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by Wendy Stackhouse · January 24, 2014

Does This Asbestos Floor Tile Look Familiar?

Asbestos floor tile ad

Don't you love vintage advertisements?

You might be familiar with the look of these asbestos floor tiles from school, a hospital, a cafeteria, any kind of public facility where they wanted to keep the floors clean and attractive. You might disagree with its "attractiveness," but this vinyl and asbestos tile was definitely useful. Hey, it was "greaseproof!" What more could you want?

Kentile Floors was very successful in the post-WWII period, providing flooring for housing for all those troops coming home to get married and start their families. The returning soldiers could install it themselves (oh, dear). But it didn't last:

'The tiles were “grease proof,” would not scuff and were “a dream to clean.” By the 1960s, Kentile was doing so well it employed 400 people, according to the Municipal Art Society.

But then — and perhaps this is the sign’s implicit message about the hubris that often accompanies ambitious ventures — asbestos became synonymous with lung poison, and a raft of lawsuits followed. Kentile tried to phase out the use of asbestos, but the legal bills proved insurmountable, and the humbled company filed for bankruptcy in 1992, closing a few years later." New York Times

Kentile Floors sign Image by Ham Hock via Flickr Creative Commons

The big red Kentile Floors neon sign still looms over Brooklyn and is included in the "Census of Places That Matter" by the Municipal Art Society of New York, but, like asbestos floor tile, it doesn't work in the modern era.

If you have or discover that you have asbestos floor tile in your home or commercial building, it does need to be replaced, but don't pull it up yourself. Call a professional asbestos removal company. They can remove it safely, with no danger to themselves, you or your community. There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. Don't take any chances, even with coordinating colors and fancy marbleized "richness."

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