Asbestos identification opinion please

MadoosieJune 6, 2013

I know to be sure if the tiles under the carpet on the second floor of my 1940s home contain asbestos is to have it professionally tested. However I am just not 100% sure they do contain as asbestos. I was going to have Home Depot install new carpeting in both rooms upstairs, but due to the the measurement guy reporting the tiles could "possibly" contain asbestos they wouldn't install the carpet unless it was tested and/or removed.
I pulled the carpet back where the measurement guy had looked to look more closely and they just don't look like the asbestos tiles I've seen. One tile came up and I looked underneath at the underlayment which doesn't seem to have any glue, rather a mesh type cloth.

I would love to hear anyone's opinion on this. My plan is either to install a floating wood floor if the tiles contain asbestos or if the tiles don't I will install nailed hardwood flooring.

Thanks in advance for any advice/opinions!

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Another pic

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 1:30AM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

Why wouldn't someone put carpet over asbestos tiles?
First you say carpet, then hardwood? Either way, if it is going on top of the tiles( which probably is not a good idea anyway),I can see no problems.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 4:31AM
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Thanks for the reply. I have a 4 year old daughter and the room in question is her playroom. My first plan of attack was to replace the gross carpet with new carpet. However after Home Depot was not going to install the carpet I decided that I would prefer to have wood flooring because, in my opinion, it is much easier to maintain. Have oak floors throughout the first floor. The back room (playroom) on the second floor used to be an attic that was remodeled.

My dilemma with the wood flooring is that if it is asbestos I cannot nail down real wood planks, due to the fact it would cause the asbestos particles to be disturbed. Rather I would need to install a floating engineered floor.

This post was edited by Madoosie on Thu, Jun 6, 13 at 10:35

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 10:33AM
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I would either get it tested, or go to a real flooring/carpet store and seek advice. In fact, you just might get a better "total price" at a real flooring store. With big box stores, that low "whole house" install price can be deceiving.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 10:46AM
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"that low "whole house" install price can be deceiving."

No that "whole house" price at the box stores IS deceiving!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 1:07PM
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I agree 100% regarding the "whole house" install price. I was actually glad that the carpet install from Home Depot fell through. I did a little research on Home Depot to find out their reasoning behind why they refuse to install any flooring over possible asbestos tile, and I'm happy I did. I was amazed (not in a good way) to find that the people who install the flooring aren't actual employees from Home Depot, rather people they hire (at the lowest possible pay). I have never been impressed with their customer service. Homebound and Millworkman, I am for sure going to purchase my flooring from a local store that actually cares about the customer an their work.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 2:58PM
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Most of the time they are smaller independent contractors that they helped put out of business!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 4:16PM
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I am not sure putting a nail through vinyl asbestos tile is really going to release fibers. Usually that kind of material only gets 'friable' when it's ground up or sanded. The fibers have to be VERY small to get into your lungs and cause problems, and since they're embedded in a plastic matrix, it will take more than that to cause a dust problem.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 3:38PM
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First, before you make any decisions, have a certified lab test it to determine if there really is asbestos in the tiles: you can't tell just by looking at it. Second, if they are asbestos, one accepted option is to leave it in place and properly cover it. Nailing down a new subfloor is a standard and accepted practice that will not release any significant amount of fibres. Asbestos fibers in vinyl asbestos tile (VAT) are tightly locked in to the vinyl matrix, and also do not constitute the bulk of the tile: sometimes the asbestos content is as little as a few percent.

It's important to be aware of what materials in a house might contain asbestos and to treat those that do carefully, but, if you have VAT, you can safely cover it in place.

This post was edited by kudzu9 on Wed, Jun 19, 13 at 22:00

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 3:57PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd


Most asbestos floor tiles are the 9" by 9" variety.

Take a sample of the tile and of the base mastic and have it tested prior to proceeding.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 9:05PM
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What size are these tiles? I used to work next door to the asbestos lab, and they said the asbestos tiles were usually 8 x 8". The ones I saw were thicker than this.

As for nailing hardwoods over asbestos tiles, I'm not sure I would be concerned with disturbed fibers going everywhere, but I understand wanting to be completely safe, just in case.

Here is a link that might be useful: Asbestos Resource Center

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 4:05PM
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Most asbestos containing tiles I have seen have been 9" X 9", but I would not base any conclusion on size or thickness...they could be any size. As far as nailing underlayment or a floor on top of such tile, I think fiber release is a non-issue.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 5:23PM
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If the glue is old the tiles will probably break up when you start nailing. I had to take 5 asbestos tiles at a time from my dad when I was a kid and throw them in a truck down below being sure not to cross the chalk line dad drew. A number of yrs ago dad & I cleared tiles out of church. Dad died in his 90's of heart problem brought on by high BP. I have never had cancer, I would not want those tiles under the wood floor. A wide putty scraper should pop them loose, use dust mask & gloves and have your kids at friends for day & your problem would be solved. You are not going to saw, it grind it or sand it so fibers shouldn't be a problem except to guy who wants to charge a fortune to remove it! I helped my dad with lot of other removal of tiles so that is just 2 examples, dad did hard flooring for at least 30 yrs. A flat shovel might work well too. I did my wood shingle roof that way.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 12:57AM
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With all due respect, I have to disagree with you. I've spent about 30 years as an environmental engineer, specializing in toxic substances, including asbestos. There is no problem with those tiles under a floor or underlayment, but there will be fibers released using the methods you describe. I'm glad your family has not had any asbestos related health problems, and I am aware that most such problems stem from occupational exposures. But your experience is just that: your experience. Disturbing and breaking up old tiles by scraping at them and their adhesive (also possibly asbestos-containing) causes an unnecessary exposure. And using a dust mask offers little protection as the fibers are small enough to pass right through a standard mask.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 1:23AM
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according of the age of you house is very likely ta you have asbestos, you cant take small sample and take to lab, the cost for sample is around $ 50.00 then after ta you can decide how to proceed

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 6:11PM
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An interesting discussion, linoleum, and possibly cut-back adhesive.
This product, as with all products containing asbestos as the binding agent only atain a "hazardos" status when they become "friable", iE airborne.
Since there was a lack of consistency, state to state, for the remediation of these products, encapsulation became the method of choice and so, many have been simply covered over with "safe" products, such as Hardie-backer.

The simple test that determines whether or not cut-back adhesive is present is to spill boiling water on an exposed area. If the water puddles, you have cut-back adhesive, if the adhesive melts, you do not.
The solution in the removal process is to keep the area moistened which will serve to prevent the binder from becoming friable.
There are also several products which work quite well for adhesive removal.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 9:17PM
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