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Removing Asbestos Vinyl Flooring

Asbestos vinyl flooring was widely used until 1972. When the dangers of asbestos became an issue, then careful vinyl flooring asbestos removal became an issue. One option is just covering asbestos flooring with the new flooring material like carpet, vinyl tiles or sheet vinyl, laminate or hardwood flooring, or even ceramic tiles and stone. Testing for asbestos in vinyl flooring can be done by professionals or by yourself to determine "is there asbestos in my vinyl flooring" or not. Asbestos in vinyl flooring isn't the end of the world, but asbestos and vinyl flooring do cause concern for your health. Use precaution if you elect to remove asbestos vinyl flooring so that its potential doesn't become your reality.

Until 1972, asbestos was used in a variety of building material such as roofing, exterior siding, window sills and linings, and vinyl flooring. Asbestos is a group of minerals known for their strength, flame/heat resistance, and indestructibility, and was considered ideal for insulation and fireproofing. However, once it was discovered that asbestos fibers can result in severe illness and disease when inhaled, the use of asbestos was banned by the EPA.

Unless clearly marked on the product's label, asbestos is impossible to identify without examining a sample under a microscope. Testing for asbestos vinyl flooring can be done by a professional asbestos contractor or by using a do-it-yourself home sampling kit. If your asbestos vinyl flooring is chipped, crumbling, or frayed, it must be removed before laying a new floor. The asbestos fibers from the damaged floor can cause health concerns when the fibers are released into the air. However, intact asbestos vinyl flooring should not be removed because the removal of an intact floor poses a greater risk than simply covering over the old flooring.

If you determine that the asbestos vinyl flooring must be removed, asbestos abatement contractors are highly recommended. Homeowners living in a single family home may also remove the asbestos but legally, family members and friends who help must do so voluntarily and without pay. Moreover, if you as a homeowner are not confident in your ability to safely remove the asbestos vinyl flooring, hire a certified asbestos abatement contractor. Asbestos removal is difficult work, and can be physically demanding and potentially dangerous.

To minimize the risk of exposure to asbestos fibers for do-it-yourself removal, safety equipment such as a respirator, coveralls, gloves, rubber boots and eye protection are required. Plus, tools such as spray bottles, liquid detergent, putty knifes, a utility knife, a stiff floor scraper, plastic sheeting, duct tape, plastic garbage bags, a mop, and disposable towels will be needed.

The goal in removing the asbestos vinyl flooring is to remove it in whole pieces without causing any dust. Before beginning, the work area must be isolated using the plastic sheet over heat registers, doorways, cupboards, etc. and the heating and air conditions system must be turned off. All furniture and other moveable objects should be removed from the room to prevent contamination and to simplify clean-up. Access to the work area should be limited to one doorway, with a slit in the plastic door covering to make the entrance as small as possible. To further prevent asbestos fibers from spreading, the floor must be kept wet using a water bottle. The water will also help loosen the tiles and make removal much easier.

Once prepped and your safety gear on, cut the vinyl flooring into manageable sections with a utility knife, and remove the pieces by pealing from the edges and using a flat scraper to lift the vinyl. Continue to wet the flooring as you scrape and pull to minimize dust. Any vinyl backing that separates from the vinyl flooring can be removed by thoroughly wetting and scrubbing the floor with a pad. As you remove the vinyl, place the pieces in sturdy plastic bags trash bags to avoid leakage and mark the bags “Danger! Asbestos-Containing Materials”. The asbestos debris can only be disposed of in a landfill that accepts asbestos-containing waste. Consider calling the land-fill before you go to ensure you understand all their requirements.

Careful clean-up is important when dealing with asbestos, and all potential asbestos dust and particulate must be removed from the work area to avoid future asbestos contamination. Wipe all surfaces, including the plastic covering, with a damp cloth. Frequently rinse the cloth and change the water so that the surfaces in the work area can get truly clean. Next, remove the plastic coverings and place in your plastic bags, along with all towels, mop heads, and coverall suit. To ensure that your skin and hair is free of asbestos, immediately take a complete shower and wash carefully.

Comments

We bought our house in September 1980. Shortly thereafter, we had Armstrong Solarian vinyl installed in the kitchen and dining room. Many years later, I had it tested and they confirmed asbestos content. If it was banned after 1972, why was it being sold and installed in 1980? I'd like to remove it completely instead of covering it because it will change the floor level from one room to another and pose a tripping hazard. Is there instrumentation that can monitor asbestos particulate in the air? I thought I heard about such equipment.

Anne at January 29, 2008 7:33 PM

It's a mystery to me too how a company, especially one like Armstrong, can get away with using banned materials. But this isn't the first time I've heard of such a thing -- be it lead-based paint or asbestos containing flooring or siding. I guess it has something to do with in-stock supplies, but I'm only guessing about that.

Generally, according to my understanding, asbestos-laced materials aren't a problem with air particulates until they material is disturbed. Ways of disturbing it are cutting or ripping it, or removing it. Some people do their own asbestos removal, but it's recommended that trained, approved and licensed contractors deal with it so the air quality and disposal are appropriate when they are done.

If the floor is in good shape, why not just leave it for now?

The Flooring Lady at January 30, 2008 1:39 AM

Armstrong solarian floors were installed in both bathrooms and the kitchen of my mother's home in 1982. A family friend was helping ready the house to sell after Mom's passing and he used an electric planer on the floor to remove most of it. It created superfine dust throughout the house. I took a sample in for testing after I read the instructions on the adhesive for the new floor. The results stated that the backing layer was 70% asbestos. What do we do now? I don't think we can even sell it.

