Home Home Repair Black Asbestos Mastic: Can This Floor Adhesive Be Safely Removed?

Black Asbestos Mastic: Can This Floor Adhesive Be Safely Removed?


Common in homes built in the 20th century is black mastic used as tile or linoleum adhesive. When you remove that floor covering to make way for new flooring, you may encounter it and wonder if it is safe to remove. However, one wrinkle in this question: black mastic often contains asbestos. Asbestos have been proven to cause a life threatening condition called mesothelioma. How can you know if your floor’s adhesive contains asbestos? If so, what is the best way to remove it?

What Is Black Mastic?

Mastic is the name for a type of flooring adhesive. Organic based, derived from a tree, mastic was cheap enough to use in large quantities for flooring. Asphaltic cutback adhesive was a similar flooring product that looks the same and also contains asbestos.

Asbestos was added to the compound not to deter fires but to make the product more durable.

Does My Floor Have Asbestos-Based Floor Adhesive?

Containing between 15% and 85% asbestos, these adhesives were manufactured mostly in the first half of the 20th century. However, some companies produced asbestos adhesives as late as the period between 1976 and 1984. So, if your house was built or remodeled around 1984 or before, there is a chance that your mastic adhesive may contain asbestos.

Companies and Brands

The Peterson Firm LLP, a Washington DC law firm that deals with mesothelioma cases, notes that the following companies manufactured adhesives containing asbestos:

  • 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company)
  • American Biltrite
  • Amtico Floors
  • A.P. Green Industries
  • Armstrong World Industries
  • Asbestos Corporation, Ltd.
  • Celotex Corporation
  • Crown Cork and Seal
  • Congoleum Corporation
  • GAF Corporation
  • Garlock Packing Company
  • Johns Manville
  • Mobile Oil Corporation
  • National Gypsum Company