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Flooring and Asbestos

Flooring Contractors' page

In the past, asbestos fibers were added during the production of flooring materials to strengthen the flooring and to increase its durability, resulting in many asbestos-containing flooring material icluding sheet vinyl, vinyl or asphalt floor tiles and any associated paper-like backing, mastic, adhesive or glue. The following are the most common types of flooring and their likelihood to contain asbestos.

Vinyl Composition Tile (VCT)

Vinyl composition tile is the most popular resilient flooring today for commercial applications. These 12" x 12" tiles come in a variety of colors and grades. They are easy to install and are cost effective. VCT offers good dimensional stability, durability, impact resistance, UV light stability and heat stability.

Their main composition is a limestone/clay/talc mixture, plus binder (filler), vinyl (resin) fiberglass, plasticizer and pigment.

It's a meyth in the industry that 12" x 12" doesn't contain asbestos. Our experience with this kind tile tells us the only proof is laboratory testing where often times asbestos will be found in this type of flooring.

Vinyl Asbestos Tile (VAT)

This is the common resilient flooring that was produced from the mid-1950’s until the mid-1980’s. Much of it was produced in the 9" x 9" size, though 12" x 12" was also available. This flooring hasn’t been produced for health and safety reasons since mid-1980. VAT was known for its durability, dimensional stability and heat resistance as evidenced by the amount still found in older buildings.

Its main composition is limestone, asbestos, binder (filler), plasticizer and pigment.

If you see the label Vinyl Asbestos Tile, it's a good indication asbestos will be found, especially if it's a 9" x 9" tile. The percentage of this kind tile is still low, ranging from 2% to 6% of asbestos.

Sheet Vinyl

This flooring is produced in sheet widths from 6?to 15? making it easy to install and eliminating seams which can trap dirt and moisture. Sheet vinyl is not commonly used in commercial buildings since it sacrifices durability when compared to VCT.

It's composition is similar to VCT but contains more vinyl resin and less limestone filler, giving it greater flexibility.

The place to look for asbestos is the backing which is mornally gray color. It's either negative or high asbestos containg ranging from %45 to 65%.

Linoleum

Invented by a British rubber manufacturer in 1860, linoleum is a tough, natural ingredient-based flooring that has enjoyed a slight resurgence with homeowners recently due to its positive environmental profile. It is still used in commercial applications because of its high durability. It is nearly impossible to tell sheet vinyl from linoleum once installed.

Its composition includes linseed oil mixed with powdered wood and/or cork, ground limestone, resins, drying agents and pigments applied to a jute backing.

Contrary to general belief, asbestos is often found in this kind of flooring, especlially when the linoleum is a rigid crest type of material. In the softer version asbestos is less commonly found. the backing of this flooring is normally green colored, and it's most of the time negative for asbestos testing.

Other Types of Flooring

Man-Made Stone, Ceramic Unglazed or Glazed (Quarry Tile), Brick Pavers, Mexican Tile (Saltillo), Concrete, Natural Stone Flooring, Marble, Slate, Granite, Hardwood Flooring are the common examples of other flooring materials. These flooring materials are less likely to contain asbestos, but the mastic under them should be always checked for asbestos presence.



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