Assessment and Management of Asbestos in Vinyl Floor Tiles

What are vinyl floor tiles?

Vinyl is one of the many types of plastics. It has popular characteristics such as sturdiness, flexibility, it is easy to wash and cheap to install. Vinyl products can be manufactured in almost any colour and texture, making them a popular material choice for as a building material.

Other common vinyl products which often contain asbestos include vinyl wallpaper and vinyl sheet flooring.

Why was asbestos used in vinyl floor tiles?

Many houses before the 90s typically have vinyl floor tiles. Before the restrictions were places in Australia, it was common for asbestos to be added to the floor tiling materials. Asbestos was used for its insulation properties, having the ability to resist fire and used as a sealant from water damage. Asbestos floor tiles can be found in areas of the house including the kitchen, bathroom and laundry.

The asbestos vinyl floor tiles may not pose a threat as they are generally still well bond. The fibres typically posing a threat when disturbed and must be handled with care.

How can asbestos be identified in vinyl floor tiles?

 The general rule of thumb is if your home was built before 1990, it will likely contain asbestos floor tiling. Most asbestos containing materials in the home, if kept in good condition, will less likely pose a threat. However, once the asbestos tiles are damaged, cracked and worn, it is vital the materials are managed with care. Asbestos floor tiles which are damaged in any way becomes a hazard.

The first method in identifying asbestos in floor tiles is through visual inspection. However, this is a very difficult to conduct as the asbestos containing materials are seals and the fibres microscopic. To an untrained eye, this may be difficult to conduct, hence consulting an asbestos professional will be your best option. If you are unsure, it is not recommended that you conduct the inspection yourself. For your own safety always consult a professional.

In most cases, there will be uncertainty on whether the floor tiles contain asbestos. It is very difficult to determine asbestos containing materials via visual inspection. In these cases, the asbestos professional will organise for a sample be taken to an accredited laboratory for testing. Testing in the lab can take anywhere from same day to weeks. Taking the sample to the lab will present the most accurate results in whether your vinyl floor tiles is positive for asbestos.

In the meantime, while you are waiting for the results ensure the room where the floor tiles are located remains tightly closed. Do not allow children or other family members to enter this room while you are still waiting for the results.

What are the next steps when asbestos is identified in vinyl floor tiles?

If the results from the lab testing return positive, the floor tiles will need to undergo appropriate assessment to remove. Immediate action will be required if the floor tiles are damages, brittle or cracked. This is to prevent any further contamination to the property.

The asbestos professional will need to return to the property to provide a quotation. Factors which could influence the price of the removal include size and number of tiles, difficulty of removal (depending on the glue used), and accessibility of property. The adhesive used to bond the floor tiles may also contain asbestos.

The removal should always be conducted by professionals who have the appropriate equipment and experience to safely remove the asbestos containing materials. The asbestos professional should also arrange a vacuuming service to ensure debris is not present.

]After the removal process, it is highly recommended that an asbestos audit be conducted to certify the absence of asbestos after works. If a visual inspection is not sufficient, the assessor will conduct a test to monitor the air quality of the room. While air monitoring testing can be more expensive, it will provide the most accurate result. The assessor will provide a report of the monitored air quality and a clearance certificate to certify the absence of asbestos. Contractors working on your property will likely ask for a clearance certificate.

Can the removal of asbestos vinyl floor be a DIY job?

Although it may seem cost effective to conduct the removal of asbestos vinyl floor tiles as a DIY job. Given the hazardous nature of the asbestos fibres, it is never recommended that you proceed with this option. In some Australian states, it is illegal to carry the works yourself and a licensed asbestos removalist must be the one to do so.

In Victoria, you may remove asbestos containing materials if it is non-friable with less than 10 square metres in size. Although Worksafe Victoria and Australian Health Department will generally advise against conducting the works yourself.

Asbestos vinyl flooring is very difficult to remove, particularly if the adhesive also contains asbestos. It is always recommended that you consult a professional for this types of work.

Is it safe to have asbestos vinyl floor tiles in the home?

If asbestos has been identified within your vinyl floor tiles, it will be a hazard once and if it is disturbed. It is not recommended that you attempt to further disturb or rip out the floor tiles yourself. This is not a safe option. If you are conducting renovation or demolition works, you must have the floor tiles assessed and removed by a professional.

Do not continue any renovations until the asbestos floor tiles have been safely removed. Sawing, sanding, drilling or ripping the tiles may release the hazardous asbestos fibres allowing them to be airborne. Once the fibres are airborne, any persons in the immediate area is at risk of asbestos inhalation.

Contact a professional asbestos removalist

Hazaway Asbestos Removal has decades of experience and the latest equipment when removing asbestos vinyl floor tiles. We can also organise for the samples to be taken to the laboratory for testing, and if the results are positive we can conduct a free quotation. Contact one of our asbestos specialists who will be happy to answer any of your questions or concerns. You can reach us on 0432 622 292 or email info@hazaway.com.au