Congoleum asbestos flooring identification: this article provides a guide to identifying Congoleum-Nairn asphalt-asbestos, vinyl asbestos floor tiles, linoleum, and sheet flooring (resilient flooring) materials that are reported to contain asbestos, or that have been confirmed as containing asbestos in asbestos fiber or asbestos powder-filler form.
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Styles, & Pictures of Congoleum-Nairn Vinyl-Asbestos Floor Tiles & Congoleum Linoleum Sheet Flooring: Resilient Floors
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How to recognize Congoleum Nairn floor tiles & linoleum or resilient sheet flooring that may contain asbestos fibers. We include photographs of Congoleum Nairn asbestos containing floor tiles, sheet flooring, linoleum, and resilient floor coverings as well as photos of products that have been confirmed as asbestos-free.
Congoleum Nairn, was established in 1886, and presently headquartered in Mercerville, NJ, U.S., produced resilient sheet flooring, vinyl asbestos floor tiles in patterns such as their Congoleum-Nairn Romanaire pattern
Additional Images of Congoleum linoleum sheet flooring products are at LINOLEUM & Other Sheet Flooring.
Sequin Pattern for Congoleum resilient flooring is shown at left.
Watch out: the backing on some of these vinyl flooring or linoleum products may also contain asbestos.
Congoleum Vinylbest vinyl asbestos floor tiles were produced in the 1950s along with Congoleum Gold Seal inlaid linoleum flooring shown at above left from a Life magazine advertisement, and the Congoleum sheet linoleum shown in a Florida Home (left) provided a scattershot or color fleck pattern.
The Congoleum linoleum photograph (left) of Congoleum sheet flooring installed in a 1949 Tampa Florida home is provided courtesy of M.B.
M.B. placed a U.S. quarter on the flooring to provide a pattern size scale reference. [Click image for a larger view]. [We think the flooring itself may date from the 1960's.]
Other Congoleum products included Vinylfloor, Vinyltop (countertops), Congoleum, CongoWall, Ranchtile, Cork tile, Linoleum tile, Vinyl tile, Rubber tile, and Asphalt tile marketed under the Congoleum Gold Seal trademark.
This Congoleum flooring Gold-Seal sheet flooring is dated from the 1950's. Reader C.H. wrote:
I've just discovered an old (and ugly) sheet vinyl in a bathroom floor dating from the early 1950's which is labeled on the back as "Gold Seal Congoleum Trade Marked." It is not glued down but is hidden under modern vinyl that is glued to a thin plywood which is then stapled through the old stuff into a pine floor. The suspicious vinyl bends almost double and then breaks easily.
We haven't done any sanding or sawing of it during the demolition of the bathroom (so hope we haven't released any asbestos fibers), but we have disposed of some of the small broken pieces along with other demolition refuse in trash bags at our county dump.
Does this look like an asbestos problem to you guys? Attached are photos of the hideous red/black/gray pattern (the red color actually transferred slightly to the plywood) and of the back of the same piece. We would welcome any comments or advice. Thanks! - C.H., Clemson, SC8/18/2013
Certainly there were Congoleum flooring products that did not contain asbestos, and from its appearance we'd suspect your flooring is one of those. But simply from an emailed photograph, and without testing or other information, to be safest I would treat the material as presumed-asbestos-containing material (PACM). One should not assert for sure the presence or absence of an environmental hazard just from a brief email description. From your description it sounds as if you've handled the matter correctly and that the amount of dust released of any sort would have been trivial.
In particular, a sheet flooring that was not glued down is usually easily removable in large pieces without breakage and dust other than the accumulated dirt and dust debris that accumulates in old building layers and materials.
Watch out: I would recommend using damp mopping or HEPA vacuuming when cleaning up dust and debris from any renovation work on older buildings to control dust as much as possible. Even when potentially dangerous asbestos or lead particles are not present, there may be other contaminants, allergens, irritants in the dust, even drywall or plaster dust that can be a respiratory irritant.
