Asbestos Floor Tiles
Asbestos was widely used in the UK in construction and housing materials, and it wasn’t until in the late 1970s that the detrimental health effects of the mineral were understood.
Until then, asbestos was seen as a wonder mineral and had amazing properties that were beneficial for things like insulation. A particular product that saw great usage in the UK was asbestos floor tiles. In this guide, we discuss asbestos floor tiles including what they are, how to identify them, and when they were banned in the UK.
What are Asbestos Floor Tiles?
Asbestos floor tiles were incredibly popular in the UK and although they have gone out of fashion today you may still find them lurking under carpets. The floor tiles were typically asbestos bonded with other materials like asphalt or vinyl and produced in an array of patterns and styles.
Oftentimes a special type of black asbestos adhesive was also used on the rear of the tiles to stick them to the floor. Asbestos was used in floor tiles as it improved the durability of your floor for frequently trodden rooms like bathrooms and kitchens.
What do Asbestos Floor Tiles Look Like?
The most annoying thing about asbestos floor tiles is that they are virtually impossible to detect purely from a visual check. The asbestos was bonded with other suitable flooring materials like vinyl therefore it only formed part of the whole tile.
Combine this with the fact that there were hundreds of manufacturers and thousands of different tile designs and patterns, and you can see the problem. A few important pointers to help identify the presence of asbestos in your floor tiles include:
• Tile Size: Asbestos vinyl tiles were commonly 9x9, 12x12, and 18x8 inch and asphalt asbestos tiles were usually 9x9 and 12x12 inches.
• Installation Period: Asbestos floor tiles were used more between 1920-1970 in the UK.
These pointers definitely help but as you will see below the definitive way to identify asbestos floor tiles is through testing.
When Did They Stop Using Asbestos in Floor Tiles?
Blue asbestos (crocidolite) was banned in the UK in 1985 and this was by far the most hazardous type of asbestos. It was commonly used in cement, tiles, and insulation materials. Therefore, if your home was built after 1985 then it shouldn’t contain any blue asbestos.
However, white asbestos which was by far the more common strain was not banned in the UK until 1999. This was used in virtually all types of asbestos products including asbestos floor tiles. As a result, you cannot truly say that your house is asbestos free unless it was built from the year 2000 onwards.
Even when the ban was introduced, manufacturers still used up their existing stocks, this is why we say that 2000 is the cut-off point and any house pre-2000 could contain asbestos.
How to Deal With Asbestos Floor Tiles?
Did you know that over 14 million homes in the UK that still exist were built before the 1990s? Compare that to only the 5-6 million that were built after 1990 and you can easily see why asbestos is still a problem.
As a result, you must know how to deal with it and what your options are if it transpires you home has something like asbestos floor tiles. We look at the different options below.
Testing for Asbestos in Your Floor Tiles
As asbestos in floor tiles is virtually impossible to detect visually the only way to be certain is to use a testing kit or seek professional help. We provide asbestos home testing kits that you can easily use and get quick results from a certified lab.
The testing kits contain complete instructions so you can extract the sample safely, and all the PPE you need to prevent any accidental inhalation. This includes a breathing mask and a body suit. You also get a pre-paid envelope to send off your sample securely once collected.
This is the cheapest and quickest way to test your floor tiles for asbestos and it involves much less hassle and stress than hiring professionals to do a survey.
Keeping your asbestos floor tiles
It is possible to keep your asbestos floor tiles, but this depends on their condition. The floor tiles are safe providing that they are whole and in a perfect condition. This means that there isn’t any breaks, scrapes, or external damage.
If parts of the tiles are cracked and broken then there is a real risk that asbestos fibres could be released into the air, and you could inhale them. This is when the damage can occur, and you can permanently scar your lungs or worse.
In most instances it is safer and wiser to get the asbestos floor tiles removed. You can easily find companies in the UK that specialize in asbestos removal, and they will be able to work in a safe and effective manner. They will cordon off the area and make sure that your family are safe during the process.
You should never attempt to remove asbestos floor tiles (or any product containing asbestos) yourself. You simply don’t have the tools and know-how to do so properly and safely.
Replacing your asbestos floor tiles
We suggest replacing your floor tiles if you do a test and they contain asbestos. This is the safest thing to do and the reality is, is that they will most likely look quite dated too. Even if they are in tip-top condition, there is no guarantee that they don’t get damaged over time.
All it takes is for someone to drop a piece of cutlery or dinnerware on the tiles and they could crack and become an instant health hazard. By getting them replaced you remove all potential hazards and don’t have to tip toe on your floors!
Cleaning your asbestos floor tiles
As asbestos is only a component of floor tiles you can usually clean them as you would a normal floor with a mop and soapy water. This shouldn’t cause any issue and you can comfortably use cleaning products too. The main point is that you should always check the condition of the floor tiles and make sure they aren’t damaged.