Tile Setters

While tile setters focused on their craft, the composite materials used in some tiles changed over time. The arrival of prefabricated tiles made work easier than ever before. However, it also brought a whole new concern with health risks associated with asbestos.

Tile setting is both an art and a science. Tile setters often create designs with their materials, whether in kitchen flooring or in a shower. To situate the tiles properly, tile setters must measure and cut appropriately. They then have to use a light hand to lay the tiles and apply grout. It isn’t an easy job and tile setters are considered artists and are often praised for both their creativity and the quality of their work.

Prior to the 1980s many of the prefabricated tiles tile setters worked with contained asbestos. At the time, it was believed that the asbestos improved the overall quality of the tile. Belatedly, the medical community made a shocking revelation. The very same asbestos that made tiles more durable and easier to work with was causing tile setters and other installers and construction workers to become sick.

When working with tile, cuts must be made to situate tiles properly. Fibers released during this process—tiny, unseen asbestos particles—were then often inhaled by tile setters and others in the vicinity. This put tile setters at risk for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses caused by the inhalation or ingestion of asbestos particles as the small fibers embedded themselves into the lining of the lungs and stomach, causing tumors to form.

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Remove Old Tiles with Care

While modern floor tiles do not contain asbestos, you can still find asbestos tiles in many older homes and commercial buildings. Left undisturbed, asbestos flooring doesn’t pose much of a risk to anyone, however, if the day comes when it needs to be pulled up and removed, everyone involved in the project should wear protective gear, including a respirator.

Asbestos is now regulated in the Unites States, however, some older buildings still have components made of asbestos. The following companies once used asbestos in their tiles. If you encounter these brands in any work environment, use extreme caution to protect against asbestos exposure:

  • Armstrong World Industries Vinyl Asbestos Tile
  • Woodtone Excelon Tile
  • Armstrong Asphalt Tile
  • Imperial Excelon Tile
  • Armstrong Excelon Tile – including Corkstyle Excelon
  • Armstrong Rubber Tile
  • Travertine Embossed
  • Flintkote Vinyl Asbestos Floor Tile
  • Designers Series Excelon
  • Excelon Beveled Edging
  • Craftlon
  • Johns Manville Corporation Floor Tile Products
  • Excelon Feature Strips
  • Flintkote Tiles
  • Carey Asphalt Floor Tiles
  • GAF Vinyl Asbestos Floor Tile
  • Travertex Excelon
  • Travertex Excelon
  • Spatter Excelon
  • Straight Grained Excelon
  • Pabco Floron Floor Tile
  • USG Ceiling Tile
  • National Gypsum Company Asbestos Ceiling Panels
  • Styletone Edition
  • Armstrong Solarian Vinyl Asbestos Tile
  • Centennial Excelon Tile
  • Travertex Excelon
  • Embossed Parquet
  • Driftstone
  • Swirl Chip
  • Metric Chip
  • Kentile Vinyl Asbestos Tile

If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos, alert your healthcare provider right away. Careful health monitoring is important to catch mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases in the early stages when treatment is more likely to be effective.

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