Ron Call’s Tip of the Week #010- Asbestos Safety When Installing Your Hardwood Floors


Tip of the Week
Saturday, May 26, 2012
by Ron Call, your Urbanfloor guy

Ron Call, your Urbanfloor Guy

DYI tip of the week.  If you’re planning on installing your own floor either gluing direct, nailing or using the floating method one thing you might not have considered especially if you have an older home built before the late 1980’s is asbestos.

A lot of these homes were originally built using base grade VAT (Vinyl Asbestos Tile) as a floor covering.  You may still be walking on it today, or it may be hidden under the carpet or vinyl flooring you are thinking about replacing.  In any case if the tiles on your floor are 9″ x 9″ or are secured by an adhesive that looks like black tar, there is a real good chance that it contains asbestos. Both the tiles and the adhesive may contain asbestos.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen that can cause cancer.  You should NOT attempt to remove or alter this tile or adhesive in any way.  It is against Federal Law and you may possibly contaminate your home.  The problem is not that it is in your home, as long as it remains undisturbed it will not cause any health concerns.  The problems can come from the improper removal and disposal.

If you were planning a glued direct method, you will need to find a certified asbestos abatement contractor to properly remove and dispose of the tile and the adhesive residue.  Even disposing of the tile in a regular land fill is against the law, so do not attempt to do this yourself.  You are risking your families health and major fines if you are caught.  Now if you find that you have this in your home you can still install your new floor without removal if you use the floating method.

If your floor is flat with in a tolerance (see the specs that came with your floor) just install right over the tiles. You can use a good self-leveling concrete patch to fill any low spots (just go right over the tiles).  If you have any high spots that need grinding, STOP and contact your certified asbestos abatement contractor.

If you improperly try to grind the high spots you WILL contaminate your home and put your family at risk.  If you are not sure if your flooring contains asbestos, for safety sake just assume that it does.  You can have it tested for about $50.00 depending on the area of the country you live in.  It is almost always impossible to tell the difference between VAT (Vinyl Asbestos Tile) and VCT (Vinyl Composite Tile).  If you have your certified abatement contractor remove the tiles and adhesive residue for you, be sure he gives you a Clean Air Certificate upon completion.  This will certify that your home is safe to occupy and the air safe to breath.  Once this is done install away…

Have questions about a project you’re working on?  Need advice?  For answers post a comment below or visit the Ask Ron page HERE


7 Responses to Ron Call’s Tip of the Week #010- Asbestos Safety When Installing Your Hardwood Floors

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  3. Ina says:

    It is possible that the prevuois owner was not aware of the asbestos either. Asbestos was used freely before it’s health implications were known and even today it’s existance in older construction is not illegal. When this asbestos is removed, make sure you get documentation from the company and hopefully, they are a company that is versed in asbestos removal. Then when and if you sell the property, you can provide the new owner with documentation that a proper job was done.

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  7. Kangmas says:

    Ive been an electrician for 15 years now and have never seen asostebs being installed. And in the places I’ve worked where it was already there, it was never in flooring. Only insulation for the electrical wire, and attic. If your still worried wear a respirator when tearing up the old floor

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