Asbestos Tiles

Expert Fact Checked

This page was legally reviewed by Jennifer Lucarelli. For information on our content creation and review process read our editorial guidelines. If you notice an error or have comments or questions on our content please contact us.

Jennifer Lucarelli Legal Advisor and Contributor

Asbestos-containing tiles were used in ceilings and floors, often installed with asbestos adhesive. Some ceramic wall tiles were also installed with asbestos adhesive or grout. If broken or disturbed, these materials can release asbestos fibers that cause cancers, like mesothelioma.

01. Asbestos Use in Tiles

Why Was Asbestos Used in Tiles?

Manufacturers made floor and ceiling tiles with asbestos because of its strength and heat resistance. Asbestos fibers also improved the moisture resistance and durability of tiles. Asbestos floor and ceiling tiles were commonly installed in homes and businesses for much of the 20th century.

Increased awareness of asbestos hazards led many manufacturers to stop using it by the late 1980s. By then, studies had demonstrated inhalation of asbestos fibers could cause lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Homes and buildings built into the 1990s may still contain these and other asbestos products. Asbestos floor tiles are considered generally safe as long as they remain intact. Ceiling tiles pose a greater risk, as they crumble with light pressure. Ceiling tiles can also break down over time, releasing asbestos fibers into the air.

Asbestos Tiles History at a Glance

Dangers of Asbestos in Ceiling and Floor Tiles

Asbestos-containing products like ceiling and floor tiles pose serious health risks. If a person inhales asbestos, the fibers can lodge in the body, causing mesothelioma or other cancers and diseases. Asbestos ceiling and floor tiles have different compositions and levels of risk.

Asbestos ceiling tiles are considered friable. This means they crumble easily, releasing asbestos fibers into the air. If these ceiling tiles fall or get crushed, asbestos fibers may be released. People who manufactured or otherwise worked with asbestos ceiling tiles may have been exposed.

Asbestos floor tiles are considered non-friable. This means they are less likely to crumble under pressure and release asbestos fibers. But research indicates grinding, breaking or cutting asbestos floor tiles can release fibers.

There is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Even low levels of exposure may cause lung cancer, mesothelioma or asbestosis.

02. List of Asbestos Ceiling Tiles

List of Asbestos Ceiling Tiles

In the past, asbestos was a common component of many ceiling materials. It was used in ceiling tiles and in the paper backing for them. Asbestos was also used in the adhesives sometimes used to hold the tiles in place. People who install, remove or disturb asbestos ceiling tiles risk developing asbestos illnesses, including cancer.

Asbestos Ceiling Tile Products
List of Asbestos Ceiling Tile Products

Product Name Start Year End Year
Flintkote Ceiling Tiles
National Gypsum Gold Bond Ceiling Panels 1958 1981
Owens-Corning Fiberglass Ceiling Boards 1964 1977
United States Gypsum Ceiling Tiles 1967 1976

Asbestos ceiling products were popular for their low cost and fire resistance. Several companies manufactured these tiles and other asbestos products that put people at risk of exposure.

Companies That Produced Asbestos Ceiling Tiles

03. List of Asbestos Floor Tiles

List of Asbestos Floor Tiles

Asbestos floor tiles could contain up to 70% asbestos by weight. This high asbestos content posed risks to people who manufactured, installed or renovated the tiles.

Asbestos floor tiles came in two main varieties: vinyl tiles and asphalt tiles. Vinyl and asphalt asbestos tiles were popular in buildings and homes. These two types of asbestos floor tiles had differing properties and appearances.

Vinyl Asbestos Tiles

Also called plastic tiles, these were often used in heavy-traffic areas. Asbestos fibers were mixed into the vinyl resin during production. Vinyl tiles were produced in three main sizes: 9×9, 12×12 and 18×18 inches.

Asphalt Asbestos Tiles

These tiles contained asphalt and gilsonite as the main binding agents. They were usually produced in 9×9-inch and 12×12-inch sizes. They came in darker colors compared to vinyl asbestos tiles.

Asbestos floor tiles may still be present in some homes and buildings. They were a common flooring choice prior to the 1980s. Asbestos-containing vinyl was also used in other applications, including sheet flooring and wallpaper, that may still be found in older buildings.

