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Can asbestos floor tiles be covered?

Answered by Jeffrey Anderson ~ March 5, 2013 ~ No Comments » | Respond to this question

Uncovered what we think might be asbestos tile in the basement of our 1945 house. Wondering how dangerous the dust around the tiles and carpet tack stripping is and how to safely cover this floor tile. Should the tack stripping be left undisturbed for fear of asbestos dust? Have looked at a DriCore subfloor and then a waterproof vinyl flooring.

Jeffrey Anderson

You are correct to be concerned about the possibility that the basement tiles could be asbestos. Unfortunately, many homes constructed during that time period used asbestos products. Of course, no one was aware of the health hazards they might pose.

The best course of action is to cover the tiles with new flooring, but I would be concerned about the loose tiles and the dust that is already present. Breathing asbestos dust is very bad, and especially if you have any children, keep them away from the area until the problem has been rectified. I also don't think leaving the tack strips in place is a good idea as all of those little sharp points can cause a painful injury. Attempting to bend them with a hammer may create additional dust and with them being so numerous, you're sure to miss a few.

My recommendation would be to have an asbestos abatement contractor inspect the basement to ascertain whether the tiles are asbestos. If they are, I would have the contractor remove the tack strips, loose tiles, and any dust that is created. You should then be able to install your new subfloor and flooring without being concerned about any health hazards.

The abatement contractor may be an expense you hadn't planned on, but it's better to be safe than sorry, especially if children are involved. Make sure the contractor is certified for asbestos removal and has the proper licensing.

I haven't used DRIcore subfloor myself, so I can't offer a recommendation. It appears to be a good product, but there are also some complaints about the possibility of it promoting mold and mildew in basements with high moisture content. I suggest researching the material thoroughly and then deciding whether it's a good choice for your application.

Vinyl flooring should work as a new flooring, but ceramic tile or carpeting make good basement floor coverings as well. All three should do a good job of keeping the remaining asbestos tiles covered and away from your family.

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