Ways to identify asbestos tiles include checking for discoloration, determining the period during which the tiles were made, and sending a sample for testing. Getting a licensed asbestos inspector to inspect the tiles is the most accurate method of identifying the presence of asbestos.
When inspecting the tiles, check for discoloration by looking at parts that are dark brown, black, grayish brown or dark gray. The primary ingredient in asbestos tiles is asphalt, meaning they are only available in dark colors. Tiles that have these dark colors in them have a high likelihood of having asbestos fibers.
Asbestos tiles were popular between 1920 and 1960 and in the early 1980s. The flooring during this period was thicker than most of the modern vinyl tiles. If a tiled floor was built before the early 80s, chances are it contains asbestos fibers. The mastic used as an adhesive for these tiles may also contain some asbestos.
It is also possible to identify asbestos tiles by sending at least three samples of the suspicious tiles to a special laboratory for testing. Homeowners should don a mask when cutting, and use a utility knife. The samples need to be placed in a plastic bag and sealed tightly before sending them to the laboratory. It is important to cover the exposed area with duct tape.