Asphalt asbestos floor tiles were popular in the U.S. from 1920 into the 1960’s. Asphalt-asbestos floor tiles were produced at first in dark colors using a heavy asphalt binder combined with a very high percentage of asbestos filler fibers, principally chrysotile and amosite asbestos. Vinyl flooring that contain asbestos cannot be recognized on sight. It is always safer to assume material manufactured before 1980 contains asbestos. Asbestos vinyl sheet flooring should only be removed by a licensed abatement professional.
How can you tell if you have them –
Let’s start with a principle used in the flooring and construction industries: If you think it could be asbestos, treat it as asbestos, even if the material hasn’t been tested.
With that in mind, here are the keys to identifying asbestos floor tiles.
- Gather information about the age of the tiles: Asbestos flooring was made into the 1980s, though its heyday was the 1920s through the 1960s. If you know when the building was built or renovated, this might help you estimate when the tiles were installed.
- Measure the tiles. Asbestos floor tiles were manufactured in three sizes: 9”x9”, 12”x12” and 18”x18”.
- Examine the condition of the tiles: Intact asbestos tiles are not a major risk and can, in fact, be left in place and covered with other materials such as carpet, vinyl, linoleum or concrete. Tiles that are disintegrating should be handled with extreme care.
- Look for discoloration: Asphalt is a main ingredient in asbestos tiles, and the oil from the asphalt can leach out. If the tiles or the floor beneath show oily discoloration, the tiles very likely contain asbestos.
As you can see, this method is not an exact science. The only way to make it a science is to hire a licensed asbestos inspector or by sending a sample to a lab to be tested, but doing so can be costly and time consuming. Some would prefer to push ahead with proper asbestos handling procedures.
Uploaded by Bonnie Bruno on 2015-05-12.