Chris at March 27, 2008 4:16 AM

Bummer about your friend's approach. Personally I would have tried to floor over it so I wouldn't have the removal hazards. But, what's done is done. Now to move on and clean your air.


You can't sell it until you clean up the air. You shouldn't even be in there now without respirators designed to protect your from asbestos fibers. I think you are going to have to call in professionals to handle the air filtering and clean up -- everything is coated with fibers now, if I understand this correctly.


Please be careful so you don't get sick from this.

The Flooring Lady at March 27, 2008 10:55 AM

I bought and older home with a smaller kitchen (10x15). After removing the old cabinets we discovered there were actually 2 layers of older flooring. After having them tested for asbestos, the bottom layer tested negative however the top layer tested positive containing 25% asbestos. It will cost me 1500.00 to 1800.00 to have it professionally removed and I am debating on whether or not to remove it myself. My question is if I follow the guidelines of removal and since the amount of asbestos in the top layer is only 25% do you think this is a wise and safe decision? Like the earlier poster adding another layer to this floor over top of the existing flooring will make it too high. Thanks for your help!

Joe at May 2, 2008 1:18 PM

Hi Joe! Much as I advocate do-it-yourself-ers, this is one time where I'd recommend having a professional do it. There's so much to consider when removing old abestos flooring. Is it friable (i.e., crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure)? Is any of it cracked, flaking or otherwise damaged? If so, you risk contaminating your entire house if you try to take these up yourself and creating the ultimate environmental nightmare in your home. The mastic (black glue adhesive) also contained asbestos in the old days and that has to be removed as well.

You also MUST wear a respirator & safety glasses - no ifs, ands, or buts.

In most states, asbestos can be removed only by licensed asbestos abatement contractors who are equipped and educated in safely removing and disposing of hazardous materials. They'll usually use plastic sheets to stop the particles from freely moving. VAT's (vinyl asbestos tile) are usually wetted down too, so as to keep asbestos particles from becoming airborne while being removed.

Once removed, the tiles are put in containers, sealed, are taken by the authorized agent to a landfill site that is approved by the EPA and is buried.

It's NOT recommended to attempt removal yourself and in most states there are penalties if it gets found out that you did so. It has to be disposed of safely and you can't just set it out in your trash for the garbage man to pick up.

Personally, I think that $1500 - $1800 is a small price to pay to keep from damaging your lungs or getting cancer, as well as taking into consideration the others who come into your house.

The Flooring Lady at May 3, 2008 12:02 AM

Hi-

I am trying to find a good sealing product to apply to the asbestos vinyl sheeting underneath the current carpets in my home, which we will be taking up and replacing with laminate flooring There are a few places at the edges by the vents where the vinyl is exposed and we'd like to seal it off. Suprisingly, it is nearly impossible to find anyone who knows anything on this subject.

Thanks!

Tom at May 7, 2008 6:16 AM

Tom, asbestos is such a can of worms that I'm not surprised that people don't know anything about it. If one doesn't know about asbestos one can't get into trouble with the help they offer.

What I know about asbestos is that you don't want to disturb it. It sounds as if you are taking measures to not disturb it, and in fact to protect it from further damage. That's a good start, in my book.

Why don't you get a glue that will adhere to vinyl and apply it to the edges of the vinyl? You may want to wrap the glue up onto the top edge slightly to make sure you have a good seal. And with the vent covers in place you wouldn't see that glue edge, even if the laminate flooring didn't cover it completely.

The Flooring Lady at May 8, 2008 2:09 PM

where do i get a do-it-yourself home sampling kit?

cj at May 15, 2008 6:46 PM

Hi cj,
Some hardware stores and big box retailers now carry them and they are also available online. You can always use a search engine (Google, etc.) to find which stores sell them.

The Flooring Lady at May 16, 2008 10:49 PM

We had our house built in 1990. would the lino in the kitchen have any asbestos?

dw at May 23, 2008 1:28 PM

Hi dw!

Good news! Asbestos vinyl flooring was widely used until 1972, so it would be almost certain that your flooring does not contain asbestos. If it makes you feel better, you can always have it tested either by a professional or a do-it-yourself kit, but I wouldn't think it's needed.

The Flooring Lady at May 23, 2008 9:23 PM

Our house was built in 1980, and we still have the orginal vinyl, which was good quality for the time, but is now worn with a few holes. Any chance that it contains asbestos? I'm confused. Since asbestos was banned in 1972, but the post above from Chris said the floor with asbestos was installed in 1982. Can you clear this up? Do I need to test my floor?

Thanks.

Lori at May 29, 2008 6:20 PM

Hi Lori,

Yes, asbestos was banned in 1972 and shouldn't have been used after that. However.......... I have researched on the internet and there was still some flooring being used that *somehow* contained asbestos. I don't know if this was being done intentionally (and therefore illegally), if it was old stock or what, and I'm not going to speculate on it........ you know, kind of like how toys coated with lead paint made in China still made it's way to the USA as recently as this year. By all means though, have it tested to ease your mind if you feel the need. Chances are there won't be any asbestos in it.

The Flooring Lady at May 29, 2008 8:47 PM

if old vinyl comes up real easy, what are the possibilities that it has asbestos on or in it? It was layed over plywood.

Stephanie at June 5, 2008 9:33 AM

Hi Stephanie,

It depends on how old it is.......asbestos was not supposed to be used since 1972. Also, so long as it comes up intact, so long as there's no chipping, breaking, crumbling, it's ok.

