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  • Writer's pictureKevin Maxwell

Everything You Should Know About Asbestos Floor Tiles.


Up until the 1980s, asbestos was a widely used mineral for construction. It's resilient, durable, and heat-resistant, which made it a popular material for floor tiles and countless other materials. Unfortunately, it was soon found to pose extreme health risks. Even more unfortunately, this was only discovered decades after countless homes had asbestos containing materials installed throughout them.

If your home was built before the 1980s, you may have an asbestos containing material lurking somewhere inside. The good news? These materials aren't harmful to you unless they've been damaged or disturbed in some way. Otherwise, the asbestos fibers will remain sealed within, dormant. The trouble arises when construction projects start or the materials become ripped, torn, or otherwise damaged in a way so the asbestos fibers can escape.

So, if you're trying to remove flooring in your house, you better have it tested first! Here are some red flags that mean your floor tiles may contain asbestos:

  • Your home was built before the year 1980. Most floors between 1920 and 1960 contained asbestos. Some floors between 1960 and 1980 contained asbestos.

  • The floor tiles are 9-inch, 12-inch, or 18-inch squares. The first and former is the biggest culprit of asbestos!

  • The tiles look stained or oily as asphalt, which was the primary ingredient for asbestos floor tiles, degrades overtime and causes a grimy or discolored look.

  • Some floor tiles have come up and you see a thick black adhesive under the floor, which is black mastic (or "cutback" adhesive), commonly used for asbestos floor tiles.

Why Is Asbestos Dangerous?

Asbestos floor tiles get damaged through the years, leading to the asbestos fibers becoming friable. That means the material can crumble and break down, leading to the release of asbestos fibers. Once inhaled, asbestos fibers become lodged in the lungs and the body's other natural linings, and the body is unable to remove these fibers on its own.

Mesothelioma is a common result of asbestos exposure but Asbestos is, which is a non-cancer disease impacting the respiratory system, can also result from asbestos exposure. So, if you think you have a material in your home that contains asbestos, you should have it looked at by a professional.

How Are Asbestos Floor Tiles Removed?

If your floor tiles are undamaged and completely intact, you have some options for dealing with them. First off, you can leave them as-is and cover them with new flooring. This prevents the tiles from being damaged and becoming dangerous in the future and gives you the look of an updated floor.

Since these older tiles are pretty thin (about 1/8-inch thick), you can put new flooring on top without raising the floor height substantially. Especially if you're using carpet, new vinyl, laminate, or even hardwood. You can even put stone, slate, or ceramic tiles on top if you use a fiber-cement backer first.

Of course, if you ever go to sell your home, make sure you tell the real estate agent so they can inform new buyers about the dormant threat in case they wish to replace the flooring in the future.

Now, there are times when you can't or won't want to leave the tiles in place, like if you think there's original hardwood underneath the tiles that you wish to remove and refinish or if the tiles are damaged and already posing a threat. In these situations, you'll need to reach out to a professional asbestos abatement company.

Asbestos testing and inspection are performed through our sister company Albany Asbestos, LLC.

To schedule a Asbestos testing, sampling and inspection call our Team: (518) 964-2081!

The Author Kevin Maxwell is the owner and operator of Maxwell Home Inspection Services, LLC. Kevin Maxwell is a certified Home Inspector located in Albany NY that has performed over 6000 Inspections.

Phone: 1-800-598-4754


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