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Asbestos suspect floor tile in the U.K. ca 1950-1955 (C) InspectApedia.com JDJ Identify U.K. Floor Tiles That May Contain Asbestos
Possible Asbestos-Containing Flooring ID Requests for the U.K.
Examples of 9" U.K. floor tiles that do not contain asbestos

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Photo ID guide to U.K. asbestos-containing flooring products & examples of U.K. flooring that does not contain asbestos.

This article provides flooring identification requests & photographs & discussion of UK flooring tiles or cottage tiles that may contain asbestos as well as a photo example of non-asbestos flooring.

We also discuss the types of asbestos (chrysotile & amosite) commonly found in asphalt-asbestos and vinyl-asbestos floor tiles and compare that with crocidolite abestos found in ceiling tiles and spray-fire-resistant coatings.

This information will assist home owners or tenants in determining if their floors contain asbestos and then to decide what to do about floors in poor condition.

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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Asbestos-Containing Flooring in the U.K. & Non-Asbestos U.K. Floor Tiles & Sheet Flooring Identification

Asbestos suspect floor tile in the U.K. ca 1950-1955 (C) InspectApedia.com JDJIn the U.K. buildings constructed or renovated before 2000 may have included asbestos-containing products such as drywall, plasterboard, pipe insulation, or vinyl or asphalt-based floor tile or sheet flooring.

According to the U.K.'s Health and Safety Executive, Large amounts of asbestos were used in new and refurbished buildings before 2000. Blue (crocidolite) and brown (amosite) asbestos were banned by law in 1985.

Manufacture and supply of all asbestos was banned by the end of 1999.

Existing asbestos articles can continue in use until they reach the end of their service life. (HSE 2017 cited below).

In the U.K. people who worked in construction, plastering, roofing contractors, pipe fitters, and people who worked in the shipbuilding industry up to the 1980's are at higher risk of developing asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma than are others.

Note that even if asbestos-containing material such as asphalt or vinyl-asbestos flooring is present in your building, that does not necessarily mean that you must or even should remove it. The least-risky course for flooring in good condition is to leave it alone, in place, covering it over with new material.

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.

Article Contents:

Shown here: asphalt and vinyl based floor tiles and sheet flooring in U.K. homes. For some of these flooring photos we can confirm that the material does or does not contain asbestos. Other flooring images are shown as possibly-containing asbestos pending lab test results or other information that we post here.

[Click to enlarge any image]

UK Flooring Before 1960 Possible Asbestos

Glasgow 9x9 floor tile, possibly asbestos (C) InspectApedia.com TTTQuestion: Does this old 9x9 floor tile in our Glasgow Home contain asbestos?

was hoping you might be able to tell me if this vinyl tile which was placed over our oak floor boards could be dangerous?

I didn't realise this was a possibility until I had picked them all up. I don't recognise it from the guides so I'm hoping it's ok.

The house was built in 1890 in Glasgow, Scotland but it was converted into 2 homes some point and we don't know when, more than 40 years ago, possibly 50 years, we don't know.

The tiles are 9x9 inches and we have no idea how to date them. - Anonymous by private email 2017/11/08

Reply:

I've not seen the pattern in your Glasgow flooring. I'll post it here to invite comment from other readers may have seen it. Readers: use the page top or bottom CONTACT link to send us email or use the page bottom Comments box on this page.

Most-often vinyl floor tiles like the one you sent date from the 1970's or later. Sometimes a search of magazine ads from the period will help us find a floor pattern, as might a research of flooring distributors in Glasgow from say 1950 - 1980

1955-59 Asbestos-Containing Flooring in the U.K.

Reader Question: Do you think these U.K. floor tiles contain asbestos?

I've come across your useful website and would be really grateful if you might be able to answer some questions? The questions related to a house that we have just put an offer on. We are based in the U.K.

Firstly, I was wondering if you'd be able to confirm my suspicions that the following floor tiles might contain asbestos? - [Anon by private email, 12 Aug 2015

Asphalt & vinyl asbestos UK Flooring from 1955-1959

Asbestos suspect floor tile in the U.K. ca 1950-1955 (C) InspectApedia.com JDJ

Both bedrooms contain this flooring:

Asbestos suspect floor tile in the U.K. ca 1950-1955 (C) InspectApedia.com JDJ

Kitchen flooring (U.K. 1955-59)

Asbestos suspect floor tile in the U.K. ca 1950-1955 (C) InspectApedia.com JDJ

Bathroom flooring (U.K. 1970's)

Asbestos suspect floor tile in the U.K. ca 1950-1955 (C) InspectApedia.com JDJ

Reply: treat older UK vinyl & asphalt based floor tiles as presumed to contain asbestos

Yes especially those darker floor tiles that look like asphalt-based flooring.