Disposing asbestos tile is another matter entirely though. ;~)

The Flooring Lady at June 5, 2008 12:28 PM

Hi: we have a very old one story apartment house that was tested for asbestor in the vinyl flooring that was laid in the kitchen and bath. this building will be burned down by the local fire department and a practice burn. Do we need to remove the flooring first? Thank you

John C. Wood at July 27, 2008 9:30 AM

Yes, it should be removed. Please read through the comments to learn more about this. Here's an article that will give you more insight as to why this would be dangerous - it's about an apartment building in Boulder, Colorado that caught fire and had asbestos containing material.

The Flooring Lady at July 27, 2008 2:07 PM

Our house was built in 1981 and we still have the original vinyl. We are going to replace it with tile but our contractor does not remove the old flooring. I thought I would start trying to pull some of this up and notice the backing was sticking to the floor. I was looking for ways to remove this stuff and was alarmed to find out that some vinyl could have asbestos backing. I'm a little worried right now. Should I be concerned.

sally at August 24, 2008 12:38 PM

Hi Sally,

Chances are you should be o.k. - however, I have read where some asbestos flooring was used even as late as the 1980's. Best thing to do is to go to Home Depot, Lowe's, etc. - and buy a test kit for asbestos. It shouldn't be needed, but at least it will give you an answer so that you know if your fears can be put to rest or not.

The Flooring Lady at August 24, 2008 8:26 PM

ok Home Depot will not lay ceramic tile over our sheet vinyl flooring which was laid when the house was built in 1986, their reason is that the adhesive might have asbestos in it.

Susan at October 9, 2008 4:26 PM

The adhesive or the sheet vinyl? If they're worried about asbestos in the adhesive, that's just plain silly since the vinyl is over it. Did a sales person tell you this? Did you ask a supervisor? You could check with some local home improvement contractors and see what they think, maybe even get one to install it.

How large of an area are you doing? Ever consider doing it yourself or having a tile contractor/home improvement contractor install it? Shoot, you might even try going to a different Home Depot, Lowe's or other store.

The Flooring Lady at October 10, 2008 6:10 AM

is it safe to drill through asbestos tile it was 2
2mm thick theres about 6 to 8 holes half inch wide and how safe is the room does it have to be tested .also there is some breaking and chiping in some others there was a hoover used a industrial one there apperas a lot of dust on outside bair in mind its woodwork room to. the whole floor is this type tile but in mostly in good condition

thomas at November 8, 2008 3:06 PM

Hi Thomas,
It is never safe to drill through asbestos tile. The asbestos will become airborn, posing a serious threat to your health. I suggest you read up on asbestos dangers - go to your favorite search engine and start from there.

If you have dust, chipping, cracking, it's very unstable and unsafe. You need to have it removed by a professional or cover it up completely. You can have the room tested if you want, but why would you do that if you already know the tile contains asbestos?

I'm serious, read up on asbestos dangers, removal, etc. It's seriously bad stuff - you've endagered yourself and anybody else who has been in there.

The Flooring Lady at November 9, 2008 10:14 AM

Hello,

We are planning on tiling our front entrance in our home...there is vinly flooring currently in place and our house was built in 1997. We went to HOme Depot to see if there was a product to help remove it and the sales person alarmed us and said that there is asbestos in it..what are the chances of that and should we remove it?

Lisa at November 24, 2008 8:00 PM

Asbestos flooring products were banned in the 1970's. I doubt you have anything to worry about since your house was built in 1997.

The Flooring Lady at November 28, 2008 1:41 PM

Hi!

Thanks for your informative article. We recently purchased a Mid-Century Modern style home, built in the 1950's. The kitchen is in its original state, however, the previous owners put wall to wall carpeting in the kitchen that was ironed onto to the previous 1950's flooring.

The carpeting is already too high and interferes with the opening of some cabinets. I wanted to remove the carpeting with a heat gun and use the original flooring, but now I am alarmed by the thought of asbestos being in the floor. According to the previous owner, it is a tile type floor, not lino.

So my question is: Is it possible to use this type of flooring, even though it might contain asbestos? I read if it is encapsulated in the flooring, as long as it isn't damaged, it isn't harmful. Is there some sort of coating that we could put over it to seal it good and tight without have to pull it up? Or would our best bet be to cover it with another type of flooring?

Also, I am hesitant to pull up the carpet and purposely damage a tile to get a sample to send to the lab.

Ruth at December 3, 2008 11:37 AM

Ok, let's tackle your questions in order.
#1: So my question is: Is it possible to use this type of flooring, even though it might contain asbestos? Answer: Yes, what you've read is correct.
#2: Is there some sort of coating that we could put over it to seal it good and tight without have to pull it up or would our best bet be to cover it with another type of flooring? Answer: You can do either one (or both!) so long as the flooring is intact. There are different products you can use to coat it, but the most durable is going to be an epoxy type paint, the stuff is about indestructable.

I can understand why you'd be hesitant to pull up a sample to send to the lab. If you do remove the flooring and it can be done without damaging the tiles (not likely!) they still have to be disposed of properly.

The Flooring Lady at December 4, 2008 8:50 AM

I have a mid-1970s townhouse, and had already pulled up about 50 vinyl tiles in the basement when I discovered that the tiles have asbestos in them - the analysis says 2% chrysotile, 98% particulate, so I'm guessing that means they are 2% asbestos. I was using a long heavy pole with a blade on the bottom that was working great, but broke up most of the tiles, and then just shoveling up all of the broken tiles and putting them out with the trash.
So OK, should I prepare for lung cancer? I stopped busting up tiles when I was alerted to the asbestos possiblity, but there are about 20 or so broken tiles in my basement and I don't know what the heck I'm supposed to do now. I really can't afford $20,000 for men in space suits. Should I just stop now, clear out the broken stuff and put plywood down on top of the whole floor (it's about 300 square feet total) and new vinyl on top of that, or what? Thanks for any help

Nan M at December 5, 2008 11:50 AM

Hi Nan,
Yes, cover it up - that will work fine. Hopefully you won't suffer any health issues down the road.

