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Sample Collection

How to collect a sample

  • Always use personal protective equipment that includes a disposable N95 mask or respirator, disposable gloves, safety glasses, and protective clothing.

  • To prevent air circulation of any fibers you disturb, turn off your furnace or air conditioner.

  • Cover the area with plastic drop sheeting so that any debris that falls to the floor is easy to clean up.

  • Use water to finely mist the area where you’ll be taking a sample to help minimize fine dust.

  • A clean knife works best to remove a sample. See instructions below as to how large the sample should be for different potential asbestos-containing materials.

How to collect a sample

  • A plastic zip-lock style bag is best for collecting the sample. Be sure to safely let the air out of the bag and then seal the bag and label it with the date and location where the sample was taken. If taking multiple samples, you should also include a sample number Ex. 001,002

  • To clean up, use a damp cloth to wipe the area where the sample was taken, the exterior of the sample bag, tools you used, your personal protective equipment, and the plastic drop sheet(s) you used to cover the area.

  • DO NOT VACUUM any dust. Use a damp cloth or damp paper towel.

  • Package your gloves, cloths, drop sheets, and other disposable material you used into a garbage bag and seal.

  • Your clothes should be laundered separately, and you should shower once complete with the clean up.

  • Combine all samples into a larger zip-lock style bag and label with your name, location, date, and contact information.

Collection of different types of materials

Flooring – floor tiles or vinyl sheet flooring

  • Two square inches is required.
  • A hooked knife or prybar usually works well for removing floor tiles. Vinyl flooring can usually be cut out with a utility knife.
  • The sample must include everything from the top of the flooring to the substrate.
  • Be sure your sample includes the paper backing and the mastic (glue).
  • If there is leveling compound or a vapour barrier under the flooring cut out a sample of these materials as well. We do not want a false negative. If you only sample the top layer and it comes back non asbestos, if the layers below do contain asbestos, chances are highly likely that you will disturb them while removing.
  • Your sample should include all the layers of flooring that is present. You can generally see how many layers of flooring are in place by lifting a floor register and inspecting.

Popcorn ceiling

  • You should collect at least two samples from the same ceiling and more than one room if necessary. You can place more than one sample into one bag, otherwise you will be you will be charged per sample.
  • Keep in mind that additions will have different materials and should be tested separately.
  • Scraping the popcorn ceiling can cause it to break off and disperse in the space. Instead, use duct tape to cover the sample area and a trowel or knife to break off the texture under the tape.  Add the tape and sample to the bag. If using this sample method, note you will be charged per sample as opposed to putting scrapings all in one bag.
  • Use a knife to scrape the popcorn ceiling and include a thin layer of the drywall mud compound underneath. It is best to take the sample in a corner where the ceiling meets wall or where you can see a tape seam.

Vermiculite – attics and wall cavities

  • A minimum of one cup is required for testing and 3 samples from each area is best. We are not suggesting to crawl around in the attic to take three samples. Instead, take three samples from areas around the attic hatch.
  • If there is more than one type of vermiculite present, they should all be collected separately.
  • Turn your zip-lock style bag inside out and place it over your hand like a glove to collect a sample.
  • Your sample should include material from the top as well as closer to the bottom of the wall or attic. Making sure you get down to the bottom is important as the fibres tend to settle over the years.

Wallboard, plaster, textured walls, and drywall mud

  • Your sample should include all layers: paint, textured surface, tape, joint compound, plaster, brown paper wrap, and gypsum sheet.
  • Corners often work best for collecting mud samples.
  • You do not need to include metal screen or wood from lathe and plaster walls.

Silicone on windows and doors

  • A one inch long piece is sufficient for testing.
  • Use a utility knife to cut along the window and trim sides to remove.

Thermal insulation on boilers

  • A 2 inch x 2 inch sample is required.
  • Wet down the area you will be sampling by misting with water. Repeat misting as you cut into the material.
  • Use a utility knife to cut out the sample.
  • Cover the hole from the sample with tape.


  • It is usually the tar and paper that contains asbestos. Your sample should include these

How many samples should you collect for your asbestos testing?

Please note that test results can be impacted by samples that are not taken correctly.  got mold? is providing this information to help you with your own sampling, but is not responsible for false negatives as a result of improper sampling or handling performed by the customer.

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