What can you tell me about the building location, age, and probable floor covering age?

Reader follow-up:

... the building is located in London and we believe that it was constructed sometime between 1955 and 1959.

Pretty much everything in the flat is very close to original and we're pretty sure that all the darker flooring is original. I'm not sure about the kitchen flooring (i.e whether grey like that was a 50s colour) and the flooring in the bathroom looks to be 70s I'd say.

Reply:

The UK Asbestos (Prohibitions) (Amendment) regulations came into force on November 24, 1999 (The E.U. followed in 2004). Chrysotile (white asbestos) had been permitted in the UK. Amosite and crocidolite forms of asbestos were banned in in the U.K. in 1985.

Statutory Instrument No. 2373 banned the import of crude fiber, flake, powder or waste chrysotile and the new use of asbestos cement, boards, panels, tiles and other products. Chrysotile-containing products installed prior to November 24, 1999 could remain in place until they reached the end of their service life.

The sale of second-hand asbestos cement products and building materials with asbestos-containing coatings was forbidden. - excerpted and paraphrased from : Kazan-Allen. L. United Kingdom Bans Chrysotile. British Asbestos Newsletter, Issue 36: Autumn 1999.

Given that the U.K. didn't completely ban asbestos until 1999 though most forms were banned in 1985 - about the same period as in North America: my advice follows:

For buildings with floor tiles or sheet flooring that can be assumed to have been installed in the U.K. before 1999 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.

On any of our asbestos-related InspectApedia pages, at More Reading you will find a complete ARTICLE INDEX to ASBESTOS HAZARDS
See in that list of articles these two in particular:

ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION

ASBESTOS FLOORING REMOVAL GUIDE

IF you are faced with a requirement for demolition and if you are uncertain about the flooring's asbestos content and cannot identify it through our guides, then you have a sample tested.

See ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST

See more U.K. asbestos-containing floor tile examples at AMITCO ASBESTOS FLOOR TILES

Reader follow-up: how to handle damaged but adhered asbestos-suspect floor tiles

... do you think that the damaged tile looks to be heading towards a friable state? All other examples of damaged tiles that I've seen look to be split in a brittle 'candy' manner or completely loose from there backing, whereas this is more dented / worn.

It'd be great if I could just fill the damage and then floor over it. I think it's the only damaged tile that we could find in the place. - J.J. 13 Aug 2015

Reply:

You will want to remove tile fragments that are not adhered to the floor below, then you can use a fil k er, floor leveling compound, or install a layer of solid underlayment then flooring tiles or sheet flooring, or underlayment paper then a floating laminate or engineered floor.

Just how you treat that floor surface (sealer, leveling compound, cover with underlayment, cover with rosin paper) depends on what type of new floor you intend to install over-top the old asbestos-containing flooring.

Detailed suggestions are at the floor hazard reduction and floor removal article links just above. To be clear, if the broken or cracked floor tiles are still well bonded to the subfloor below you can leave them in place.

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?

Reply:

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.

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 to CONTACT US to send along photos and a description (age, dimensions, building history) of flooring that you are unable to identify

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

Wood-Grain Pattern 9" U.K. Floor Tiles ca 1963 that Do Not Contain Asbestos

Reader inquiry about asbestos in UK floor tiles::

Recently purchased a property in London and pulled up the carpets to find these tiles. They measure 9 x 9. The property dates from 1888 and I know they were definitely laid prior to 1963.

Is it likely they contain asbestos? - Anon by private email 11/1/2017

London floor tile that does not contain asbestos 9x9" before 1963 (C) InspectApedia.com DR London floor tile that does not contain asbestos 9x9" before 1963 (C) InspectApedia.com DR

Reply: possibly, up to 1999 flooring in the UK could contain asbestos; need lab test to know for certain

The UK Asbestos (Prohibitions) (Amendment) regulations came into force on November 24, 1999 (The E.U. followed in 2004).