Asbestos Floor Tile Products
List of Asbestos Floor Tile Products

Product Name Start Year End Year
American Biltrite Asphalt Tiles 1961 1970
American Biltrite Vinyl Asbestos Floor Tile 1961 1985
Armstrong Asphalt Tile 1961 1972
Armstrong Excelon Vinyl Asbestos Floor Tile 1939 1957
Armstrong Rubber Tile
Armstrong Vinyl Asbestos Tile 1955 1956
Congoleum Asbestos Tile 1959 1975
Congoleum Asphalt Tiles 1959 1971
Fibreboard Pabco Floron Floor Tile 1941 1971
Flintkote Flexachrome Tile
Flintkote Floor Tiles
Flintkote Vincor Floor Tiles
Flintkote Vinyl Asbestos Floor Tiles
GAF Contico Asbestos Floor Tile
GAF Fashioncraft VinylFlex Floor Tile
GAF Ruberoid Matico Asbestos Floor Tile
GAF Stoneglow Vinyl Asbestos Floor Tile
GAF Sure-Stik Adhesive-Backed Vinyl Asbestos Tile
GAF Vinyl Asbestos Floor Tile
GAF VinylFlex Floor Tile
Kentile Floors KenFlex Vinyl Asbestos Tile 1907 1986
Nairn Asphalt Tile 1947 1951

A number of companies manufactured asbestos floor tiles alongside other asbestos products. Several of them went on to declare bankruptcy because of mounting asbestos litigation costs.

Companies That Produced Asbestos Floor Tiles

Homeowners, tenants and building owners need not worry about asbestos in newer flooring. New vinyl or laminate flooring options were not made with asbestos after the 1990s.

04. Asbestos Tile & Asbestos Exposure

Who Is at Risk of Asbestos Exposure From Asbestos Tiles?

Asbestos-containing ceiling products were common in schools, universities, warehouses and hospitals. In the home, asbestos-containing ceiling tiles were common in kitchens and basements to cover ductwork.

Asbestos floor tiles were used in homes, commercial and institutional buildings, including schools and churches. They were common in high traffic areas like cafeterias, gyms and libraries.

People who worked with asbestos tiles indirectly or directly had a risk of asbestos exposure. Maintenance in buildings with asbestos floor or ceiling tiles may be considered an asbestos occupation. People who worked in the same building, like teachers or principals, may also have encountered asbestos.

Homeowners may also have experienced asbestos exposure when installing or repairing asbestos tiles. This risk continues today when people renovate homes containing older tiles.

Occupations at Risk of Exposure From Asbestos Tiles

05. Asbestos Lawsuits

Asbestos Lawsuits, Settlements & Other Compensation

Asbestos fibers from ceiling or floor tiles can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and other conditions. People who developed illnesses as a result of asbestos tiles may seek financial compensation. Asbestos compensation options include:

Individuals considering asbestos compensation should discuss their options with a mesothelioma lawyer. The lawyer can explain the merits of different types of compensation.

$3.3 Million Awarded to Asbestos Flooring Installer

In 1996, a flooring contractor was diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma. He blamed his cancer on asbestos exposure from the flooring products he installed, removed and sanded. The contractor filed a lawsuit against Armstrong World Industries, Congoleum, The Flintkote Company and other manufacturers.

The contractor passed away during the course of the trial, but the case went on as a wrongful death lawsuit. Ultimately, a jury agreed with the contractor, awarding $3.3 million in damages to his wife and heirs.

06. Asbestos Tile Removal

Safely Removing Asbestos Tiles

Owners of older homes may encounter asbestos tiles during do-it-yourself repairs or renovations. Asbestos removal professionals should handle any removal of asbestos tiles. Fibers can be released during the removal process, posing serious risks to anyone in the area.

According to experts, proper removal and disposal of asbestos tiles is a hazardous, complicated task. The steps may differ between floor and ceiling tiles, but general principles remain.

  • Protect surroundings: The surrounding area must be shielded from any dust created by removal. This may involve using plastic sheathing to cover surfaces underneath ceiling tiles. It may also require sealing off the room or building in question and shutting down all ventilation.
  • Use adequate personal protective equipment: Workers removing asbestos tile must protect themselves from exposure. This may involve wearing full-body coveralls and an asbestos-safe respirator.
  • Use plenty of water: Asbestos tiles can release dust if broken or disturbed. Wiping them down with water may help keep fibers out of the air.
  • Vacuum everything: Throughout the process, dust should be kept as minimal as possible. Using a HEPA vacuum can help accomplish this safely.

With so much equipment and risk, removing any kind of asbestos tile should be left to professionals.