Tile/linoleum installers are skilled tradesmen whose job it is involves the laying of floor tiles. Some tiles are made of hard materials, such as stone or ceramic. Soft tiles include those made of acrylic or linoleum. Floor tiles can be small, around one square foot in size, while others can come in large sheets that require cutting before installation. Tile installers not only install tile, but it is their job to pull up old tile that requires replacing. New tiles may also need to be cut or ground so they can fit the exact dimensions of the room.
Tile and linoleum installers usually learn their trade through on the job training or an apprenticeship. Over time, the installer is given more responsibility until he or she is ready to work independently. Installing tiles is a physically demanding job, and the risks inherent in any construction or remodeling job site using sharp tools and power tools. However, some risks of being a tile installer were once unknown, specifically the danger of asbestos exposure.
Asbestos and Tile/Linoleum Installation
After World War II, one of the most popular flooring surfaces was vinyl tile. Most of these vinyl tiles were made with asbestos. Asbestos content of vinyl tiles could be as high as 40 percent in some cases. Other tiles had a lower but still dangerous asbestos content of 30 to 25 percent. Asbestos vinyl floor tiles were used extensively until the early 1980s. In the 1970s, the dangers of asbestos were becoming scientifically proven and many companies began to voluntarily stop using asbestos in their products. Even after knowing of the dangers, some companies continued to produce asbestos-containing tiles until its use was prohibited by laws passed in the early 1980s.
All tile installers who worked before the 1980s were at risk of exposure to airborne asbestos fibers. When the tiles were cut or ground, millions of fibers could be released into the air around the tile installers. The dangers for tile installers did not end with ban of asbestos. Many homes and buildings still have asbestos tiles on the floors today. When an order comes in for new tile to be installed, sometimes the old asbestos tile must be pulled up. Because this tile is worn from years of being walked upon and furniture being set on it, asbestos fibers can easily be released as it is being pulled up.