Do your tiles contain asbestos?
Tiles that were manufactured before 1981 have a strong possibility of containing the extremely hazardous substance, asbestos. Asbestos can be found in floor or ceiling tiles made of vinyl, asphalt and/or rubber. It can be present in a number of tiles made from different materials, such as:
- Paper backing on tiles
- Adhesives used to install tiles
- Linoleum floor tiles
- 9-inch and 12- inch floor tiles
If you know or suspect you have tiles that contain asbestos the best thing to do is employ a qualified asbestos testing company to test for the substance. It is highly recommended that you do not remove any material that may contain asbestos, or test for the substance using a DIY kit. Asbestos can cause serious effects on a person’s health and lead to terminal illness. A reputable company will test for asbestos and then recommend the most effective way to proceed, whether that means leaving the tiles intact or removing them altogether. Floor and ceiling tiles that are whole and intact are not considered dangerous, as the asbestos fibers are bound inside the tile. The tiles may not have to be removed as if it remains undisturbed it isn’t dangerous to a person’s health. Covering tiles that contain asbestos can be an ideal way to make sure the fibres don’t get released into the air. This can be done by enclosing the tile to prevent asbestos fibers from entering the air or covering the tile with an acrylic substance, which seals the asbestos in place.
As we have learned, it is not always necessary to remove tiles that contain asbestos. Many buildings have floor and ceiling that contains asbestos, which never need to be fully removed. They do however need to be managed and monitored. Regular washing, waxing, stripping and buffing of tiles containing asbestos will not release the dangerous fibres into the air. If you are aware that your home or premises contains tiles where asbestos is present, then in order to prevent the release of these fibres you should stick to the following rules:
- Never sand the floor.
- Do not saw, scrape or drill asbestos tiles.
- Do not dust, sweep or hoover asbestos dust or debris.
- Don't use abrasive pads or brushes on power strippers to strip wax from asbestos flooring.
- Burnishing or dry buffing can be done but only when the flooring has enough of a finish so that the pad cannot contact the asbestos-containing material.
- If you find any broken and/or damaged asbestos floor tiles, you should contact an asbestos abatement company
Asbestos containing material is not generally considered to be harmful unless it is releasing dust or fibres into the air where they can be inhaled or ingested. However, it is best to have the suspected tiles tested so it can be monitored and managed over time and in a safe manor.
If you are considering renovating your house, property or premises then testing for asbestos is essential before any work is carried out. If asbestos is disturbed it becomes airborne and deadly to a person's health. If any tiles are found to have asbestos present then the safe removal of the material needs to be managed by a qualified company, who can then dispose of the material appropriately.
Major repairs must always be done only by a professional trained in methods for safely handling asbestos. We recommend that even minor repairs should be done by professionals since there is always a risk of exposure to fibers when asbestos is disturbed.