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My Old House 01-24-2010 01:30 PM

Carpet over VCT w/ Cutback
I am undertaking a project this weekend to prepare my basement for a carpet install. My wife has been planning this for years, and now has ordered and paid for the carpet. Installers will be here this coming week. I have some questions about the best way to do some things. The house was built in the 1930s, and has a concrete floor slab of probably less than the ideal 4". Additionally, the previous owners installed drain tiles at the perimeter, as well as VCT directly on the slab. The adhesive is black cutback, and the 12x12 VCT is an armstrong product (found a box with unused tiles in a closet) that I am unsure about the presence of asbestos. From what I have read here, the black cutback adhesive likely has a small amount of asbestos. I know it is fine if left alone.

But there is the problem. While the basement is dry (lived here 3 years without any groundwater problems), we do have some sizeable waves in the floor from previous pipe leaks, etc. All water came from the inside. So I need to replace the wavy tiles, and have enough extras to do it, but I am concerned about disturbing possible asbestos VCT. I had planned to just cut out the bad tiles and lay replacements in place - or maybe just cut along the ridge of the waves and remove the just the warped areas of the tiles . . . not sure what to do.

Now I am also questioning the placement of carpet over this material. Is this OK? My wife wants to use this area as a play room for our kids. The whole thing makes me a little nervous.

Second problem is the method of carpet install. The carpet seller said his guys (they sub-out all the install work I believe) will glue tack strips directly to the VCT. I questioned this method - it seems like the tile would easily break away when the carpet is stretched - but he was sure it would be fine. I don't believe him, even though the work is guaranteed. I'd like to use some kind of fastener for the tack strips, but I'm also concerned that the slab could be just 2-3" thick, and I'd just crack the concrete. Then there is the retro drain tiles too . . . I could use a high-strength adhesive (I saw PL400 and Chemrex recommended in other posts here), but I am pretty sure this would require me to remove a 2" strip of VCT and the cutback all around the perimeter of the carpet install.

SO I'm not sure the best way to go on this one, and I'm hoping some of you experienced flooring guys can lend me some advice. I am leaning toward trying to find a fastener that will work through the tack strip, VCT, & cutback, and penetrate the slab no more than 1-2". Is there such a thing? Or is there another simple way for me to get this done in just a couple days? Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

rusty baker 01-24-2010 01:43 PM

First of all, leaving the VAT and cutback down is the way the EPA recommended to us when I was working for a large retailer. Removing a few tiles is perfectly safe. Asbestos is only a concern when it becomes airborne particles "friable". . I have glued tackstrip to VAT without a problem. I have also nailed thru it with concrete nails without a problem. Without seeing the floor it's impossible for me to tell you which would be best. Installers do this all the time.

My Old House 01-25-2010 12:59 AM

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I just saw a note on the Armstrong box indicating that the tiles are VCT, and DO NOT contain asbestos. Here is a pic of the room in question. We are carpeting the stairs too, but haven't looked under the VCT on the treads.

My Old House 01-25-2010 01:03 AM

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First pic is an undisturbed edge condition at the utility closet. Pis 2 and 3 show the warped, water damaged tiles.

My Old House 01-25-2010 01:10 AM

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And here is what I found after removing one of the tiles. The VCT does not separate easily from the green tile underlayment - impossible to remove VCT without destroying the green tiles actually. beneath the green tiles is a bed of dark granular stuff about 1/4 - 3/8" thick - it is actually somewhat loose like a leveling sand (?). I was surprised to not find a gooey black bed of adhesive here. Maybe the cutback is only at the edges? Or is the granular stuff a disintegrated layer of cutback? I don't know . . . this should give everyone a better idea of what I am dealing with here. Someone told me that the green tile stuff probably does have asbestos, but is it dangerous to remove these few tiles? And what about disturbing the granular layer below? Any ideas, or suggestions? Thanks for the help!

just tile 01-25-2010 09:12 PM

i would patch that spot and lay carpet over the top. glue down or stretch in. wont hurt a thing. if you start tearing that out you are in for a big mess. good luck.

just tile 01-25-2010 09:19 PM

we use a tiny triangle shaped drill bit and aluminum nails. the nails fit sng in the predrilled holes and flare out once drove in. the hold better than the old tackstrip nails ever did.

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