Asbestos and Tiles
Manufacturers added asbestos to vinyl resins during tile production. Tile underlay and adhesives also contained high percentages of asbestos materials.
At the time, it seemed to make good sense to use asbestos materials in floor and ceiling tile manufacturing.
Asbestos tiles had several benefits:
- Asbestos was naturally fireproof, which appeared to make buildings safer.
- Adding asbestos to vinyl floor tile surfaces and backings significantly increased their strength.
- Asbestos was a silicate mineral and practically indestructible.
- Asbestos tiles stood up in high traffic areas nearly as well as ceramic and stone tiles.
- Most asbestos tiles had glossy surfaces, making them easy to clean and maintain.
- Asbestos made tiles weigh far less than straight petroleum-asphalt tiles, making tile boxes lighter and reducing shipping and handling issues.
- Adding asbestos to tile materials gave them excellent insulating qualities which reduced heat loss and gain in ceilings and floors.
- Sound absorption was another plus from using ACM in tiles.
- Asbestos was a widely available additive, it was stable to add during tile manufacturing, and raw asbestos materials were economical to buy.
With so many advantages to asbestos tiles, manufacturers used the mineral extensively, unaware of the deadliness of asbestos until the 1980s.