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Basement Floor with Asbestos Tiling - can I cover them?

Our home was built late 1950's early 1960's.  The basement floor has the 9X9 tiles (brown and white) that we believe has asbestos in them.  Unfortunately on some of the tiles the corners are cracked and came up and I believe you can see the cement flooring underneath.  I've been given advice from several experts one being take the floor up, two - leave it, seal (vapor seal), and cover over, and three just cover over the tiles.  I think it would be extremely costly for me to take up all of these tiles and then dispose of them correctly, so what are my options regarding covering them.  Is there something I can fill in the cracked spots with then seal the floor and then cover?  Since it is my basement, I'm concerned about dampness, water, ect...   I'm not sure what products to use.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you. 

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Posted 2011-07-28T11:28:56+0000  by dourselfmom dourselfmom

Greetings and welcome to our community!


My name is Tom, known here as HD116. As a remodeler for many years, I am quite familiar dealing with a variety of products containing asbestos, lead and other hazardous materials used in construction prior to 1980. VAT (Vinyl Asbestos Tile) was introduced to the market in the mid 1950's with Armstrong's Excelon series being the most popular. Excelon Supreme was introduced in 1977 and did not contain asbestos, but it was the only variety that did not. VAT production continued until the mid 1980's when it was determined that asbestos was a health risk.


According to the EPA, the choices are repair or removal. They further state that removal should be done by an asbestos professional as doing it yourself may "create a hazard where none existed". The health risk of asbestos is limited to breathing in the fibers which in your case, were used as a binder and to give the tiles strength. That being said, best way to address your situation would be repair through encapsulation and enclosure.


After insuring the surface is clean, begin by using a leveling product to fill in the broken corners and/or missing tiles with a product such as the one pictured here;


You could then follow with the flooring of your choice, but considering that this is a basement and your other concerns I would really suggest you look at Allure flooring. It is a unique product that that comes in many finishes and colors, features a lifetime warranty for residential applications, is waterproof, and requires no additional preparation other than having a clean, level substrate. Best of all it is very, very easy to install. Check out the following video which gives an excellent overview of the product and it's installation.


Hope that alleviates some concerns about having vinyl asbestos tile, when managed it should cause no problem for you and your family. Once again welcome to our community, and please keep us posted on the progress of your project. We love to see before and after pictures!

Posted 2011-07-28T15:28:16+0000  by HD116

Tom, thankyou for your help. I truly appreciate your advice and  I'm going to look into both of these products.  Two quick questions though.  Someone suggested a vapor barrier...what exactly is this, and do I need to have it before laying down the new floor?  Also, do I need to seal the floor before laying down a new one?  Just wondering since it is a basement and its possible given we have another huge storm like we had several years ago that I could get some water.  You mentioned that the Allure flooring is waterproof but could water get between that and the old floor causing a mold problem.  Sorry for the additional questions, I just want to get all my ducks in a row before beginning this project.  THanks again for your wisdom and expertise. 

Posted 2011-07-29T12:33:38+0000  by dourselfmom

Hello dourselfmom.  Tom is not in today, but maybe I can be of some help.


If you use the Henry UniPro patch to fill in any cracks and voids, you will end up with a smooth substrate to lay the new Allure flooring on.  Henry UniPro is a Portland cement based product.  Mix it in batches since it sets up quickly.


I believe that while it is unlikely that mold will grow between the Allure flooring and the substrate, there is one product that will help.  TrafficMaster makes a product called Basement Proofer that will help to seal as well as improve adhesion of the Allure flooring.  This can be especially important below grade.




Is the water coming into the basement coming up through the floor or leaking from cracks in the foundation?  Both?  This is something I would want to fix before putting in a new floor.


I hope that is useful and wish you the best in finishing your project. Please let us know if you have any further questions about this or any other projects you may be working on.

We are here to help,


Posted 2011-07-29T15:34:24+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI

Thank you for the info above. I have a follow-up related question.


The floor tiles in bedrooms that were part of a 1960s addition on my home have been found to have asbestos. They are heavily cracked and chipped. I know I need to either seal them or remove them.


Given the square footage, I cannot afford the removal, at least not at this time. (I also have them on a very small sun porch that's not in use.) Also, in the next couple years I would like to renovate this area, such as add a bathroom. So for now I am looking for a temporary but safe fix.


Would it be safe to encapsulate the floor as described above, then continue to use the bedrooms? I was thinking of painting with a heavy porch paint, then waxing as a temporary fix. But perhaps the encapsulation is a better, safer approach.


Prior to encapsulation is it safe to heavily clean the floors? I have been afraid to scrub them because of the cracked and chipped tiles. Is there a safe way to clean, such as wearing an appropriate mask and keep the area wet while scrubbing?


A final question: wouldn't future home buyers object to the presence of covered or encapsulated asbestos, which I'm assuming I would be required to disclose should I sell the house? I worry it would bring down my sales price.


Thanks in advance for your response.


Posted 2012-01-08T15:48:23+0000  by deltaskye

Hey deltaskye,


Thanks for your great question and welcome to the community!


Just like Tom/HD116 stated, encapsulation and enclosure is really the best thing a homeowner can get sort of a professional abatement company to remove the tiles.


You have lot of options when it comes to covering asbestos tiles, and it only is a health risk when the floors asbestos particles come airborne. Therefore, you can choose from using an adhesive with a new plywood subfloor to even porch floor paint as you stated. It really is up to you as long as the existing tiles are NOT disturbed in any way. Sealing the floor will work, and as Tom and Newf state, using a resilient vinyl flooring system like Allure and Allure Ultra can really go a long way to help spruce up your existing floors in all rooms.