So the flooring could contain abestos but I add that in hearing from other U.K. readers, it is certainly the case that not all pre-1999 vinyl flooring in the UK contained asbestos. You'd need to have a certified asbestos test lab to know for sure.

In any event, if the floor is well-adhered, usually you can cover over the floor as an approach with the least possible hazard.... [Our original email reply contained additional advice and asbestos haard reduction article links.]

The photographs shown just above illustrate a 9" vinyl floor tile installed in a London home before 1963.

Reader follow-up: no asbestos found in this UK flooring

According our reader (Anon) who submitted these photos, later asbestos tests performed by a U.K. asbestos testing lab found that this flooring did not contain asbestos. She wrote:

Great news! No asbestos detected in tile or glue.

Still, readers dealing with older floor coverings should do what you can to avoid making a dusty mess as in any case exposure to high levels of demolition dust can be harmful, asbestos or no.

Newer U.K. Floor Tiles that Do Not Contain Asbestos

Question: identify floor tiles that are lifting - do these contain asbestos?

9x9 dark brown floor tile in the U.K. - does not contain asbestos, ca 1987 (C) InspectApedia.com NA

[Click to enlarge any image]

I'm really hoping you can help me identify some floor tiles that I have been lifting up over the weekend - asbestos exposure didn't even occur to me until after I had done this and i am now panicking about it. The tiles broke up quite easily and were very brittle.

My property was built in 1987/88, the size of the tiles is 300x300mm.

This to me suggests that it is unlikely that they do contain asbestos but a quick search on the internet and i have found very similar looking tiles stating that these may contain asbestos (albeit they appear to be the older 9"x9" size).

I have attached an image of the tiles - any help would be much appreciated! - Anonymous [by private email] 2015/11/24

[Editor's note: The dark brown 9"'x9" floor tile shown above is installed in a U.K. home constructed in 1987-1988. ]

[Click to enlarge any image]

Reply: No, according to lab tests performed

Brown armstrong vinyl asbestos floor tile (C) Daniel Friedman

Above in the large photo is an Armstrong floor tile example whose dark brown tiles resemble your example.

The small photo is an Armstrong Excelon tile product from the 1960's. Older than your flooring. These are U.S. products described at ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE ID REQUESTS 1950's or EARLIER.

Keep in mind that variations in how a floor photograph is made can affect the apparent colour and pattern and thus can make finding your floor tile among our examples a bit tricky.

Vinyl asbestos floor tile identification photo U.S. Library of Congress

I think the floor above is probably Cayuga Brown #715 by Armstrong.

I also show a small image of Kasha Taupe sold in the U.S. from 1960 up to about 1969.

More about variations in apparent floor tile colour is at ASBESTOS-CONTAINING FLOOR TILES by COLOR

I am surprised by the age of building that you report as I think you may find a close match at - ARMSTRONG EXCELON VINYL ASBESTOS FLOOR TILES - among the "standard" vinyl asbestos floor tiles - the reddish brown floor in your photo was a popular pattern sold over many years beginning in the mid 1950's.

Is it possible that your building is older than thought or that older stock flooring was installed? [Otherwise it is unlikely that floor tiles installed in 1987 or later contain asbestos.]

Also you can look in the ID-library of asbestos flooring beginning at ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION​ organized by year and manufacturer where there are similar ones.

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. At the very least, narrow this by the age of the building. 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.

WIth that data we can choose among our floor tile or sheet flooring photo ID guides that are organized by year beginning at the link I gave above.

PHOTOS: You are welcome to send us photos of flooring, and where loose tiles, markings, or packaging are available I'd want to see the back side of flooring and all sides of packaging and labels. Tile dimensions and thickness are also useful. Our email link is at the CONTACT link at the top or bottom of any InspectApedia.com page.

Reader follow-up: test showed this U.K. floor tile does not contain asbestos:

Many thanks for your response - I have since has these tiles tested at a lab and they have come back as negative for any trace of asbestos. I also managed to contact a friend who used to live in the same street who also had these tiles replaced and they too confirmed they were asbestos free - i'm relieved to have discovered this!

Watch out: other examples of this floor tile pattern widely installed in North America up to the early 1980's have been confirmed as an asbestos-containing material - Ed.

