How to Recognize and Remove Asbestos Ceiling Tiles

Asbestos and safety gear.
  • 3 hours
  • Advanced
  • 100
What You'll Need
Yellow asbestos bags
Clear 6 mil polyethylene bags
Duct tape
Amended water
Respirator with HEPA filter
HEPA vacuum
Plastic sheeting
Asbestos abatement form

Asbestos ceiling tiles were commonly used before 1981. Asbestos is now recognized as extremely hazardous and is directly responsible for a form of cancer called mesothelioma. Here is how to recognize and remove asbestos ceiling tiles safely.

How to Recognize Asbestos Ceiling Tiles

Whether you are an inspector, a builder, buying a home, or a homeowner doing renovations, you must know how to recognize asbestos ceiling tiles. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that if you are planning a renovation on a house that was built in 1981 or prior, you must assume that your home has asbestos ceiling tiles.

While sending a tile off to the lab can make an identification of the type of asbestos, the same procedure is followed in the removal of asbestos ceiling tiles no matter its type.

How to Remove Asbestos Ceiling Tiles

A man carries asbestos out of a house.

Removing asbestos ceiling tiles, which do not need to be broken, sanded, cut, or drilled, can be removed with these steps. First, you will need to gather the following equipment.

  • Yellow asbestos bags
  • Clear 6 mil polyethylene bags
  • Duct tape
  • Amended water (2 teaspoons dishwasher detergent to 1 gallon of water)
  • Sprayer filled with amended water
  • Air-purifying respirator with HEPA filters
  • Asbestos Abatement Form
  • HEPA vacuum
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Signage that warns that protective clothing and respirators must be worn

Once you have your equipment gathered you are ready to begin.

Step 1 - Determine What Needs to be Shut Off

Decide if the air supply, air return, or electrical to the area needs to be shut down. This will largely depend on the number of tiles that are to be removed.

Complete the “Asbestos Abatement Form.” Whoever shuts off the services needs to be the one to sign the form. The work must be performed when the area is unoccupied.

Step 2 - Post Your Signage

A sign that says

Post signs in the area that read “Caution Asbestos Dust Hazard: Access Restricted to Persons Wearing Protective Clothing and Respirators” or similar wording according to your state legislation.

Step 3 - Cover Up

Bring a sprayer filled with amended water. Start to cover the work area with 6 mil polyethylene drop sheets. Put on your Tyvek suit, safety glasses, and approved respirator and HEPA filters.

Step 4 - Removing the Asbestos Ceiling Tiles

Remove tiles cautiously to avoid breakage. Place the tiles into an asbestos-labeled yellow bag. Fully cover the tile, which can take two bags. Once the bags are full, seal the bag with duct tape. Place the yellow bag into a 6 mil polyethylene bag and seal with duct tape.

Always follow your state regulations for handling asbestos. Asbestos is directly linked to certain cancers, such as Mesothelioma.