Thermoplastic floor tiles
Thermoplastic floor tiles are still very commonly found in 1930’s and later properties. These are often in multi-coloured combinations. They may be red, green, blue, yellow or black; one manufacturer Marley in the 1940’s and 1950’s offered over 20 different colours. These used to be advertised with the wonderful slogan “ Marleytile™ – for exciting, colourful floors”. However, they are likely to contain asbestos fibres. When testing, we have to test individual colour types separately, so with (say) a black and red pattern, two tests are required.
Where are they found?
They arestill being walked on in many local authority properties but are regularly inspected! They are often hidden beneath floor coverings andmay be visible if floor coverings are loose. Or look under the stairs – this areais often overlooked when new flooring is laid or a latex levelling screed is applied. They are most likely to be discovered whenremoving a floor covering.
It is a common misconception that these tiles are only bonded to solid ground floors. We have found these on suspended timber floors – and recently throughout the first floor beneath the bedroom carpets of a Fishponds property.
When bent in testing, the thermoplastic tileoften makes an audible noise and snaps. By contrast, the very common lighter coloured vinyl-based tiles seem to bend and are much more flexible.
The black tarry bitumen used to bond the tiles in place can also be asbestos containing. Hence when tests are carried out, it is vital that the black tar beneath is also tested as well. We have had cases where tiles are asbestos containing and the adhesive is not and vice versa.
These floor tiles are considered one of the least risky asbestos-containing materials to remove. The fibres are often very well fixed in the matrix of the materials and the asbestos content is often less than 1%. However removal of the bitumen if found to be asbestos containing is very hard.It has to be skilfully removed from the surface of a solid floor, sometimes called “scrabbling”. With timber flooring it is often easier to simply replace the floorboards than to try to remove the adhesive.