The Flooring Lady at December 8, 2008 11:36 AM

OK, between the time of my original posting and today, I have spoken to two very knowledgable guys in the construction industry (not connected to each other). Both are licensed builders, one is now a county code and building inspector and the other does abatement work for a private environmental group. They both said the same things about my 2% chrysotile floor: No Big Deal.
They recommended that I wear a good face mask while working ( I got one for $15 that is used for scraping lead paint and they said that one is fine), and to damp down the area being worked on. They also said breaking tiles is not a problem because the asbestos is so fused in there, but I should not sand, grind or drill the tiles. Which I wouldn't anyway. For disposal, it is legal for me to just put it out with the trash, but the best thing would be for me to cart it to a dump that accepts "category 1" waste, which they said most dumps do (mine does, I checked).
That's what I'm going with. I"m sure the answer would be different if the tiles contained 60% asbestos. I hope this helps others in making a decision.

Nan M at December 10, 2008 6:45 AM

I do hope they know what they're talking about. Different states have different laws, but it is regulated by the EPA at a national level.

The Flooring Lady at December 13, 2008 10:08 PM

I just bought an old home that has abestos flooring tile. I was cleaning out the basement and noticed about 7 tile were loose, just lying on the floor, and I gently removed them and placed them in a plastic bag. Then I carefully swept some of the remaining dust and put that in the bag as well. I threw the gloves out and rinsed the broom. After reading up on asbestos tile, I am going to call in an expert to look at the rest of it and remove the few tiles I have in the bag. My question is, do I have reason to worry now about my health?

Tim at January 5, 2009 6:15 AM

Hi Tim,
Hopefully not, since your exposure time was very short and the dust wouldn't have been that much. If the tiles that you removed were intact then there really shouldn't be much asbestos in that if any. It's just one of those things that you don't know.

The Flooring Lady at January 7, 2009 10:11 AM

My husband and I bought an old property with a 1956 aluminum trailer on it. It had asbestos tiles under sheets of vinyl flooring. It all had to come up, as it was very uneven, He got me started and I went to work, The asbestos tiles crumbled, and it was black and a very fine dust that flew everywhere. We knew nothing of asbestos poisoning or mesothelioma. Since then he died of it. They think he died from his plumbing history of tearing down old buildings with asbestos lined pipes. That was back in the late 50's and early 60's when he did that work.

I did the flooring tiles in the early 90's. I am concerned about my lungs. I recently went to the hospital for acute bronchitis and double pneumonia which cleared up enough in 6 days to go home, and finally totally clear in another couple weeks.

If the exposure to the asbestos is to do me harm like it did him, what should I look for in symptoms, and how long approximately, will it take to present?

Scared
Glenda

glenda rankin at January 11, 2009 12:28 PM

Hi Glenda,
It's really sad to hear that your husband had to die because of exposure to asbestos. So many people today do not take the threat seriously. Sadly, years ago, people didn't realize how exposure to asbestos or lead could impact one's health.

I'd really recommend you talk with a pulmonary specialist or at the very least go to webmd or another health site and look up information on mesothelioma. I'm a far cry from a health professional and cannot, in good conscience, give health advice.

The Flooring Lady at January 12, 2009 9:04 AM

My daughter and son-in-law are buying a 1950's house. The downstairs will be used as a recreation room. At the moment the floors are covered with asbestos tile with several areas of tile broken and completely removed. They are aware of the problem and are considering carpeting over the entire area. Should they fill in the broken tile with other safer tile and then paint with epoxy before carpeting?

Pam at January 20, 2009 5:11 AM

Hi Pam,
I wouldn't recommend carpeting if there are any moisture issues or if there is high humidity. Carpeting is nasty for harboring allergens such as mold and mildew (to just name two!). Filling in with other tile will work, as would just using some thin-set, concrete or grout. Painting over with epoxy afterwards is a good idea.

The Flooring Lady at January 24, 2009 11:38 AM

Dear Flooring Lady, we recently sent some samples of our 1955 home to an absetos testing center. Luckly our plaster walls & ceiling came back negative but the flooring in our kitchen tested positive for 15% cyrsotile. From what we can tell our flooring has a couple of layers of vinyl and ugly tile underneath. We are planning on putting down cork flooring and since there are already so many layers we can't just put it on top. We would like to remove the vinyl but leave the tiles intact (we only had the vinyl tested not the tiles) so we are not sure if the tiles also contain absestos. I guess our question is how dangerous is 15% and should we follow the same procedure for removing it. We have a newborn at home and want to be as safe as possible but we can't afford a removal company. Thanks
~Christine

Christine at February 12, 2009 6:58 PM

Hi Christine,
15% is dangerous. The tile probably contains even more asbestos and the adhesives too. You really should have it removed professionally. You can do it yourself as well, but it must be done as a wet process so that asbestos particles don't become airborn - then you'll run into the problem of disposing of it properly (and legally). If you have a removal company do it, they take care of that aspect as well. With so many layers, I'm afraid this may be your only true option.

The Flooring Lady at February 19, 2009 9:07 AM

We are renovating our home which was built in 1979.
I would like to remove the vinyl flooring in the kitchen to install a hardwood floor. I want to remove it so the flooring will flow evenly into the adjacent rooms (after carpet is removed). Do you think the kitchen flooring could have a possibility of asbestos if it were installed in 1979?

