Floor tiles and linoleum, or lino, may contain asbestos. They may also have asbestos paper backing or be fixed with asbestos-containing mastic.

This fact sheet describes good practices to follow if you need to lift a small amount of flooring that contains asbestos.

Removing asbestos-containing flooring (PDF 345 KB)

If you need:

  • to remove more than 10 m² of flooring containing non-friable asbestos, this work will need to be done by a licensed asbestos removalist from 4 April 2016. A licensed removalist could be a current Certificate of Competence holder up until April 2018.
  • to drill through flooring containing asbestos, see the sheet Drilling holes in asbestos-containing board.

Preparing the work area

  • Make sure there is safe access to the work area.
  • Restrict access – reduce the number of people present.
  • Close doors opening into the work area. Use tape and notices to inform others why the area is restricted.
  • If it’s possible, also restrict access to the area behind the asbestos-containing board.
  • Let other people know the area is contaminated.

Keep dust down

Use plastic sheets to cover your work area to help stop the spread of dust. They will also make cleaning up easier.

Use the right protective equipment

Wear a mask

  • Not all masks protect from asbestos.
  • A disposable P2 mask with a valve is the minimum needed for this work. P1 or ‘nuisance dust’ masks will not provide the protection you need.
  • Don’t re-use disposable masks.
  • Make sure your mask fits properly. Facial hair and stubble make it almost impossible to get a good seal between your face and the mask.

Wear overalls

  • Disposable overalls will stop the tiny asbestos fibres getting on your clothes.
  • Don’t re-use disposable overalls.
  • Wear the overalls one size too big as it will help prevent ripping at the seams.
  • Make sure you put the legs of the overalls over the top of your footwear – don’t tuck them in as it lets in dust.


Caution: Don’t sand the floor under asbestos-containing flooring.

  • Put on the mask and overalls and make sure they fit properly.
  • Protect nearby surfaces from contamination.
  • Place a scraper in the joint between the tiles.
  • Lift the flooring gently – try to avoid breakage.
  • For firmly-fixed flooring, tap the scraper with a hammer.
  • For larger areas, lift the flooring using a shovel. This speeds up the job and avoids kneeling close to the flooring.
  • Spray water under the flooring as you lift it up, to suppress dust.
  • Wet any asbestos paper backing as you lift the flooring.
  • Gently scrape up mastic. You can soften mastic with solvent.
  • Place debris in the waste container

Clean up properly

It’s really important to clean up properly so that you safely remove and dispose of the asbestos waste.

The work area and tools

  • Clean up as you go to stop waste building up.
  • Use a damp cloth to wipe down tools and surfaces to remove asbestos fibres. Do not re-use the cloth. It must be disposed of as asbestos waste.
  • Don’t sweep up because this will spread asbestos fibres into the air.
  • Don’t use domestic vacuum cleaners to clean up asbestos dust. Use a vacuum with a type of filter designed to capture fine particles like asbestos.

Personal clean-up

  • Dispose of disposable masks and overalls safely after you have finished the job. The mask and overalls are asbestos waste.
  • Don’t take overalls home or wear them in vehicles. This will prevent people at home being exposed to asbestos fibres.


Make sure all waste, including masks, overalls, cloths and plastic sheets are double-bagged in heavy-duty plastic bags, sealed with tape and marked as asbestos waste.

Dispose of the asbestos waste at an authorised disposal site. Contact the local tips in your area to find one that accepts asbestos waste.

Finishing the job

Visually inspect the area to make sure it has been cleaned properly.