What to do? Re. asbestos glue on old wood floor

pickle2June 2, 2010

Hi, all. I normally post on the kitchens board, but came across this issue tonight.

As part of our kitchen demo, we're getting flooring with asbestos professionally abated (vinyl with asbestos paper layer and a layer of asbestos tiles). We were planning to put wood floors on top of subfloor.

Tonight, we pulled off a few loose asbestos tiles to make sure it was subfloor underneath before ordering the wood flooring. (The tiles were completely loose. Nothing friable. Double bagged the tiles). Underneath we found what looks like oak flooring. Initially, we were thrilled. But then we realized the black tarry glue probably has asbestos.

What to do?

1. Have the abatement company remove the wood layer as well and just put in new wood? This is probably the safest option, but the preservationist in me mourns the loss of the old wood floor.

2. Have the abatement company remove the other layers as planned. Then carefully scrape off the glue ourselves, wetting it first with steam?

3. See if the abatement company will carefully remove the glue as well without damaging the wood? We'll check with the abatement company, but this sounds expensive. Probably as expensive or more than option #1. We were planning on installing the new wood ourselves.

Ideas? Suggestions? Thanks!

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Ask the pros.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 7:20PM
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Um, wow, macv.

Hi pickle, recognize your name from the kitchen forum, sorry I can't help you with the answer to your question, but that is so great that you possibly found original floors under there (I should be so lucky!) & hope you are able to find a way to use and enjoy them!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 11:09PM
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My flooring guy said some people try using dry ice to freeze the glue and then scrape it off after it is frozen and brittle. We didn't try this ourselves as we just totally removed the old flooring (it was pine not oak underneath and very cut up) but you might be able to do a test section yourselves.

Don't feel too bad if you have to take up the old floor. My experience is that kitchen floors in older homes are not easily salvagable and often have weird, unexplainable cut-outs and holes in them.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 11:40AM
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I'm serious, not every construction problem can be safely solved by amateurs.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 11:44AM
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We removed old flooring to uncover the original pine floor in our kitchen. The floor was covered in a gluey paper. I do not know if any asbestos was involved. My contractor, who specializes in historic renovation, told us to cover the gunk with rags and keep it wet for 2-3 days. I was worried that the dampness would damage the floor, but he assured me that it would not. After a few days, the gunk softened and it was very easy to wipe up with the rags.

I don't know if this is the same glue you are dealing with. This is the only picture I have of it, after the workers had scraped the paper off:

Good luck

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 11:46AM
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Thanks for the advice. Yes, even in the small spot we have uncovered, we have an oddly shaped pine patch. So maybe this will all be a moot point. If we think it's safe, I'll test with water. I think some glues are water-soluble, and others aren't.

About the pros...unfortunately, sometimes even the pros don't have all the answers. A rep from a reputable, well-known flooring store told us that vinyl has no asbestos and not to worry. Well. Vinyl can (and ours did) have an asbestos paper layer. And obviously an asbestos abatement person has a vested interest in telling us that only a professional can safely remove asbestos. I'm trying to get all the info possible so I can make an informed decision.

Well...I still have a call in to our asbestos guy.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 11:23PM
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If you are seeing that the old floor is already cut up, I'd just lay a new floor over it--asbestos is dangerous only if the fibers are disturbed--if the floor is covered under another one, then there I think you can let the glue remain.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 2:03AM
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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   June 5, 2010 at 3:42PM
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I removed four layers of lineolium from my kitchen, and my dad removed the remaining adhesive with a heat gun. We both wore a NIOSH approved face mask, which kept us from inhaling the fibers. (cost of mask, approx $125 dollars from a contractor supply house). Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 7:42PM
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