It is difficult to identify asbestos that is encased in vinyl flooring tiles, however it is generally safe to assume that tiles that were manufactured and installed prior to the 1990s contain asbestos. It is always best to consult a professional if there is a concern that tiles contain asbestos in order to discuss the safest way to remove the materials.
Sometimes the coloration of the tiles in question can be used to determine if the material contains asbestos, however this means of identification is by no means conclusive. That being said, tiles that have a gray brown, dark gray, dark brown or black discoloration may contain asbestos and a professional should be consulted immediately before attempting to remove the material.
Specific brands also were known to manufacture flooring tiles that contain asbestos prior to the 1990s. Homeowners who know the brand of the flooring tiles in question can perform a simple Internet search in order to find out if their brand included asbestos in the tiles. According to Abestos.com, some brands that are known to have used asbestos in their flooring tiles include Congoleum-Nairn, Ever-Wear, Excelon Vinyl Asbestos Tile, Fashionflor Cushioned Vinyl and Flor-Ever.
Another potential, but also inconclusive, characteristic of flooring tiles that contain asbestos is the size of the tiles in question. Tiles that were manufactured using asbestos generally came in one of three sizes: 9 by 9 inches, 12 by 12 inches and 18 by 18 inches.