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Flooring

Asbestos sheet flooring

Hi,

My cottage was built in the late 1950s to early 1960s by my grandparents, so I know for certain the flooring in most of the cottage contains asbestos (we still have an unused roll of it in the attic). The flooring is in sheets, not tiles, and from what I can tell it was never glued down, but was simply laid on top of the floorboards and tacked down on the edges. It's not in great condition anymore - it's rumpling badly in parts and cracked slightly in a couple areas.

I'd prefer to remove the asbestos flooring entirely, because laying anything else on top of it seems like it would be problematic because the sheeting doesn't lay flat anymore. I could be wrong, but it looks so easy to remove - if the tacks along the edges were taken up, the sheets would presumably come right off. Is it still a bad idea to remove it? I've read some of the other questions and answers on this site and sometimes it was suggested to build a new flooring base above the asbestos, and lay new tile on top of that, but I'd rather not do that because the doorways are already low. 

If I absolutely shouldn't try removing it, would it be safe to nail the asbestos flooring to the floorboards beneath to create a flat surface on which to place new tiles, or would puncturing the flooring put asbestos in the air?

Thanks,

Gemma







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Posted 2015-08-20T02:54:23+0000  by Gemma Gemma
 
Please understand I'm not an asbestos expert not do I play one on TV.  As you probably know asbestos only becomes a hazard when the particles become airborne and can be inhaled.  The diseases related to asbestos exposure generally effected people who worked with asbestos on a regular basis over years.  It's kind of like smoking a dozen packs of cigarettes, it probably won't give you lung cancer.  That's not to say it can't happen but it's unlikely.

Let me just ask how you know the flooring contains asbestos?  Did you use the manufacturer's information from the back of the unused roll or did you have the flooring tested by a certified lab?

I do think it makes sense to remove the flooring since it's already shifted and not sitting flat.  Since it appears not to be glued down, removal should be pretty easy.  The easiest and most expensive solution is to call a licensed asbestos abatement contractor and let them deal with it.  If you want to do the work yourself, I might suggest first reading up on the regulations in your state regarding the removal of asbestos and the handling of the waste.  It will likely have to be put in special bags, tagged, and sent to an approved waste facility.

From what I understand, removal generally involves isolating the area, providing ventilation, and keep the asbestos containing materials wet to minimize anything becoming airborne.  In your case, that would involve pulling the nails/tacks that hold the flooring down, carefully rolling it back up, and putting it in bags while keeping everything wet.  Any debris left on the floor would be wet mopped rather than swept and all surfaces wiped down.  Mop heads, rags, etc. all go into the waste with the flooring.  Obviously you need to wear the appropriate protective gear especially approved respiratory protection.

Hope this helps!


Posted 2015-08-20T11:51:35+0000  by Adam444
Hi Gemma,

Exposure to asbestos is dangerous!

Before taking any measure toward removal, consider using an Asbestos Test Kit to determine if asbestos is present.

If your results are positive for asbestos, your local building inspector should have resources for safe removal ... or do a geographic search on the internet.

But above all else, please be cautious how you proceed.
Posted 2015-08-27T22:42:14+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL
I know the flooring contains asbestos-or if it doesn't, the manufacturer was scamming people!-because my mum was there when my grandparents installed it. She said it was stamped with the word "asbestos" on the back, and I believe my grandparents purposely chose asbestos flooring because it's fire retardant. I could also check the roll we have in the attic and see if it says "asbestos" on the back next time I'm at the cottage. Interestingly, I found this site that contains pictures of various old tiles and sheeting and tells you the manufacturer and whether or not they contain asbestos, and they have a pic of the exact flooring in my cottage kitchen. A reader apparently sent a sample to a lab and it came back negative for asbestos. Interesting. 

I just want to be able to make an informed decision about whether or not to remove it myself, so I've been doing a lot of research. Like you said, it seems that the diseases generally result from prolonged exposure. I'd hate to have to leave the bumpy asbestos flooring there just because the whole world's got asbestos paranoia. 

It also just occurred to me that actual Home Depot representatives would never be able to advise anything other than "be careful! Hire a professional!" because they'd be opening up the door to lawsuits.

If I took precautions and removed the flooring according to procedures, including spraying down the flooring as it's cut (if it has to be cut), and cleaning up afterward with wet rags or a hepa filter vacuum, it doesn't sound very dangerous. My grandparents cut the asbestos flooring themselves when they installed it, and since they didn't know it was dangerous, I doubt they took any precautions at all. Neither of them developed any asbestos-related illnesses. I probably wouldn't try removing it if it were in tiles that were stuck down, but it's just loose sheeting.

The biggest obstacle is probably finding a landfill that will take asbestos flooring.
Posted 2015-08-29T02:03:20+0000  by Gemma
 
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