM); as virtually all of the old suspect floor has been covered, in normal use and occupancy the remaining asbestos-exposure risk to occupants is probably beneath detection.
If you wanted to investigate the asbestos dust risk created by drilling a hole for the radon abatement system more scientifically you'd collect what you think is dust left undisturbed from and settled near the area where the work was performed. Send that dust sample to a certified asbestos testing lab and ask them to screen it for you. You can use the procedure at MOLD TEST KITS for DIY MOLD TESTS [Do not send your sample to us.]
Air testing is probably less reliable at this juncture.
Question: is your asbestos floor tile photo library exhaustive, and is the old black floor tile adhesive also a hazard?
I am emailing you after reviewing your very informative website. I have a question about the tile in my basement. We are looking to renovate the space and are concerned about the tile possible containing asbestos. I live in new Jersey and my house was built in 1964. A form of asphalt tile was glued down in either 1964 or 1965. After reviewing your website and the photo section. I do not see our particular tile shown.
My question is: Is your photo gallery all inclusive of tile containing asbestos? The tile can be popped up without breaking any of the tile. Would the adhesive used in laying the tile also contain asbestos? It seems to be a black tar like substance. I would be able to send you a picture of the actual tile if that would be helpful.
- E.T. 4/10/2013
Thank you - your question is helpful to me too.
No my photo lib of asbestos containing tile is not exhaustive, though it's the largest one that's been published. There are some companies for whom I cannot find a comprehensive catalog showing all of their tile patterns (Armstrong was the most thorough), and there are companies out of the U.S. whose catalog data is even more scarce. But given how these products were made, it's reasonable to treat old asphalt-asbestos and vinyl-asbestos floor tiles of the appropriate age range as "PACM" or presumed-asbestos containing.
Nobody should panic about this flooring - doing so can result in spending inappropriately. But at the same time some caution is in order such as avoiding making a dusty mess by grinding, steel power buffing, and incompetent demolition. As well, in public spaces such as schools additional regulation may apply.
Where the floor is in good condition there are low cost options that help minimize the risk of asbestos release such as hard coatings.
For floors such as the one you describe, where whole tiles pop up, one can remove such tiles with minimal disturbance of the tile itself, thus minimal asbestos dust release.
But you are right to worry about the tile mastic or "glue" that was used: indeed some mastics, particularly the black asphaltic mastic, often contained asbestos. Asbestos fibers (and possibly asbestos dust filler) were widely used in asphalt-based mastics, glues, and in roof flashing cements. The same caveats apply: if you avoid making a dusty mess you will minimize the risk and hazard of asbestos. We have published wetting guidelines and flooring removal guidelines citing expert sources to help minimize risk as well as cost.
If you are facing a costly demolition job then it may be appropriate to have both the mastic and a section of floor tile tested by a certified asbestos testing lab. The cost is usually around $50./sample or less. If you have other specific questions please let me know. Working together makes us both smarter.
Please keep me posted on how things progress, and send along photos of the flooring you described as well as where it's popped up showing the asbestos if you can. Such added details can help us understand what's happening and often permit some useful further comment. What we both learn may help me help someone else. And by publishing a photo of your unidentified floor tile we invite other readers to comment if they know the pattern, age, and manufacturer.
Question: how to post a picture at InspectApedia
(Aug 25, 2014) micky said:
Help! Took off my 5 year old armstrong tile. Started pulling off the next layer not knowing of potential hazards. Found out when researching easiest ways to remove tile as it is harder to get up. Can you help me date this tile pattern?
Oct 1, 2014) Rodney... said:
Can someone please help me with a tile identification?? I would like to know if it looks like it will have asbestos.. My landlord asked me to pull up the carpet and this was below it. I have photos but I do not see a way to attach them to my comment here. I sent a few photos for the general email "contact" here a few days ago... I am sorry for the short notice but I have a city inspector scheduled for Monday
Micky, Rodney and others: you can use the email at our CONTACT link to send us some photos of your floor for comment.
Rodney you can use the email found at our CONTACT link but it may not be necessary. If you've got vinyl or asphalt floor tiles installed before the 1980's it would make sense to treat them as presumed to contain asbestos - and to avoid making a dusty demolition, sawing, grinding mess.
Questions & answers or comments about how to identify asbestos-containing flooring materials and what to do when asbestos-containing floor tiles or sheet flooring are found in a building.
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