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Asbestos Floor Tiles - Everything You Need To Know 

This guide was written by our expert in-house asbestos team it was last edited on the 8th of December 2023, and then was independently reviewed & fact-checked by William Wright, NEBOSH on the 8th of December 2023. 

Overview

Asbestos floor tiles were once highly favoured in the UK and were used extensively in homes and commercial properties throughout the 19th century. Though no longer in use (Asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999) they might still be concealed beneath carpets today. These tiles were commonly composed of asbestos bonded with materials such as asphalt or vinyl, presenting a variety of patterns and styles.

The incorporation of asbestos in these materials offered numerous advantages at an economical price, offering qualities such as thermal resistance (for fire protection), soundproofing, and resistance to chemicals/corrosion, rendering them exceptionally durable

What Do Asbestos Floor Tiles Look Like?

Identifying asbestos floor tiles through a visual inspection alone is nearly impossible. Asbestos fibres are microscopic and the asbestos was often combined with other flooring materials like vinyl, making it indistinguishable from non-asbestos tiles.

The only reliable method to confirm the presence of asbestos in a tile is to have it tested in a laboratory. If your property was constructed before 1999 and you come across floor tiles, it is advisable to assume that they could potentially contain asbestos.

Fact Sheet

DefinitionAnswer
Known NamesThermoplastic Tiles, Marley Tiles, Asbestos Floor Tiles, ACM tiles.
% of asbestos11-25% [2]
ColoursAny
Product TypesFlooring
Asbestos Minerals UsedTypically Chrysotile
Risk LevelLow Risk- Non-Friable - Bonded Material
Removal CostLow (asbestos removal costs)
Dates used1900s

Pictures of Asbestos Floor Tiles

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asbestos-containing-floor-tiles.jpeg__PID:197ae7d6-bdc8-46db-b662-9425f5f07997

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Identifying Asbestos Floor Tiles

Here are some commonly asked questions regarding identifying asbestos floor tiles, if you have any questions which aren't mentioned in this article please contact us and one of our asbestos specialists will respond to your question.

Where are they commonly found?

Asbestos floor tiles can be found throughout many properties. There are no hard and fast rules as to where they could have been used. In general, they where used anywhere you would expect to find floor tiles, such as in kitchens, bathrooms and hallways. It's worth checking under carpets and newer floor coverings as the previous building owner may have left them in situ and simply laid flooring over them. 

How Dangerous Are Asbestos Floor Tiles?

Floor tiles are considered a relatively low-risk asbestos-containing product. This is due to the material makeup. With the material being heavily bonded and non-friable (Friability is the tendency to break down, chip or crumble under pressure or as a result of abrasion) this means when the product is disturbed or broken there is a minimal release of asbestos fibres. 

Whilst considered low-risk by the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) [1] this doesn't mean that the product isn't harmful and certainly doesn't mean it is safe to remove without protection. If you intend to work on asbestos floor tiles then ensure you wear appropriate RPE & PPE. 

Is a license required for removal?

According to the HSE  an asbestos license is not required to remove asbestos floor tiles. Removal of floor tiles with an asbestos-paper backing will be notifiable non-licensed work (NNLW) - This means the contractor carrying out the work may need to let the HSE know about the removal works before starting.

Asbestos Floor Tile Statistics in The UK

We carry out 1000s of asbestos tests per year, and due to this, we have accumulated an extensive data set that we can call upon. According to our data around 10% of the samples we test are floor tile samples - This makes floor tiles the 3rd most tested material. Of those tested, a staggering 43% of floor tiles came back with a positive result (containing asbestos). If we are to generalise this data we could assume that if you find a floor tile in your property there is a 43% chance that it contains asbestos.

frequently asked questions

References / Citations

  • 1. Health & Safety Executive, A23 -Asbestos Essentials [link]
  • 2. Vinyl-Asbestos Floor Risk Exposure in Three Different Simulations [link]