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Nine Inch Vinyl Tiles: Patch & Cover or Remove? Possible Asbestos


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#1 of 9 OFFLINE   Brian Serene

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Posted December 30 2008 - 06:10 AM

The basement of our split level, built in the 1950's has 9 inch tiles that are primarily vinyl. The area covered with these tiles is about 120 square feet. It is a fact that many 9 inch tiles had asbestos. Such tiles are not considered dangerous unless they break and crumple into powder, (or are tampered with and pulverized). I am not handy enough to do this kind of job. We have spoken to several people, and have gotten 3 responses: 1) Some won't touch the tiles saying they have asbestos in them. 2) Some say they are willing to take all the tiles up and put down either 12 inch vinyl squares or sheet vinyl. 3) Some say they would remove the damaged tiles and then cover over the rest of the tiles with either 12 inch squares or sheet vinyl. With this method, a thin set mortar is used to bring the area where the tiles have been removed up to the same hight as the areas where the tiles are OK. After doing some reading on the net it seems that in a situation like this, it is preferable not to have the tiles tested for asbestos ($65). The fact that the gas hot air furnace is in this space is one reason I am hesitant about completely taking the tiles up right now. I feel like using the laundromat until April when we won't have to use the furnace. I don't know enough to know if that makes sense or not. As I mentioned, if the loose tiles are removed, a thin-set mortar, (or something like that), would be used to level the areas without tiles with the rest of the floor and then the whole area would be covered with new vinyl. Based on speaking to a hand full of people, it seems that this repair/replacement could be anywhere from a ~$1,000 job to $7,500. We are not looking to spend $7,500. All comments, suggestions, questions will be appreciated.

#2 of 9 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted December 30 2008 - 10:14 AM

I've helped replace a few floors in my parents' house. In my experience, replacing only half the tiles and trying to fill in the gaps never quite evens out. If you use plywood or masonite with spacers to try even things out, it inevitably settles at an angle. If you use mortar, spackle or another kind of fill, it sinks further than you expect and it's again not quite even.

If you want to redo the floor, I'd either:
    [*]Pull out the most damaged tiles (use a face mask just in case any asbestos dust kicks up) and lay down a new floor over the top with quarter-inch plywood. Once the new base floor is down, hire a professional to finish over the top. OR[*]Use a face mask and pull up the existing titles yourself with a crowbar. There's nothing terribly tricky or technical involved, although it is physical so you'll probably feel it the next morning. Once you've gotten rid of the offending titles, call in a professional to finish on the original base.
If you lay down plywood on top, make sure the sheets you get aren't warped. Also, make sure your nails are long enough to reach the original base, and can piece through tile. Also, be sure to caulk the seams between the sheets so moisture doesn't build up in the cracks and cause mold build-up under the new floor.

The furnace shouldn't be a problem; more likely than not, it pre-dated the current floor, and the tiles were just cut around it. If this isn't the case, it might make more sense to put a new floor down over the old one than pull out the furnace to pull out any tiles it might be sitting on. Most likely, though, the job can be done without moving your furance.

#3 of 9 OFFLINE   Brian Serene

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Posted December 31 2008 - 05:33 AM

Thanks Adam I wonder if I could get a handyman to remove the damaged tiles and put down thin set mortar on one day, and then come back and level off the mortar on a second day. Perhaps this way, the damaged area would be about as even as possible and the whole floor would not have to be replaced. We are leaning away from putting wood down in case of another leak. The tiles are NOT under the gas furnace, but are under the hot water heater. I am not physically capable of prying up the whole floor with a crowbar. Again, all suggestions, thoughts, questions are appreciated.

#4 of 9 OFFLINE   BrianW

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Posted December 31 2008 - 11:52 AM

I think there are places where it is illegal for anybody but licensed asbestos handlers to remove asbestos from a building. Check your local laws before doing any work yourself, and especially before hiring a someone (a handyman) to do it for you since the liability could be crippling. But if it were me, I think I'd remove the loose stuff while disturbing as little as possible, and pour a mortar leveling compound over the entire floor. Once the mortar is set, the old floor will be sealed, and you can then put whatever you want on top of the mortar. Seriously, though, check you local laws befoe doing anything. Your options may be more limited than you think.
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#5 of 9 OFFLINE   Brian Serene

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Posted January 06 2009 - 06:22 AM

Anyone else have any thoughts on this, I would really appreciate it.

#6 of 9 OFFLINE   drobbins

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Posted January 06 2009 - 12:08 PM

I second BrianW's comments and methods.

#7 of 9 OFFLINE   MarkMel

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Posted January 07 2009 - 05:33 AM

Asbestos is not the great spooky scary that some people make it out to be. The issues occurred upon long term exposure to workers manufacturing it or using it in manufactured processes. It has also caused problems to people living long term near these factories. I really don't think removing a room full of tiles yourself is going to cause you any health issues. I think if you were considering a job where that's what you were going to be doing for 10 hours a day with out any protection then that could be where an issue would arise. Turn off the furnace, cover all air inlets in the room and on the furnace, wear a respirator and then have at the tiles with a long handled floor scraper. If it were me I wouldn't be contacting any town authorities about it. "Oh, he's got asbestos, better call the high dollar remediation company, inform his insurance company, mark down in the town records that his house has asbestos in it so that future buyers can find the information."
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#8 of 9 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted January 07 2009 - 04:00 PM

Which is fine as long as your local municipality doesn't have an existing record of asbestos in the house. I'm assuming that's why Brian and Dave have been so legal-conscious. The penalties for improperly handling asbestos is some jurisdictions is probably quite steep.

#9 of 9 OFFLINE   MarkMel

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Posted January 08 2009 - 02:40 AM

I agree with the legal issues but I feel the whole thing has created an industry because of the legality. (I can't stand lawyers) "You have lung issues? I see you lived in a house with asbestos tiles, we're going to use that as the basis of our suit!" Possible to get lung issues from having those tiles in your house - yes anything is possible. Probable, I don't think so. Probably the best solution would be to cover the tiles up. With linoleum, other tile etc. If there are missing tiles, those areas could be filled with the new tile of the same approx thickness.
"and no one seems to understand the glory of guitar, when out of tune, the off timing, the singers who can't sing, - the beauty of flaw!"

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