These days, most people in the UK are aware of the dangers posed by asbestos, including asbestosis (a scarring of the lung tissue) and mesothelioma (a form of lung cancer) – both of which are potentially fatal. However, when it began to be used in the building industry in the 1920s, it was a miracle material. Asbestos could be found in everything from loft insulation and plasterboard, to textured paint, vinyl floor coverings, and ceiling tiles.
Fortunately, modern ceiling tiles do not contain asbestos.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is mineral that can be found naturally occurring in rocks and soil. Made up of soft, flexible fibres, asbestos has many properties that made it attractive to the construction industry. It is resistant to corrosion, heat, and electricity, making it a useful additive to building materials to provide greater durability, as well as fireproofing qualities. Of course, this was the view before the long-term health concerns became widely known.
Why was asbestos used in ceiling tiles?
As well as making ceiling tiles fireproof and more durable, asbestos was an effective form of insulation, resulting in ceiling tiles that conserved household heat better. As well as the tiles themselves, asbestos was used in the manufacturer of tile adhesives and certain types of vinyl that were also used for making tiles. That said, perhaps the most notable reason for using asbestos in ceiling tiles – as it was for many other building materials – what that is was cheap.
How to spot asbestos in ceiling tiles
Asbestos was banned for home construction in the UK in 1989 (before being phased out entirely in 1999), so if your home has been built in the last 30 years or so, there should be no hint of asbestos in the property. Unfortunately, for homes built before 1989, there is no sure-fire way of knowing if you have asbestos ceiling tiles. Asbestos fibres are microscopic, so you can’t tell just by looking. Signs to look for are pinhole marks in the surface of the tile and a powdery residue. If your tiles are light in weight and mildly textured to the touch, this may indicate they have been made with asbestos. Also, size may be a factor, as most asbestos ceiling tiles were manufactured to a 9” x 9” size.
What to do if you think you have asbestos in your ceiling tiles
The only way to be sure if you have asbestos ceiling tiles is hire a professional asbestos contractor. They will run tests to identify the make-up of your tiles and, if they are found to contain asbestos, will offer to remove them for you in a safe manner. Asbestos needs to be removed and disposed of according to tight Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines as they are classed as hazardous materials. A professional contractor will be able to do so for you.
Unless your ceiling tiles are damaged or broken, they should be perfectly safe and not pose a health risk whilst you wait for them to be removed.
Replacing your ceiling tiles
Once your asbestos tiles have been removed, you will need to find a suitable replacement. At Granmore, we stock an extensive range of ceiling tiles that will give you a beautiful new ceiling at an affordable price, with no threat of asbestosis hanging over your head. Call the team today on 0800 074 5005, or visit our online store.