Phil at February 19, 2009 11:51 AM

Chances are it doesn't contain asbestos. If it eases your mind, you can always have it tested. ;~)

The Flooring Lady at February 20, 2009 10:13 AM

hi i am about to remove carpeting from the living room and getting tiles installed, the house was built in 1992 do you think the layer under the carpet may contain asbestos ?

Irfan at February 23, 2009 8:42 PM

Hi Irfan,

You shouldn't have any asbestos since the house was built in 1992 - asbestos was banned 20 years before that. If it helps to ease your mind, you can always have it tested. ;~)

The Flooring Lady at February 25, 2009 9:58 PM

Dear Flooring lady
I am currently renting a townhouse, that was built in 1985. I have recently asked to get new lynol flooring in my bathroom and storage rooms. I was told they cannot give me this until they test for asbestos. ( they told me that the likeliness of this was rare but they should test). Do you think it could at all be possible for my townhome to have asbestos? also how long does it take to get the test back?

kayla at March 10, 2009 10:40 PM

Hi Kayla,
It's actually a good thing that the landlord/owner cares enough to test the flooring. Chances are, it won't contain asbestos and he's only wanting to cover his butt, but that's a good thing for you too! Chances are slim that it would contain asbestos. As far as how long does it take to get the test results, well, it's going to depend on the lab that's doing the testing. Shouldn't be more than a couple of weeks though.

The Flooring Lady at March 11, 2009 3:14 PM

My neighborhood was built around 1980. My neighbor said her original laminate floor was tested for asbestos and it was positive. We have the original laminate floor under a new laminate floor. Is it dangerous for the kids? She told me it wasn't dangerous unless you were tearing it out. Thank you!

Jennifer at March 12, 2009 1:55 PM

Dear flooring lady,
I sent you a message about my townhouse built in 1985 possibly containing asbestos in it.. My landlord did get it checked for asbestos and the results came back positive. In one of my storage closets the tile is tearing back and it looks like it has been cut, also I recently had the landlord come in to repair drywall in there ( due to a leak). The repair man took the baseboards off and he was sanding around in the closet . So my question is could the fibers have been released into my house? when they go to tear out the asbestos is it safe for my children and I to stay there? and lastly could the rubber base board contain asbestos in the glue?

kayla at March 13, 2009 12:12 AM

Hi Jennifer,
So long as the original flooring is covered, it's ok. The danger is when it isn't covered or is being taken up, then tiny particles become airborn and can be inhaled.

The Flooring Lady at March 16, 2009 8:09 AM

Hi Kayla,
Geez......that's so not good. You should not be there when it is being removed. I would talk to your landlord to see what he is willing to do about all this since your belongings shouldn't be in there either (the asbestos particles can settle back down onto your furniture and such if the particles become airborn).

If your landlord intends to have the tiles removed while wet, that's a different story, as wet removal keeps the asbestos from becoming airborn.

I wouldn't have a clue about the baseboard or the adhesive containing asbestos - the only way to know would be to test it.

Hard to fathom how something built as late as 1985 had asbestos tiles installed. So glad your landlord cared enough to check into it!

The Flooring Lady at March 16, 2009 8:14 AM

Dear flooring lady,
My tiles do contain 30 to 40% asbestos in it.. The landlord now wants to cover over the exisiting floor with new stuff, instead of tearing out the asbestos containg flooring.. I am a little concerned about this, because the flooring is fraile and ripping back.If the flooring is fraile and torn back, could it release any fibers in the air??? I did also metion my townhouse was built in 1985 ( which i thought asbestos was baned than) As well who could i contact to get my quality of air tested in my home. I am from vancouver canada.I am extremely concerned for my childrens saftey as well as myself because my son just got diagnosed with active airway disease.

kayla at March 17, 2009 4:01 PM

Hi Kayla,
Gee, that is not what I wanted to hear. I don't know when Canada banned the use of asbestos, in the US it was in 1972. In the US we have the EPA - Environmental Protection Agency. There are mandated rules and regulations for removing asbestos-containing material and it's disposal. I would presume that Canada has a very similar department as well -- they should be able to supply you with what the law is in Canada.

Yes, if the flooring is frail, crumbling and such, fibers could have been released into the air. I would urge to speak with your son's pediatrician (or specialist if he has one) about your concerns as well.

I did find a link that might prove useful to start you on your path of arming yourself with information:

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/environ/asbestos-amiante-eng.php

See also: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Residential-Property-Management-2151/Asbestos-backing-lino-flooring.htm

In my opinion, it sounds like you may want to consult an attorney, though I'd suggest talking to a govermental agency or doing further research.

The Flooring Lady at March 17, 2009 9:33 PM

Dear Flooring Lady,

For do-it-yourself cleaning, after remove the vinyl material and wet scrubbing it off, how do we know the floor is really clean of asbesto? Can I see asbesto fibers on the floor with naked eyes?

Laura at March 26, 2009 11:01 AM

Hi Laura,
You don't know, Most of the time, you can't see it with your naked eye. This is why it's best to have a professional who is trained in asbestos removal handle a job that is this important. Hopefully too, you were aware that there are Federal and State Laws governing asbestos removal and didn't just dispose of it along with your weekly trash.

