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Mikey Palmice 08-16-2009 09:13 PM

Possible Asbestos tiles, want to remove
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In my unfinished basement there are 9 inch tiles that I was told might be Asbestos. They cover half the basement and some of them are missing, and come up very easy.

Does 9 inch tile always contain Asbestos? I heard that somewhere. Not sure though.

If it is Asbestos can it be removed with just gloves and mask? Or does it involve a lot of special equipment. The tiles can be taken up very easily I think.

And when it comes to Asbestos is it the tile glue, or the tile itself you have to worry about.

If I was to get the tiles up, what is a good way to make a not perfect concrete floor look decent. ore maybe preped to just put rug over it.


Termite 08-16-2009 10:02 PM

The tiles could be asbestos. Gotta have them tested to know for sure. The black adhesive often also contains asbestos.

Asbestos isn't a hazard unless it becomes friable...That's when tiny fibers become airborne. That happens from scraping, scratching or breaking the tiles. A very small amount is bigtime hazardous. If it lands in your home there's a good chance that someone will eventually breathe it in.

Getting rid of it is the biggest challenge aside from doing it safely. You have to find a dump that will even take it, and there are often very strict packaging guidelines.

Crazy as it might be, the EPA does not mandate or regulate any procedures for abatement if you do the work yourself. If you pay an abatement contractor to do it (correctly and safely I might add) there are a multitude of protective steps that must be taken. Special suits, respirators, plastic everywhere, special fans, etc........

My advice with this stuff is to carpet right over the top of it and forget it is there. If you don't do that my advice is to pay to have it safely removed so you don't put yourself or your family at risk of mesothelioma down the road. A dust mask and gloves barely scratch the surface of the precautions that should be taken.

In the meantime, carefully package some of the adhesive and a tile and send them to a lab for testing. It doesn't cost much and there are several labs that have websites and pretty easy services.

I don't think you'll ever make the concrete floor look decent without some serious work with a grinding machine.

Thurman 08-18-2009 09:42 PM

I'm with kc, on this one. I've not taken up any possible asbestos containing tiles, but have been around this type work in schools and industrial applications. You say that some of the tiles are missing. Could you possibly find nine inch (9") tiles that DO NOT contain asbestos to replace these, no matter what color or pattern, or find tiles to cut to size to replace the missing tiles? This would let you build up the floor to it's proper level and as kc stated, place the carpet pad and carpet right over the old tile. Good Luck, David

MI-Roger 08-19-2009 07:39 AM

I agree with the others
  1. Buy some cheap 12x12 tile and cut down to 9x9 size to replace the missing tile. Color and pattern match is not important.
  2. Re-glue any loose 9x9 tile.
  3. I would use floor leveling compound to fill the holes created by missing portions of tiles. Much safer than trying to remove the remainder of the tile piece for a whole tile replacement.
  4. Then install your pad and carpet over the top.
It is nearly impossible to remove old tile mastic from concrete, and any residue remaining on the exposed concrete can/will attack the new floors. Leaving the tile in place meets all health codes and is much safer for you and the family. Plus, the old tile acts as a great vapor barrier!

rusty baker 08-19-2009 10:35 AM

In the 80'sthe EPA came around and told installers to just cover up the asbestos. Just for information, asbestos containing tiles were sold well into the 80's. The mills were allowed to sell all remaining stock.

Termite 08-19-2009 11:10 AM

Just to be really clear to anyone reading this, the asbestos tiles are NOT A HEALTH HAZARD in any way. They only become a hazard when you mess with them (removal, etc).

The best advice is cover them up and forget they're there.

Bud Cline 08-19-2009 03:28 PM

Cover the tile with carpet and be done with it. It's safe, it's legal, it's done all the time.:) Use a Portland cement patching material to skim coat the voids and call it good.:)

ptspurlock 08-20-2009 08:11 PM

Possible Asbestos tiles, want to remove
Mikey- That could be an asbestos tile. if it is the cutback adhesive contains asbestos also. The dust or particles when disturbed become air-born. When asbestos has to be abated it is upwards of $10 sq.ft. and is done by an abatement certified company.

If the remaining tile is still attached you could have a self leveling compound installed by a pro (not really a diy product). Not many self leveling floor compound products are suitable for installing on vinyl asbestos tile.

Below is a pdf link to a brand new Ardex release. I'm currently building a web-page on this self screeding underlayment and it will be posted on my website soon. It is an unbounded underlayment, that. requires no prep, like sanding, shot-blasting etc. and will serve as a moisture barrier also.

For that existing tile to loose it's bond to the cutback adhesive you may have a moisture issue, if you have not had water standing.

Paul Spurlock

Tess 08-23-2009 01:27 PM

I completely understand the majority opinion about covering up the old flooring. But I'd like to encourage you to get a couple or three quotes for removing it simply because it sounds (and looks) like the tiles aren't in good condition.

Michael Thomas 08-23-2009 02:54 PM

How to remove asbestos floor tile
Composition flooring materials from various eras have differing likelihoods of containing asbestos, and itís common to find materials from different eras in the same property, sometimes installed one on top of another:

However, asbestos containing floor tiles are NOT banned on the national level in the US, and you should never assume on the basis of age or tile size or style alone that composition tile flooring is asbestos free unless you are confident that you can identify the manufacturer and type of a given sample of non-asbestos floor covering with absolute certainty based on these criteria.

So unless you can definitely identify a floor covering as a type known to be asbestos free based on its appearance, the only way to verify the level on asbestos via laboratory testing.

Here's an outline of a procedure for removing asbestos floor tile from the MN Dept of Public Health, this is the best such document I'm aware of:

Asbestos Floor Tile Removal

Itís difficult to print as a web page, so I've mirrored it in printable .pdf format here:

Asbestos Floor Tile Removal (Adobe .PDF format) - Mirror at Paragon Home Inspections Chicago

Keep in mind that you will have to meet all state and local requirements for asbestos removal and disposal.

ra734 10-23-2010 01:41 PM

Thanks everyone for posting here! I was searching for info on removing cutback adhesive from walls (don't ask), but this thread covers another question I would have eventually had concerning work in my basement -- the pics posted by the OP look so much like my own basement that they could have been taken there!

Looks like I'll be hunting for replacement tile...

oh'mike 10-23-2010 05:28 PM

Safely removing old asbestos tiles is easy---Search for other posts on the subject---The dust is the only concern--

Pop them off--protect the area with plastic sheets--use a heppa vacuum for final clean up--wear a good mask--

ewpurr 11-04-2010 12:06 PM

What to do after tile removal? Then carpet?
new to this, please bear with me :-) I have a 60 year-old house. The tile with black mastic is upstairs--someone did this to hardwood :-( Removed the shag carpet and tiles remained intact during removal, most popped up in one piece with a nudge from a short demo bar. So, no worries about that asbestos aeration.
Question is: do I need to do any special prep or cover to carpet over the black stuff? Removal of that sounds unnecessary and as an upstairs bedroom, carpet is preferred for sound and comfort. Want to be sure the carpet folks won't balk at installation.
Thanks so much!

rusty baker 11-04-2010 12:11 PM

Why are you taking up the tiles? Just carpet over them. Just so anyone reading would know, the adhesive (cutback) has more asbestos than the tile.

ewpurr 11-04-2010 12:14 PM

Thanks for your reply, Rusty. At first, i was curious -- knowing friable tiles were not ideal, I tested one. They all have been removed now, so the taking out is done.
What about covering the black mastic?

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