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I'm removing the flooring sheets from an apartment, and I'd like to figure out whether it's linoleum (as we've been calling it this whole time) or vinyl sheets or what else.

Here a picture (more can be found here): flooring sheets, their profile and the stuff beneath them

I'm wondering:

  1. Would you know whether it's Linoleum or Vinyl or what else? According to what I read on the internet I believe it's most likely Vinyl flooring (no uniform color, the sheet itself is just a couple of millimeters thin, it was installed around the '70s etc).
  2. How do I get rid of it? They say Vinyl flooring is made of PVC and is quite toxic. A dumpster is the way, isn't it?
  3. Most likely there's no asbestos, right? I'm just being paranoid here, since on the internet they seem to link vinyl flooring to asbestos a lot.

The apartment is located in a 14 store mid-to-low-end apartment building built in 1969 in West Berlin (West Germany), if this can help.

Thanks!

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Linoleum™ is a brand name as well as a material, which makes it somewhat ambiguous here. You're referring to "inlaid" vinyl, where the color is all the way through, as opposed to modern vinyl with a transparent wear layer. Incidentally, Linoleum™ is still in production by Armostrong, and not all of it is inlaid.

It's more accurate to say that PVC is made from vinyl, or is a type of vinyl, than the other way around. It stands for polyvinyl chloride, and it isn't usually recyclable.

I'm not able to tell you where there's asbestos in your building from a photo. Get help from a local inspector if needed.

  • You can certainly make a pretty good guess by looking at tile and its attributes on whether it has asbestos or not. Not sure you have an answer here. – DMoore Feb 22 '17 at 19:08
  • I can't. You may be able to. And I'm not sure guesses are appropriate with regard to asbestos. Feel free to vote accordingly. – isherwood Feb 22 '17 at 19:09
  • Just to clarify, "PVC" stands for Poly VINYL Chloride. the chemical composition of what we generically call "vinyl", whether it be flooring, pipes, toys, cooking utensils etc. It's all the same basic material and if it were considered a hazardous material, we are all in trouble! – JRaef Nov 16 '18 at 18:10
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In the US at least, asbestos was used during and after the 70's. I can't speak for Germany.

To really know if it contains asbestos or not you'll need to test it. In the US at least you can get a kit for about $10 to collect a sample. Then it's another $40 or $50 for a lab to test your sample.

I'd say it's linoleum based on the fiber backing. See if you can melt it with a burning match - vinyl will melt easily but linoleum won't. Do this with a small sample (don't try to light your floor on fire...) and have a way to put it out.

To find out what to do with it, call whoever takes your trash away. The law regarding trash disposal will vary a huge amount by jurisdiction so it's tough to answer exactly.

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Buy an asbestos testing kit, follow the directions to take a sample, and mail it to the testing company.

If it has asbestos you will have to follow local codes to dispose of it - in many districts it may not actually be regulated for homeowners and you can dispose of it in regular garbage/dumpster. I would wear gloves, mask, etc and dispose of them when done, but supposedly it is stable in tile form and shouldn't be a problem unless you grind or powder it. Do not take my advice as 100%, please check with a professional.

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