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All You Need to Know About Asbestos & Floor Tiles

As recently as the 1980s, asbestos was found in many types of common construction materials. Unfortunately, floor tiles were included in this group. Since one of the biggest advantages of asbestos was its heat resistance and durability, it made sense at the time to use it in flooring materials, especially those that would be in high-traffic areas. Though it's been banned for decades, many older homes from pre-1980 have floor tiles that contain asbestos. If you're concerned about this as a homeowner or contractor, we at Oasis Tile have all you need to know about asbestos and floor tiles.

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How to Tell if Floor Tiles Have Asbestos?

Since asbestos was so common in room flooring tiles for so many decades, there are numerous ways you can tell if bathroom vinyl floor tiles or tiles in other parts of a home contain this harmful substance. 

While the best way to know if room flooring tiles in your home contain asbestos is to have them tested by a lab, chances are any home built before 1980 that contains floor tiles has ones containing asbestos. 

Close up of old pieces of asbestos tiles and protective equipment used for Asbestos removal.


Another indicator floor tiles in your home may contain asbestos is their appearance. If the flooring is old and appears discolored or has an oily or greasy look to it, asbestos is likely present within the flooring materials. 

Finally, a home with pre-1980 flooring that has floor tiles measuring nine, 12, or 18 inches square and has flooring adhesive on the back of the tiles that is black most likely has tiles with asbestos. 

Can Asbestos Floor Tile Impact My Health?

As far as how or if floor tile that contains asbestos will impact your health and that of your family, this will depend on whether or not the flooring in question is left in place.

When asbestos-containing floor tiles are left in place and undisturbed, they usually do not pose a significant health risk within a home. However, this can change during a remodeling project.

As room flooring tiles that contain asbestos are removed, small particles of asbestos dust will be released into the air, ultimately finding their way into your lungs. Should this happen, long-term health problems can ensue, which may include chronic coughing, respiratory issues, or even the development of lung cancer or mesothelioma.

Where Are These Types of Tiles Used Most Often in a Home?

If you are buying an older home or preparing to renovate your existing home, it is important to know which areas of the home may contain floor tiles that contain asbestos. 

Broken Asbestos Floor Tiles


As we noted earlier, asbestos was originally used in room flooring tiles because it is a substance with a high degree of heat-resistance and durability. Since this made it perfect for use in high-traffic areas, expect to find tiles containing asbestos in such parts of a home as the kitchen, bathroom, entryways, and hallways. 

However, don't assume these will be the only places within a home with these potentially harmful tiles. For example, an older home may contain a finished basement with tile flooring, or perhaps a laundry or utility room. 

Can Asbestos Floor Tile Be Safely Covered?

If you find your home does have asbestos floor tiles within various rooms, the good news is that they can be covered up very safely and rather easily.

Today's modern vinyl floor tiles can self-adhere very easily to asbestos. In fact, if you want to ensure your asbestos floor is completely sealed, we at Oasis Tile highly recommend you consider laying vinyl tile. In doing so, you won't have to worry about the time, expense, or potential health hazards that may come with tearing up an asbestos floor in your home and starting from scratch.

Should you have a floor that contains asbestos, it is important to remember that many tile contractors will not begin to consider tearing up the floor, due to the health risks it poses to themselves and others. Also, once the asbestos floor is removed, it is then considered to be hazardous waste, and must be disposed of by a trained hazmat team.

Will My Floor Be Too Thick?

Should you decide to cover an asbestos floor with vinyl tile, one of your biggest concerns may be whether or not the ensuing new floor will be too thick. This is a valid concern, since this could impede the ability of doors to open and close properly. 

Here at Oasis Tile, we find customers who opt to use peel and stick vinyl tile generally have no problems regarding floor thickness. Along with being made so that the tiles are very thin, this type of tile also needs no additional adhesive applied to the existing floor, making the job much easier and leaving the floor looking new and very natural in appearance.

If thickness will not be an issue when covering your asbestos floor, you can also opt to use porcelain, natural stone, or ceramic tiles on your floor. If you do, make sure you measure carefully underneath doorways to ensure they will have enough clearance. 

Should you want a look of hardwood flooring over asbestos, a floating floor of laminate might be your best bet. Since these boards are made so that they snap into one another instead of directly to the floor, you won't have to worry about having the old floor pierced, which could release asbestos particles into the air.

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Getting the Floor You Want

If you have retro floor tile in your home and you think it may contain asbestos, you can choose to get it inspected by a lab to find out for sure. However, if you don't want to go to this trouble, finding the tile you want from us here at Oasis Tile can make this task much easier than you expected. By selecting from our inventory of high-quality vinyl, ceramic, porcelain, and countless other types of room flooring tiles, it won't be long until you have a wonderful new floor and have put your asbestos worries to rest. Unsure of where to start in choosing floor tiles? Oasis TIles has got you covered. Take a look at our ultimate guide to buying floor tile!

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