Vinyl Floor tiles in the UK after 1985

Question: risk of asbestos in UK flooring from 1987

Vinyl floor tiles in a 1987 house built in Gloucester UK (C) InspectApedia.comI found these tiles under my carpet when we took it up.

I started cleaning them and the top layer came off.

Do you think these are asbestos ? My house was built in 1987 in Gloucester UK.

If you do what would be your advice on what to do next.

I was about to have a new carpet and underlay put down first thing tomorrow ?

Is this enough protection bearing in mind that the carpet grippers I've found are nailed into the tiles. - 2017/12/06 anonymous by private email

Reply: crocidolite asbestos was banned in the UK in 1985, two years before your floor was installed

In general, a 1987 vinyl tile floor in the U.K. might but probably would not contain asbestos. That GUESS is based on

1. the fact that crocidolite asbestos was banned in the UK two years before your floor was installed (that is 1985).

2. the more-common form of asbestos used in flooring products was chrysotile [not crocidolite as we mis-typed previously], and some amosite.

3. For "new" vinyl floor tiles in the UK to have been sold in an asbestos-containing version they'd have to have been "new old stock" that someone kept around from having been manufactured before 1985, OR flooring imported from elsewhere.

The UK Asbestos (Prohibitions) (Amendment) regulations came into force on November 24, 1999 (The E.U. followed in 2004). Chrysotile (white asbestos) had been permitted in the UK. Amosite and crocidolite forms of asbestos were banned in in the U.K. in 1985.

You are correct that Chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) is considered less dangerous than it's cousins Amosite asbestos (brown asbestos) and Crocidolite (blue asbestos) but it would be a mistake to treate white chrysotile asbestos in a cavalier mannner. White chrysotile asbestos is considered a major health hazard by the World Health Organization and is so named also by EU standards.

Summary of Dates of UK Bans on Asbestos

In the UK a voluntary ban on blue asbestos (crocidolite) went into effect in 1967.

In 1985 the UK banned the import and use of both blue asbestos (crocidolite) and brown asbestos (amosite).

In 1999 the use of all asbestos was banned in Britain. However white asbestos (chrysotile asbestos) continues to be used in some countries, leading to the possibility that imported products leaking past the asbestos ban might contain asbestos in that form.

Britain was indeed at one time the world’s largest importer of amosite or brown asbestos, leading to a common view that amosite asbestos is responsible for a particularly high rate of mesothelioma deaths in the U.K.

Install New Carpeting over Existing Sound UK Floor Tiles

If your vinyl tile flooring is securely bonded to the subfloor as it appears to be in your photograph there is no reason not to proceed quite simply:

  1. Wash the present floor and let that dry.
  2. Install new carpeting over the floor.

Which forms of asbestos are most-common in Asphalt or Vinyl Asbestos Floor Tiles?

Question: is it crocidolite? or is it Chrysotile asbestos?

On the pageASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION 1950's or LATER in the U.K some way down, under the heading "Vinyl Floor tiles in the UK after 1985", it states that "2. the more-common form of asbestos used in flooring products was crocidolite, and some amosite."

This contradicts any info I can find on the UK HSE (e.g. http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/managing/products.htm and http://www.hse.gov.uk/pUbns/priced/hsg264.pdf) which only ever mentions chrysotile (white asbestos) in flooring products. Could crocidolite possibly be a typo here? Or if not, then where does this information come from, please? - Anonymous by private emailil 2018/02/07Thanks

Reply:

I very much appreciate your careful reading and questioning of our reference to crocidolite asbestos in asphalt or vinyl tile flooring. You are right that I appear to have mis-typed chrysotile as crocidolite - and below report on varous sources making clear the typical composition of and types of asbestos used in floor tiles, both asphalt-based and vinyl-based.

You are absolutely right that most asphalt-asbestos floor tile and vinyl-asbestos floor tile contained principally chrysotile asbestos with some amosite asbestos. My citations below of Rosato who was there at the time are useful for percentage figures: at least 25% asbestos, of which both long fibres for strength and shorts for filler were used in asbestos-containing flooring.

Part of the confusion in our original probably stemmed from this remark:

Chrysotile had been the only type of asbestos permitted in the UK since amosite and crocidolite were banned in 1985.

But crocidolite was used in particularly in cement-asbestos products, in ceiling tiles, in fire-resistant spray-on coatings (cited below) and other products.

