Asbestos Floor Tiles: What You Should Know

Asbestos floor tiles: what you should know!

In this comprehensive post, we'll go over the following;

Everything you need to know about Asbestos Floor Tiles.

You'll learn;

  • Types of asbestos floor tiles,
  • Asbestos Materials,
  • Identifying Asbestos Floor Tiles,
  • What to expect during removal, and
  • Asbestos Hazards.

So if you've ever wondered about any of these points, you'll love this post!

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Asbestos Floor Tiles Types


Asbestos is a microscopic fiber mineral that can be pulled apart into a soft, woolly consistency. It incorporates into products for strength, heat resistance, and durability. Vinyl and asphalt asbestos floor tiles were popular asbestos-containing materials (ACM).

Vinyl asbestos tiles are made by mixing asbestos fibers into a vinyl resin. They come in three sizes: 9×9, 12×12, and 18×18 inches. Asphalt asbestos tiles are made with asphalt and gilsonite as the primary binding agents. They usually come in 9×9-inch and 12×12-inch sizes.

Other types of flooring may also contain asbestos, such as floor tiles or linoleum. Even if these flooring materials don't contain asbestos, the black mastic adhesives used to apply them may have contained asbestos. Similarly, sheet vinyl flooring commonly has an asbestos backing, which is exposed when removing the flooring and can release fibers.

Homeowners, tenants, and building owners should not worry about asbestos-containing flooring since new vinyl or laminate flooring options are not made with asbestos. Asbestos floor tiles have not been manufactured since the 1990s.

Friable or Nonfriable Asbestos Materials


Nonfriable materials are durable and keep asbestos fibers safely contained. An example of a nonfriable material is a floor slab made from asbestos cement. Vinyl asbestos flooring is also considered nonfriable as long as it is not broken or cracked. This means it is safe to walk on but not scrape, sand, or use power tools.


Friable materials are easily breakable or crumbly. This is especially dangerous with asbestos, as it can release toxic dust into the air. Examples include old asbestos pipe insulation or vinyl asbestos flooring that is crumbling or damaged. Such materials need to be removed carefully to avoid asbestos exposure. 

The best way to deal with vinyl asbestos flooring is to cover it with new flooring or seal it with epoxy paint. This will prevent the asbestos from becoming airborne. However, it will still be present if anyone does demolition or renovation work in the future.

How to Identify Asbestos Floor Tiles

Asbestos tiles are not always easy to identify, as the fibers are not visible to the naked eye. However, an asbestos abatement professional can inspect potential asbestos-containing materials and take samples for testing if necessary.

When to Removal Asbestos Floor Tiles

Asbestos floor tiles can be left in place unless you're refinishing the flooring beneath them or disturbing the tile during a remodel. Some homeowners prefer to remove the tiles before they become a problem.

The safest removal option is to have Rock Environmental provide asbestos abatement services. The condition of the tiles and local regulations could affect the costs.

Professional Asbestos Floor Tile Removal Process

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Step 1: To prevent asbestos fibers from contaminating other areas of the house, we will shut down your HVAC unit and seal off different areas. Using plastic drop cloths, we will tape around registers, vents, and doorways and ensure the work area is also secluded. 

Step 2: Our entire team will wear proper protective gear, including respirators, safety goggles, gloves, boots, and protective clothing.

Step 3: Keeping the floor wet at all times will help reduce the risk of asbestos exposure. We often use a pump sprayer to wet the floor as we work to minimize the amount of asbestos fibers becoming airborne.

Step 4: Asbestos floor tiles will be taken up using hand tools such as a small shovel or metal scraper. The adhesive can be tough to pry loose, and the tiles may break apart. This is why PPE and having the area wet is vital in reducing the fibers from becoming airborne.

Step 5: Our professionals will use approved asbestos disposal bags for asbestos floor tiles and seal each one as directed. If needed, they will scrape the remaining adhesive off the subfloor while keeping the floor wet, then scoop it up and put it in a disposal bag.

Step 6: Once we successfully remove the asbestos floor tiles, we will mop the floor. After cleaning the floor, we will not reuse the mop head to ensure any cross-contamination. This will be disposed of with the other ACM.

Step 7: Lastly, we will help clear the air using dehumidifiers with HEPA filters and vacuums equipped with filters. If needed, we will clear the area multiple times. Finally, we will work with you to restore your home to its original state sans asbestos floor tiles.

Hiring a professional to remove asbestos tiles is still the best way to eliminate potential dangers, as most homeowners need the air quality equipment that professionals use.

Hazards of Asbestos Floor Tiles

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The EPA says that asbestos fibers can be harmful if they become friable and release into the air. As long as asbestos floor tiles are left undisturbed, they won't release fibers and pose a health risk. But if you disturb the tiles by sanding, sawing, drilling, or tearing them out, fibers can be released into the air and inhaled.

Asbestos fibers are microscopic, so when inhaled, they easily lodge into the lungs and stay there. Since they can’t break down, they lead to scarring and other illnesses. The most common are:

Lung Cancer 



As more and more evidence of the dangers of asbestos emerged in the 1970s, it became clear that this toxic mineral was responsible for the deaths of thousands of tradespeople who had been exposed to asbestos throughout their careers. Even though its use is now limited in the U.S., thousands of people die from asbestos-related diseases yearly.

Rock Environmental has been trained to safely and effectively remove asbestos floor tiles and asbestos in other areas of your home or business. If, in the event, you are looking to remodel or make changes to the area, give us a call, and we can check for potential asbestos exposure risks.

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