The only thing I wouldn't recommend is using any kind of wax on the floor. I find wax creates more problems than solutions over time. For example, I have found failures with wax in extreme temperatures, they don't have a very good square footage coverage, and wear off easily within a short period of time. Any thing to seal tile like that, a Floor Polisher rated for vinyl is really the best thing to apply as just a clear coat.


As for cleaning the floors, get them swept and mop and any areas that still contain house dust, but nothing that will be too much to actually go into the tiles themselves. Wearing a properly fitted air respirator is the best solution, but if have not had any problems before, cleaning it now with using gloves and protective breathing and eye wear won't hurt.


As for inquiring to your last question, and I'm sure other members on the community can speak more to this, but I would disclose that you do have asbestos tiles when selling the house. Contact your realtor or realty firm to double check if that would affect the price, it may depend on your area.


Hope this helps you out,


Posted 2012-01-09T22:59:25+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL

Hi Tom,


I have the same issue as the original poster.  I have 9x9 tile in my basement, and would really like to avoid spending the money to remove tiles that are not really an issue unless disturbed.


Anyway, I went to the Home Depot and spoke with an in-store flooring associate expressing my interest in the Allure vinyl flooring.  I scheduled a measurement ($35) and had a guy come out to take a look.  He offered no opinion, and a few days later, I had to call the 1-800 in order to find out what the outcome of the measurment was (time to complete job, cost, availability, etc...)


The person I spoke to said that the contractor suggested that I call an abatement company,and that he would not continue with the job until I did.  He also said that there was some minor peaking and valleying in the tiles, which is another reason they should be removed.  I asked about encapsulating the tiles in a self leveling agent, thus killing two birds with one stone.  The representative on the phone said that using a self leveling agent would require troweling the leveler on, which would create scratches on the tile, thus potentially releasing asbestos into the air.  I though this was all a little far-fetched, and found it hard to believe that a leveler could not be applied.  I am persuing other options with the floor, but kind of had my heart set on the Allure floating floor.  


Is there anything  else that I could try, or would you recommend returning to the store and trying again? 




Posted 2012-06-29T03:28:26+0000  by ryanhill10

Hey there ryanhill10,


Thanks for joining us on the community!~


Tom is not in today, but I can certainly give you a hand with this.


I apologize that you've had a difficult time with the measuring process. Working with asbestos tiles is a bit of a tricky area, but we train our measure technicians to have a keen eye for it so that we can make sure we finish all our installation jobs safely.


The representative you spoke with was correct in advising that you speak with an abatement company however. Since not all tiles that seem to be asbestos actually are, it becomes a bit of a gray area. We, however, prefer to air on the side of caution and ask that it be tested first by a properly certified abatement company. If it turns out to not be asbestos, then we can certainly work on finishing the installation work for you. If it tests positive however, then it would have to be removed by the abatement company. Our technicians won't be able to do this sort of job for you unfortunately, because it requires a specialized certification by EPA mandate, thus why we turn it over to the abatement companies.


The leveler that Tom mentioned is certainly a viable option. A good amount of the time encapsulation is the best answer and easiest DIY solution. It would however, be just that, a DIY project. As previously mentioned in the post, asbestos are only truly dangerous if they become friable or airborne, but such would require quite a bit of scratching to be made. This is definitely a doable project for a homeowner to endeavor to do, but I can only say that from a personal stand point.


My professional suggestion to you at this point would be to proceed to have it tested by the recommended abatement company and go from there. Like I said before, if it turns out that it is not an asbestos tile, then we'd be happy to help you with the rest of your installation. If on the flip-side, it turns out to test positive, then you'll know that it's being taken care of by the proper parties.


I hope this helps you out. Please feel free to reply back with any other questions that you may have on this!~ = )

Posted 2012-06-29T19:57:47+0000  by Jay_HD_CHI

Can I retile over these tiles or use some kind of flooring (other than carpet)?    What  is the easiest way?

Posted 2012-10-25T01:21:42+0000  by june-bug

Good afternoon june-bug,


Welcome to the community, we are glad you are here.


You can most definitely cover the existing flooring that isn't carpet. In terms of the easiest way, that would be up to you and your skill level, budget, and materials.


For example, you can use laminate flooring planks over what is down now, and no nails or glue will go directly onto the tiles. There are other floating systems, like vinyl Allure and Allure Ultra planks that can be used in the same fashion that won't damage or make any asbestos particles airborne.


You also have VCT glue down tiles and many other choices...which you can decide for yourself what is the best option for your floor.I will say be very careful when it comes to removing/fastening down the room transition pieces where the room meets another type of floor.


Even the smallest asbestos particle can be harmful, so I would recommend gluing any transition strips down instead of screwing/nailing them down.


Come into your local Home Depot and look at the samples that you think would best fit your room, and read more of the great information on this thread to get the best and safest install for your floors.


Let us know if we can further assist you.




Posted 2012-10-25T18:12:44+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL

We moved into our home last month and we too have asbestos tiles in the basement. Some are cracked and there is some bare floor showing. I cannot afford to have these removed so what kind of paint or ? can I use before retiling the baement with a peel and stick tlle?

We are really concerned about the danger of asbestos. Please help!


Paula and Len

Posted 2012-11-25T02:49:56+0000  by dziubla3
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