Help to identify old flooring

June97April 20, 2013

After I removed the carpet in the bathroom, what I found is a thin layer of this kind of flooring (see the image). The house was build in 1969, and I want to install vinyl tiles (would certainly prefer ceramic flooring; but I have done done flooring in my life).

What is this stuff? Can I keep it and lay tiles on it? If not, Is it safe to remove it myself? I have young children, and any hazard involved? See the other picture for detailed look of the edge. Thanks so much.

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Here is the picture of the edge. I believe the flooring is installed on cement floor.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 11:42AM
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Here is a small piece I cut from the edge. Not very clear. I can see a very thin vinyl-look stuff stuck on a paper-look layer.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 11:48AM
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I had old material in my bathroom that I took out. I had it tested first for asbestos and it was positive! I am fortunate that there is a testing lab in a nearby town. I take all my stuff to them.

People may want to take me out and hog tie me for what I'm about to say but here goes:

I would look up this topic for help rather than rely on my instructions. But what I have done is a lot better than just ripping it out. I contained the material. I protected myself and the house from particles as best I could. I had a fan blowing out the window too, to try and create a negative pressure in the room so that house air, would move into the room around my leaky seal, rather than having the bathroom air move into the house:

Whether I took it out appropriately or not, I don't know. I live in the sticks so I did it my way. The dumpster people did not have a restriction on this material so I put the stuff there, asbestos is rock after all. I sealed off the room. Opened the only window in the room and used that as my chute as well as where my fan would sit. Took out the pieces in large chunks, to prevent potential breaking the material and asbestos escaping. Kept the areas moist to avoid flying asbestos. I wiped down the surfaces as able to get rid of any residue. I vacuumed with a drywall grade vacuum bag filter. Wore clothing that I would change out of. Covered my hair. Wore masks. Gloves. And got it out ASAP, once I started.

Later, when ready, I covered the flooring with my plywood underlayment. BTW, the glue was absent of asbestos. My insulation was absent of asbestos too.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 1:06PM
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Thanks enduring, and I guess I will just get another piece of carpet to cover it; the original one was too dirty. I don't want to disturb it since the title seems to be stuck into the cement.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 7:37PM
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Does it have a texture? Why couldn't you just install vinyl tiles over it?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 9:15PM
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I wouldn't want carpet in the bathroom. Could you lay down some of those vinyl tiles that have the edges that stick to the next tile. I think, then, the floor is almost like a floating floor but all connected with the vinyl underlapping sticky strips. Or there might be click together flooring that would be appropriate for the bath.

Here is a link that might be useful: Homedepot Vinyl flooring.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:13AM
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This is a secondary bathroom in the lower level, and nobody uses it.

I checked the surface and found foam residues stuck to the floor from the old carpet pad. In order to have the peel and stick vinyl tiles, I understand I must scrape and prepare the surface well. But if it's asbestos tiles, I don't want to disturb it. Also the the carpet tacks were nailed down into cement floor, and it's hard or impossible to get them out without disturbing the risky tiles.

I will sell the house within another 2 or 3 years. Do you all still think I should avoid carpeting? Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 12:00PM
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Definitely. If yo plan to resell, the problem is greater, not lesser.

If there is asbestos in the vinyl (and the age makes it a definite possibility), it is only a problem if it is what they call friable -- that means it crumbles and particles could become airborne. If the tiles come up pretty solidly, it may not be a big issue and reasonable precautions and due care in removing the vinyl may be enough to safely remove it and be done with the problem for good.

If you plan to resell in a fairly short time, you have two issues. Yes, carpet in a bathroom is a negative for nearly all buyers, so that's the first one. Second, you may have a duty to disclose even the potential asbestos issue now that you have seen it. That can vary by state, but any good agent would know a house that age could have asbestos and/or lead concerns. On the other hand, if you have gotten rid of a potential problem and have new flooring that will last through your use and the next owner's you have added value. You have also saved yourself money in the long run if you don't have to replace carpet that has gotten damp in a bathroom or that is simply an impediment to a quick sale only to have to face the issue later and then have material that is older and may be more of a cleanup problem.

I'd look into it and try to deal with it now for both long term cost and peace of mind, but chances are that doesn't mean an expensive removal specialist.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 12:18PM
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Sophie Wheeler

First of all, have it tested so you actually know what you're dealing with. Then, take the proper steps to remove it correctly, even if it is asbestos. Then put down ceramic tile on a properly prepared slab in the bathroom. All other solutions will just come back to bite you and cost you additional time and money and aggravation. ESPECIALLY since you want to sell down the road. You can't sell a home without disclosing the issue, and you can't sell a home with carpet in the bathroom. Well, you can for both, but it would be a HUGE dollar amount off for anyone to BUY a home like that.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 1:07PM
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you can buy an asbestos test kit at home depot for $7, and then pay a $30 lab fee to have it analyzed. Cheap money to me to see if that is what it is.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 1:48PM
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Amen to all of the above comments. If it is asbestos free, then it would be a weight off of your shoulders. Be sure to test for the glue too, that is what I was told if I remember, that there could be asbestos in glue too. So that would be 2 test. When I took my test into the lab, I had to pay 25 or 30$ / sample. This way you know where the culprit lies and can proceed accordingly.

Keep us posted on your plans. It will be interesting to know, if you test, what you have in your flooring material.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 2:25PM
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I agree that it is best to test and find out what you are dealing with. If you're lucky it is asbestos free and you can either peel it up or lay vinyl flooring over. I don't think cleaning off foam or pulling nails out would involve a risk even if it was asbestos.

There are lots of gorgeous vinyls out there, I don't think you have to do ceramic tile. But definitely NO carpet...yuck!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 3:04PM
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