The Flooring Lady at March 27, 2009 6:51 PM

My home was built in 1964. I have an old lineoleum floor on top of the original vinly square tiles which are glued down with some black stuff that looks like an asphalt glue which apparently may contain asbestos. I was planning to overlay with a laminate, but when the flooring company came out to complicate the issue my floor was not level. Now after going to the expense to have my foundation repaired and the house leveled, there may be an issue with the some of tiles which are now cracked and I'm in a fix as to how to remedy the uneven tiles so the laminate can be layed over them. One contractor said he could just sand the uneven spaces (sounds like creating potential asbestos dust everywhere). I'm in such a fix with the laminate already purchased and really don't know exactly where to go next. I need direction as to who I can trust to help tell me how to safely remove the tiles/or how to make the floor smooth enough to go over with the laminate. I choose laminate since it supposedly floats, but how much floating can it actually do.

Sandy Kachel at March 29, 2009 8:23 PM

Hi Sandy,
By 'floating', it simply means that it can expand and contract naturally without worrying about it warping because the edges don't touch the very edges of the walls. It doesn't really float up and down, which is why you need to work with a level floor. I have no idea just how off level your present floor is, so I don't really know what measures can be taken to smooth things out.

Sanding the tiles can be done so long as it's a wet process and it's cleaned up while wet. Old asbestos flooring is safe so long as it's covered up completely. You might want to consider sealing it with an epoxy substance or sealer of some sort even before you put down the underlayment. The damaged tiles should be removed (also using a wet process) - you can then fill in the spots with a leveling agent of some sort.

The Flooring Lady at March 31, 2009 5:40 PM

I'm laying down some laminate flooring. the entry way has this stone colored vinyl. Before I got here I went ahead and pulled the vinyl up but parts of its backing, white or off white, stuck to the plywood floor sheathing. I used a hairdryer for a little bit and scraped some of it up. I gues I may have messed up big time huh? Is testing the sheet and backing the only way to know? The house was built in 1976 and is a modular home.

Richard

richard at April 12, 2009 10:09 PM

Hi Richard,
Gosh, let's hope not. Yes, testing it is the only way to know for sure. I would think that modular home manufacturers used so much flooring product and were probably watched more closely in regards to using materials with asbestos, so I would tend to think that they would have been more diligent in making sure they didn't use anything with asbestos containing materials. Better to have it tested than to always wonder & worry.

The Flooring Lady at April 14, 2009 2:20 AM

We have a beach house, built in 1956. It was evident the shower had been leaking for some years. I began pulling up the ugly (1970'ish) vinyl (soft pliable sheet flooring)in the bathroom expecting to find oak floor like the rest of the house. Underneath the decomposed particle board was what I would call hard sheet linoleum. I got a little ambitious and began removing the rest of the vinyl and particle board through the laundry room and into the kitchen. It occurred to me half way through that the vinyl flooring on top may have asbestos. Is there a way of determining this myself. The vinyl did not come up in sheets but tore easily, sometimes separating from the paper. I have not removed any of the materials from the house. They are in a pile on the remainder of the kitchen floor. I'm concerned now that the top layer vinyl may have asbestos. I would be certain that the bottom layer linoleum was original to the house. I was planing on painting the original with an epoxy floor paint. Do you have any suggestions? Can I take a sample to a lab to have it tested?

Mike Slater at April 20, 2009 4:33 PM

Hi Mike,
Yes, you can buy a kit to send a sample to a lab to determine if the flooring contains asbestos. You can find these at most hardware or big box home improvement stores.

Old asbestos flooring can that isn't frayed, chipped or broken is considered 'safe' if you use an epoxy floor paint, sealer, or new vinyl, lino, tile flooring (etc) over it.

The Flooring Lady at April 20, 2009 6:15 PM

OK, so what if you already ripped up an entire floor that may have had asbestos dust flying everywhere? Do you immediately become sick?

laura at April 21, 2009 7:03 PM

Hi Laura,

If you still have any of the flooring around, you can buy a testing kit at Lowe's, Home Depot, etc. and find out for sure so you don't have to (hopefully!) worry yourself needlessly.

To learn more about asbestos (hazards, health issues, etc.) here is a link for the EPA: http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/

Hoping you're worrying needlessly ........

The Flooring Lady at April 23, 2009 7:51 PM

Hi, I live in a home built in 1900 an recently went to Lowe's to purchase new carpet to go over old sheet vinyl in a spare bedroom but after having the measurements done the installer told Lowe's they wont install the carpet until I remove the old floor and have it re-inspected. Lowe's stated this is how all of their contractors are. The floor is in great shape since it sees little to no foot traffic, should there be any reason why not to just lay the carpet? thanks

Jeff at May 4, 2009 3:57 PM

Hi Jeff,

.........and have it re-inspected for what?? Asbestos? Are you saying that it's been inspected for asbestos before? What were the results?

I can understand a contractor's concerns about asbestos flooring - I wouldn't want to work on it either - I'd be wanting to see test results to assure me that it does not contain asbestos - it's too great of a health hazard.

It doesn't cost much to have a test done -- Lowe's should have home testing kits available, you put the sample in a vial and send it off to be scrutinized under a microscope.

The Flooring Lady at May 4, 2009 10:05 PM

Hi again, No the floor was never tested for asbestos, the contractor just visually looked at the floor and stated the floor contained asbestos and refused to lay any carpet in the room until the floor was abated and the installer had a chance to re-inspect the room to make sure it meets their standards for abatement and safe work conditions. I have since sealed the floor with an epoxy floor coating and hired another company that saw no problem with stretch fitting in carpet over the existing flooring.

Jeff at May 5, 2009 7:54 PM

Hi Jeff,
Pfft! Nobody can tell for sure if there's asbestos without having it tested. Sealing it with the epoxy floor coating was good - if there's asbestos, this will stabilize the flooring, hence, taking care of any hazard. Good job!

