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Old 05-01-2009, 02:23 PM   #1
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Old VCT Replacement


Hi everyone. I have a question about what to do about an old VCT floor, and I could not find a satisfactory answer after hours upon hours of searching, so . . . I hope this is not too long:

I have an old VCT floor in the basement of my 1938 home. I do not know the age of the VCT, but it is a 12x12 Armstrong Standard Excelon tile - I found a box of leftover tiles in a closet. The floor has water damage and the tiles have buckled after several/prolonged exposures. I do not know if the moisture problem's source has ever been through the basement slab (or perimeter), but I do know that some damage resulted from overhead waterline leaks, as well as spillage from a dehumidifier with a faulty shut-off sensor.

So After cleaning up the latest spill, I decided to peel back a corner and see what is beneath. I could see water coming up through some of the joints when I stepped on buckled areas, so what more damage could I do? The corner of the tile broke away, and I found a beige/brown adhesive over a backer board of some kind. The backer is black (or discolored?)on it's top surface, and green throughout its 1/8" thickness. It is rigid, and contains shiny particles that glitter in the light, and the board snaps rather than crumbling or folding. The bottom of the board has a rough dark brown coating too. I don't know if this is a manufacturer's coating or an underlayment that became fused to the board over time? Beneath the green board I was surprised to find a dark brown or blackish granular material, about 1/2" deep, over the concrete slab. Is this a deteriorated backer board, or some kind of leveling system . . . ? I have no clue what it could be. I thought I would find thin, troweled, black cutback adhesive, which is what I see at the unfinished edge ( uncovered threshold at my utility closet), but it lookes like the edge system is different from the floor area.

So my main question is this - do I need to worry about asbestos? The wood paneling decor of the room leads me to believe that the room was finished around the time when manufacturers made a transition away from asbestos. But I don't have a date for the installation. So I am not sure how to proceed with this - for now I am leaving it alone. I also have an armstrong 12x12 ACT ceiling stapled to the underside of the floor joists in this room - also with water damage and in need of repair; I learned that these may also contain asbestos and am concerned about that, but I'll leave that for another thread. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 05-01-2009, 06:55 PM   #2
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Old VCT Replacement


I don't think you have to worry about asbestos unless you plan on sanding the floor for some reason. I suggest you worry about the water instead, and you should do some regular maintenance. You must have a very musty basement, maybe mold too?

I think you're over thinking what you have on your floor. I think the top layer is of course Excelon vct. Under it is some adhesive of course. That "backer board", as you call it, is not backer board, it's asphalt tile, my guess it's green marblelized. Maybe a checkerboard pattern of green & black tiles? The "granular" stuff is "floorstone", a patching cement.

So, what is your plan? Are you going to figure out how to fix the water problems then remove the tiles and re-tile?

Jaz
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Old 05-01-2009, 10:43 PM   #3
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Old VCT Replacement


Thanks for your reply - I really have been a little frustrated by my failure to find this kind of information out on the web.

So, you doubt that A) there is asbestos present, or B) that it poses a significant risk. For the record, I do not plan to sand the tile. My wife would like to carpet this room down the road, but for now I plan to simply cut out the damaged tiles and replace them with the leftovers in the box I found. I have lived in the house for 3 years, so I know only a little of it's history. I do know that the old couple who sold us the house were very diligent with maintenance until the last 5 years or so when the husband's age prevented it. They lived here for 40 years . . . so I think things are in good shape overall.

Also, we had a torrential storm today, and there is no water in the basement, so I am thinking that most/all of the water damage came from inside. That is great news for me. I have never noticed any musty smell or odor of any kind in the basement before. But, with the severe storm today I did smell something of an odor - in another part of the basement though. I am not too concerned about mold right now, because we had a thorough inspection not too long ago when we bought the place . . . we also keep a dehumidifier running in the finished room (with the vct)anyway.

The "floorstone" I mentioned is actually a loose "sandy" bed on the slab, only the particles are larger than sand. Do you think I can just take up the damaged vct, leave the floorstone and asphaltic tiles in place, and adhere replacement vct tiles directly over this existing base again? The vct tiles are all just a marbled beige/off-white color, rather than the black/white checker pattern you asked about (the green tiles with black surface are all beneath the beige vct). This room is not a particularly beautiful space, with a fairly dated palette of finish materials, so I don't mind if my repair is less than a perfect fix, or looks a little "off" - I just want a sound floor in this room that will last at least 5 years until we can renovate. It currently serves as a seldom-used guest room with a double bed on one side, and a home gym (free weights) on the other side. The water damage is in between. My wife would like to eventually install carpet here though, and make this room a place for the kids to play. Do you have any advice for this down-the-road plan for carpet? Do I lay it right over the VCT? OR should I take it all out and install a complete new floor system - leveler, sleepers, backer board, and then carpet . . .?

I really appreciate your insight and advice! Thanks again for your help.
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Old 05-02-2009, 09:55 AM   #4
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Old VCT Replacement


a. There is definitely asbestos in those tiles. The Excelon from early '80's (+- ?) and earlier, is VAT. Vinyl Asbestos Tile. If you also have asphalt tiles under, they have asbestos too. The black adhesive under the asphalt may contain asbestos.

b. There is no risk as long as you do not sand and breathe the dust.

You will want to remove everything down to concrete, I would guess, if you want to redo the floor. The old layers do you no good, and only trap moisture.

Jaz
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Old 05-04-2009, 02:20 PM   #5
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Thanks Jaz!
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