Reader follow-up with asbestos test results:
Here is an update on the Congoleum I found under the bathroom floor: just got the results tonight from Western Analytical Lab and there is NO asbestos in the sample I sent them! We are very relieved!
Happy results, but not a big surprise. Notice in the photographs of Congoleum Gold Seal flooring above that the product backing material is solid dark red throughout? This is not an asphalt-based felt (and often asbestos-containing) paper backer.
Below we show three more interesting Congoleum Narin sheet flooring designs from the mid 1950's (excerpted from Life Magazine advertisements).
At above left is a continuous resilient Congoleum Nairn sheet flooring product that was colored to resemble individual floor tiles in red, black,and white The Congoleum-Nairn company advertised that this approach was less costly and quicker to install than tiles, and permitted better control over tile color consistency.
Above right our photograph excerpted from another 1950's flooring advertisement shows a Congoleum sheet floor used in a kitchen and dining area.
Congoleum sheet flooring in three foot wide simulated-wood patterns, in "rug" forms intended to be installed without fully extending to the walls of a room, and in larger sheets intended for wall-to-wall installation, were made by bonding a colored pattern layer (similar to linoleum) to a dark or black asphalt-impregnated felt backer layer. While the term linoleum is widely used for sheet flooring, this product is not made of true traditional linoleum ingredients described at LINOLEUM & SHEET FLOORING.
We prefer to refer to Congoleum® flooring and similar products by Armstrong® as asphalt-saturated felt-backed sheet flooring.
Watch out: as we explain at RESILIENT SHEET FLOORING ID GUIDE, asphalt-backed sheet flooring may contain asbestos.
I have attached a photo of some vinyl flooring that I have in my house. I was prepping the floor for new wood and found this underneath. Unfortunately I scraped some of it out prior to finding out that it could contain asbestos. My house was built in 1982. The vinyl appears to be large sheet vinyl.
The bottom is marked Congoleum™ and the model is Forecast. It also says no wax vinyl. I was unable to find an reference to it in your picture library. I'm currently looking for somebody to test it. I'm hoping to put my mind at ease in the meantime. - Reader G. 8/11/2013
Indeed there were some sheet vinyl products that contained asbestos fibers and filler - typically in the backing and of course in some mastics. When a home was built close to the end of the era of popular use of these materials I worry that someone could still have installed an asbestos-containing floor product from older stock.
If you are not doing dusty messy demolition the chances of a significant asbestos particle contamination problem are pretty low; we list the best sources of certified asbestos test labs in our article found at http://inspectapedia.com/hazmat/Asbestos_Test_Labs.htm
Reader follow-up: the sample came back from the lab positive for asbestos. Feel free to pass the info and photos along. - G.
Reply: I'd like to see the actual asbestos test lab report or any quantitative findings given.
Hopefully you didn't create much actual respirable dust during tear-up; my experience with sheet flooring is that the backer is not very friable compared with many other asbestos-containing materials, and though some Congoleum sheet flooring backer did contain asbestos. Even without a lab test of a flooring sample, the safe procedure for asbestos-suspect flooring installed through the early 1980's is to treat the flooring as PACM - Presumed Asbestos Containing Material.
My OPINION is that actual asbestosis cases traced to residential exposure are slim to none except for family members of workers in the asbestos industry who inadvertently brought home asbestos dust on clothing or in a few oddball cases of workers deliberately using friable asbestos pipe insulation or similar products to "insulate" their own homes "for free" so to speak.
Family member asbestosis / mesothelioma claims relating to industry workers are cited in various legal asbestos exposure lawsuit cases such as
But I have not yet (8/2013) found scholarly studies nor lawsuit citations involving homeowners / occupants claiming asbestosis or mesothelioma related to exposure to ordinary levels of residential PACM products
Reader Comment on Congoleum No-Wax Flooring Design by Pyright
(June 28, 2014) Mike Padgett said:
I have just removed a vinyl floor I had installed. Underneath that subfloor was another vinyl floor. It is printed with "Congoleum/The No-wax Floor Shiny Vinyl". Above Congoleum it reads: Design by Pyright. The backing appears to be similar to the paper from the vinyl I installed. I have pictures.
