Asbestos was once considered a wondrous material — it was inexpensive and it increased the durability and fire resistance of any material you added it to. As a result, it was often added to the floor tiles that were used in the construction of older homes.
Unfortunately, asbestos poses a risk to human health. Inhaling asbestos fibers can lead to scarring in your lungs and increase your risk of developing cancer. If you own an older home with floor tiles, you may be wondering if they contain asbestos and could be harmful to your health.
Look for a Box of Replacement Tiles
If the home builder was thoughtful enough to leave a box of replacement tiles in the home, checking the box is the quickest way to see if your floor tiles contain asbestos. Replacement tiles are used to provide an exact match for a tile that's damaged, and you'll most likely find the box in your attic or garage. Search on the internet for the manufacturer's name listed on the box along with the collection name of the tile, and you'll likely be able to find out if the tiles contain asbestos along with the amount that they contain.
Use an Asbestos Test Kit
If you don't have a box of replacement tiles in your home, you'll need to test the floor tiles in order to see if they have asbestos. The least expensive way to do this is to use a mail-in asbestos test kit. You can purchase one from a home improvement store or order one online. In order to use one, you remove a sample of your floor tile, put it in the hazardous material bag included in the kit, and then mail it into a testing laboratory. They'll contact you once they test the tile sample and tell you how much asbestos your floor tile contains.
Unfortunately, this method is hazardous. Asbestos floor tile is normally quite safe since it's a non-friable material. This means that the asbestos fibers are locked within the floor tile and won't become airborne when you touch them. When you break apart the tile in order to take a sample to mail in, however, you may end up releasing some of those asbestos fibers into the air. While using a test kit is the least expensive method of checking the asbestos content of your floor tile, it can also expose you to asbestos fibers.
Hire an Asbestos Inspection Service
If you want a safer alternative to using a test kit, hire an asbestos inspection service to check if your floor tile contains asbestos. They'll block off the room the tiles are in using plastic sheets in order to prevent asbestos fibers from spreading further throughout your home if they're accidentally released, and they'll take the floor tile sample for you — you don't have to risk being exposed to asbestos.
While hiring a professional is more expensive than using a test kit on your own, it protects you from becoming exposed to asbestos fibers when you break apart the tile in order to collect a sample.
In general, the easiest method to see if your floor tiles have asbestos is to hunt around your home for a box of replacement tiles. Searching for the manufacturer's name and tile collection can often give you a quick answer. If you don't have a box of replacement tiles around, the next best option is to hire a professional asbestos inspection service to have your tiles tested — there's no risk of being exposed to asbestos fibers, which keeps you safe from the health consequences of inhaling them.
For more information, contact an asbestos inspection service near you.