The Flooring Lady at May 7, 2009 8:45 PM

My house was built in 1978. So, I do not have to worry about asbestos....right??

Wheady at June 17, 2009 6:40 AM

Hi Wheady,

That would be correct.

The Flooring Lady at June 17, 2009 11:07 AM

What methodology does Home Depot use to remove vinyl or not. I noticed they now have a charge to remove vinyl whereas they did not 5 years ago when I had another floor done.

Dandy at June 17, 2009 12:34 PM

Hi Dandy,

That would be a good question for Home Depot. I am not privy to their policies.

The Flooring Lady at June 17, 2009 12:46 PM

I took up an old floor, about 55 sqft of vinyl tiles form the 60’s. they where brittle and and broke easily. I am now convinced that they contained asbestos, looking at the edge of a broken piece with a magnifying glass you can even see the chunks of mineral in the tile.

To make matters worse, the floor was swept and vacuumed. What is my best course of action now to clean the room? The whole house?

jim at June 21, 2009 3:52 PM

I live in a log cabin built in 1986 we are redoing the laundry room when i went to purchase vinyl flooring the guy told me it probably has asbesto in it do i hae to worry. I already started to rip it up so its already been disturbed

tina at June 22, 2009 10:05 AM

I forgot to ask PLEASE HELP
Tina

tina at June 22, 2009 10:59 AM

Hi Tina,

You do not have to worry about asbestos being in vinyl that was installed in 1986.

The Flooring Lady at June 22, 2009 11:42 AM

Hi Jim,

Sorry to hear you have entered the "Asbestos Zone". You have clearly stirred the fibers up. I think you need to call an expert team to see what their recommendations are. Chances are they will say they need to come in and do a HazMat clean up. Be sure to ask lots of questions about what they are going to do and what that's going
to accomplish for you.


Good luck!

The Flooring Lady at June 22, 2009 3:49 PM

My home was built in 1979. It has a glued down sheet vinyl floor. Is it OK to remove it?

Thank you for your help.

Paul Baker at July 1, 2009 5:31 PM

Hi Paul, Yes, it would be fine to remove it. If it's still in good shape, and depending on the type of flooring you wish to install, you could install right on top of it.

The Flooring Lady at July 2, 2009 12:51 PM

Our home was built in 1979 and we want to install tile flooring where linoleum currently is. We do not believe this is the origial linoleum. Do we need to worry about asbestos? Can we install the concrete board right on top of the linoleum, or should we remove it first?
Thank you, Laura

Laura Lyon at July 12, 2009 5:24 PM

You can still buy products from the big home improvement companies that contain asbestos and that includes floor tiles and even drywall. Asbestos is not banned in the U.S. It is a myth. Corporations are still selling it to you but try to hide the name asbestos. Look for the term "natural fibers" especially if it was made in Canada where it is still mined today. By the way if you are removing floor tiles look for a respirator not a dust mask that is made to filter out asbestos. The cheap ones with the rubber bands let the asbestos go right through which is more dangerous than nothing because you think you are protected and stay in the hazardous environment longer. Before you do ANY home improvement check into the materials you will be working with and if any doubt have them tested. Asbestos is everywhere including your drinking water. The old city water pipes were lined with concrete with asbestos in it. It is in some old joint compound, old caulking, siding, aluminum paint, peg board, some insulation, linoleum... Testing costs normally between $8.00-$40.00 and please get your kids out of the house while working. It's up to you to be safe. The government and the corporations aren't watching out for you or your family.

TJ at July 12, 2009 5:26 PM

Hi Laura, I wouldn't take any chances if there is a concern that there might be asbestos. You can have it tested to determine if there is asbestos and if there is, you can have it removed. If the vinyl is damaged in any way, you must have it removed before laying new floor.

The Flooring Lady at July 14, 2009 9:03 AM

I've just pulled up vinyl from 1974 in my bathroom and there's small patches of adhesive to get up from the concrete slab otherwise it came up easily do I need to worry about stepping with the same shoes onto the carpet with cats and so forth?

Suzan at July 18, 2009 2:14 PM

Help! I remvoved tiles from my basement floor because of water damag, later to find out that contained asbestos! I have throuroughly cleaned it, but the stick (mastic?) remains. I wanted to know if I could just seal the floor, or put a thin layer of concrete over it? Thanks!

Donna at July 20, 2009 8:21 AM

Hi Suzan, I'm sorry, but I'm not sure what the question is. Are you worried about tracking the residual adhesive on to your carpet? Are you not planning on replacing the vinyl with an alternative flooring?

The Flooring Lady at July 20, 2009 9:47 AM

Hello Donna, How much of the flooring is attached to the mastic? Unfortunately, the damage has been done and you may want to call in the proper hazmat
team that's trained in asbestos clean up.


I don't think you can pour thin concrete layers onto concrete and get a satisfactory bond or result. You may want to just install one of the
moisture proofing subfloors discussed in a few of the articles; that would take care of future moisture problems and the glue issue.

The Flooring Lady at July 20, 2009 12:33 PM

Hi, I am having new carpet installed and the installer just told me that the vinyl flooring is the asbestos type. He said that it is in good shape and can install the carpet. However in the coat closet, when he pulled up the piece of carpet on the floor there 3 tiles already missing from the floor. He said there was no dust and the others were not loose and that it would be ok to cover it and should be covered until we decide to do something with the entire floor. I decided to look up asbestos flooring and found you, praise the Lord! What do I do? You say not to recover it without taking care of it. I don't have a clue who to call.

thank you!!

marcela at July 24, 2009 7:28 AM

Marcella,

The Article states,

"However, intact asbestos vinyl flooring should not be removed because the removal of an intact floor poses a greater risk than simply covering over the old flooring.