At above left, this Congoleum flooring advertisement, also from the 1950's, demonstrated use of sheet flooring to provide a border and carpet image in a bedroom. At above right, Wilson & Snodgrass, U.S. FPL (2007) have provided a beautiful example of a Congoleum "rug" still in use by the US FPL.
Correctly speaking, in our opinion, some of these sheet flooring products may not be "linoleum" if they were not produced using traditional linoleum ingredients (see LINOLEUM & SHEET FLOORING). The pigments in traditional linoleum extended through its thickness, the product was linseed oil based, and it used a jute backing. In contrast, other sheet flooring products were made of a thin pigment or colored pattern layer glued to an asphalt-paper-based or "felt" backer that is black in color and that looks like thick roofing felt.
But many authors and historians including those cited just above refer to most or even all sheet flooring products from this era using the word linoleum. Linoleum, then became rather generic, just as Kleenex™ became generic for tissues among many sniffers.
Really? Why do we care whether an old or historic floor covering is traditional linoleum or some other product made of different ingredients? Well because at least some older asphalt-impregnated paper felt backing products contained asbestos, while no pure linoleum flooring products contain nor ever contained asbestos in their ingredients.
Congoleum Gold Seal Rugs along with Nairn Linoleum were marketed from the 1920's into the 1950's when Congoleum-Nairn was producing 12-foot wide sheet vinyl-based flooring.
We provide tips for identifying types of sheet flooring & resilient flooring at RESILIENT SHEET FLOORING ID GUIDE. We also discuss the history and manufacture of asphalt-asbestos floor tiles in our Age of House articles at Flooring Materials
We discuss the inspection, diagnosis, and repair of all types of flooring products at FLOOR TYPES & DEFECTS.
Don't Confuse Congoleum Nairn Resilient Flooring with Armstrong Floors
This photograph of 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".
While the reader referred to this as "Armstrong Congoleum sheet flooring", Armstrong and Congoleum are separate individual companies.
The flooring in our photo (left) is identified as an Armstrong resilient flooring product.
For Armstrong flooring products, identification, & asbestos content information, see ARMSTRONG FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION
Congoleum Sheet Flooring - ca 1990
Reader question: I'd like to know if "Congoleum Triumph #25031 flat" may contain asbestos. It was installed in my bathroom in 1990. A picture of the installed flooring is attached. Any information you can provide on this product would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! - P.F. 1/7/2014
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that would permit a more accurate, complete, and authoritative answer than we can give by email alone - for example there may be other much more immediate health and safety hazards in your home. You will find additional depth and detail in articles at our website.
That said, it is reasonable to believe that flooring installed in 1990 in the U.S. would not contain asbestos. While I do on occasion find flooring products that were "new old stock" that contained asbestos and that were installed in homes in the first few years after manufacturers stopped producing such materials, by 1990, in my OPINION that would be a very unusual case.
For a detailed photo guide to all brands of vinyl-asbestos floor tile & resilient flooring patterns, sizes, and years of manufacture, see ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION PHOTOS by YEAR. Also see Congoleum Flooring History and FLOOR TYPES & DEFECTS.
And see ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION for detailed advice on handling and identifying vinyl-asbestos floor tiles or flooring products that probably do or don't contain asbestos.
For a strategy for collecting building dust samples, when, where, how many samples to collect, see DUST SAMPLING PROCEDURE Also see Micro-Photographs of Dust from the World Trade Center collapse following the 9/11/01 attack. Links to U.S. government and other authoritative research and advice are included.
Continue reading at CORK FLOORING & FLOOR TILES or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
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