Floor tiles and sheet flooring that used asbestos are not asbestos-cement products and more commonly that flooring contained chrysotile and amosite asbestos.

At ASBESTOS CEMENT PRODUCTS we note that for cement asbestos:

HSE considers that the risk of exposure to airborne asbestos fibres is lower in asbestos cement products compared with some other asbestos containing products due to: ... - the high use of chrysotile asbestos compared to amosite and crocidolite asbestos.

I read that to mean that crocidolite was indeed in UK products prior to 1985. It was in the early 1980's that world attention began to focus more acutely on asbestos hazards in flooring. In my OPINION those hazards are much less than the asbstos hazards from more-friable asbestos-containing materials, until there is a messy demolition or until someone grinds, saws, chops, or sands asbestos-containing floor tiles including both older asphalt-asbestos flooring and vinyl asbestos flooring that was popularized later.

See these sources for more about chrysotile asbestos used in the manufacture of floor tiles

Both of your source citations are credible, being in the UK HSE, though possibly incomplete.

Your first source: PRODUCTS in the UK THAT MAY CONTAIN ASBESTOS [PDF] retrieved 2018/02/07 original source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/managing/products.htm

cites three asbestos forms but as you noted, does not apply the "blue" (crocidolite) to flooring. I'm not sure that document is complete.

Your second source: UK ASBESTOS SURVEY GUIDE & PROCEDURES [PDF] retrieved 2018/02/07 original source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pUbns/priced/hsg264.pdf)
includes this remark

In general, however, unless there is evidence to show otherwise, the asbestos type should be assumed to be crocidolite asbestos.

Appendix 2: ACMs in buildings listed in order of ease of fibre releaseable of products and asbestos types simply does not include flooring. Probably because the ease of fibre release is so low.

But consistent with your observation the document states:

99 Some materials, like textured plasters, paints and vinyl floor tiles, may contain very fine dispersed chrysotile asbestos which may not be seen by eye or with a magnifying glass, and these materials (if old) will have to be presumed to contain asbestos unless they are sampled and carefully analysed by a competent laboratory.

As imported materials may have contained chrysotile asbestos until 1999 and laboratories often miss the fine asbestos, some additional checks may be necessary with these types of materials.

Other useful characteristics (eg surface texture, sound when knocked, warmth to touch, surface hardness/deformation with a probe) may also be used by experienced surveyors to help compare the material with other materials they have previously encountered and had samples identified.

Unless the surveyor is convinced that there is adequate evidence to conclude that the material is asbestos-free (eg plaster, plasterboard, wood etc), a presumption or strong presumption should be made that it is an ACM.

Advice for Handling U.K. Flooring that May Contain Asbestos

Asbestos Advice & Recommended Reading from the U.K. HSE

Asbestos Advice at InspectApedia.com

ADVICE: if we know nothing else about asbestos-suspect flooring then the following is a sensible approach:

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.

On any of our asbestos-related InspectApedia pages, at More Reading you will find a complete ARTICLE INDEX to ASBESTOS HAZARDS

ASBESTOS FLOORING HAZARD REDUCTION - recommends various approaches that minimise the risk of asbestos hazards in U.K. buildings

Or for a floor that is in poor condition or that must be removed for other reasons such as renovations, see ASBESTOS FLOORING REMOVAL GUIDE

IF you are faced with a requirement for demolition and if you are uncertain about the flooring's asbestos content and cannot identify it through our guides, then you have a sample tested.
See ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST

Watch out: do not assume that asphalt-asbestos flooring or vinyl-asbestos flooring in your building is the only asbestos hazard nor that it is the most dangerous asbestos source. Other asbestos-containing materials in your building may be more friable, more-easily releasing asbestos fibres into the building air, and thus more dangerous. The location and condition of the material is important too.

See ASBESTOS LIST of PRODUCTS for an extensive list of the forms in which asbestos was used and for asbestos-containing products or materials likely to be found in or on buildings.

...


Continue reading at ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE PHOTO ID REQUESTS - home, or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see FLOOR TILE / SHEET FLOORING PHOTO GUIDES

Or see ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION COLOR KEY

Or see FLOOR TYPES & DEFECTS - home

Or see this

Article Series Contents

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ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION 1950's or LATER in the U.K. at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES: ARTICLE INDEX to ARTICLE INDEX to ASBESTOS HAZARDS

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