If you determine that the asbestos vinyl flooring must be removed, asbestos abatement contractors are highly recommended."

It seems as if your contractor agrees that it is safer to cover over. Perhaps a second opinion is in order if you are unsure.

The Flooring Lady at July 24, 2009 8:25 AM

We are renovating a house built in 1969. Under the basement carpet there are tiles that are all cracked and broken. I am sure that they contain asbeston....we have also had a mold issue and people have been down there working and breaking up some of the tiles. We are suppose to have carpet put down in 3 days and move in 4....what do I do?? Help!

Molly at July 26, 2009 7:56 PM

Lowes policy does not allow their sub-contractor to remove our linoleum (could be vinyl)flooring which is underneath the existing Pergo. Our home was built in 1997 and the contractor said there could still be asbestos in the flooring or the adhesive. We purchased the laminate flooring just under a year ago and installed the majority of it ourselves in the living room and down the hall. We wanted the remainder to be installed by the professionals at Lowes as there are some tricky angles in our kitchen and dining room and we don't want to deal with moving the large appliances or ripping up the two layers of floor. We want the new floor to be installed on top of the subfloor, NOT over any existing floor since one of our goals is to eliminate the transitions which we continually trip over. Lowes also informed us that the contractor cannot hook our gas stove back up upon completion of the job yet the contractor told me not to worry about it and that he hooks them back up all of the time?! How does it make sense that they can move the gas range and unhook it from the gas source and *somehow* that is less of a liability than hooking it back up?! I even spoke to our gas furnace maintenence guy and he agreed with me. I really don't think there is asbestos in our house; I think the contractor doesn't want to deal with ripping up the vinyl. I even tried asking him if we could pay him as a separate contractor (not Lowes) to rip it out and he said that part of his contract with Lowes is not to take and "side" jobs and he could lose his contract with them...guess he's not worried about that when it comes to hooking up gas stoves! Is it likely that there is asbestos in our floor? Wouldn't they have had to reveal that in either the disclosure or the inspection when we bought our house?

Tammy at September 8, 2009 9:41 PM

Tammy,

Grab a second opinion and find someone who is willing to work on your floor! In 1989 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule which was subsequently overturned in the case of Corrosion Proof Fittings v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1991, meaning their are some consumer products that still contain legal trace amounts of asbestos. You can read more on the asbestos ban here http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/asbbans2.pdf

Again I would grab a second opinion from a local professional and perhaps consult your Realtor regarding what they are legally required to disclose.

The Flooring Lady at September 11, 2009 10:04 AM

Help! My house was built in 1972. It had carpet in the Kitchen and Dining area (Kangaback) I removed the carpet on the kitchen side yesterday. The foam backing had stuck, so I scraped on it in a couple places. It was slow going, so I covered it up with a towel, went online and learned that my 12" tiles (original) could have asbestos! Today, I soaked the foam and removed it easily. If my tiles do contain asbestos, is there at least a layer on the outside that isn't? I have a toddler that I am concerned about. Thank You

Julie at October 3, 2009 12:18 PM

Julie,

The old asbestos tiles were made with asbestos in them, and are not suppose to be dangerous UNLESS they are damaged (cracked/open/crumbling). But, I would have it tested to be sure.

If they are not damaged, you may want to re-cover them. Rather than try to remove them.

The Flooring Lady at October 6, 2009 10:38 AM

Hello,
I have two layers of old vinyl with a layer of plywood in between them on my kitchen floor. Under it all is what appears to be nice hardwoods. I would really like to remove the vinyl (which I am pretty sure was from before 1972). I know the hazards and can figure out how to remove it safely..My question is when I am done, and I have nice hardwoods covered with glues from the flooring, is there a safe way for me to sand and refinish that hardwood floor?

Thanks,

Steve

Steve at October 7, 2009 7:20 PM

Steve,

I would be sure to get a test kit or have a local contractor test the tiles for asbestos first. If the tiles on the hardwood floor are made with asbestos, it may really be a health risk to attempt sanding this yourself. I do not know of a safe way to accomplish it without a professional. If they aren't then you should be able to sand or screen the wood floor and finish it.

The Flooring Lady at October 9, 2009 12:20 PM

Hi,
Oh boy, I think I blew it. I live in a 1973 mobile home and I am laying the new Armstrong Assure wood vinyl flooring (which is beautiful).

I have been removed all of the original sheet vinyl in the kitchen but haven't gotten to laying the new wood vinyl flooring because I haven't been feeling well. OMG! Could it be because of asbestos?

I have had a terrible headache above my eyes, my eyes are constantly burning and feel like their going to bust. I went to my doctor and my eye doctor and they are not finding anything wrong.

If it is the vinyl flooring asbestos, now what do I do?? Other than lay the wood vinyl flooring!
Maybe it will go away then.

Help!

Joan

Joan at October 27, 2009 8:27 PM

Joan,

These symptoms could very well be from dust that has been stirred up while working on the floor, rather than asbestos.

An important thing to remember with any type of work in your home, is to allow ventilation and fresh air.

The Flooring Lady at October 29, 2009 1:23 PM

We would like to put Novalis vinyl tiles from Lowes down in our kitchen and dinning area ourselves. Are these tiles safe and what about the adhesive. I have heard it can be toxic and we have small children that will play on the floor. We are also thinking of wood laminate, the click and lock type? Which would be safer?

Chris McFarland at November 4, 2009 11:22 AM


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